On this day in 1838, the keelboat David Crockett, reportedly the first large craft to navigate the Colorado River, arrived at the head of "the raft on the Colorado." Early in the nineteenth century, the river's slow current caused a logjam, or "raft," which by the late 1830s blocked the river ten miles above its mouth at Matagorda. The Crockett, which had averaged more than sixty miles a day, stopped at the head of the raft, where its cargo of cotton was unloaded and carried by wagon to Matagorda. Removal of the log jam in the 1920s caused the development of an enormous delta that reached across Matagorda Bay to the Matagorda Peninsula. In 1936 engineers dug a channel through the delta, but Matagorda gradually became landlocked.
On this day in 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Oveta Culp Hobby the first secretary of the new Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Killeen native had married former governor William P. Hobby in 1931. During her subsequent extraordinary career she took an active part in the family's communications empire, became an important figure in the Democratic party, headed the League of Women Voters, and organized the Women's Auxiliary Air Corps during World War II. In her thirty-one months as secretary of HEW, the agency greatly expanded the nation's hospital system, improved the administration of food and drug laws, increased grants for mental health, set up a nurse-training program, enlarged the rehabilitation program, and designed an insurance program to protect Americans against the rising cost of illness. When Mrs. Hobby left office in July 1955, Eisenhower told her, "None of us will forget your wise counsel, your calm confidence in the face of every kind of difficulty, your concern for people everywhere, the warm heart you brought to your job as well as your talents."
On this day in 1921, the Majestic Theatre opened on Elm Street in downtown Dallas. The five-story structure, designed by Chicago architect John Eberson in the Renaissance Revival style, was the flagship of Karl Hoblitzelle's Interstate Amusement Company chain of vaudeville houses. Among the stars who appeared there were Mae West, Jack Benny, Harry Houdini, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway. Fort Worth resident Ginger Rogers began her career at the Majestic, and Vin Lindhe was a member of a girls' trio that played there in 1927. The Hoblitzelle Foundation gave the theater to the city of Dallas in 1976. A year later it became the first Dallas building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Various local theatrical and musical groups have subsequently called the Majestic home.