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Diving back into history may be delightful or dismaying. KNKX's Nick Morrison delivers a daily dose of it with his signature humor and skepticism. Here's what happened on this day.

March 10: Clare Boothe Luce and Bix Beiderbecke's shared birthday; the first 'perfect' bowling game

A black and white photo of a smiling woman holding a pair of glasses seated at a desk covered in papers.
Walter Attenni
U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce at her desk inside the U.S. Embassy on April 29, 1953 in Rome, Italy.


Clare Boothe Luce born in 1903

As Women’s History Month continues, let’s acknowledge the birthday of another female political ground-breaker—Clare Boothe Luce. She was also a playwright known for the all-female play The Women, a magazine editor for Vanity Fair, a war journalist, and elected to Congress in 1942. President Eisenhower tapped her to be ambassador to Italy, making her the first female American ambassador.

Luce was a conservative Republican and one of the rare Republican politicians who could be funny on purpose. In fact, she could often be funny and rather mordant at the same time. She and her second husband, Time-Life publisher, Henry Luce, became her generation’s power couple until Henry’s death in 1964. (Clare continued on as a power single.)

During the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration there were some issues on which she agreed with the president, though there were many more she did not—foreign policy, apparently, at the top of the list. But she later also did a bit of "advising" on the Democratic presidential campaign of fellow-Catholic, John F. Kennedy. She was sure he’d win the election though she just as surely knew she’d vote for Nixon.

She was an early experimenter with LSD, helped organize the Atomic Energy Commission and backed the presidential bid of Barry "Nuke ‘Em" Goldwater. There would seem to contradictions in this list of factoids. I guess if Ms. Luce is anyone to go by, we do, indeed, contain multitudes.

Jazz cornetist and pianist Bix Beiderbecke's birthday

Bix Beiderbecke was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1903 and died in Queens, New York in 1931, age 28. His official cause of death was lobar pneumonia though, at the very least, it was greatly exacerbated by a decade of acute alcoholism.

He learned to play piano by ear at an early age but when he heard a record of "Tiger Rag" by The Original Dixieland Jass Band, he picked up a cornet and taught himself to play it. By 1923, he was gigging steadily and recording with a young Chicago jazz band called The Wolverines, building a reputation for himself as a very melodic improviser with a beautiful tone.

Over the next few years Bix worked his way through some of the top jazz orchestras of that era—bands led by Jean Goldkette, Paul Whiteman and Bix’s great friend, saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer, as well as recording some fine sides under his own name.

Even though melody seemed to come easily to him, he didn’t compose very many songs. However, toward the end of his short life he refocused on piano and wrote and recorded a handful of solo piano pieces. My favorite is "In A Mist," recorded in 1927. I include it here, along with an example of his cornet playing (also recorded in 1927) on "Singing The Blues," featuring Bix, Trumbauer and guitarist Eddie Lang.

William Knox rolled the first "perfect" bowling game

Did you know that there is a United States Bowling Congress? I sure didn’t until I stumbled upon the fact that on this date in 1913 a guy named William Knox rolled the first "perfect" game (scoring 300 with all strikes) in sanctioned Open Championships bowling history. How about that...

In my ongoing quest for meaningful knowledge I followed Mr. Knox down the rabbit hole of the USBC Hall of Fame. He is there among other luminaries including Doris "The Bolt’" Knechges and Barney "Jumping Jack" Spinella.

Apparently nobody referred to William Knox as "Bill." So does that mean that William thought quite highly of himself and didn’t allow people to address him familiarly, or that his peers were somewhat slavish in their appreciation of his gift? Maybe both, maybe neither. That’s history for you—sometimes you just never know.

Although William was from Philly, his 1913 perfect game took place in Toledo, Ohio, which also seems perfect. I had a job once that took me to Toledo for a couple of months and it seems to me that if the first perfect championship bowling game was going to happen, it would happen in Toledo.

Nick began working at KNKX as a program host in the late 1980’s and, with the exception of a relatively brief hiatus, has been with the station ever since. Along with his work as a Midday Jazz host, Nick worked for several years as KNKX’s Music Director. He is now the station’s Production Manager and also serves as a fill-in host on KNKX’s jazz and blues programs.