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+ On May 31, 1870, Professor Edward Joseph De Smedt of the American Asphalt Pavement Company, New York City, receives two patents for his invention of the first practical version of sheet asphalt. On July 29 of the same year, the first road pavement of sheet asphalt was laid on William Street in Newark, N.J.

+ On June 2, 1886, President Grover Cleveland becomes the first sitting president to marry in the White House. His new wife, Frances Folsom, was the daughter of a former law partner and Cleveland’s legal ward; Cleveland had literally known her since she was born.

+ On May 29, 1914, in one of the worst ship disasters in history, the British liner Empress of Ireland collides with the Norwegian freighter Storstad in the Gulf of Canada’s St. Lawrence River. The Storstad penetrated 15 feet into the Empress of Ireland’s starboard side, and the vessel sank within 14 minutes, drowning 1,012 of its passengers and crew.

+ On May 28, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world’s largest single-span suspension bridges at 6,450 feet, opens to vehicular traffic. More than 80,000 miles of wire went into its construction.

+ On June 3, 1940, the German air force bombs Paris, killing 254 people, most of them civilians. The bombing succeeded in provoking just the right amount of terror; France’s minister of the interior could only keep government officials from fleeing Paris by threatening them with severe penalties.

+ On June 1, 1968, Helen Keller dies in Westport, Conn., at the age of 87. Blind and deaf since infancy, Keller learned to sign via a hand alphabet on the palm, and later learned to read lips by placing a finger on the speaker’s lips.

(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.

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