04 N1812P40008CDespite being 100 years old today, 1920 doesn’t look a day over 85. Kirk Douglas is three years older than 1920, and yet 1920 looks more sprightly than Kirk. How has 1920 preserved its youthful glow? Let’s find out. It’s January, which is time for the annual 100-year review. Today, we are going to take a ride in Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine to visit 1920 to see what was doing. At the beginning of the year, Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States. In November, Warren G. Harding was elected president but died in office in 1923 due to a heart attack. Warren is best remembered for the Teapot Dome Scandal, which may have had something to do with cookware and bribery.

Prohibition came into effect in January, much to the delight of temperance leader Carrie A. Nation and alcohol entrepreneur Al Capone. Once Prohibition came into effect, everyone stopped drinking alcohol because it was against the law. World War I officially came to an end with the effective date of the Treaty of Versailles. For a war that was to end all wars, World War I didn’t live up to expectations. But as Tony Soprano would say, “Whatta ya gonna do?” Maybe we’ll get it right next time. World War III will end all wars because there will be nobody left to fight.

The Royal Canadian Mounties began policing in January 1920. The Mounties ultimately gave rise to our cartoon friends Dudley Do-Right, the evil Snidely Whiplash, and damsel in distress Nell Fenwick. The first baseball game of the Negro National League was played in Indianapolis. The league produced the greatest baseball philosopher in the history of the sport, Satchel Paige. Paige was the first player who had played in the Negro Leagues to pitch in the World Series. Satchel left us with such Zen quotes as “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you. ... How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? ... Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines. ... Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” If the wizards in Washington, D.C., would sit and think instead of just sitting and spewing, life might be a bit smoother. But I digress.

In August 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution came into effect, giving women the right to vote. The Suffragettes faced a long and hard fight for the right vote. But to quote the saintly turtle-faced Senator Mitch McConnell, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” There may be a moral in that story somewhere. Like Jim Valvano once said, “Never, ever, give up.”

The U.S. Postal Service issued a ruling June 13, 1920, that children could not be sent by parcel post. It is lost in the mists of time why the post office found it necessary to issue such a ruling. One must suspect that at some point someone was, in fact, mailing children by parcel post. That was cruel and unusual as everyone knows that children should be mailed by UPS or FedEx as delivery is quicker and more consistent.

Speaking of children, several famous people were born in 1920. The world’s greatest TV detective, Jack Webb of “Dragnet” graced the earth in April 1920. As Sgt. Joe Friday, he is best remembered for busting Blue Boy, who was high on LSD while chewing bark off a tree in a Los Angeles, California, park. It was Tuesday, March 15, 1966, when Joe and Gannon were working the day watch out of Juvenile Narcotics. They pulled Blue Boy out of a hole in the ground where he had stuck his head while tripping on LSD. Blue Boy wanted to “get further out” but came to a sad end, as he overdosed on drugs by the end of the episode. Friday closed the show by stating, “Well, he made it. He’s dead.”

Yul Brynner showed up in July. Yul went on to become the King of Siam. He made an anti-smoking commercial shown after his death warning that smoking had not worked out too well for him. Well done, Yul. Mario Puzo, the author of the “Godfather,” was born in October. Mario made us an offer we could not refuse. As Luca Brasi said: “I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.”

To round out the year of 1920s births, let us not forget the singer Little Jimmy Dickens, who was born in December. Little Jimmy wrote the immortal song “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” which includes the immortal lyrics: “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose/ May an elephant caress you with his toes/ May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose/ May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”
Gentle Reader, your assignment for 2020 is to try to get Little Jimmy’s earworm lyrics out of your head before you break your first New Year’s resolution.

2020 is going to be a slow news year, punctuated only by the occasional political ad by cranky office seekers who will accuse their opponent of being the anti-Christ. Sit back and enjoy the show. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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