April 18, 2015

Friday / Weekend Open Lines

This date in 1961 saw the launch of the ill-fated invasion of Cuba by some 1,400 U.S. trained exiles. The attempt to overthrow the Fidel Castro dictatorship was crushed at the Bay of Pigs. A reverse amphibious operation began this month in 1980, when what’s known as the Mariel boatlift began. Castro had announced that […]

Thursday Open Line

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of a small hamburger restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois — the first of what would become one of the world’s best-recognized brand names — McDonald’s. The franchise shop belonged Ray Kroc, whose main interest at the time was selling the machines that mixed milkshakes. The name came […]

Wednesday Open Line

To borrow from some recent advertising slogans, although many Americans couldn’t imagine leaving home without them, and they’re everywhere they want to be, there was a time when credit cards were rare — issued only by individual merchants. But that proprietary limitation ended on this date in 1952, when the Franklin National Bank in New […]

Tuesday Open Line

The distribution of political representation under the Constitution was authorized on this date in 1792. Based on the results of the 1790 Census, the House of Representatives was to be apportioned according to population, coming as near to equal populations in the districts as could be determined. That first census counted a resident population of […]

Monday Open Line

April is a significant month for the American printed word. In 1800, the Library of Congress was founded, and earlier this week, in 1828, Noah Webster published the first dictionary of American English. This is also the second day of National Library Week, celebrating libraries, those who staff them and the billions of materials they […]

Friday / Weekend Open Lines

The need to pay a $15 debt sparked one of the most useful of inventions, patented on this date in 1849. Walter Hunt, a mechanic in New York, owed the debt. While he thought about how to raise the money, he fiddled with a small piece of wire. Finally, he bent the wire with a […]

Thursday Open Line

For much of history, a cooked meal was followed by the drudgery of scrubbing the pans used to prepare it. But something was discovered this week in 1938 that changed all that, a solidified refrigerant gas that we now know as Teflon. Developed by Roy Plunkett of the DuPont Company, slippery Teflon revolutionized cooking utensils […]

Wednesday Open Line

On this date 102 years ago, the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified establishing direct popular election of senators. Previously, members of the Senate were elected by each state’s legislature. As the voting franchise expanded after the Civil War and into the Progressive Era, growing sentiment held that senators ought to be popularly […]

Tuesday Open Line

The years of Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933, were considered a noble experiment that failed, as the subsequent crime associated with bootlegging caused problems worse than the lone problem of drunkenness. The crumbling of the unpopular Volstead Act accelerated on this date in 1933 when Congress amended the act to permit beer of 3.2 percent […]

Monday Open Line

On this date in 1859, Massachusetts established the first state milk inspection program. An inspector of milk was appointed in August that year, operating from Boston, and whose primary efforts were to suppress so-called “swill milk,” the poor, thin output of cows kept in unsanitary conditions and fed on distillery refuse. Currently, the Food and […]

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