Monday Open Line


One of world’s most important medicines — insulin –became available for general use this month in 1923, saving the lives of millions of people suffering from diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and is critical in the processing of carbohydrates in the human body. It was first isolated the year before by a Canadian team led by Dr. Frederick Banting at the University of Toronto. The effect was like a miracle. One year, the disease was an automatic death sentence, the next, people — even children — who were affected had hopes of living full and productive lives. One of the first beneficiaries was the daughter of U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a $142 billion a year industry in the U.S. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.

Sunday, April 21st. Immigration and assimilation are matters of much current debate, but in 1980, those issues came floating in on the tide. It was on this date that what’s known as the Mariel boatlift began. When Cuban ruler Fidel Castro announced that any countrymen wishing to leave the island could, the voluntary exiles made their way to the port town of Mariel, just west of Havana. During the exodus, some 125,000 Cubans crossed the Florida straits in about 5,000 small boats, mostly coming ashore in Key West. The boatlift lasted until late September, when Castro closed the port to any more emigrants. Of the 50.5 million Hispanics counted in the 2010 Census, 3½ percent — or some 1.75 million — are of Cuban heritage. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.

Saturday, April 20th. With the market for new homes still struggling to recover from setbacks in the recent past, many owners are deciding to fix up their current house. April mild weather brings the kickoff for the home improvement season, and also National Decorating Month. The idea is that money spent on fixing up houses is a wise investment, whether it’s a simple paint job, a new skylight, or an entire addition. Remodeling a bathroom is by far the most popular improvement. In a recent year, over 6 percent of U.S. households had that work done, while another half-percent added a bathroom. Kitchen remodeling is second in popularity, with 3.7 percent of homes making that improvement. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.