Archive for the ‘History’ Category

No, a Blizzard Cone is not a delicious item on the Dairy Queen or Tastee Freez menu.  This baby was designed to keep those strong winter ice storms out yo face. Sadly it never caught on, because that would have been super. The Blizzard Cone was a contraption that was invented in 1939 in Montréal, because you know, Canadiens.

PS- This reminded me of how much I loved Tastee Freez back in the day. There was one where the Giovanni’s stands today in Chillicothe. Turns out there are only 23 locations left, the closest being in Churchville, Virginia, 321-miles way. Man that’s depressing.

All the cool kids had them.

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Yep. Whiskey vending machine. That is all.

This speech was given just 2-months after Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30th, 1981. Listen, I was never a big Reagan guy at all (although he looks pretty damn good in retrospect) but this is a stone cold move. After hearing a loud balloon pop he doesn’t flinch, just casually says “missed me” to the masses. Reagan, man.

PS- Again, this was just 2-months after he was shot. Hell, the Orange Tweeter couldn’t go out in the rain to honor our veterans.

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Well, maybe not everything, but a hell of a lot.

Let us review the facts and fiction of Thanksgiving:

FACT: The Mayflower did bring the Pilgrims to North America from Plymouth, England, in 1620, and they disembarked at what is now Plymouth, Mass., where they set up a colony. In 1621, they celebrated a successful harvest with a 3-day gathering that was attended by members of the Wampanoag tribe. It’s from this that we derive Thanksgiving as we know it. However . . .

FICTION: The feast wasn’t actually the first Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until the 1830s that this event was even called the first Thanksgiving by New Englanders who looked back and thought it would be a good idea. Heck, the holiday wasn’t made official until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it as a kind of thank you for the Civil War victories in Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

In any event, claiming it was the “first Thanksgiving” isn’t quite right as both Native American and European societies had been holding festivals to celebrate successful harvests for centuries. Maybe first for the English in the New World, but that’s about it.

FICTION: The town of Plymouth was created by pilgrims clearing land and starting a village from scratch. Plymouth was already a village with clear fields and a spring when the Pilgrims found it. Why was it available? Because every single native person who had been living there had been wiped out by a plague, namely smallpox.

FICTION: The pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom. The Pilgrims already had religious freedom in Holland, where they first arrived in the early 17th century. Like those who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607, the Pilgrims came to North America to make money. Shocking but not really.

FICTION: Pilgrims called themselves pilgrims. False. They called themselves Separatists. In fact, the term Pilgrims didn’t surface until around 1880.

FICTION: Everyone dined at a long table with a white tablecloth. The partiers most likely sat in small groups around fires, eating geese or duck. Also, it seems weird but forks hadn’t been invented yet. Folks ate with their fingers.

FICTION: The Puritan Pilgrims didn’t drink alcohol. Pilgrims loved a good beer. No doubt ale was plentiful thanks to a recently harvested barley crop.

FICTION: The Indians thought highly of Pilgrim intelligence since the English citizens brought with them advanced technology. Nope. The Pilgrims may have had durable shoes, woven clothes and powerful muskets, but their lack of survival skills earned them little respect among the Native Americans. Massasoit considered the Pilgrims “as a little child.”

FICTION: The first Thanksgiving took place in November. The exact date isn’t known, but the feast we celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November likely occurred in late September or early October, shortly after the harvest of such fall crops as corn, beans, squash and barley.

FACT: It is true that the celebration was an exceptional and unusual cross-cultural moment, with food, games and prayer. Native Americans had been growing food for the colony nearby for awhile, so they more than likely ambled over for some chow. In fact, they probably outnumbered the English 2-1.

FACT: Squanto did in fact help the English. His people, the Patuxet, had lived on the site where the Pilgrims settled. When they arrived, he became a translator for them with other native people and showed them the most effective method for planting corn and the best locations to fish.

FICTION: Squanto’s story is a happy one. In fact, he was captured by the English in 1614 and sold into slavery in Spain. He spent several years in England, where he learned English. He returned to New England in 1619, only to find his entire Patuxet tribe dead from smallpox. He met the Pilgrims in March 1621.

FICTION: Turkey and pie was served at the “First Thanksgiving.” The truth is that there was no mention of turkey being there, and there was no pie either. Settlers lacked butter and wheat flour for a crust, and they had no oven for baking. What is known is that the Pilgrims harvested crops and that the Wampanoag brought five deer. There were plenty of turkey around, but settlers preferred duck or goose.

Oh, and there’s one more truth that was ignored for hundreds of years, and that is the fact that entire races of Native Americans were wiped out by Europeans due to disease and outright murder.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

My Mom is 91-years old, will be 92 in January, and is the coolest person I’ve ever known. She’s also a badass who grew up on a farm with two brothers. I’ve told many a story about my mother, from the time she gave me a Right Cross With Love to the time she was my teacher and paddled me the third week of school. One of my favorites occurred a few years ago when Mom was doing some mowing on her property. At one point she hopped off the mower to raise the mower blades. Keep in mind she was like 88 at the time. As she did, she heard a pop and thought the mower had backfired. Turns out she’d broken her back. The doctors said she be down for months, and of course she was back a few weeks later.

That’s Mom.

Another time Mom got a call from some ladies (aged 70ish) that wanted her to join their Garden Club. Mom has always had a green thumb, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. However, Mom declined and told me the reason she did was that “she didn’t want to sit around with a bunch of old people.

Mom was 83 at the time.

Even though Mom recently lost her oldest daughter, followed by her husband of 70-years, she’s hanging in there because that’s how she rolls.

Anyway, I’ve read that it’s good to ask questions about the past when dealing with older folks, because it helps to keep their mind sharp. I do this a lot, and every once in awhile she’ll drop a tidbit that is absolutely fascinating. For instance, last night we were talking and she mentioned that during her first year of substitute teaching she made $9 per day. She also once mentioned that her and Dad bought a new car for $1,400.00 around 1950 and that a loaf of bread cost 9¢. Of course money went a lot farther back then but you get the idea.

So this got me to thinking, what else has my Mom lived through? After a little research, here’s what I found. Believe me, it really puts things into perspective.

  • Mom was born on Sunday, January 23rd, 1927. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic nonstop and solo, direct from New York City to Paris, in the first solo transatlantic flight. Mom was 5-months old when Lindbergh did this.
  • When Mom was 8-months old, work began on Mt. Rushmore.
  • The year Mom was born saw the first transatlantic telephone call – New York City to London.
  • In 1927, the Ford Motor Company began selling the Model A. The price? $460.00.
  • In the year Mom was born, color television and the pop-up toaster were invented.
  • The #1 song in the year Mom was born was “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael. Click here for a listen. Good stuff. The top movie? The Jazz Singer.
  • When Mom was 1-year old, a famous character made his first appearance – Mickey Mouse. Yes, my mother is older than Mickey Mouse.
  • When Mom was 2-years old, the Stock Market crashed, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • In 1929, the first public phone booths appeared in London. Mom was 2.
  • When Mom was 3-years old Pluto was discovered. Not the cartoon dog, the planet.
  • When Mom was 4-years old, “The Star Spangled Banner” became our National Anthem.
  • When my mother was 6-years old, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
  • In 1937 Amelia Earhart was lost somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly round the world. Mom was 10-years old. Yep, she remembers hearing about it on the radio.
  • When Mom was 12-years old, Gone With the Wind, King Kong, and The Wizard of Oz were all released into theaters.
  • When Mom was 13, Hitler invaded Norway.
  • When Mom was 14-years old the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, plunging the USA into WWII.
  • In 1942 Bing Crosby released “White Christmas” which has gone on the sell over 25-million copies. Mom was 15-years old.
  • In 1944 my Mom was 17-years old. That was the year she was introduced to 18-year old Ralph Shoemaker by her brothers Walt and Joe Immell. Thus began a relationship that would last 74-years, up until my father passed away on August 13th, 2018.
  • Mom was 18-years old in 1945 when WWII ended and Hitler committed suicide.
  • In 1946, when Mom was 19, televisions began being mass produced.
  • On October 4th, 1948, my 21-year old mother gave birth to my sister. They named her Karen Elizabeth.
  • In 1951, when Mom was 24, color television was introduced to the USA. I believe we finally got one in the mid-60s.
  • In 1952, on September 27th, Mom and Dad brought my sister, Sara Dailey, into the world. Mom was 25.
  • In 1953 Mom was 26. That year Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal were the first men to reach top of Mt. Everest.
  • On December 1st, 1955, Mom was 28. On that day Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 2-days after Rosa Parks took a stand by not getting up in Montgomery, I was born. Mom and Dad named me Ralph David.
  • On September 9th, 1956 Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Mom was 29.
  • In 1961, when Mom was 34-years old, John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.
  • On November 22nd, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Mom was 36. I remember that weekend pretty clearly and wrote about it in a blog called November 22nd, 1963.
  • On February 9th, 1964, I sat with my 37-year old mother and sisters and watch a new band perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. That band was The Beatles. I was mesmerized, Dad not so much. I think he watched about 2-minutes, snorted, and went off to make a sandwich.
  • In 1968 Mom was 41. That was the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
  • On July 20th, 1969 Mom, Dad and I sat in our basement and watched Ohioan Neil Armstrong become the first human to set foot on the moon. Mom was 42, Dad was 43 and I was 14. Afterwards Dad and I went out to the front yard and looked up at the moon, amazed that a two men were standing on it as we watched.
  • From August 15th-17th, 1969 the Woodstock Festival was held in upstate New York. Mom, 42, and Dad were not fans of Hendrix, The Who, Joplin and CCR and the rest. They were still into Dean Martin I believe.
  • On December 11th, 1969 Mom’s father Walter Immell passed away at 66-years of age. I recall being called out of my 8th grade class at Twin Elementary and given the news. Mom was 42.
  • On May 4th, 1970 Mom was 43. It was the day four students were killed by National Guardsmen on Kent State campus. Although the students had been protesting the war in Vietnam and had even burned down the ROTC building, I distinctly remember my father watching the news a couple days prior and wondering aloud “why in the hell” Ohio Governor James Rhoads had sent the National Guard there.
  • On December 27th, 1971 Mom and Dad saw their first grandchild enter the world. Her name was Aimee Elizabeth. Mom was 44.
  • In 1976 the United States celebrated 200-years of existence with its Bicentennial on July 4th. Mom was 49.
  • On November 22nd, 1977 Mom’s mother Ethel passed away. She was 76. Mom was 50-years old.
  • On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon was murdered in New York City. I was living alone at the time and wrote about that night on this site in a story called December 8th, 1980. It was nearly midnight when the news broke, but of course Mom called me early the next morning to talk to me about it. She was 53.
  • On January 28th, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded. Mom was 59.
  • On August 11th, 1991 the internet was first made available to the public. Mom was 64-years old.
  • Mom was 67 when OJ Simpson murdered his wife Nicole and her friend in L.A. on June 18th, 1994.
  • On April 19th, 1995 Mom was 68. On that day the Oklahoma City Bombing happened at 9:02 am, killing 168 people.
  • On August 31st, 1997 Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. Mom was 70-years old.
  • In the year 2001 the iPod was introduced. Mom was 72.
  • On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Mom was 73.
  • In 2008 my mother was 80-years of age and witnessed the first African American, Barrack Obama, to be sworn in as President of the United States.
  • In 2015 Mom was 87 and saw the US Supreme Court allow same-sex marriages.
  • On June 21st, 2018 my Mom lost her oldest daughter Karen. Sis was 69. Mom was 91.
  • On August 13th, 2018 my father passed away. Mom and Dad had first met in 1944, 74-years earlier.

Front: Mom and Dad Top: Sara, Karen, Me

So yeah, Mom has seen a lot. She has lived to see 16-pesidents and 5 major wars. She has heard Big Band music, the birth of Rock & Roll, and Hip-Hop. She’s witnessed changes in the world that nobody could have dreamed of in 1927. During her teaching career Mom was a positive, impactful influence on thousands of kids, and through it all she’s been a strong, independent role model and mother.

And the best part? During the course of her entire life, including these past few months, Mom hasn’t changed. She’s stayed the tough, honest, loving, supportive mother she’s always been, and those of us lucky enough to know her would expect nothing less.

In 1953 an Air Force radio squadron operator was the first American to receive word that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had died. The operator’s name? Johnny Cash.

Although children had been servants and apprentices throughout most of history, child labor reached new extremes during the Industrial Revolution. Children often worked long hours in dangerous factory conditions for very little money. Children were useful as laborers because their size allowed them to move in small spaces in factories or mines where adults couldn’t fit, children were easier to manage and control and perhaps most importantly, children could be paid less than adults. Appalling but true.

Not-So-Fun-Fact: In 1900, 18% of all American workers were under the age of 16.

In 1908 a true American hero named Lewis Hine picked up his camera and became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. For 10-years Lewis traveled across the country documenting child labor despite constant threats from factory owners. At the time the owners wanted to keep the immorality of child labor away from the public’s eye. However, Hine kept it up and never wavered. Sometimes he wore disguises (such as a fire inspector or a bible salesman) to snap pictures and interview the children working at factories or in the streets.  Lewis Hine used his camera as a tool for social commentary and reform, and it worked. Risking his own safety Hine snapped thousands of photographs with one goal – to end child labor. It took years, but in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act set national minimum wage and maximum hour standards for workers in interstate commerce and also placed limitations on child labor. Bottom line, next time one of your kids complain about taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn show them these photos. Wild to look at today, but an important to know and remember.

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What follows are the first few words of The Crisis, Thomas Paine’s first article in a series of articles called The American Crisis. These words helped galvanize our country in its battle for independence from Britain at a time when our situation was looking extremely bleak. These words still ring true today, nearly 242-years later . . .

December 23, 1776

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly . . .

Amazing, powerful words indeed. A couple days later, on the evening of December 25th and morning of the 26th, George Washington turned around after having been pursued by the British Army for weeks. He crossed the Delaware, attacked the dreaded Hessians, won a stunning victory, and ignited a fire of hope within the American cause. The rest, as they say, is history.

This has made the internet rounds the last couple years and is a legitimate photograph of a turn-of-the-century Texas playground. It can be viewed on the web page of the Dallas Public Library with a description noting that it captures “Children playing on iron pole playground equipment at Trinity Play Park.” 

Sometimes when you’re way behind, everything in your body is telling you to quit. Here are 5 people who didn’t.

“From the depths of hell!”

From 5th to 1st in the last lap.

Ohio University’s Dave Wottle wins Olympic Gold in the 800-meter run.

And finally, the legendary comeback by the USA’s Billy Mills. “Look Mills! Look at Mills! LOOM AT MILLS!”

Admit it. You think of Labor Day as a 3-day vacation, right? That long weekend that signifies the end of summer? Don’t feel too badly, we all do. But there is a reason we have the day off, you know. I’m sure most of us understand that the holiday has something to do with the American worker, but few know how it actually came into existence.

The truth is that the holiday came from a time when businesses were bullying workers and our government wasn’t doing much to stop it. It all started with a really bad recession in the late 1800s that reduced demand for railway cars. This prompted Chicago railway gazillionaire George Pullman to lay off workers and/or cut back pay. Not good, especially at a time when folks were struggling to get by anyway. That said, it was a business decision. Anyway, because of this a bunch of his workers went on strike. The American Railway Union, who was obviously on the worker’s side, refused to handle Pullman cars which put a real damper on commerce in many parts of the country.

Bottom line, the whole situation pissed off the workers everywhere, who were finally fed up with the treatment they’d been receiving from industry owners who usually lived in some distant city and gave the impression they gave less than a damn about them.

Because of all this, Pullman workers started a strike in May 1894. They quit showing up for work, demanding better working conditions, better wages, and most importantly an 8-hour work day.

This caused quite an uproar in Congress, and as a nod of appreciation for the American worker they passed legislation making the first Monday of every September a day to recognize them. Woohoo! That’ll settle those rascals down! They politicians were basically giving to pat to the American worker’s head and telling him/her to take a day off once a year and relax, we’ll all salute you and it’ll all be fine.

It didn’t work. The workers kept striking.

In July, President Grover Cleveland sent the goddamn United States Army to Chicago to crush the strikers.

This just pissed the workers off even more, and within a day of the troops’ arrival angry mobs started tipping railroad cars and setting them on fire. Soldiers cracked down with bayonets and bullets but the rioting and property destruction worsened. Dozens of people ultimately died in Chicago and in other parts of the country. The government restored order by the fall, but Union leader Eugene Debs was eventually convicted of defying a court order and sent to prison.

I checked out the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day, and it says the holiday “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

It doesn’t mention the Pullman strike, workers dying or any labor problems at all.

The fact is that throughout American history our workers have had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours. Evenings and weekends weren’t just handed over by lawmakers and kind-hearted business owners. People died for your 8-hour work day.

So, Labor Day is much more than part of a 3-day weekend at the end of summer. It’s a day where we should all stop for a minute to reflect on the American worker who fought and died for decent hours and fairer wages, the men and women who made working in America better for all of us.

On the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Adams penned a letter to his wife. It read in part:

 “This day ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

His wife didn’t know it at the time, but her husband John Adams had just predicted Independence Day, often called the 4th of July, in the United States of America.

John Adams had been calling for independence for years, long before most of the delegates. Bad. Ass.

And nobody wants their gourd blown, amirite? Wait. Maybe they do. Anyway, there are certain historical facts, usually involving when events occurred, that are a tad mind-blowing and really mess with your perception of time. Check ’em out:

John Tyler, America’s 10th president, was born in 1790. He has 2 living grandchildren.

John Tyler was 63 when his son Lyon was born in 1853. Lyon was 71 when Lyon Jr. was born in 1924, and 75 when son Harrison was born in 1928. Both sons are still alive. Incredible.

Wooly Mammoths were still alive when the Egyptians built the pyramids.

Yep. From 2630 BC–2611 BC.

Oxford University in England existed hundreds of years before the Aztec Empire existed in what is now Mexico.

The Aztec Empire existed from 1428 to 1521, when Cortez showed up to ruin the party. There was evidence of teaching at Oxford University in freakin’ 1096.

George Washington died in 1799. The first dinosaur fossil was found in 1824. George Washington never knew dinosaurs existed.

*Not an actual photo.

Anne Frank, Martin Luther King and Barbara Walters were all born in 1929.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish had already been living in what is now New Mexico for 100-years. 

They began building the Palace of the Governors in 1610 and it was a thriving settlement by 1620, when the pilgrims sailed in. You might mention that the next time you hear somebody say “Speak English!”

The first McDonald’s was founded 3-years before the first prisoners were brought to Auschwitz.

Yep. The McDonald brothers opened their first restaurant adjacent to the Monrovia Airport in California in 1937. Auschwitz admitted its first prisoners in 1940.

Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin were born the same year, and Charlie had the mustache first.

Charlie also played Hitler in a movie called “The Great Dictator” in 1940.

The Colosseum in Rome was built in 80 AD, the same time the Gospel of Luke and the Acts Of The Apostles were written.

We’re not 100% certain of when those gospels were written, but it’s very close.

The Brooklyn Bridge was being built during the Battle of Little Big Horn.

And the bridge is still in use today. More than 125,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every single day. And to think that workers were building it the same day as Custer’s Last Stand.

So, gourd blown? No? Damn it. Mine was. Of course, I’m a little weird when it comes to history. Seriously man, John Tyler has two living grandchildren? That’s just cray-cray.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

On June 11th, 1776, Thomas Jefferson was asked to articulate the thoughts of the American delegates in a written document. If the congress is to vote for independence on July 1st, this “declaration” will explain the decision to the world. It was noted badass John Adams who recommended that Jefferson write it.

Thomas Jefferson was shocked. “Why me?” he asked. “Reason first,” Adams replied. “You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and very unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you write ten times better than I do.” Jefferson responded, “Well, if you are decided I will do as well as I can.”

At that point Thomas Jefferson went to his rented Philadelphia house, sat down, and began to carefully write the 1,337 words that would change the course of world history. After just a little input from a few other delegates, the “Declaration of Independence” was born.

Included in the second paragraph were the most earth-shattering, amazing words ever written for its time – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That’s right. ALL MEN. And although no country in the world believed the tiny American colonies could defeat the most powerful army in the world, that’s exactly what they did.

1990 is closer to the JFK Assassination than it is to today.

During the 1950s, the United States carried out atomic tests in the Nevada desert just 65-miles away from Las Vegas. Here a group of people enjoying a warm summer day at a Vegas hotel can actually see a mushroom cloud forming in the distance. Weird, yet chilling at the same time.

Bet you thought the thong was a relatively modern invention, amirite? Negatory, my friends. In fact, the modern thong is a surprisingly old innovation that Greenlandic Inuits have been rocking for several hundred years.
Called a Naatsit, it’s made of seal fur, chosen for its durability and insulation. And get this kids – it’s stitched together with reindeer or whale sinews and was made fashionable with decorative beads or the head of the seal. You heard me, right? The head of a freakin’ seal. Fun Fact: When the Danish missionaries showed up they tried to get the Inuits to wear something less revealing. Didn’t work.

Narrowed down from about 50. Did you own any of these? Chances are you did not.  Anywho, feel free to bask in other people’s catastrophic failures . . .

[run your mouse over the photo to read the witty captions]

 

I hate this guy.

Have you heard of Michael Sparks? No? He’s a guy who walked into a thrift store back in 2006, made a really cheap purchase, and soon discovered he’d found the mother of all finds. But first let us regress a couple years . . .

In the early 00s a Tennessean named Stan Caffy had been asked by his wife to clean out the garage and ditch all the junk he’d acquired through the years. He complied, and reluctantly took an old copy of the Declaration of Independence off his garage wall and donated it, along with other odds and ends, to a local thrift store. Caffy had bought the copy for $10 at a yard sale 10-years prior. Keep that in mind.

Soon thereafter, another Tennessean named Michael Sparks strolled into the same thrift store (the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville), a normal part of his weekly agenda. He picked up a candelabra, a set of salt and pepper shakers and that old copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

He paid $2.48 for it.

I’ve seen Declarations of Independence in thrift stores before,” said Sparks. “This one was so beautiful I thought it was an engraving. I look for things that have quality to them. I decided to look into it further.”

Yep, what you are thinking is true. The copy happened to be one that John Quincy Adams commissioned William Stone to make in 1820. Stone finished printing just 200 copies in 1823. Only 35 of these documents were known to exist until Michael Sparks purchased number 36 at a freakin’ thrift store in Nashville, Tennessee for $2.48.

Read that again. Michael Sparks purchased one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence for $2.48.

But wait, there’s more.

Although the original appraisal was for over $200,000, Sparks sold the artifact to a Utah investment firm for $477,650.00.

You read that right. $477,650.00.

Listen, I’m no math wizard, but I believe that’s a profit of $477,647.52 minus the auction house’s take and whatnot. Unbelievable.

And if Stan Caffy wasn’t feeling badly enough for giving away nearly half a million bucks, Michael Sparks left him with this zinger:

“I guess it just doesn’t pay to keep a clean house.”

Ouch. Unnecessary, Mike. Unnecessary.

George Washington died in 1799. The first dinosaur fossil was discovered in 1824. George Washington never knew dinosaurs existed.

Well, some of you. If you’re under 30 perhaps not. Anyway, many of us older folk can remember the way old supermarkets looked, as well as the old country, small town stores. What follows is a look back at a simpler time, 20 photographs along with my comments. Point, click and scroll. Do it man.

Sure, put a ship nearby. What could go wrong? Wahoo and Umbrella were code names for two underwater tests conducted in 1958. Wahoo was conducted on May 16, 1958 and Umbrella was conducted on June 8, 1958. Pat Bradley, the cameraman who photographed these events recounts his first hand experience of seeing these tests and being on the island as the tests took place. Crazy stuff.

While perusing the worldwide interweb late last night I stumbled across this little mind-blowing nugget. The pilot episode of a TV series called The Lone Gunmen, broadcast on March 4th, 2001, featured a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center. That, my friends, is chilling. Watch and try not to feel all freaky and whatnot:

Aaaand, speaking of predictions . . .

Cool.

 

I came across a pretty fascinating story the other day from the late 1920s, and it involved . . . wait for it . . . floating airports. But let’s start at the beginning . . .

Back in 1927, there was a cat named Charles Lindbergh who was the first to sail across the Atlantic Ocean all by his lonesome. You may have heard of him. Anywho, before this accomplishment nobody had ever even thought about traveling overseas with an airplane as a means of transportation. However, after Lindbergh’s flight folks started seeing things a little differently. One of these people was an inventor by the name of Edward Armstrong.

First, you should know that when Lindbergh made his flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, over half its take-off weight was gasoline. It was essential that you turn your plane into a flying gas tank in order to have enough fuel to make it.

Note: When Burt Rutan’s airplane Voyager circled the world nonstop in 1986, its takeoff weight was eighty percent fuel.

Anyway, because of the whole weight and distance problem it was thought that crossing the Atlantic wouldn’t be feasible. Then along came Armstrong, who actually had a plan in the works years before Lindbergh’s flight.

Here’s the deal – Armstrong planned to build floating airports, called seadromes, across the Atlantic. A seadrome was to weigh fifty-thousand tons and have an 1,100-foot-long deck. Its flotation system would extend about 180-feet into the water. To hold it in place, Armstrong went to John A. Roebling and Sons. Roebling had invented wound-steel cable, and his company had built the Brooklyn Bridge 40-years earlier. Now they designed a deep-water anchoring system for Armstrong.

And get this – each seadrome would include a 40-room hotel, café, lounge, bar, and other cool stuff.

Finally, on October 22nd, 1929, the New York Times announced that construction of the first seadrome would begin within 60-days. This was actually happening, man. People were pumped.

Alas, seven days later on what we now call Black Tuesday the stock market crashed, the Great Depression was upon us, and Armstrong’s grand scheme went to hell.

Of course, the advancement in technology regarding airplanes rendered all this meaningless anyway within a few years and Armstrong’s plan of floating airports vanished in the mists of time.

PS- The Japanese actually built a 1-kilometer-long floating airport in 1999. They called it Megafloat. That’s cool, man.

[click to enlarge]

Japanese Megafloat.