September 1, 2014

Monday Open Line

This is Labor Day — a time to honor the nation’s working men and women, and traditionally, the end of the summer season. The observance has added meaning this year because of the persistently cloudy employment picture. The first Labor Day was celebrated in September 1882 in New York City. By 1894, more than half […]

Friday / Weekend Open Line

A perpetually hot topic, in summer and other seasons, is the fluctuating cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. Some discussion centers on the amount of taxes paid at the pump, as state taxes on fuels vary widely. The highest state tax plus fees on gasoline is 50.5 cents per gallon, levied in New York, while […]

Thursday Open Line

“This program is brought to you by …” Those words, or ones close to them, were heard on this date 92 years ago in what is believed to be the first commercial broadcast on the new medium of radio. Station WEAF in New York City carried that first ad — not for soap or automobiles […]

Wednesday Open Line

The U.S. petroleum industry got its start on this date in 1859 when blacksmith William Smith saw a dark film floating on the surface of the water in a hole he was boring near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Rising from a depth of just 69 feet, it was the oil he was seeking for his employer, Edwin […]

Tuesday Open Line

It is said that “every dog has its day,” and according to an animal welfare organization in Oregon, today is it for every dog. Now in its 11th observance, this date is National Dog Day. The occasion has two goals. One is to honor dogs, which serve humanity as companions, watchdogs, herders, and Seeing Eye […]

Monday Open Line

The Smithsonian Institution, founded this month in 1846, is the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 137 million artifacts in its collection. One was donated to the museum in August 1985 to mark the 25th anniversary of its commercial debut — the original Xerox 914 copying machine. Weighing in at just under 650 pounds, […]

Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Two ordinary items found in many or most American households both trace their creation by New York City residents to this date in August. In 1865, the first liquid soap was patented by William Shepphard. His formula flowed from mixing a pound of regular soap with 100 pounds of ammonia solution, then dissolving it in […]

Thursday Open Line

The American Bar Association was founded on this date in 1878 in Sarasota Springs, New York. One-hundred attorneys from 21 states were present at its first meeting. The legal profession as we know it barely existed at the time. There was no National Code of Ethics, lawyers generally worked alone and trained under a system […]

Wednesday Open Line

The nation’s first licensed radio station began broadcasting in Detroit on this date in 1920 — station 8MK, now operating as WWJ. The station was owned by the Detroit News, and for some convoluted reasons, the station operated with an amateur license, which in 1922 was changed to commercial. The first station to receive a […]

Tuesday Open Line

Two geniuses in the field of electronics whose inventions changed pastimes the world over were born in August. One was television pioneer Philo Farnsworth, whose 1906 birthday is noted today. He conceived the idea of television broadcasting while still in high school and realized his dream at the age of 21. The other was Lee […]

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