Friday the 13th has long been a source of fear for the superstitious. The number 13 itself is considered unlucky, and when it falls on a Friday, disaster is sure to strike. Whether or not you believe in superstition, history certainly has plenty of examples of calamities occurring on this day. Here are 13 interesting things that happened on Friday the 13th.
Lightning strikes three at British air show
In 2010, The Daily Mail reported that three people were struck by lightning while attending the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival. One of the victims was a 13-year-old boy, who is said to have been struck at 1:13 (or 13:13 in military time).
1989 stock market crash
October 13, 1989 is sometimes referred to as “Black Friday.” But don’t picture massive sales with deep discounts. This Black Friday is more akin to the Black Tuesday in 1929 which kicked off the great depression. It has also been called the “Friday the 13th Mini Crash.” The stock market dropped due to the collapse of a 6.75 billion dollar buyout deal involving the parent company of United Airlines.
British man spends every Friday the 13th in bed since 1979
Called “The most accident-prone man in Britain” and “a walking disaster,” Bob Renphrey of North Wales spent every Friday the 13th in bed between 1979 and his death in 1998. Some of the misfortune that had befallen him on previous Friday the 13ths included walking through a plate glass window, losing his job, being run over by a motorcycle, and suffering four car crashes.
Gene Watson’s tour bus catches fire
On Friday, July 13, 2007, country singer Gene Watson’s tour bus caught fire on the way to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. However, it’s uncertain as to whether it’s the day that’s cursed or the bus, because in 2011, Watson experienced another mishap. Watson told Taste of Country that GPS led them down a dirt road, and the bus nearly flipped after the dirt on the shoulder gave way when the bus pulled over to allow another vehicle to pass.
The founder of the Ku Klux Klan is born
It was an unlucky day indeed on Friday, July 13, 1821, when the man who would eventually go on to play an integral roll in the Ku Klux Klan was born. Nathan Bedford Forrest was known as a brutal cavalry leader in the confederacy. He became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.
Buckingham Palace is bombed in the London Blitz
On Friday, Sept. 13, 1940, the royal family was having tea when Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Nazi Luftwaffe. The chapel was destroyed and one person was killed, proving that nothing is sacred in war.
Kitty Genovese is murdered
It was about three in the morning on Friday, March 13, 1964, when New York City’s most notorious murder took place. The stabbing of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was allegedly witnessed by as many as 30 people in the nearby apartment complex. It came to stand as a symbol of the cold nature of big city dwellers, though many have since contested the number of witnesses.
Hollywood sign built
The iconic Hollywood sign that we all know today was first built on Friday, July 13, 1923. It originally said Hollywoodland, and was used to advertise a real estate development. Eventually, the sign fell into disrepair. It was re-built in 1949 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, without its original -land suffix.
Taylor Swift turns 13
Future country superstar Taylor Swift turned 13 years old on Friday, Dec. 13, 2002. Though she would eventually go on to leave country music for pop, Swift still considers 13 to be her lucky number.
Uruguayan Rugby team plane crash
Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 was made famous by the movie Alive. The plane was carrying a rugby team to play a match in Santiago, Chile. It crashed in the Andes mountains on Friday, Oct. 13, 1972. The survivors were ill-equipped to handle the intense conditions of the snowy Andes mountains. The plane was not found for 10 days. Of the original 45 people on board, 16 passengers survived, although they had to resort to cannibalism to do so.
Tupac Shakur dies
On Friday, Sept. 13, 1995, 25-year-old rapper Tupac Shakur, who went by the mononym Tupac, died of wounds sustained in a drive-by shooting. Tupac had been shot six days previously in a drive-by shooting. He was in a vehicle on his way to a club after watching a fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Hurricane Charley hits Florida
Hurricane Charley was one of four hurricanes to hit Florida during the 2004 hurricane season. Charley made landfall in Florida on Friday, Aug. 13, just 24 hours after the state had been hit by tropical storm Bonnie. Florida was pummeled for six weeks with storm after storm, and eventually, 2004 became known as the year of four hurricanes.
Chipita Rodriguez hanged in Texas
Chipita Rodriguez was 63 years old when she was hanged for the murder of a Texas trader named John Savage. Her last words were “No soy culpable” (I’m not guilty). She was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and was hanged on Friday, Nov. 13, 1863. Rodriguez was the second woman in Texas to ever be put to death. Over 100 years later, in 1985, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution stating that she did not get a fair trial. Local legend states that Rodriguez’s ghost still haunts San Patricio.