Every day of the year, something exciting, notable, or just downright strange has happened in Alabama history.
Scroll down and check out what happened THIS week.
February 13, 1866
Joseph Stillwell Cain paraded through downtown Mobile on Fat Tuesday in the city’s first carnival celebration since before the Civil War. Dressed as a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slackabamarinico, Cain and six others rode through the city in a decorated charcoal wagon playing horns and drums as they declared an end to the suffering the city experienced during the Civil War. Cain is credited with moving Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration from New Year’s Eve to the more traditional pre-Lenten period and, since the 1960s, is honored each year with a parade on Joe Cain Day, held the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.
February 14, 1913
Sportscaster Mel Allen, best known as the “Voice of the New York Yankees,” was born in Johns. Known for creating word pictures to describe the action on the field and his many catchphrases that included “how about that!” and “going, going, gone!”, Allen developed one of the most recognizable voices in sportscasting during his twenty-five-year tenure with the Yankees. Not limited to radio, he became the host of the television show This Week in Baseball in 1977, where he remained until his death in 1996. Allen was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame.
February 15, 1939
The Little Foxes, a play written by Lillian Hellman about the lives of her banking family in Demopolis, opened in Broadway’s National Theatre starring Tallulah Bankhead in the lead role. Playing the fiery Regina Hubbard Giddings, Bankhead won the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Performance, Variety magazine’s Actress of the Year Award, and the cover photograph of Life magazine for her portrayal. In 1941, The Little Foxes was released as a film, featuring Bette Davis as Regina, and earned nine Oscar nominations, the most for any Alabama-based film until Forrest Gump.
February 16, 1968
US Representative Tom Bevill, in Haleyville, became the first person in the United States to answer a 9-1-1 emergency phone call. Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite placed the call from Haleyville City Hall, and Bevill answered from the city’s police station with “Hello.” The phone call, in an attempt by Alabama Telephone Company to be the first to implement the system, occurred only thirty-five days after AT&T announced plans to use 9-1-1 as a nationwide emergency number. The bright red phone used to answer the call is now on display in the lobby of Haleyville City Hall.
February 17, 1919
Bandleader James Reese Europe led the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters”, in a New York City parade as a crowd of one million cheered on. A native of Mobile, Europe was already an accomplished conductor when he earned the nickname “King of Jazz” while leading his black regimental band in performances throughout France during World War I. Europe tragically died only months after returning home when an emotionally disturbed band member stabbed him during an intermission of a performance in Boston. He was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2003.
February 18, 1965
Alabama State Trooper J. Bonard Fowler shot black activist Jimmie Lee Jackson in the stomach during protests in Marion. Dying from the wound eight days later, Jackson was eulogized by Martin Luther King Jr. on March 3, and his death sparked the halted Selma to Montgomery March that became known as Bloody Sunday. In 2005, Fowler publicly admitted to shooting Jackson and, in 2010, the seventy-seven-year-old Fowler pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail. A historical marker honoring Jackson now stands in front of the Perry County Courthouse in Marion.
February 19, 1807
Captain Edmund P. Gaines arrested former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr in Washington County. Charged by Thomas Jefferson for threatening to conquer Spanish territory in North America, Burr was arrested by Gaines while traveling to a ferry on the Tombigbee River after Burr was identified late the night before by Nicholas Perkins. Gaines held Burr at nearby Fort Stoddert for the rest of the month until he was escorted to Richmond, Virginia, where he was tried and acquitted of treason. While Burr was never convicted of any crime, he fled to Europe to escape his creditors and continued unsuccessfully to solicit funds for conquering Spanish territory.