Little Bits of History

Ready to Eat

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 31, 2010

John Harvey Kellogg

May 31, 1884: John Harvey Kellogg patents flaked cereal. Kellogg was a doctor running a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The sanitarium was based on Seventh-day Adventist Church principals – vegetarianism and rigorous exercise. Kellogg’s focus was in line with the church teaching but he also included enemas in his prescribed regimen for good health.

Kellogg did not think highly of surgical intervention, however he still performed over 22,000 operations in his 67 year medical career. He was also highly incensed by masturbation and campaigned zealously, if not rabidly, for its discontinuation. He warned that masturbation caused acne and recommended the “treatment” of carbolic acid on the clitoris in order to stop females from participating in the unsavory practice. Carbolic acid is very dangerous when applied to skin.

The diet of Sanitarium clients did not contain any alcohol or caffeine and tobacco was forbidden. Kellogg thought that bland foods were best because they would not incite passion and sexual abstinence was encouraged. It was thought that cornflakes would actually decrease the libido.

While looking for a digestible bread substitute, a pot of wheat was boiled and then forgotten. After sitting for a time, it was found that the softened substance could be rolled and that each grain made a large, thin flake. When baked, the flakes were crisp and light. A bowl of the flakes with milk would make an easy breakfast.

Kellogg and his brother, Will Keith, went into partnership and the two started Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company. John Harvey Kellogg wrote almost fifty books and many treatises on healthy life styles. He is best known, however, for his corn flakes.

“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.” – unknown

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” – Mark Twain

“Americans have more food to eat than any other people and more diets to keep them from eating it.” – unknown

Also on this day,
In 1889, the
Johnstown Flood strikes in Pennsylvania, killing thousands.
In 1669,
Samuel Pepys made his last diary entry.

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Start Your Engines

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 30, 2010

Ray Harroun's Marmon "Wasp" on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. (Photo by The 359)

May 30, 1911: Ray Harroun travels 200 times around the 2 ½ mile track at Indianapolis, becoming the first winner of the brand new International Sweepstakes. The track was built two years earlier on 328 acres of farmland just northwest of Indiana’s capital city. The race itself took nearly seven hours to complete with the “Marmon Wasp” averaging a stunning 74.602 miles per hour. The purse for the race was $14,250. While that may not seem like much, it is about $333,000 in 2009 USD. We know the race today as the Indianapolis 500.

The race has been held each year with the exception of the two world wars when it was suspended. The prize monies have increased over time. In 1957, the purse first topped $100,000 and just twelve years later, it topped $200,000. By 1989 the first place prize topped $1 million.

The lowest average speed was the first year the race was run. Technology advanced steadily and speeds increased – to a point. The highest average speed for a race winner was 185.981 mph set in 1990 by Arie Luyendyk. Tom Sneva broke the 200 mph mark for a lap in 1977 during qualification while Rick Mears finally broke the barrier during the race in 1982.  AJ Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears have each won the race four times.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all fun and games. Forty drivers have been killed participating in the event. Fifteen drivers have been killed on race day and another 25 have died during practice and qualifying laps. Thirteen mechanics, six spectators, and one man outside the track who was struck by a wheel flying over the fence have also been killed. Fortunately, because of many safety improvements, most crashes do not result in fatalities. The limit for number of cars on the track is 33, earlier races sometimes had more. The most cars to finish the race were 26 in 1911 when 40 cars started the race.

“Every race I run in is in preparation for the Indianapolis 500. Indy is the most important thing in my life. It is what I live for.” – Al Unser

“Winning the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true. Winning for a second time might be more than I could stand, but I’m willing to take that chance.” – Dan Wheldon

“Auto racing is boring except when a car is going at least 172 miles per hour upside down.” – Dave Barry

“I watched the Indy 500, and I was thinking that if they left earlier they wouldn’t have to go so fast.” – Stephen Wright

Also on this day:
In 1989, the
Goddess of Democracy was displayed on Tienanmen Square.
In 1933, Sally Rand’s
fan dance premiered at the Chicago World’s Fair.

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The Top of the World

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 29, 2010

Edmund Hillary took this photograph of Tenzing Norgay

May 29, 1953: Sir Edmond Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reach the top of Mount Everest. Everest is 29,035 feet above sea level. The Sanskrit name for it is “Forehead of the Sky.” It was first noted as the highest mountain in the world in 1852 after the surveyor, Sir George Everest, measured it.

Edmond Hillary first became interested in mountain climbing in 1939, when at age twenty he reached the top of Mount Ollivier in New Zealand. Hillary was unsuccessful in his attempt to climb Cho Oyu in 1952. He did manage to travel to both the South and North Poles. He formed the Himalayan Trust to help the Sherpa people of Nepal and through them built schools and hospitals in remote regions of the country. He died in 2008 at the age of 88. Norgay was born in Tibet, but raised as a Sherpa in Nepal. He had made attempts to climb Mount Everest prior to 1953 using the north or Tibetan side of the mountain. He became the director of field training for the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and founded Tenzing Norgay Adventures in 1978. He died in 1986 at the age of 71.

There is much controversy surrounding the climbing of Mt. Everest. Should oxygen be used or is that unsportsmanlike? Hillary’s team used it. What is the responsibility of one climber to another? In 2006, Mark Inglis and others, totaling 40 other climbers, passed a distressed David Sharp at 28,000 feet. Sharp was later found dead. In defense of their actions, Inglis stated that it is difficult enough to keep oneself alive at that height and helping in injured man would have jeopardized all.

Climbing tours are now offered, but safety is not assured. At least 186 people having died in the attempt to scale the mountain. Avalanches, oxygen deficiency, storms, and freezing temperatures all work against the mountaineers. Climbers range in age from 15 to 64. Mark Inglis, who had lost both legs to frostbite 23 years ago while climbing Mount Cook in New Zealand, summitted Mount Everest. The mountain has been climbed in under 17 hours. The first successful attempt took days to reach the top. With their first try on May 26, Hillary and Norgay were forced to retreat and finally made it to the peak on this day.

“You climb for the hell of it.” – Edmund Hillary

“There are only 3 real sports: bull-fighting, car racing and mountain climbing. All the others are mere games.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.” – Hervey Voge

“Pissing through 6 inches of clothes with a 3 inch penis.” – Anonymous Everest summiteer when asked what was the hardest thing about climbing Mt Everest.

Also on this day:
In 1954,  the first
Bilderberg Conference began.
In 1914, the
RMS Empress of Ireland sunk 14 minutes after being hit.

It Can’t Be Done

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 28, 2010

Golden Gate Bridge under construction

May 28, 1937: President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushes a button in Washington, DC signaling traffic in San Francisco, California, officially opening the Golden Gate Bridge to vehicles. The bridge opened to 200,000 celebrating pedestrians the day before. The bridge is part of US Route 101 and California State Route 1.

The bridge connects northern San Francisco with southern Marin County, a feat that was accomplished by ferry prior to the bridge’s construction. Joseph Strauss began drawing conceptualizations for a bridge spanning the Golden Gate Straight in 1921. Construction on the suspension bridge began January 5, 1933. The total length of the bridge is 1.7 miles with the longest span measuring 4,200 feet. At the time of construction, Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. There are six lanes of traffic; moveable cones allow for four lanes in one direction and two in the other, with changes for rush hour traffic patterns. It is also open to pedestrians and bicycles with special lanes built for the slower traffic.

The toll for the bridge is $5 when entering San Francisco. All pedestrian traffic is free. The bridge is notorious as a suicide venue. More than 1,200 people have jumped to their deaths. It is impossible to get an accurate count as many suicides are not witnessed. Some who survive the initial jump drown or die of hypothermia since the waters get as cold as 47° F. Twenty-six jumpers have survived the 220 foot drop.

The bridge was originally billed as “the bridge that can’t be built” but through hard work and determination the builders managed to combat the tides, the winds, the fogs, costs, and danger. Only eleven men perished during construction – ten of them at one time when the safety net malfunctioned. The bridge is built to withstand 100 mph winds and has a 27 foot sway allowance. The bridge is painted international orange. Due to salt issues, in 1965 a program to remove all the original paint and apply a special paint to slow erosion was undertaken. It took 30 years to complete the task and now paint is maintained with touch-ups in an ongoing, as-needed basis.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.  But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” – Newt Gingrich

“Work isn’t to make money; you work to justify life.” – Marc Chagall

Also on this day:
In 1999, the restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s
Last Supper was revealed.
In 1892,
John Muir organized the Sierra Club.

No More Burnt Toast

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 27, 2010

Some old style toasters

May 27, 1919: Charles Strite, sick of being served burnt toast, applies for a patent for a pop-up toaster with a variable timer. The patent was granted in October 1921 and The Waters Genter Company was formed to market the new invention to restaurants. By 1926, the modified toaster was branded as Toastmaster and available for sale to harried housewives trying to get breakfast on the table.

People have been eating bread for about 6,000 years. They have been toasting it with varying success since Roman times. Toasting over an open fire made for uneven heating at best and burnt bread in a worst case scenario. Each side of the bread had to be toasted separately. The first electric toaster to hit the market came from England in 1893 and was a dismal failure. The idea was tantalizing, but failed over in the US as well. There were at least two different brands of toasters made before General Electric’s patent for one that was marginally successful. The bread was toasted on one side and then had to be toasted on the other.

The first citation for “toast” meaning “history” or  completely over, passé, done … comes from The St. Petersburg Times on October 1, 1987. This meaning of toast comes from the inefficiency of the toaster. It means “burned, scorched, wiped out, demolished.” The word “toast” comes from the Latin word, torrere, which means “to burn.” How toast also came to mean a salute with a glass of libations is another story.

Toasters are dependant on other technologies. Electricity for power needed to be harnessed prior and available to homes or businesses before we could plug in the first automatic toaster. This was accomplished in the 1880s. The wires of the toaster need to get to a temperature of 310º F and a special alloy was needed. Albert Marsh developed nichrome, a nickel-chromium blend, in 1905. These wires could endure the temperatures needed for the time specified by the timer. Today, toasters come in 2- or 4- slice varieties and can accommodate wide slices or bagels. We also have toaster ovens and conveyor toasters. But they still can burn your toast.

“I cast my bread on the waters long ago. Now it’s time for you to send it back to me – toasted and buttered on both sides.” – Jesse Jackson

“You know that Pepperidge Farm bread, that stuff is fancy. That stuff is wrapped twice. You open it, and then it still ain’t open. That’s why I don’t buy it, I don’t need another step between me and toast.” – Mitch Hedberg

“The privileges of the side-table included the small prerogatives of sitting next to the toast, and taking two cups of tea to other people’s one.” – Charles Dickens

“If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?” – Stephen Wright

Also on this day:
In 1703, St. Petersburg, Russia was founded.
In 1927, retooling the factories began for Ford’s Model A.

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Who Was That?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2010

Contemporary painting of Kaspar Hauser

May 26, 1828: A teenager is found on the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. He was wearing peasant clothing and could barely speak. He was only able to say, “I want to be a rider like my father” and the word “horse.” Every question was answered with “Don’t know.” He was carrying a letter addressed to a captain of the cavalry which asked for the captain to take in the boy or hang him. The letter also claimed the boy was born on April 30, 1812 – making him 16 years old at the time of his appearance. He could write his name as Kasper Hauser.

He was taken to a jail where a kind jailer began to help. He eventually learned to speak and told his story. He had been imprisoned in a cell for most of his life. The cell was about 6.5 x 3.5 x 5 feet and supplied with only a straw mat and a wooden horse to play with. There was speculation the child was actually the son of the Grand Duke of Baden and relatives, hungry for power, had taken the male heir in order to secure lineage for themselves. DNA testing done in 2002 shows a 95% match to present day descendants of the Prince of Baden.

The boy never saw his captors and was drugged from time to time to have his hair cut and clothes changed. He did not know how he came to be found in the streets of Nuremberg. There was an unsuccessful attempt made on his life and the boy was moved to what was considered to be a more secure place. He was told to meet someone in a wooded area so he could learn more about his family. He was stabbed in the chest, puncturing a lung. He made it home, but died three days later. He would not name his assailant, but a note found in the woods said he would have recognized the person he had met.

He was found shrouded in mystery and died the same way at the age of 21.

“The thousand mysteries around us would not trouble but interest us, if only we had cheerful, healthy hearts.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” – Bible

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” – Anais Nin

“Maybe it’s other people’s reactions to us that makes us who we are. ” – Fox Mulder, David Duchovney’s character on The X-Files

Also on this date:
In 1805,
Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy.
In 1958,
Khufu‘s solar barge was discovered.

“Swede” Momsen

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 25, 2010

The Momsen lung in use during sea trials

May 25, 1967: Charles Bowers Momsen, the man who pioneered submarine rescues, dies of cancer. Momsen entered the US Naval Academy in 1914, flunked out, got another appointment, and graduated in 1919. He served on a battleship, went on to submariners school, and then took command of O-15 (SS-76), an aging sub. Proving himself capable, he was given command of S-1(SS-105), the newest Navy designed sub.

On September 25, 1925, a sister sub collided with a cargo ship and went down. Momsen was ordered to search for the ship, found the oil slick from the accident, but was unable to help rescue the trapped men. Sonar, not yet invented, meant there was no way to find the ship on the seabed. Even if found, there was no way to get men trapped at that depth to the surface.

Momsen was transferred to a desk job and from there, created the way to save trapped men. First he invented the Momsen lung which consisted of a bag with soda lime that removed CO2 and replenished it with oxygen and with tubes to breathe through. This method of moving in deep water without getting the bends solved one problem. Still more work needed to be done. Momsen had tried designs for a diving bell with some success. A superior officer liked the idea, made minor revisions, and the Momsen rescue chamber became marketed as the McCann Rescue Chamber.

In May 1939, the submarine Squalus, while on test dives, suffered an accident and foundered in 243 feet of water, a certain death sentence in prior times. Momsen led the rescue efforts and after 39 terrible hours, saved the 33 surviving crewman on board using the Momsen lung and diving bell. He then directed the 113 day mission to bring the Squalus into port.

Momsen went on to serve with distinction during WWII. When torpedoes fired from submarines were having a high failure rate, he found the design flaw by firing torpedoes in shallow water and risking his own life to examine an unexploded torpedo. The flaw was fixed.

“The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.” – Henry Ford

“Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.” – Kahlil Gibran

“The best part of one’s life is the working part, the creative part. Believe me, I love to succeed …. However, the real spiritual and emotional excitement is in the doing.” – Garson Kanin

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Also on this day:
In 1953, the
US bombed Nevada – a test nuclear explosion.
In 240 BC, the
comet known as Halley’s was first written about.

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Caveat Emptor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 24, 2010

Manhattan with upgrades

May 24, 1626: Peter Minuit purchases what is today called Manhattan from natives for goods valued at 60 guilders. The deed to this purchase has been lost to history. Minuit was the third director of the Dutch West India Company and arrived in the colony he was to govern on May 4, 1626. The purchase itself was discovered in 1846 when a Dutch-American persuaded President Martin Van Buren to send a representative to the Netherlands and documents were discovered, copied, and translated into English. Only partial documentation of the Staten Island purchase, which Minuit was also involved in, had survived.

Legend states that the goods were beads, but according to logs kept by the company, there were probably many other types of goods included in the trade. In the purchase of Staten Island, goods traded included cloth, kettles, axe heads, other tools, and “diverse other wares.”

The value of guilders at the time of the trade in comparison to other currencies is questionable. The value of US $24 was arrived at during the 19th century. With the inaccuracy of the conversion methods from the 1800s acknowledged, that $24 adjusted for inflation is about $500-$700 today. The Manahata Indians, who actually owned the place, were not involved in this bargain trade. Minuit is believed to have dealt with the Canarsee Indians, who lived on Long Island.

Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City. New York County has the same boundaries as the borough and is the most densely populated county is the US. As of 2008, there were 1,634,795 people living on the 22.96 square miles or 71,201 people per square mile. Not only are there many people living there, they have the one of the wealthiest counties in the US as well with a per capita income of over $100,000. It is the smallest of the five boroughs but holds the middle position for population rank. It is also a major commercial, financial, and cultural center with many media outlets claiming a Manhattan address. There are tourist attractions, museums, and universities within its boundaries. Manhattan is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

“In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong….reality is frequently inaccurate.” – Douglas Adams

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

“Being on sea sail, being on land settle.” – George Herbert

“Manhattan is a narrow island off the coast of New Jersey devoted to the pursuit of lunch.” – Raymond Sokolov

Also on this day:
In 1958, the
UPI was formed.
In 2001,  the Versailles wedding hall collapsed, killing 23 and injuring hundreds.

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Patience and Fortitude

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 23, 2010

The facade of the New York Public Library

May 23, 1911: The main Research Library of the New York City Library system, built on Fifth Avenue is dedicated in a ceremony presided over by President Taft. Samuel J. Tilden made a $2.4 million bequest to establish a public library in New York City. Prior to this, there were two reference libraries for the public, one established by John Jacob Astor and a second by James Lenox. Lenox Library was at the site of the current NYC main library.

The Sumerians were the first people we know of to set aside space for the gathering together of written material. They did so in the third millennium BC. The tradition was carried on throughout the Middle East. They not only gave a space for storage of written material, but devised a way to store it for easy access and retrieval – an early Dewey Decimal System. The ancient Greeks and Romans spread libraries throughout Europe. With the invention of the printing press with movable type, mass production of books became more feasible. Cheap paper and ink helped move the process along.

“Libraries are the memory of humankind, irreplaceable repositories of documents of human thought and action,” claims the New York Public Library’s website. There are many famous book repositories such as the Oxford Bodleian Library, the Bibliothèque, the British Library, and the Library of Congress. Libraries are open to the curious, those who seek to learn. The New York Public Library has four major areas of The Research Libraries as well as branch libraries giving more people access to the books. There are two majestic marble lions guarding the portal to the main library. They were carved out of Tennessee marble and their names are Patience and Fortitude, well they are called that today. They have had many names over the decades, but have held these monikers since the 1930s.

Today, NYC Library has 86 branches with five central circulating libraries. Queens and Brooklyn have their own libraries, too. Nearly 2 million New Yorkers hold library cards for the research and branch libraries. They have 49 million pieces in their collections including a Gutenberg Bible and Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton. The yearly operating budget is nearly $300 million.

“The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.” – Carl T. Rowan

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” – Ray Bradbury

“It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to boys and girls who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it as the founding of a public library.” – Andrew Carnegie

“How little our libraries cost us as compared with our liquor cellars.” – John Lubbock

Also on this day:
In 1701,
William Kidd was hanged for piracy.
In 1785, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter claiming he invented bifocals.

Now We Can Play Solitaire

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 22, 2010

What an upgrade!

May 22, 1990: Windows 3.0 is released to stores and eventually 10 million copies will be sold. It was the third major release and the first widely successful version of the Windows OS [operating system]. This GUI or Graphical User Interface version allowed Microsoft to compete with both Apple and Commodore computers. This version of Windows came after Windows 2.1x, then nearly two years old.  Windows 1.01 was released in 1985.

This version supported a method of improved memory management for use in conjunction with Intel’s 80286 and 80386 processors. It wasn’t until 1991 that Multimedia extensions were added that allowed use of CD-ROMs and sound cards. This was also the first version of Windows to come pre-installed on certain computers. Prior to that, the OS was on a few floppy disks that the user had to install themselves. This was not an easy task. Floppy disks were not actually floppy anymore, but encased in plastic. They could hold 1.44 MB of data, and it took seven of them to record the OS program.

Apple Computers took Microsoft to court over this version of Windows claiming copyright infringement stating that Apple owned the GUI idea. It was deemed that the icons for the trashcan and folders from Hewlett-Packard’s NewWave version were all that could be legally upheld as infringements and they were altered.

Gates and Microsoft have been coming out with newer versions of Windows ever since. Windows for Workgroups 3.1 was released in October 1992 and included Microsoft Mail and workgroup scheduler. Windows NT was first released in 1994 and upgraded several times. The next major refit came with the 32-bit system, Windows 95 released in August of 1995. Windows 98 was released in 1998 and provided integrated Web Browsing. Windows 2000 and Windows Me (Millennium Edition) both came out in 2000 with the latter geared towards the home user. Next came Windows XP in 2001 with two versions, one for home use and one geared towards businesses. Windows Vista was released in November 2006 for volume licensing and in 2007 for retail sales. The newest version of Windows is due to come out in August of 2009 – Windows 7.

“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”

“If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”

“If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.”

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

“Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.” – all from Bill Gates

Also on this day:
In 1842,
Howe Caverns were discovered.
In 1915,
Quintinshill rail crash, UK’s most deadly rail accident, took place.

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