• On May 20, 1506, the great Italian explorer Christopher Columbus dies in Valladolid, Spain. Columbus, and most others, greatly underestimated the world’s size. In 1492, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December he landed on Hispaniola, which he thought might be Japan.
• On May 18, 1917, six weeks after the United States formally enters the First World War, the U.S. Congress passes the Selective Service Act, giving the president the power to draft soldiers. By the end of World War I in November 1918, some 24 million men had registered for the draft.
• On May 21, 1927, American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop trans-Atlantic flight. The flight of the Spirit of St. Louis between New York and Paris took 33-1/2 hours. Six men had died attempting the same flight.
• On May 23, 1934, famed fugitives Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are killed when police ambush their car near Sailes, La. They died in a two-minute fusillade of 167 bullets.
• On May 22, 1958, American singer Jerry Lee Lewis arrives in England as a newly married man, with his pretty young wife in tow. Within days, it was revealed that his new wife, Myra Gail Lewis, was actually only 13 years old and was his first cousin once removed.
(c) 2010 K ng Features Synd.