• On Feb. 14, 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome, is executed for continuing to perform marriages for young lovers in secret after Emperor Claudius the Cruel banned all marriages and engagements. Legend has it that while in jail, Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
• On Feb. 15, 1903, toystore owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as “Teddy” bears. Michtom had earlier received permission from President Theodore Roosevelt to use his nickname. Stuffed bears soon became a national childhood institution.
• On Feb. 11, 1916, Emma Goldman, a crusader for women’s rights and social justice, is arrested in New York City for lecturing and distributing materials about birth control. Goldman, nicknamed “Red Emma,” was later convicted and spent time in jail.
• On Feb. 12, 1924, American composer George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is performed for the first time as part of a concert in New York City. Gershwin’s other works include “An American in Paris,” written in 1928 and used as a ballet for Gene Kelly in the 1951 movie of the same name.
• On Feb. 13, 1958, the first Ford Thunderbird with four seats is introduced. The four-passenger “square bird” converted the top-ofthe line Ford from a sports car to a luxury car. Thirtyeight thousand cars were initially sold, making the TBird one of only two American cars to increase sales between 1957 and 1958.
• On Feb. 9, 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige becomes the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He earned his nickname as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers’ bags at train stations.
(c) 2009 King Features Synd.