26 March 12020 is Independence Day in Bangladesh. Notable people born today include Robert Frost, Bob Elliot, and Pierre Boulez. On various calendars of the world it’s 7 Farvardin 1399, 1 Shaban 1441, 17 Paremhat 1736, 11 Mina 5120, 1 Nisan 5780, and JD 2458934.
On this day in history, 11913, panic struck in Columbus, Ohio, when a rumor spread that a local dam had broken and the city was about to be inundated by flood water. The fear was not entirely unreasonable—the west side of the city was under water from torrential rainfall—but the east side, where the panic struck, was in no actual danger. One high-school student whose family was caught up in the panic remembered it vividly, telling it and retelling it with humorous embellishments in speakeasies and at parties, until eventually he wrote it up as part of as series of quasi-autobiographical sketches for The New Yorker. James Thurber’s “The Day the Dam Broke” has become a classic; I retold the story myself in seventh-grade speech class in early 11964.