Blast from the Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   May 10, 2002 at 3:00 AM

Today is May 10.

It was back on this date in 1940 that Nazi Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands -- swinging 89 army divisions around France's so-called "impregnable" Maginot Line. Scarcely one month later, German forces entered Paris. A photographer captured the image of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler dancing at the news.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops on this date in 1865, about a month after the end of the Civil War, He would spend the next two years in prison.

This is the anniversary of the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways, at Promontory Point, Utah. On this date in 1869, a "golden spike" was driven by Central Pacific President Leland Stanford to form what was called America's first transcontinental railway. Actually, at that time, the tracks were continuous only between Omaha, Neb., and Sacramento, Calif. It'd be a while longer before the rails stretched from ocean to ocean across the United States.

It was on this date in 1973 that a federal grand jury investigating the Watergate scandal indicted former Attorney General John Mitchell and former Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans on perjury charges. Does anyone remember Mitchell's wife, Martha? She used to phone UPI's Helen Thomas with information related to Watergate. Later in 1973, comedians Burns and Schreiber released an album, "The Watergate Comedy Hour," that included two tracks titled "Hello UPI No.1" and "Hello UPI No.2." Fanny Flagg portrayed Martha on the album.

Former political prisoner Nelson Mandela -- long the focus of apartheid foes' efforts to end South Africa's enforced policy of discrimination -- was inaugurated as the country's first black president on this date in 1994.

Also on this date in 1994, John Wayne Gacy, the convicted killer of 33 young men and boys, was executed in Illinois. When Gacy was arrested in 1978, many people could hardly believe the suburban Chicago businessman they knew was the same person being accused of these crimes. Besides dabbling in politics, Gacy also used to entertain at children's parties as a clown.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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