• On Dec. 30, 1803, Francis Lewis, signer of the Declaration of Independence, dies in New York City, at the age of 90. Lewis’ patriotism came at a high cost. The British army destroyed his Long Island estate and took his wife prisoner in 1776.
• On Dec. 28, 1869, The Knights of Labor hold the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. First established as a secret society of Philadelphia tailors, it pushed for an eight-hour workday during the labor movement of the late 19th century.
• On Dec. 25, 1914, just after midnight on Christmas morning, the World War I troops of Germany, Russia, France and Britain cease fire and come out of the trenches for singing carols, exchanging presents and even a game of soccer. It was one of the last examples of chivalry between enemies in warfare.
• On Dec. 27, 1941, the federal Office of Price Administration initiates its first World War II rationing program: No driver would be permitted to own more than five automobile tires. To conserve rubber (and gasoline), the national “Victory Speed Limit” was set at 35 mph.
• On Dec. 26, 1973, “The Exorcist,” a horror film starring actress Linda Blair as a girl possessed by an evil spirit, makes its debut in theaters. It earned a reputation as one of the scariest movies in history.
• On Dec. 31, 1968, the Soviet Union’s TU-144 supersonic airliner makes its first flight. In 1973 at the Paris Air Show, the TU-144 broke up from stress at 1,500 feet when a French Mirage spy aircraft photographing the TU-144 from above forced its pilot to abruptly level off. (c) 2017 King Features