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The First Time News Was Fit To Print, XX

Every Monday, mental_floss finds the first time The New York Times mentioned select topics. If you have a suggestion for our next episode, leave us a comment.

Wrestlemania

July 14, 1985

Is it Wrestling or Theater?
wrestlemania.jpg Make no mistake. Professional wrestling is low comedy, but it has become thoroughly respectable. These days it increasingly attracts a mixed, middle-class crowd, with audiences up a full third over last year. The most recent ''WrestleMania'' in March drew an overflow crowd of 25,000 to Madison Square Garden, while an estimated one million others watched the show on closed-circuit television throughout the country and many more in 24 nations abroad. Scalpers were demanding $100 a ticket to see Hulk Hogan and Mr. T have at Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul (Mr. Wonderful) Orndorff. The show included Muhammad Ali as referee, New York Yankee manager Billy Martin as announcer, Liberace as timekeeper and the Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall.

Phil Knight

April 25, 1959

Illinois Breaks College Record In Drake Sprint Medley Relay
knight-oregon.jpg A brilliant half-mile anchor leg by Jamaican George Kerr today gave Illinois' sprint medley relay team an American collegiate record of 3 minutes, 17.8 seconds. The race, high mark of the golden anniversary Drake Relays, had Illinois' baton men running this way: Del Coleman 440 yards, John Lattimore 220, Ward Miller 220 and Kerr 880.

Summaries of Finals

Four-Mile Relay: 1. Oregon (Mack Robbins, Phil Knight, George Larson, Jim Grelle); 2. Nebraska; 3. Houston; 4. Iowa State; 5. Arkansas. Time "“ 17:15.2 (Meet record; former record, 17:15.9, set by Kansas, 1952).

Keep reading for Mary Matalin, 'My Two Dads,' John McEnroe and more.

My Two Dads

September 19, 1987

Two New NBC Comedy Series
my_two_dads_2.jpgIn the category of just plain old premiere, NBC has My Two Dads, being introduced tomorrow night at 8:30, immediately after the popular Family Ties but up against the formidable CBS competition of Angela Lansbury's Murder, She Wrote. The plot of My Two Dads makes Mama's Boy seem like a well-made Ibsen play. Michael Jacobs is the executive producer and writer.

Two men in their 30's "“ one a suit-and-tie type with appointment book, the other a carefree, T-shirted artist "“ are summoned to a lawyer's office for a reading of a will. It seems that the former college roommates were once in love with the same young woman in Key West. She has died "“ the details are gently skipped over "“ and left her 12-year-old daughter in their care. It also seems that either of them could be the real father. You can just imagine the contrived fun.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, the two dads are constantly bickering. Michael (Paul Reiser), the yuppie one, is a fretting mass of responsibility. Joey (Greg Evigan) is a bearded testimonial to unreliability. All would seem doomed, but there's a sitcom at stake here. Arguing about their old girlfriend, the dads suddenly realize: "Now that we're going to become fathers, why don't we become adults, too?" Well, perhaps just for a moment or two.

Mary Matalin

September 12, 1987

In Iowa, Republicans Who Pay Their Money Can Vote Their Choice
carville-matalin.jpg At what they call "The 1987 Presidential Cavalcade of Stars," Iowa Republicans plan to raise a lot of money on Saturday night and give all the party's 1988 candidates a chance to set forth their messages. The gathering at the campus of Iowa State University in Ames has become the symbolic coming-out party for a campaign that has really been going on for months.

The event will mark the first time that Vice President Bush has agreed to appear on the same platform as his main adversaries, including such lesser challengers as the Rev. Pat Robertson and former Gov. Pierre S. du Pont 4th of Delaware.
* * * * *
"We are kind of heartsick that they put on the straw ballot," said Mary Matalin, Mr. Bush's Midwest coordinator, while volunteers lettered Bush for President banners at 10:30 Thusday night amid pledge cards of Bush supporters who were being asked to make the trek. "This is the month we were putting together our precinct organization, which is far more important than driving six hours to Ames."

Mr. Bush is generally seen as the favorite on Saturday, even though the latest Des Moines Register poll put him neck-and-neck with Senator Bob Dole of Kansas among Iowa Republicans considered likely to attend next February's precinct caucuses. This is because Mr. Bush has deep organizational roots here that go back to his upset victory over Ronald Reagan in the 1980 caucuses.

John McEnroe

August 7, 1970

mcenroe.jpgGiammalva, McEnroe Win Metropolitan Tennis Titles
Tony Giammalva of White Plains and John McEnroe of Douglaston, Queens, won singles titles yesterday in Metropolitan boys' tennis....McEnroe, seeded first, won the 12-years division at the North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club by defeating Joe Rosenberg of Roslyn Heights, L.I., 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

David Ogilvy

May 28, 1940

Gallup Survey of the Audience Interest in Pictures Is Being Conducted for Company
ogilvy.jpgDr. George Gallup, head of the Institute of Public Opinion [has] been engaged to conduct a "scientific study of the motion picture public and the tastes, habits, and interests of picture patrons." He stated that the chief function of the new organization which Dr. Gallup will organize for this purpose will be to "scientifically assist and guide the studio in its selection of stories, casts and titles."

The new Gallup unit will be known as the Audience Research Institute and will conduct its surveys from headquarters in Princeton, NJ. He emphasized that the bureau is entirely separate from the Institute of Public Opinion, which now is making a survey on the double-feature question, and said it would operate solely in the interests of RKO films. David Ogilvy will direct the bureau.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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