75 YEARS AGO: Gangsta Rap
Al Capone, Chicago's most notorious gangster, has reason to smile as the verdict is read: guilty of only 5 of 23 counts of income tax evasion. The decision, handed down October 17, 1931, disappoints federal prosecutors. "Scarface" earns an 11-year prison sentence; good behavior springs him in just over 7. But Capone's crime boss days are over: he is afflicted with syphilitic dementia and dies in 1947, age 48.
225 YEARS AGO; Cornwallis Concedes
After 22 days under siege by land and sea on Virginia's Yorktown peninsula by George Washington's American and French allied forces, British troops led by Lord Charles Cornwallis are sick, outmatched and forced to eat "putrid meat and wormy biscuits." Cornwallis' surrender, on October 19, 1781, ends the last major confrontation of the Revolutionary War, which will conclude by treaty in 1783.
125 YEARS AGO: Earps Erupt
The Earp brothers, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, clash with the Clanton and McLaury clans in Tombstone, Arizona, October 26, 1881. The Earps say the Clantons are thieves; the Clantons claim the Earps are the criminals. Roughly 30 seconds and 30 shots later, a Clanton and two McLaurys are dead. Two decades of revenge killings follow, and the "gunfight at the OK Corral" evolves into legend.
40 YEARS AGO: Reigning Supreme
Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson are the toast of Motown when their album "The Supremes A' Go-Go" hits Number 1 on the Billboard 200—a first for a female group—October 22, 1966. The album features the hit song "You Can't Hurry Love." Supremes albums top the chart twice more, but the spot eludes other girl groups until "Beauty and the Beat" in 1982—by the Go-Go's.
120 YEARS AGO: Liberty For All
A million people, on foot and in boats of all kinds, flock to New York Harbor for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886. Her light, says President Grover Cleveland, "shall pierce through the darkness of ignorance and man's oppression." The 151-foot-tall statue, a gift of friendship from France, will welcome immigrants to these shores for generations.
50 YEARS AGO: Perfect Pitch
Hurling his final pitch across the plate for a strike, New York Yankee Don Larsen seals the only perfect game in World Series history, October 8, 1956. His feat—allowing no hitter to reach base—gets Larsen a bear-hug from catcher Yogi Berra, and sets the Yankees on the way to a 4-3 series victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers.