Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29: "Ernest T. Bass"

On this date in History ..... April 28, 1963:  

The character of Ernest T. Bass appears for the first time on The Andy Griffith Show.  

Howard Morris played Bass for only five episodes but is best remembered for this role in spite of his many other accomplishments such as being a classically trained Shakespearean actor. 

He was in the U.S. Army Special Service where his commander was Maurice Evans (played the role of father to Samantha on “Bewitched”). Other soldiers in the unit included Carl Reiner ("Alan Brady" of the Dick Van Dyke show) and Werner Klemperer ("Colonel Klink" of the show "Hogan's Heroes").  Morris directed some of the Dick Van Dyke and Hogan’s Heroes episodes.  

He was a talented voice actor and in high demand for cartoons. Some of his voices included Jet Screamer (“The Jetsons”), Mr. Peebles (“Magilla Gorilla”), Jughead (“The Archie Show”), Hamburgler (McDonalds commercials), Flem (“Cow and Chicken”), various voices on “The Flintstones” and many more. 

Many museums and universities host “Ernest T. Bass Day” in which people bring in unidentified rocks for inspection by the science departments.  

Morris died in 2005.


April 28: Muhammad Ali

On this date in History .... April 28, 1967:  

Muhammad Ali refuses to be inducted in the Army during the war with Vietnam, claiming religious reasons.  He said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong. They never called me n*****.”  

He was prosecuted for draft evasion and sentenced to five years and $10,000 but remained out of jail during the appeal. He was stripped of his title and banned from boxing for three years. 

On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court overturned his draft evasion conviction with an 8-0 vote, saying the government had failed to properly specify why his application for conscientious objector status had been denied.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 26: Lucille Ball Dies

On this date in History .... April 26, 1989:  

Lucille Ball dies a week after open heart surgery, on the day of her friend Carol Burnett’s 56th birthday.  Burnett received the flowers that Lucy had ordered earlier for delivery on her birthday.  

Lucy was the first woman to own her own film studio and the first woman to receive the International Radio and Television Society’s Gold Medal. 

Her annual salary while President of Desilu was reported at $100,000 (in 1965, the average annual salary in the U.S. was under $4700).  

In 1935, she signed her first promotional agreement with Max Factor and again in 1942. Of all the stars, she had the longest association with the Max Factor company.  

She started out as a model but was stricken by rheumatoid arthritis early in her career and spent two years re-learning how to walk. While making a 1933 movie, she was required to shave off her eyebrows and they never grew back.  She was also once fired from an ice cream parlor for forgetting to put bananas in the banana splits.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 24: Library of Congress

On this date in History .... April 24, 1800:

John Adams signs an Act of Congress to move the govt from Philadelphia to Washington DC.  Part of the bill provided for $5000 to establish a library for Congress, "for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress ..., “.  Thomas Jefferson followed this in 1802 by signing the first law creating the post of Librarian of Congress. 

The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. and is the largest library in the world with over 745 miles of shelves to hold close to 145 million items. It was first housed in the Capital building until the British burned the Capitol in the War of 1812.

Photo courtesy of
Jefferson sold his personal collection of over 6000 books to rebuild the library.  This collection was considered unique in that it was a working scholar’s collection and not just a “gentleman’s collection” used strictly for display. 

While the library was originally established as a research arm for Congress, it was Jefferson’s belief that “all subjects are important to the library of the American legislature,” that formed the rationale behind the collection policies of the library to this day.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23: New Coke

On this date in History .... April 23, 1985:

Coca-Cola made an announcement that forever placed them in the Top Ten  of “Worst Marketing Blunders” when the company announced the introduction of New Coke.  They discontinued producing the original Coke formula and New Coke took its place (the formula for Diet Coke was not changed, however).   

Robert Goizueta told employees when he became CEO in 1980 “There are no sacred cows in how the company did its business”. The public was not amused, nor impressed.  Ads that appeared on the Houston Astrodome scoreboard were booed heavily by the crowd.  Cases of Coke were selling on the black market for $30 a case. Even Fidel Castro, who was a big Coke fan, called New Coke “a sign of American capitalistic decadence.” Goizueta’s own father, who had fled Cuba to avoid Castro’s rule, said it was the only time he had agreed with Castro. Bill Cosby discontinued being the Coke spokesman because he said Coke had damaged his credibility. 

The backlash was so severe (thousands of phone calls and over 40,000 letters) that it only took three months for Coca Cola to backpedal and re-introduce the original Coke formula under the name of “Coke Classic” on July 10th.  It was such big news that ABC’s Brian Jennings interrupted “General Hospital” with the headline.  

Within six months, Coke sales increased at more than twice the rate of Pepsi and by the end of the year, New Coke was a mere 3% of the market share. It was eventually discontinued and “Coke Classic” was relabeled just plain “Coke” again.  

"There is a twist to this story which will please every humanist and will probably keep Harvard professors puzzled for years," said Coke President Donald Keough at a press conference. "The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people."   

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22: Earth Day

On this date in History .... April 22, 1970:  

The first Earth Day is held to promote awareness of the state of the planet.  

Polls the following year indicate it worked: In 1971, 25% of the public stated that environmental protection should be a goal. This was a 2500% increase over polls taken in 1969. “Earth Day” went global in 1990 with 140 participating nations. 

The brainchild of Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, the seeds of the idea came from a bestselling book “Silent Spring” which raised awareness on the dangers of pesticides. The chemical industry mounted a counterattack against the book, calling author Rachel Carson a "hysterical woman, unqualified" to write this kind of book. 

Buy the book on Amazon (I make no commission on the sale of this book):

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21: Lincoln's Funeral Train

On this date in History ..... April 21, 1865:

Marker on the lawn of the Indiana State House, Indianapolis IN
Lincoln’s funeral train leaves Washington in what became the nation’s first national funeral. The train also carried the exhumed coffin of his 11 year old son Willie (who had died in 1862) so he could be buried next to his father. 

The train traveled through seven states and 180 cities on its way to the burial site in Illinois, where Lincoln would be buried on May 4th.  It stopped in small & large cities with millions lining the railway in the rain, wind & during the night to see the train. It was reported that people waited in line as long as five hours to walk past Lincoln's coffin.

When the train went through (my hometown of) Richmond, Indiana, Governor Oliver P. Morton boarded the train. At least 50,000 walked through the Indianapolis State House rotunda to view the open casket that sat on display.

The train car that carried Lincoln's body was destroyed in a fire in 1911.

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10: American Patent System

On this date in History .... April 10, 1790:

President George Washington signed the bill which began the American patent system. For the first time in history, the law recognized the right of an inventor to profit from his inventions. 

Early patents were reviewed by Cabinet members until Jefferson realized it was too much to handle. The official patent office was formed in 1802 to take care of the unpredicted volume. 

The first patent was issued in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement in the making of potash (used for lye soap). Hopkins also received the first Canadian patent for his invention.

The first woman to receive a patent is a little muddled. In 1715, Sybilla Masters invented a new corn mill to make hominy from Indian corn.  She took the patent application to England but the patent had to be issued in her husband’s name because she was a woman.  This makes her the first American woman inventor.  

However the 1st actual patent held by a woman was issued to Hannah Slater in 1793 for a new way to spin cotton thread.  Hannah was the wife of Samuel Slater, a prominent businessman and owner of multiple of mills and cloth spinning factories.  Samuel Slater was trained in England and by the time he was 21, he was well versed in the machinery and their operation.  He heard of America's growing interest in the machinery but England had laws that prevent the designs from being exported.  He memorized as much about the machinery as possible and brought the information, all in his head, to America.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9: "Journey of Reconciliation"

On this date in History ... April 9, 1947:  

Members of the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947. Left to right: Worth
Randle, Wallace Nelson, Ernest Bromley, 
James Peck
, Igal Roodenko,
Bayard Rustin
, Joseph Felmet, George Houser and Andrew Johnson.

Sixteen men (eight white and eight black) begin a 2-week “Journey of Reconciliation” to challenge segregation laws on interstate buses in the South.  

Inspired by the Supreme Court case Morgan v. Virginia (that story to be posted on June 3), which declared segregation on interstate buses to be unconstitutional. Many southern states were blatantly ignoring this ruling. 

The riders suffered several arrests but in North Carolina, the judge showed his particular disdain for the white men taking part in the rides:  "It's about time you Jews from New York learned that you can't come down here bringing your niggers with you to upset the customs of the South. Just to teach you a lesson, I gave your black boys thirty days [on a chain gang], and I give you ninety."

The Journey of Reconciliation achieved a great deal of publicity and was the start of a long campaign of direct action by the Congress of Racial Equality. In February 1948 the Council Against Intolerance in America gave George Houser and Bayard Rustin the Thomas Jefferson Award for the Advancement of Democracy for their attempts to bring an end to segregation in interstate travel.

Sources include:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8: 17th Amendment

On this date in History .... April 8, 1913:

The 17th amendment was passed, allowing voters to cast direct votes for U.S. senators, who were previously selected by state legislators. 

The founding fathers were not confident of the “common man’s” ability to elect senators so they decided the politicians of each state, who were deemed smarter and more informed, would elect the senators.   

Each state elected two senators for a six-year term.  But as political corruption, special interests and political machines moved into state politics, the elected senators were viewed as nothing but puppets.  When one party or another dominated the state for lengthy periods of time, some open senate seats went unfilled for months and years.

The "Oregon System" was tried.  In Oregon, a primary was held to get the voters' choice and then the legislature would pledge candidates based on the voters' preference.  However an investigation into corruption of this system in Illinois caused the realization that a constitutional amendment was needed to put the vote into the voters' hands and keep local politics (i.e. local corruption) out of it.

The 17th Amendment put the power of selection into the hands of the “common man”.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7: Crossing Burning is Free Speech

On this date in History ... April 7, 2003:  

The Supreme Court decided the case of Virginia v. Black (5-4) that cross burning was protected under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech, but, according to the opinion written by Sandra Day O’Conner, “..a state, consistent with the First Amendment, may ban cross burning carried out with the attempt to intimidate.” 

In so doing, the Court created a new area of constitutionally unprotected speech for “true threats.”  

Clarence Thomas wrote the dissent, stating, “This statute prohibits only conduct, not expression. And, just as one cannot burn down someone’s house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point.”


April 6: Happy Birthday, Twinkie!!

On this date in history .... April 6, 1930:  

Twinkies were invented by James Dewar who worked as a baker for the Continental Baking Co (later to be renamed Hostess). Dewar noticed the machines that made strawberry filled cakes were dormant during the berry off season, he used the lady-finger shaped machines to create a snack cake filled with banana cream.  

During WWII, bananas were rationed and the company switched to vanilla cream, which became so popular the banana filling was not re-introduced.   Bananas were in short supply, not because of a crop failure but because transportation priority was given to the war effort and space on ships and railroad cars was limited.

Twinkees became part of pop culture in movies and TV shows.  Archie Bunker, for example, never left for work without a Twinkie in his lunchbox!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 5: Only Japanese-American receives Medal of Honor

On this date in History ... April 5, 1945:

The actions of PFC Sadao S. Munemori resulted in him becoming the only Japanese American in WWII to receive the Medal of Honor, the Nation's Highest Honor.

In a battle near Seravezza, Italy, Munemori's unit was pinned down.  When the unit leader was injured, leadership fell on the shoulders of Munemori.  In a one-man frontal attack, he took out 2 machine guns with grenades.  Withdrawing under "murderous fire" from the enemy, he had almost reached safety with his men when an unexploded grenade bounced off of his helmet and rolled toward his comrades.  

Munemori threw his body on top of the grenade, saving his men.  His citation reads that his act of heroism "cleared the path for his company's victorious advance."

Sadao was a second-generation Japanese American, born in California.  He volunteered for the Army one month before Pearl Harbor.  After the Pearl Harbor bombing, Sadao, like other Japanese Americans in the military, was removed from combat training and assigned to menial labor tasks. In the meantime, his parents were incarcerated in one of the internment camps. In March 1943, he was permitted to be reassigned to a combat unit.

Munemori's medal was given his mother and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

He is honored in multiple ways for his heroism including:

  • Sadeo S. Munemori Hall, a building located on the grounds of the Captain Nelson M. Holderman U.S. Army Reserve Center in West Los Angeles, California, was dedicated in his honor in 1993.
  • Sadeo Munemori is memorialized by a statue in Pietrasanto Italy
  • Americna Legion Post 321 in Los Angeles is named for Sadeo Munemori

Sources include: 


April 4: Beatles set Record

On this date in History .... April 4, 1964:  

The Beatles set an all-time record on the Top 100 chart of "Billboardmagazine this day. 

All five of the top songs were by the British rock group. In addition, The Beatles also had the number one album as "Meet the Beatles" continued to lead all others. The LP was the top album from February 15 through May 2, when it was replaced by "The Beatles Second Album". 

It was estimated at the time that The Beatles accounted for 60 percent of the entire singles record business during the first three months of 1964. The top five singles by The Beatles this day were:
1) Can’t Buy Me Love
2) Twist and Shout
3) She Loves You
4) I Want to Hold Your Hand
5) Please Please Me

“What song was number six?” you ask. "Suspicion" by Terry Stafford.



Friday, April 3, 2015

April 3: First Issue of TV Guide is Published

On this date in history ... April 3, 1953:

The first TV Guide was published with Lucille Ball and her new son Desi Jr. on the cover.  It sold at a price of only fifteen cents. She was on the cover more than any other celebrity, a total of 39 times with Johnny Carson coming in second with 28 covers.

TV Guide reached a circulation of 1.5 million its first year and eventually peaked at 20 million in the 1980s.  Cable created a challenge for the magazine and its circulation dropped to about 3 million.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2: 17-Year-Old Girl Strikes out Babe Ruth

On this date in History ..... April 2, 1931:  

17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, the second woman to play baseball in the all-male minor leagues, pitches an exhibition game against the N.Y. Yankees and strikes out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Her appearance on the mound “…became a Depression Era sensation.”  

Growing up in Memphis, Mitchell had been coached by minor league pitcher Charles “Dazzy” Vance, who later went on to lead the National League in strikeouts for seven years in a row.  Her family later moved to Chattanooga where she joined a high school affiliated with the city’s Class-AA Minor League team, whose president loved doing exhibitions to attract the crowd.  Mitchell was about to be one of those crowd-attracting exhibitions.  He signed up Mitchell with what was possibly the first professional baseball contract to a female.  

He invited the Yankees to play his team against the 17-year old girl pitcher.

After the regular pitcher walked the first two batters, Mitchell was put on the mound to face what was called “Murderers’ Row”.  First up was the Sultan of Swat himself, Babe Ruth.  Figuring an easy hit, it is reported that Ruth took a relaxed stance and took the first pitch as a ball.  On the second pitch, Ruth swung and “missed it by a foot”.  When Mitchell struck out the home run king, Ruth threw his bat down and retreated to the dugout.  

Next to bat was Lou Gehrig, who would tie Ruth in 1931 for the lead in homers. He swung and missed three consecutive pitches.  17-year old Mitchell walked the next batter and was then pulled from the game.  

The newspaper stories the next day included a quote from Babe Ruth, who said, “women will never make good” in baseball because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day.”  

The day after she struck out Ruth and Gehrig, the Baseball Commissioner voided her contract, claiming baseball was too strenuous for women. The ban was not overturned until 1992.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 1: Cigarette Ads Banned on TV

On this date in History ... April 1, 1970:

President Nixon signs the bill banning cigarette ads on TV & radio.  

Tobacco companies were the single largest product advertisers on television in 1969. The last televised cigarette ad (Virginia Slims) ran at 11:50 pm during the Carson Show on Jan 1, 1971.  

“Ms. Magazine” originally decided not to accept cigarette ads. They had particular problem with the Virginia Slims slogan of “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”, not so much for the “Baby” part of it (which was a factor) but because it depicted “smoking a symbol of progress for women.”  Eventually the magazine accepted the ad money.  

Gloria Steinem said, in a Ms. Magazine editorial, that cigarette ads “…became a disproportionate support of magazines the moment they were banned on television, & few magazines could compete & survive without them.”