Friday, April 15th. Today marks the 61st anniversary of the opening of a small hamburger restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was the first of what would become one of the world’s best-recognized brand names — McDonald’s. The franchise shop belonged to Ray Kroc, whose main interest at the time was selling the machines that mixed milkshakes. The name came from two McDonald brothers who ran a hamburger shop in California. The first day’s revenue at the Illinois outlet was $366.12. That shop is now a museum housing artifacts from the growth of the chain, which has famously served billions of hamburgers around the world. In the U.S. today, there are nearly a quarter-million fast-food outlets serving hamburgers and other comestibles, with earnings of $185 billion per year. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, April 16th. Children have worked throughout history, especially on family farms and in trades. But their employment in industrialized settings raised many popular objections. On this date in 1836, Massachusetts became the first state to prohibit children under 15 from working in factories. Massachusetts acted again six years later, limiting children’s work to 10 hours per day. But it wasn’t until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that long, dangerous child labor was ended nationally. The restrictions on child labor scarcely dent the national labor force. In June of last year, there were 157 million working Americans age 16 and older. The largest category, at 4.5 million, was in retail sales. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, April 17th. For urban dwellers, the difficulty — or at least the expense — of doing their laundry began to ease this month in 1934. That’s when the first public, self-operated laundry in the U.S. opened its doors in Fort Worth, Texas. The first name was “Washateria,” eventually replaced with the now familiar “Laundromat.” Early facilities were not necessarily coin-operated, and there was always an attendant on duty. The automatic washing machine came along in 1937, and by the late 1940s, the first unattended, 24-hour Laundromats were opened. Now, there are just under 11,000 dry cleaners and coin-operated laundromats across the country. Employing nearly 40,000 people, they do $3.5 billion of grime-fighting business annually. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.