Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Dark Days

Stacy Conradt
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Have you guys heard about the Australian Dust Storm? It makes me (and probably plenty of other people) think of the Dust Bowl in the U.S. and Canada in the 1930s, especially a particularly bad day in 1935 called Black Sunday. You might be familiar with it, and you might also have heard of Black Friday "“ the famous (or infamous?) shopping day after Thanksgiving every year. But every day of the week has a "Black" day in history, usually when a horrible economic downturn or natural disaster happened. Here are 10 of those "Black" days.

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3. Black Tuesday occurred throughout Tasmania in February of 1967 when bushfires swept across the island, killing 62 people and injuring nearly 1,000. And when I say "bushfires," I don't mean a couple, or 10, or even 50. 125 separate fires contributed to the disaster that left about 7,000 people homeless. Some fires were purely accidental, but some were lit on purpose to burn off and just got out of control in the extremely dry conditions.

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5. Black Thursday has a few connotations, including a terrible loss of lives during WWII in 1943. The Allies raided Schweinfurt, Germany, dropping bombs on ball bearing factories. The weather forced American forces to spread out, leaving planes more vulnerable to attack. In the end, 77 bombers died and so did 650 crew members.

6. Black Friday is a good thing and a bad thing in the U.K. "“ as the last Friday before Christmas, it's the most popular time for holiday parties and outings with friends. The restaurants, pubs and clubs are bustling and it's a big money-maker for businesses. As you might suspect, though, all of the revelry makes it one of the busiest nights of the year for emergency services as well.

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8. In the wonderful world of Disney "Black Sunday" is the name given to the opening day of Disneyland in Anaheim on July 17, 1955. It was a total disaster. The 101 degree temperature meant that high heels sunk into the freshly-laid asphalt; a gas leak closed Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland for the afternoon; vendors ran out of food and the water fountains didn't work. For many years, Disney claimed that July 18 was the opening day, preferring to pretend that Black Sunday didn't happen.

9. Gamers might consider June 19, 2000 to be Black Monday. Why? Because it's the day that Microsoft bought out Bungie, the company that made the game Halo.

10. Black Friday of 1869 is another financial panic in the U.S. brought on by the actions of just two people. Two men recruited the brother-in-law of then-President Grant to convince the President to hire Daniel Butterfield as an assistant U.S. Treasurer. Butterfield was corrupt and promised to tell the men when the government was going to sell gold. He did, and the two men started buying it all, driving the demand (and the price) up. Then the government sold $4 million in gold, causing it to be less precious, and the premium took a dive. Lots of people lost lots of money, but unsurprisingly, the two men who started it all came out smelling like roses. Many people believed that Grant was in on the scandal; it was just one of many to rock his career.

Any other "Black" days come to mind? Share them in the comments! And if any of you are in Australia, let us know what's going on there today.

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