Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, July 29th. The nation’s love affair with automobiles is generations old. Our devotion can be traced down through the decades by looking at advertising, as cars progressed from romantic if noisy new playthings to a near necessity in our vast country. The first known national ad promoting a car appeared at the end of July 1898 in the Scientific American magazine. It was for the now forgotten Winton Motor Carriage with the headline “dispense with a horse.” Americans did just that, and by 1906, 57 car companies spent over a half-million dollars advertising in 12 national magazines. Today, joining auto manufacturers in advertising the latest models are many of the country’s more than 21,000 new car dealers. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the ‘America’s Economy’ mobile application at<>.

Saturday, July 30th. The national government’s broad involvement in individual health insurance goes back to this date 50 years ago. That’s when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments, which established Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation was introduced in Congress in March 1965, and went through more than 500 amendments before being passed by large majorities in both the House and Senate. In January 1966, President Johnson handed the first Medicare cards to former President Harry Truman — who had advocated such a program — and his wife, Bess. Today, the Medicare system covers more than 55 million Americans. The 65-and-older population in the U.S. has surpassed 46 million and is expected to reach over 98 million by the year 2060. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Sunday, July 31st.  The month of July has put its stamp on U.S. Postal Service history. In early July 1847, the first Post Office-issued stamps went on sale. Before then, there were no uniform stamps — a haphazard system of private postal services around the country had issued their own. In 1868, Congress authorized the Postmaster General to prescribe uniforms for mail carriers. This month in 1927, the first drive-up mailbox was installed in Houston. And in 1963, the postal service introduced the ZIP code to help speed mail service. That year, Americans sent nearly 68 billion pieces of mail. Lately, the Postal Service handles 154 billion pieces of mail annually, while over a half-million Americans work in 9,400 private courier and express delivery establishments. Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.