Happenings on the August calendar

As the summer races on suddenly August is upon us. That can’t be right. It seems like just the other day we were all excited about the arrival of June, and now it’s August. Funny how February never goes this fast.

As you continue to enjoy the many activities and relaxations of summer 2016, ponder these August occasions, past and present:

• August 7, 1971 — How’s this for ugly weather. In Whitecourt, Alberta, wind-driven hailstones the size of baseballs broke almost every window in town and damaged most roofs.

Baseball-size hailstones are very unusual, but here’s one that even beats the above. In 1928 in Potter, Nebraska, a single hailstone fell that weighed in at one and half pounds, the largest hailstone on record.

• August 8, 1988 — The “Great One” is traded. The hockey world was shocked to learn that Wayne Gretzky had been traded to the Los Angeles Kings.  Gretzky, of course, had led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups in five years.

            This deal was understandably a biggie, involving five players, draft picks, plus the ever-popular cash. Gretzky went on to breathe new life into the hockey world on the  U.S. West Coast and eventually led the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993.

• August 12 — Meteor shower, anyone? Of the nine annual meteor showers that cross our path, this one — The Perseids— is probably the most popular because it occurs for a few days on either side of August 12 during a time of warm summer evenings that are highly conducive to star-gazing.

So, find an open space, set up a chaise lounge, grab the sunflower seeds, recline lazily and watch the heavens intently for those sudden streaks of meteor light!

Extra trivia at no extra charge: Why are there nine meteor showers every year, right on schedule, just like the swallows of Capistrano? Well, it’s one of those “orbit” things. The meteors appear when our Earth orbits through an area of space dust or debris. Most of the streaks in the sky are from particles about the size of a grain of sand burning up in the atmosphere. Sometimes, we see something bigger incinerate and that produces quite a spectacular, if brief, celestial display.

• August 16, 1977 — The death of Elvis Presley at the age of 42. Try this Elvis trivia quiz (answers follow):

1. What is Elvis’ estate valued at today?

2. How many people visit Graceland each year?


1. Elvis’ estate is worth $300 to $400 million today. Elvis paid just $4 ($35 in today’s dollars) to cut his first demo at age 18 in 1953, according to Forbes. From this humble initial investment, Elvis launched his music career with the help of manager Tom Parker and soon became a megastar. In his rocket to stardom, Elvis racked up a total of 18 No. 1 hits and starred in numerous movies, raking in millions.

By his mid-20s, Elvis was making $5 million a year (about $40 million in today’s dollars) even in years when he didn’t tour and made no personal appearances. That’s as much as today’s top earners in music pull in — Taylor Swift made $39.7 million in 2013, making her the highest-paid musician that year, according to Billboard.

An estimate by Daily Mail puts Elvis’ earnings during his lifetime at around $100 million, which would be around $400 million today. When he died at the age of 42, he had about $5 million in the bank (about $20.5 million today), according to Forbes.

2. Over 650,000 people visit Graceland annually, making Elvis’ home the second most visited house in the U.S.  after the White House.

Extra trivia at no extra charge: Graceland is a mansion on a 13.8-acre estate in Memphis, Tennessee. It currently serves as a museum. It was opened to the public on June 7, 1982.   Elvis died at the estate and he, along with his parents Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother, are buried there in what is called the Meditation Garden. A memorial gravestone for Presley’s stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon, is also at the site.