The release of the latest Star Wars movie has been causing quite a stir. At this point, the Star Wars film fervor is basically a tradition—check out this article from 1977, the year A New Hope was released.
Planning to fill up on turkey, mashed potatoes and—of course!—the all-important pumpkin pie tonight? Be sure to save one of your Thanksgiving “thank yous” for Sarah Josepha Hale. Hers isn’t a familiar name, but perhaps it ought to be—it’s because of her that Thanksgiving is now a regularly celebrated holiday, and a scrumptious one to boot.
Making Thanksgiving a consistently celebrated holiday was just one of her many accomplishments. With her influential standing as editor of the quintessential magazine guide Godey’s Ladies Book, she was able to make a lot of positive change, both in her community and across the nation. And all the while she wrote dozens of books and poems, including the classic, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Lincoln is often credited (rightly) for issuing the proclamation that officially made Thanksgiving an annual federal holiday, but it was Sarah Hale’s relentless, decades-long campaign full of letters and appeals that pushed the idea from thought into reality.
Hale also published recipes, spreading the Thanksgiving spirit through one of the most compelling of subjects: food. It is because of her recipes that traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie are holiday staples today.
Once upon a time, in the midst of World War II, an innovative scientist named Geoffrey Pyke had an idea. It was born out of difficulties arising from what was called the “mid-Atlantic gap,” a wide stretch of ocean traveled by vulnerable UK-bound ships who were too far from the shore for the short range aircraft to protect. They needed an aircraft carrier made from something that was large, could float, and wouldn’t use up the valuable supply of metal.
It wasn’t just any ice, however. Pyke found that if you added wood pulp to your ordinary frozen water, it created a stronger, less melty version of the ice we all know and love. It was dubbed pykrete—a clever mix of Pyke’s name and “concrete”—and then this happened:
And then this happened:
But alas, the Habakkuk itself never happened. The idea wasn’t a bad one—it probably would have worked. But in the months it took to build a smaller scale prototype–which held up very well to testing, it should be said—the need for a mid-Atlantic gap ice aircraft melted away and the project was abandoned.
When it comes to subterfuge, success can often be found by hiding in plain sight. Take, for example, the lady spies who, over the years, communicated secret information through their knitting. They turned knitting patterns into codes, overheard conversations as their needles clicked, dropped stitches intentionally to conceal messages in scarves and hats. It was clever and perfectly concealed by the stereotype that women’s hobbies—especially those of older women—were silly and harmless.
In Molly “Old Mom” Rinker’s case, she found she was able to hide quite comfortably in the role of “old woman knitting” while she spied on British forces during the Revolutionary War.
Enough daring ladies took advantage of this method, especially during WWI, that by the time WWII came around, specific precautions were taken to keep knitted codes from slipping through unnoticed (among other things):
The weekend is over and the workweek is back at it again. Not a big fan of Mondays? You’re not alone. Here’s a little 1995 article from the Wausau Daily Herald all about the Monday blues and surviving the workweek:
“Just kind of hope for the best. Don’t expect too much.” – Jim Beem.
On October 24, 1926, the famed magician Harry Houdini finished a show, walked off the stage, and collapsed.
The above-mentioned “delay in applying for medical attention” was a span of several days. The exact reasons for his unexpected death haven’t been confirmed, exactly, but it is pretty likely a result of being punched in the stomach after a lecture on October 22nd. Houdini was chatting with some students in his dressing room when one student decided to test his claim that he could withstand any blow to the stomach.
The student’s blow came without warning, and Houdini, with no time to prepare, found himself with a ruptured appendix as a result. But it was his insistence that the show must go on, as they say, that did him in. He survived for a week after the operation for his appendicitis, but eventually died that Halloween at the age of 52.
But before he died, he is said to have made a promise with his wife. If there was a way to contact her from the Beyond, he would find it. And thus, the annual Halloween Houdini seances began.
After ten years of attempting to receive a message from her husband, Bess Houdini finally gave up the effort. She died in 1943. She is pictured below next to a small collection of her husbands things a few days before the October 1936 seance, the final attempt she would make.
On this day in 1965, the 630 foot tall curve of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch was completed.
Interesting, related tidbit of history: it seems that while in town for the arch’s monumental completion, Aline Saarinen—wife of the architect who designed the building—was robbed.
Eero Saarinen, sadly, died in 1961, two years before construction of the arch began.
On this day in 1959, the doors of the strange, spiraling Guggenheim Museum open to the public.
The Guggenheim displayed (and continues to display) a large and expanding collection of contemporary art. It has since become one of the most visited of New York City’s many attractions. Have you had a chance to go?
The first week of October has come and gone, and with it fades the final days of this year’s Oktoberfest celebrations. Celebrated annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany since 1810, Oktoberfest has since spread to various cities across the world for obvious reasons. A two week-long party (or longer) complete with music, festivities, traditional foods, and beer? That’s a recipe for a good time wherever you are.
Yep—you’ve got to admire a wedding reception that’s so good it’s re-celebrated every year.
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