There’s something about March. Big things seem to happen this month.

 

There was that Ides of March incident way back in 44 B.C. with Julius Caesar meeting an untimely end. Speaking of untimely endings, come this March 8 standard time will end, and we’ll lose an hour of sleep, thanks to daylight saving time. Later in the month comes the spring equinox, March 20, when the hours of daylight and dark are roughly equal.

And, of course, there’s St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Being absolutely shameless, I’ll share a joke I usually only tell once a year: What’s Irish and sits in your backyard? Paddy O’Furniture! (The setting can be adjusted to suit one’s frame of reference: deck, veranda, outside in the summertime; just don’t say, “…sits on your patio?”)

As you will see elsewhere in AY and online at aymag.com, March is the month the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) celebrates its centennial. The founding date is March 11, 1915. The commission had a humble beginning; in fact, the just-completed state Capitol had no office for this brand-new agency. So as the new history book on the commission, A Century of Conservation, recounts: “A small room in the basement — called a closet by some and a storage area by others — became AGFC’s headquarters.”

March also represents one of those golden moments for yours truly. It was in March 1958 when I sat on Elvis Presley’s lap and sang a snippet of “Hound Dog” at the now long-gone Roy “Cuz” Fisher’s restaurant on East Broadway in North Little Rock. I was 5 at the time. The flip side of such a meeting, and forgive me if I’ve said this before (maybe a couple of times), is that it’s tough when you peak at age 5.

I realize one could make a case for any month as being the month for momentous occasions. But, to my mind anyway, March has more than its share of big dates; in some cases, if not big, at least pretty interesting.

In case you like random facts, I’ve dug up several March dates with Arkansas connections. I’d bet there’s something below that could help you win a trivia contest or two. The information comes from my favorite source of information, the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Quotes that follow are taken directly from the encyclopedia.

March 4, 1921 — An area reserved for federal use since Arkansas’ territorial days, known as Hot Springs Reservation, officially became Hot Springs National Park. “Hot Springs National Park is arguably the oldest of the current national parks in the National Park Service, predating Yellowstone National Park by 40 years.”

March 15, 1942 — Wayland Holyfield, a singer and country songwriter who penned “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me),” one of our official state songs, was born on this date. A native of tiny Mallet Town in Conway County, he graduated from Little Rock’s Hall High School in 1960 and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1965. He’s a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

 March 20, 1915 — Rosetta Nubin Tharpe, better known as the highly influential Sister Rosetta Tharpe, was born on this date at Cotton Plant (Woodruff County). The encyclopedia refers to her as one of gospel music’s first superstars. “Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash.” Traveling with her mother and a music troupe, she performed throughout the South before settling for a while in Chicago, later moving to New York. She toured not only the country, but Europe as well. Despite a stroke in 1970, she continued to perform until her death Oct. 9, 1973. In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp in her honor. She’s in the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, too.

March 23, 1903 — An Arkansas financial superstar, Simmons First National Corporation, was founded on this date in Pine Bluff by Dr. John Franklin Simmons. The bank made history 81 years later on March 23, 1984, “when a Simmons First VISA customer withdrew $285 from an automated teller machine (ATM) in Sydney, Australia, in the world’s first intercontinental transaction made via an ATM.”

March 27, 2009 — Act 638 of the 87th Arkansas General Assembly designated the pecan as Arkansas’ official nut. The legislation was carefully worded so that it did not give “protected status to the pecan, thus ensuring that the fruit of the Carya illinoinensis may be harvested and consumed.”


Pursuing trivia? Email sonnyrhodes@sbcglobal.net

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