Little Bits of History

At the Shore

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 28, 2014
Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore

February 29, 1916: Frances Rose Shore is born. People born on Leap Day are sometimes referred to as a leapling or a leap year baby. Each non-leap year, they may celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1. Some people only celebrate their birthday every fourth year when the actual date reappears. Most of the time, this doesn’t really matter. However, government entities have taken the time to officially sanction when someone born on February 29 can legally claim a certain age (this is usually associated with some landmark issue such as one is legally an adult or legally able to participate in certain behaviors). Some countries have stipulated February 28 while other have mandated March 1 as the date to celebrate. Two women, one in the US and one in Norway, gave birth on Leap Day three different times.

Frances was born to Russian immigrants in Winchester, Tennessee. When she was two, she was struck with polio which was not preventable at the time and had no real cure other than rest. Her parents worked diligently and Frances recovered. The disease however left her with deformed feet and a limp. She loved to sing and even as a child had a beautiful voice. When she was 14, she sang at a Nashville nightclub and to her horror saw her parents sitting ringside. They did not stop her, but did put her singing career on hold. Two years later, Frances’s mother suddenly died of heart attack. Frances finished her education at Vanderbilt University where she graduated in 1938 with a degree in sociology.

Frances sang at the Grand Ole Opry and then decided to pursue her singing career in New York City. She auditioned many times and one of her songs was a popular song called “Dinah”. When disk jockey Martin Block couldn’t remember the singer’s name, he simply called her the “Dinah girl” and the name stuck. Dinah Shore got hired as a vocalist at radio station WNEW where she sang with Frank Sinatra and others. She signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records in 1940. For twenty years, she had a number of hit songs on the charts. Her last hit in 1960 was “I Ain’t Down Yet”.

But Dinah didn’t just sing, she also made appearances on television, the first taking place in 1937. She even had her own eponymous show on NBC in 1951. From 1970 through 1980, Dinah had two different daytime shows, as well. She was a supporter of women’s professional golf and played the game herself. She helped found the Colgate Dinah Shore golf tournament in 1972. She was married twice and had one daughter and adopted a son with husband George Montgomery. She had several high profile affairs, more assumed affairs, and more rumors about her affairs. She died on February 24, 1994 from ovarian cancer. She was 77 years old.

The best money advice ever given me was from my father. When I was a little girl, he told me, ‘Don’t spend anything unless you have to.’

Trouble is part of your life – if you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.

Bing Crosby sings like all people think they sing in the shower.

I never wanted to set the world on fire. So I never had to burn any bridges behind me. – all from Dinah Shore

Also on this day: Hammerin’ Hank – In 1972, Hank Aaron signed with the Atlanta Braves for a record salary.
Leap Day – In 1584, the first Leap Day took place.
Child Labor Law – In 1916, a new minimum age for workers was passed in South Carolina.
Run For Office – In 1932, Bill Murray was on the cover of TIME magazine.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 28, 2014
228 Hand-in-Hand Rally in 2004

228 Hand-in-Hand Rally in 2004

February 28, 1947: Thousands die in the 228 Massacre. The Japanese had ruled Taiwan for fifty years, but that ended when World War II came to a close. In October 1945, the United States on behalf of the Allied Forces, gave temporary administrative control of Taiwan to the Kuomintang (KMT) Republic of China (ROC) under General Order No. 1. During Japanese control of the island, many Taiwanese had prospered. Japan had used the island as a supply base and improved economic conditions for the locals. The Japanese were seen as helpful and many Taiwanese adopted Japanese names and practiced Shinto. Many were also bilingual.

When the Chinese were given temporary control, many Taiwanese were resentful. The ROC was to provide stability until a permanent solution could be found. Chen Yi was the Governor-General of Taiwan and arrived on October 24, 1945. The next day, Ando Rikichi, the last Japanese governor, signed a formal surrender document which made Taiwan part of China. The KMT troops were initially welcomed but the heavy-handed administration and apparent corruption in the government and the military brought great dissatisfaction. Because of mismanagement, the black market flourished, there was runaway inflation, and food shortages.

On the evening of February 27, 1947, a Tobacco Monopoly Bureau enforcement team went to a district in Taipei and confiscated illegal cigarettes from a 40-year-old widow. She resisted and slapped a man holding a gun who struck her in the head with his pistol. The Taiwanese came to the widow’s defense and as the altercation escalated, shots were fired. A crowd began to protest this treatment and the following morning, violence erupted into a full riot. The fighting back and forth calmed and flared over the next several weeks. Chen Yi and his troops eventually got control of the island once again, but thousands (conflicting numbers are given) had been killed in the fighting or executed.

For many years it was taboo to talk about this event at all. Chen Yi was himself executed by the government and families were compensated for their losses. However, this did not appease those who had been victimized by the Chinese troops. In 2004, on the 57th anniversary of 228, the 228 Hand-in-Hand Rally was held. It was a demonstration of solidarity. A human chain was formed with about two million people (1.9 to 2.3 million depending on the source) forming a 500 km or 310 mile human chain. Starting at the harbor at Keelung, Taiwan’s northernmost city, the chain wended its way to Eluanbi, Pingtung County at the southern tip of the island. The purpose was dual in nature. The Taiwanese wished for peace, but they were also protesting the deployment of missiles by the People’s Republic of China aimed at Taiwan, their island neighbor.

Free nations of the world cannot allow Taiwan, a beacon of democracy, to be subdued by an authoritarian China. – Nick Lampson

The public weal requires that men should betray, and lie, and massacre. – Michel de Montaigne

It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail. – Vladimir Nabokov

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. – John F. Kennedy

Also on this day: Dord – In 1939, the unknown word DORD was found in Webster’s Dictionary.
B&O Railroad – In 1827, a law was passed to form the B&O Railroad.
Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen – In 1983, the final episode of M*A*S*H was televised.
Betrayal – In 1844, an explosion aboard the USS Princeton shocked the nation.

Carbon Fourteen

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 27, 2014
Sam Ruben working on the discovery of Carbon-14

Sam Ruben working on the discovery of Carbon-14

February 27, 1940: Scientists at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley discover Carbon-14. The radioactive isotope of Carbon, also written 14C or radiocarbon contains 6 protons and 8 neutrons within the nucleus. It was first suggested to exist by Franz Kurie in 1934 and Martin Kamen and Sam Rubin located it on this date. There are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon. Carbon-12 makes up 99% of the element, carbon-13 makes up about 1%, and trace amounts of carbon-14 exist. About one part per trillion of carbon in the atmosphere is carbon-14 or 0.0000000001%. It has a half life of 5,730±40 years. It decays into nitrogen-14 through beta decay.

Because of the rarity and the fairly constant decay rate, the substance forms the basis for radiocarbon or simply carbon dating. Willard Libby found the technique for estimating the age of organic materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years Before Present (BP) with Present defined at 1950 AD. When a plant or animal is alive, it carries on gas exchange with the local atmosphere. Once it dies, this no longer takes place and the carbon contained will start to decay with a fairly steady rate. In this manner, by comparing the known saturation of carbon-14 in the air and then comparing it to the carbon in the material, one can calculate how long it has been since the plant or animal was alive and breathing.

Martin Kamen was born in 1913 in Toronto to Russian immigrant parents and grew up in Chicago. After earning his PhD in physical chemistry, he took a research position under Ernest Lawrence in Berkeley where he worked without pay for six months until he was actually hired. In 1943, Kamen began working on the Manhattan Project but soon returned to Berkeley. He was fired in 1945 after being accused of leaking nuclear secrets to Russia. He finally was able to be hired to run the cyclotron program at the medical school of Washington University at St. Louis. He later was able to obtain two other teaching positions, one in Massachusetts and the other at San Diego. He retired in 1978 and died at the age of 89 of natural causes.

Sam Ruben’s childhood neighbor was Jack Dempsey and the young boy developed an interest in boxing and later played basketball in high school. The family lived in Berkeley and he took his degree there, earning his PhD in physical chemistry in 1938. He was hired immediately as an instructor. His work was based on discovering the workings of photosynthesis and with this, he and Kamen ended up discovering carbon-14. Because there was so little of the substance to be found, the work was tedious but the two scientists persevered. When Kemon left to work on the Manhattan Project, Ruben continued study of phosgene, a poisonous gas. Ruben was working in the lab when he was exposed to the gas and died the next day, September 28, 1943. He was 29-years-old.

You will die but the carbon will not; its career does not end with you. It will return to the soil, and there a plant may take it up again in time, sending it once more on a cycle of plant and animal life. – Jacob Bronowski

Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. – Carl Sagan

Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true. – Niels Bohr

Also on this day: Party in New Orleans! – In 1827, Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans for the first time.
Andersonville – In 1864, the Confederacy’s POW camp at Andersonville opened.
The Lord and the Luddites – In 1812, George Gordon Byron spoke out in the House of Lords.
Suffrage – In 1922, Leser V. Garnett was decided by the US Supreme Court.

Colored Movies

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2014
George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith

February 26, 1909: Kinemacolor is first shown to a general public audience. This process was the first to produce successful color motion pictures. It was a two-color additive process which photographed and projected black-and-white film behind alternation red and green filters. It was invented by George Albert Smith. It was launched by Charles Urban’s Urban Trading Co. of London in 1908. A Visit to the Seaside was shown in an exhibit in September 1908 and ran for eight minutes. Smith had filmed ordinary people doing ordinary beach things at Brighton. It was a silent film and there are no other credits. On this day, the general public was treated to a program of 21 short films shown at the Palace Theatre of London. The show came to the US on December 11, 1909 at an exhibit in Madison Square Garden of New York City.

The first dramatic film made with the process was called Checkmated and done in 1910. They produced some documentary films as well as dramas. The projectors were installed in about 300 cinemas in Britain and in total 54 dramatic films were produced there. Four more were made in the US in 1912 and 1913 and one more was done in Japan in 1914. The company never was totally successful for a few reasons. The most basic was the cost of the projectors needed in theaters. There was also “fringing” and “haloing” of images, something that was never able to be fixed. In the US, DW Griffith bought out Kinemacolor studios and the process was replaced with Technicolor, which was used from 1916 to 1952.

George Smith was born in 1864 in London. He was a stage hypnotist, psychic, and magic lantern lecturer. He rounded out his days as an astronomer, inventor, and cinematographer. He was associated Edmund Gurney at the Society for Psychical Research, which is still in existence today. He pioneered aspects of film editing and close-up shots. There is speculation that as a hypnotist, Smith was able to fake results used in research at the Society of Psychical Research. Others admitted to fraud, but Smith maintained that all results were truly obtained. In his later years, Smith became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He died in 1959 at the age of 95 in Brighton, England.

Charles Urban was born in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second of ten children born to immigrant parents. He lost the sight in his left eye at the age of twelve after a baseball accident. He first began working with films in 1895 when he exhibited a Kinetoscope in Detroit, Michigan. He moved to Britain in 1897 and became a managing director of the Warwick Trading Company where he specialized in actuality films. A law suit was brought against Urban and Kinemacolor and Urban won the initial case protecting the patent however the process was no longer exclusive. During World War I, Urban produced propaganda films for England. Once America entered the War, he returned home and also produced documentaries for the US. He remained in the US for a time but returned to England in the late 1920s. He died in Brighton in 1942 in relative obscurity. He was 75-years-old.

I’ve often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people. – Marilyn Monroe

For me, there is nothing more valuable than how people feel in a movie theater about a movie. – Will Smith

Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre. – Orson Welles

If my life was a movie, no one would believe it. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Also on this day: Waist Overalls – In 1829, Levi Strauss was born.
Grand Canyon – In 1919, Grand Canyon National Park was established.
WorldWideWeb Browser – In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee introduced his WorldWideWeb browser, the first stable web browser.
World Trade Center – In 1993, the WTC was bombed.

Sea Change

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 25, 2014
USS Ranger

USS Ranger

February 25, 1933: The USS Ranger is launched. Also designated at CV-4, the ship was the first US Navy designed and built from the ground up as an aircraft carrier. It was a fairly small ship, as aircraft carriers go and subsequent ships were much larger. The USS Langley was the first ship to be converted to a carrier. The USS Jupiter was decommissioned on March 24, 1920 and renamed to Langley the next month. She was recommissioned on March 20, 1922 as CV-1, the first aircraft carrier. The USS Lexington (CV-2) was also refitted from battlecruiser to aircraft carrier in 1922. The USS Saratoga (CV-3) also began life as a battlecruiser and in 1922 turned into an aircraft carrier. All these former ships were not originally designed for the task, but had to be refitted in order to accommodate the planes.

Between World War I and World War II, eight aircraft carriers were created. Out of these eight ships, only three survived World War II with Ranger being one of them. Also surviving the war was Enterprise and Saratoga. Ranger was considered too slow to work with the Pacific Fleet and spent most of her wartime service in the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier designs were called the Lexington class and Ranger class followed with the USS Ranger being the only ship of this class. With the building of Ranger, much was learned and so with subsequent ships, a new class was named, the Yorktown class. Three ships of this type were built.

USS Ranger was laid down on September 26, 1931 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on this day sponsored by Lou Henry Hoover, wife of the President of the US. She was commissioned at the Norfolk Navy yard on June 4, 1934 and at that time, Captain Arthur Bristol was in command. Her initial flight operations were carried out off the Virginia Capes on June 21, 1934 and she left Norfolk on August 17. Her first training cruise took the ship to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. After returning to Virginia, she was placed in drydock for some repairs. She was back in the water soon after and sailed through the Panama Canal, visited Hawaii, and sailed to Alaska, the first cold weather test trials.

USS Ranger was in the Atlantic Ocean, returning from a European tour when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. Ranger served as flagship for the Atlantic Fleet with two different Rear Admirals at the controls. She ferried planes and pilots across the Atlantic and as the largest carrier, she led four other carriers to Vichy-ruled French Morocco for the Battle of Casablanca. She continued throughout the war with intermittent port calls for repairs and upgrades. She survived the war and returned to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on November 19, 1945. She was decommissioned from the shipyard on October 18, 1946 and was sold for scrap on January 31, 1947.

Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope. – Epictetus

A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. – Henrik Ibsen

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. – Thomas Aquinas

There’s this misconception that the Navy is this cruise ship, and you get to go out and sail around, and every now and then, you have to swab the deck. But, no, it is a very impressive group of young people that live at sea, in this place that’s very uncomfortable. They exude a pride that is well-deserved. – Tom Hanks

Also on this day: “Do you feel lucky?” – In 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for his new revolver.
Gas Tax – In 1919, the first gas tax in the US was instituted.
Cut Off – In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.
Battle Stations – In 1942, Los Angeles was under fire.

Just Peachy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 24, 2014
Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

February 24, 1868: US President Andrew Johnson is impeached. Johnson became the President after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. He was a moderate who was in disagreement with the “Radical Republican” movement which was prevalent in Congress and hoped to control Reconstruction policies. Johnson was a Southerner but had been vehemently against secession. The cadre of men in Congress were hoping for an extreme hardline stance against the South. They wanted punishment meted out to former slave holders as well as Confederate politicians and military officials. They were also interested in protecting the newly freed slaves.

Lincoln had favored a more moderate stance and Johnson was following along in that plan which upset Congress. Within six weeks of taking office, Johnson was hoping for general amnesty for most former Confederates. He vetoed legislation that extended civil rights and financial support to former slaves. Johnson did not help himself during a speaking tour of Northern states and the situation in Washington, D.C. became more tense. Midterm elections were at stake and Johnson’s tour did not help bring in the officials to Congress as he had hoped. Instead, the Radicals were able to pass civil rights legislation as well as carving up the old Confederacy into five military districts. However, Johnson did keep control of the military, despite his other losses.

Edwin Stanton had been Lincoln’s Secretary of War and he was still in office. Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867 to ensure that Stanton would not be replaced by Johnson whose veto of the bill was overridden. The act said that all Cabinet members could not be fired by the President but their release had to be okayed by the Senate. However, Johnson was able to suspend Stanton when Congress was not in session. Johnson then appointed Ulysses S. Grant to the post. The Senate did not accept this replacement. Grant did not accept the nomination anyway and so that meant that Johnson still did not have a replacement. He asked William Sherman who also declined. Finally Lorenzo Thomas was willing to take the position and it was he who took Stanton his walking papers.

Stanton did not leave office, believing the orders to be illegitimate. Three days later, on this date, the House voted 126 to 47 in favor of impeaching President Johnson for violating the Tenure Act. A week later the House had eleven articles of impeachment against Johnson. Johnson’s trial began on March 13 but an immediate delay was granted. Finally, the trial was held with a vote 35 guilty and 19 non-guilty and 36 guilty votes were needed to remove Johnson from office. In 1887, the Tenure Act was repealed and in a later ruling, the US Supreme Court ruled that a President can fire a Cabinet member without having approval from Congress.

The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.

Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide.

I hold it the duty of the executive to insist upon frugality in the expenditure, and a sparing economy is itself a great national source.

Who, then, will govern? The answer must be, Man – for we have no angels in the shape of men, as yet, who are willing to take charge of our political affairs. – all from Andrew Johnson

Also on this day: Smile – In 1938, DuPont created a nylon-bristle toothbrush.
Opera – In 1607, the first opera premiered.
Murder, She Wrote – In 1981, Jean Harris was convicted of murder.
Religious Persecution – In 303, the new sect, Christians, were the subject of a Roman edict.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 23, 2014
Leo Hirschfeld

Leo Hirschfeld

February 23, 1896: Leo Hirschfeld introduces his new candy, Tootsie Roll. Leo was an Austrian immigrant to the US. He opened a candy shop in New York City and wanted a chewy candy resistant to melting which would be an economical alternative to chocolate. He named the candy after his daughter, Clara “Tootsie” Hirschfeld. The candy was a success and in 1905 the production moved to a five-story factory. In 1917 the company changed its name to The Sweets Company of America. The business was first listed in 1922. A newer, cheaper treat was needed during the Great Depression and so the Tootsie Pop was invented in 1931. The lollipop with a bit of Tootsie Roll inside was another great hit.

In 1935 the company was in trouble. The supplier of paper boxes knew of the possible loss of an important customer and became interested in taking control of the company. Joseph Rubin & Sons of Brooklyn got a list of shareholders and approached them personally until they could gain control of the company. Bernard Rubin was given the job of president of the candy company. He increased sales, restored profits, changed the formula of the Tootsie Roll and made it larger, and moved the company’s plant from Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey. He guided the company through the war years, as well.

During World War II, Tootsie Rolls became a standard part of American soldiers’ field rations since the candy could withstand a variety of weather conditions, neither melting nor freezing. Bernard managed the company until his death in 1948 and by the time he died, he had increased the volume of sales by a factor of 12. His brother took over as president. William Rubin served until 1962. Four years later, the name changed again to the current name of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. Over the years, they have acquired other candy manufacturers such as The Candy Corporation, Cellas’ Confections, The Charms Company, The Warner-Lambert Company, Andes Candies, and Concord Confections.

They are one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world. An astounding 64 million Tootsie Rolls are made each day. According to their website, each new day’s batch of Tootsie Rolls starts with the batter left over from the day before. Also available today are a variety of Tootsie Roll flavors coming in a rainbow of colors. Tootsie Fruit Rolls and Tootsie Frooties are both available with the latter made with more flavors and colors. They are not quite worldwide, but are sold in several different countries spanning the globe. And in 2009, they became certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and they are gluten free and peanut free. Actual studies have been done to find out how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop. The short answer: lots.

Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want. – Ryan Gosling

Candy is my fuel. Ice cream, too. – Jane Smiley

I feel like a little kid who just walked into a candy store. I think that’s something to smile about. – Brandon Boyd

Candy is childhood, the best and bright moments you wish could have lasted forever. – Dylan Lauren

Also on this day: The Rotary Club – In 1905, the Rotary Club was formed.
Cato Conspiracy – In 1820, the plot to kill British cabinet members was exposed.
Gutenberg Bible – In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published.
ISO – In 1947, a new set of standards were adopted.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2014


February 22, 1819: The Adams-Onis Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C.  The Treaty is also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida Treaty, sometimes shortened to Florida Treaty. The treaty was between the US and Spain and set the boundary between New Spain (what is now Mexico) and America as well as ceded Florida to the US in exchange for $5 million (~ $75 million today) and US claims to part of Spanish Texas west of the Sabine River. The lands ceded to Spanish control were never accepted by the people living in the regions that came to be US territory with the Louisiana Purchase. The treaty was negotiated by John Quincy Adams who was Secretary of State under President Monroe and Luis de Onis under King Ferdinand VII.

At the time of the negotiations, Spain had been weakened by the Peninsular War in Europe and was having difficulty with colonial lands in the Americas. Revolutionary factions in Central and South America were demanding independence. Spain had almost no military presence in the Americas and no way to actually enforce compliance. Since she was losing her mastery over the American territories, Spain was forced into a negotiation with the young nation. The Florida region was a hotbed of agitation as the state filled with escaped slaves, outlaws, and Native Americans who fled Georgia during the First Seminole War. During that war, General Andrew Jackson pursued fleeing Seminoles into Florida and captured Spanish forts while there.

There were many more incursions into Spanish Florida to retrieve slaves, capture the escaped outlaws, and track down Natives. When Jackson invaded, there were Cabinet members who wanted his immediate dismissal, but instead, Adams saw it as an opening for negotiations and eventually the state came into the Union with this treaty. It was signed on this date but took two years to ratify. The Senate had ratified immediately, but Spain wanted to use the treaty as leverage to keep America from helping revolutionaries in New Spain. The new addendum to the treaty took more negotiation and the treaty was finally enacted on February 22, 1821.

Florida is the 4th most populous state in the union although it is 22nd in size. It is the 8th most densely populated state with about 19.5 million people living there. The capital is at Tallahassee. The state has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States. First European contact was made by Ponce de Leon in 1513 who named it La Florida or Flowery Land. The economy is based mostly on tourism as it is home to many amusement parks with Disneyworld being the most famous. It is also home to the Kennedy Space Center. Agriculture also plays a major role in the economy of the state with oranges being the most important crop. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and was established in 1565 by the Spanish. It is located on the eastern coast of the state.

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law. – Jerry Seinfeld

Florida isn’t so much a place where one goes to reinvent oneself, as it is a place where one goes if one no longer wished to be found. – Douglas Coupland

I love baseball. I’ll probably end up one of those old farts who go to spring training in Florida every year and drive from game to game all day. – Steve Earle

I turned my home state of Florida into the Land of Xanth. – Piers Anthony

Also on this day: Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Hello, Dolly – In 1997, the Roslin Institute announced the successful cloning of a sheep.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.
The White Rose – In 1943, three young adults were executed.

Candid Camera

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 21, 2014
Edwin Land

Edwin Land

February 21, 1947: Edwin Land demonstrates a new type of camera and film. Land had studied chemistry at Harvard, but left after his first year. He went to New York City and invented inexpensive filters which would polarize light – Polaroid film. Since he was a private citizen, he had no access to a university laboratory so he snuck into Columbia University at night to use their lab. He used the New York City Public Library for his research and was able to look through their stacks for information on polarizing substances. His big idea came when he realized he did not need to grow one large crystal for his film, but could instead use millions of micron-sized polarizing crystals aligned perfectly. Aligning them perfectly was the next step.

After figuring all this out, Land returned to Harvard for further study but never completed his degree. He was a poor student not because he couldn’t do the work, but because after he found the solution, he had no interest in writing up the answers. His physics instructor, George Wheelwright, was so impressed with his student that together they formed the Land-Wheelwright Laboratories in 1932, with the older man providing funding. They began with creating filters for sunglasses and were successful in this project. With that in hand, a series of Wall Street investors were willing to fund greater expansion. A new name was given to the company in 1937, the Polaroid Corporation.

Under the Polaroid trademark, Land continued to work on his film with the major thrust of the work going toward sunglasses and scientific work. The other uses for the polarization process became more important, especially as he worked with the military during World War II. One of his projects included developing dark-adaptation goggles. He also worked on target finders and the first passively guided smart bombs. Another project was developing a system to reveal camouflaged enemy positions in aerial photography called Vectograph.

After the war, he got back to working on the film and on this day, he presented his work to the Optical Society. The first camera of this type was the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 and was first sold to the public in November 1948. It took about one minute to have a developed picture in hand. The film would be exposed, the process would begin, and as it was completed, the negative sheet would be torn from the film, with the positive image available. Only black and white photos were possible until 1963 when Land introduced Polacolor pack film, able to produce color pictures. Land retired in 1983 and the cameras were still produced, but without his name added. He died in 1991 at the age of 81 and at the time of his death, his personal assistant shredded all his personal papers and notes.

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.

Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.

It’s not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas. – all from Edwin Land

Also on this day: The Washington Monument – In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.
Karl Marx – In 1848, The Communist Manifesto was published.
Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz – In 1931, Miles Laboratories introduced Alka-Seltzer to the world.
Incas – In 1918, the last Carolina Parakeet died.

It’s In the Mail

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 20, 2014


February 20, 1792: US President George Washington signs the Postal Service Act. William Goddard owned and operated the Pennsylvania Chronicle and was dismayed when the royal postal service could not deliver his papers with any reliability. So, on October 5, 1774 he laid out a plan before the Continental Congress for a “Constitutional Post” to help with the problem. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Benjamin Franklin advocated for the idea and became the first postmaster general under the Continental Congress on July 26, 1775 – almost an entire year before Congress declared independence from the British Crown. Franklin had already been postmaster of Philadelphia from 1737.

Franklin was also joint postmaster general of the colonies from 1753 to 1774 and in that capacity did much to streamline the system. He had properly marked and surveyed routes from Maine to Florida – the origins of Route 1 – and instituted overnight delivery between critical cities in New York and Philadelphia. He also created a chart with standardized rates for delivery depending on weight and distance. Samuel Osgood held the post from 1789 when the US Constitution went into effect until the government moved to Philadelphia in 1791. Timothy Pickering took over and kept the job when the post became a more official government position with the signing of this Act.

There is evidence that Egypt had a corps of royal couriers who could deliver messages from the pharaoh to his minions as early as 2400 BC. It is surmised that delivery systems were in place for some time before this. It is unknown who designed a system of posthouses and swift delivery, but they have been in existence for a very long time. The Persians, the Mauryan, and Han dynasties in China had similar systems. The Romans sped messages quickly along all the roads leading to Rome. Diocletian even had two systems, one for normal news and one for urgent correspondents. As the empire fell, so did the movement of news and information.

In the 16th century, the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis began regular mail service from Brussels and sent the mail throughout the Holy Roman Empire. The British Postal Museum claims that the oldest functioning post office in the world is on High Street in Sanquhar, Scotland. It has been in service since 1712. Today, in the US, the United States Postal Service is headquartered in Washington, D.C. This new version of mail delivery was formed on July 1, 1971. They have 522,000 employees and Patrick R Donahoe is the Postmaster General. It is now an independent agency of the US federal government and is explicitly authorized in the Constitution, one of the few agencies with that honor.

Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas. – Johnny Carson

I get mail; therefore I am. – Scott Adams

If it takes the entire army and navy to deliver a postal card in Chicago, that card will be delivered. – Grover Cleveland

You know something is wrong when the government declares opening someone else’s mail is a felony but your internet activity is fair game for data collecting. – E.A. Bucchianeri

Also on this day: Iceberg Ahead – In 1856, the ship John Rutledge struck an iceberg and sunk.
Medal of Honor – Butch O’Hare was declared the first US flying ace during World War II.
The Met – In 1872. New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art opened.
Ice Skating – In 1998, Tara Lipinski won the gold medal at the Olympics.