Archive | October 2015

Happy Halloween

October 31st Celebrates Halloween

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate All Hallows Eve but how did this holiday tradition become what is known today as Halloween?

Halloween can be traced back more than 2,000 years to a Celtic festival known as Samhain (SAH-wen) that celebrated the end of the summer harvest season. The ancient Celts lived in Northern Europe, especially Ireland, Britain, and France. (The “C” in Celtic is pronounced with a “K” sound.)

The Celts believed that the spirits of the dead roamed the towns and villages on the night of October 31. Because the Celts were superstitious, they feared that these spirits could create havoc by damaging crops, creating sickness, and even taking over the bodies of the living. To ward off danger, the Celts made huge bonfires and dressed in animal hides to frighten away the evil spirits. Today people light up the night with creepy decorations, and Jack-o’-lanterns. And rather than parading around in animal hides, most kids prefer to wear spooky costumes.

The origin of trick-or-treating is not well understood. Some people think it began with a custom called souling, when the poor went to people’s homes begging for soul cakes, which were round pieces of bread with currants. In return for the treats, the beggars would pray to help the recently deceased enter heaven.

So how did Samhain turn into Halloween? Well, like all cultural changes, it didn’t happen overnight. Samhain was a pagan (nonreligious) celebration. As Christianity became the dominant religion in the world, the Catholic Church decided it didn’t like people celebrating a non-Christian holiday. Around the year 800 AD, the Church moved a spring holiday—All Saints’ Day—to November 1st. “Hallows” is another word for “saints,” so the night before All Saints’ Day became known as All Hallows’ Eve. From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump for All Hallows’ Eve to become Halloween.
So when you’re out Saturday night carrying a plastic pumpkin filled with Milky Ways, candy corn, and M&Ms, remember the ancient Celts whooping and hollering so keep safe from evil spirits.

One of my favorite songs on Halloween is called, “Monster Mash.”

Today’s YouTube presentation shared by user name Tamara Tenenbaum is today’s song called, “The Monster Mash,” as we celebrate Halloween today on October 31st.

Who wrote the song called The Monster Mash?

Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called the Cordials at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff while performing the Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'”. The audience loved it and fellow band member Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.

Pickett and Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, pianist Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page, and Terry Berg, credited as “The Crypt-Kickers”. (Mel Taylor, drummer for the Ventures, is sometimes credited with playing on the record as well, while Russell, who arrived late for the session, appears on the single’s B-side, “Monster Mash Party”) The song was partially inspired by Paxton’s earlier novelty hit “Alley Oop”, as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era.

A variation on the Mashed Potato was danced to “Monster Mash”, in which the footwork was the same but Frankenstein-style monster gestures were made with the arms and hands.

The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes “the hit of the land” when the scientist throws a party for other monsters.

The producers came up with several low-budget but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board.

The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw, and the chains rattling were simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated horror film actor Bela Lugosi as Dracula with the lyric “Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

When black cats prowl, and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween!

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


Ruth Gordon

October 30th Celebrates Ruth Gordon

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate one of my favorite actresses named Ruth Gordon, who was born on October 30th 1896.

When Ruth Gordon convinced her father who was a sea captain, to let her pursue acting she came to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She acted in a few silent films made at Fort Lee, New Jersey.

In 1915, she made her Broadway debut in “Peter Pan” and spent the next 20 years doing stage performances.

If I had to describe a “Renaissance Woman,” it would be Ruth Gordon hands down; because of the movie she made called, “Harold and Maude.”

It’s comedy that I think it’s worth watching, the movie came out on December 20th 1971, and what is about was a self-destructive and needy but wealthy teenager Harold is obsessed with death and spends his leisure time attending funerals, watching the demolition of buildings, visiting junkyards, simulating suicides trying to get the attention of his indifferent, snobbish and egocentric mother, and having sessions with his psychologist.

When Harold meets the anarchic seventy-nine-year-old Maude at a funeral, they become friends and the old lady discloses other perspectives of the cycle of life for him.

Meanwhile, his mother enlists him in a dating service and tries to force him to join the army. On the day of Maude’s eightieth birthday, Harold proposes to her but he finds the truth about life at the end of hers.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name W. David Lindhom is the movie trailer clip of commercial version that ran to entice the consumers to see the movie called, ‘Harold and Maude,” as we celebrate Ruth Gordon’s birthday today on October 30th.

On August 28, 1985, Ruth Gordon died at her summer home in Edgartown, Massachusetts, following a stroke. She was 88. Garson Kanin, Miss Gordon’s husband of 43 years was at her side, and said that even her last day of life was typically full, with walks, talks, errands and a morning of work on a new play.

She made her last public appearance only two weeks before – at a benefit showing of the film Harold and Maude – and she had recently finished acting in four films.

“She had a great gift for living the moment,” said Glenn Close, who co-starred with Miss Gordon in Maxie, one of her last films, “…and it kept her ageless.”

If you happen to be a Columbo fan like me, Ruth Gordon had appeared on the infamous television show mystery in 1977, in episode called, “Try and Catch Me.”

For Columbo fans, such as myself, this is the episode of episodes that made a case for why Columbo was so popular, and just how good it really was. Ruth Gordon has a field day (as ever) playing the wittily intelligent crime novelist Abigail Mitchell. Seems Abigail calls her nephew-in-law to sign some papers making him her heir. She never got over her niece’s death, and is convinced her dead niece’s husband (Charles Frank) did the dirty deed. To tell more would be unthinkable. Mariette Hartley has a sly role as Abigail’s personal assistant. This episode of Columbo is in a class by itself. It’s a truly well made television movie. I recommend you watching it when you get a chance, as we remember Ruth Gordon’s today on October 30th.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

The First Ball Pen Sold

October 29th Celebrates The First Ball Pen Sold

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate the first ballpoint pens to be made commercially which went on sale at Gimbel’s Department store in New York at sale price of $12.59 each, on October 29th 1945.

Let’s go back in history a little and find out who invented this pen that all of us have used from time to time.

The first patent for a ballpoint pen was issued on October 30th 1888, by fellow by the name of John J. Loud, who was attempting to make a writing instrument that would be able to write anything.

Another inventor by the name of, László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, noticed that inks used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink.

Bíró enlisted the help of his brother György, a chemist, to develop viscous ink formulas for new ballpoint designs.

During the same period, American entrepreneur Milton Reynolds came across a Birome ballpoint pen during a business trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Recognizing commercial potential, he purchased several ballpoint samples, returned to the United States, and founded Reynolds International Pen Company. Reynolds bypassed the Birome patent with sufficient design alterations to obtain an American patent, beating Eversharp and other competitors to introduce the pen to the U.S. market, debuting at Gimbels department store in New York City on October 29th 1945.
I wonder when the pencil was invented.

Actually the pencil was invented before the ball point pen.

The “lead” pencil (which contains no lead) was invented in 1564 when huge graphite (black carbon) mine was discovered in Borrowdale, Cumbria, England. The pure graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The graphite rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders, forming pencils.

Why did the department store called Gimbels sell the first ball point pen?

Before there was Macy’s, Gimbels was always competing for better prices with Macy’s,
The two retail giants were fused in the mind by location, competition and the original movie version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” in which the kindly Macy’s Santa tells a mother that she can find a pair of roller skates (sold out at his store) at Gimbels.

Its competitor had a parade, but Gimbels had something else: a bargain basement, the first of its kind in New York. And though the store’s prices were low, the advertisements did not stint on hyperbole.

When the nation’s first ballpoint pens went on sale at Gimbels on Oct. 29, 1945, the store ran circulars promoting what was described as “a fantastic, atomic era, miraculous pen.” And preceding the slogans of countless used-car dealers, the store boasted, “Nobody but nobody undersells Gimbels.”

When Gimbels closed, some business analysts saw the event as marking the end of retail marketed to the middle class, and wondered if 34th Street had a future in retail. It did, of course; the street is still home to Macy’s, and the Manhattan Mall set up shop in the former Gimbels building.
The director Jon Favreau concluded that the Gimbels name was worth $5,000, which he paid to Mark and Beth Gimbel of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the current owners of the trademark, for its use in the 2003 holiday film “Elf.”

Like the old Penn Station and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Gimbels had become another paramour in the New York love affair with what it has left behind, but what wasn’t left behind was the ball point pen making its debut at Gimbles Department store on October 29th 1945.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

“My World Is Empty Without You”

October 28th Celebrates My World Is Empty Without You

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how the female group called the Supremes recorded the song called, “My World is Empty Without You,” on October 28th 1965.

Like many Supremes songs, this is a tale of heartache with an up-tempo beat. Legendary Motown session musicians the Funk Brothers supplied the track for the song called, “My World is Empty Without You.”

On February 20th 1966, the Supremes performed “My World is Empty Without You” on the CBS-TV program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ as the song climbing the billboard charts.

Who wrote the song called, “My World is Empty Without You,” for the Supremes?

Written and produced by Motown’s main production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song’s slow tempo accompanies a somber lyric which delves into the feelings of depression after a breakup; instrumentally, this is showcased with a gothic and dramatic musical arrangement, prominently featuring Earl Van Dyke’s Hammond organ shrilly configured to sound like a liturgical pipe organ, in tow with the trend of baroque pop during the mid-1960s.
“My World Is Empty Without You” was one of the few songs written by the team for The Supremes that didn’t go to number one, peaking at number five on the US pop chart for two weeks in February 1966, have ever heard the song?

Today’s YouTube presentation is brought to you by user name Bob Brun, of Ed Sullivan introducing the Supremes and their new song called, “My World Is Empty Without You,” as we celebrate the songs release to the public which happened on October 28th 1965.

I’ve always liked that song, I wonder why it didn’t make the billboards charts back then like their other songs.

In any case today isn’t about who made it or who didn’t it’s about the whimsical song making its debut to the public on October 28th 1965.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

The First Patent of Water Skis

October 27th Celebrates Water Skis

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how Fred Waller received a patent for water skis on October 27th 1925.

I’ve never been on water skis have you?

Since I never learned how to swim I probably wouldn’t enjoy water skis but what I do enjoy is how this product came available to the consumer.
The actual inventor of the water ski was a fellow by the name of Ralph Wilford Samuelson, the inventor of water skiing, which he first performed in the summer of 1922 in Lake City, Minnesota, just before his 19th birthday.

Samuelson was already skilled at aquaplaning standing on a board while being pulled by a powerboat, but he hoped to create something like snow skiing on the water.

Samuelson did not patent his invention, nor was his work sufficiently publicized at the time to prevent U.S. Patent for water skis from being subsequently issued, on October 27, 1925, to prolific inventor Fred Waller of Huntington, New York. Waller marketed his product as “Dolphin Akwa-Skees,” at Cypress Water Garden.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name Jeff Quitney, is a clip from Cypress Gardens Water Skiing Stunts: Aquatic Wizards 1955 Castle Films. As we celebrate the invention of the water skis on October 27th.

Waller later invented the Cinerama wide-screen motion picture system, and in 1952’s “This is Cinerama,” the first feature film released in the panoramic format, like that old saying goes, “When you snooze you lose.”

Samuelson either didn’t have the money to invest in his invention or maybe he wouldn’t think anyone else would think of the same idea he had. However Samuelsson did come up with the idea for water skis in the summer of 1922.

Were there any famous water skiers of our time?

From 1965 to 1974, a fellow by the name of George Athans who was a former Canadian World Champion water skier won 10 consecutive national titles, also known as George Anthans Junior, to distinguish him from his father, Canadian Olympic Hall of Famer George Athans Senior.

Maybe you prefer high jumps during a water skiing event; if that’s so then Freddy Krueger would be your favorite. Freddy, the world record holder for jumping just won the men’s jumping title at the 2nd Global Invitational. He jumped 236 feet for the title.

Are there any famous women water skiers?

I’m glad you asked because there is someone special I wanted to bring to your attention.

Kristi Overton-Johnson holds part of a three-way tie for the World Record in Slalom. Kristi is now retired, but the North Carolina native had a brilliant career as a professional water skier. She began competing at age five, winning the Southern Region Girls Tricks, Jumping, and Overall Record.

Water Skiing is not just a summer time past-time, it is a sport with professionals, who compete around the world, breaking records and improving the sport, as we celebrate the first patent issued for water skis on October 27th.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

Gunfight at the OK Corral

October 26th Celebrates Gunfight at the OK Corral

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate the gunfight at the OK Corral, took place in Tombstone Arizona on October 26th 1881.

Tomb it May Concern, to go along with our Halloween spirit, where did the phrase OK Corral originate from?

The phrase “O.K.”, used to name Tombstone, Arizona’s historic O.K. Corral, had its origins in the Pennsylvania Dutch country of New York State in the mid-1800s.

Today, the term appears in many languages, and has become one of the most used phrases in the world. It is even used in computer programs to indicate agreement. Not bad for an idiomatic expression that is over 150 years old and almost disappeared from use.

The term then seems to have largely disappeared from use until sometime after the Civil War. Eventually it came back into general use, and was thus chosen by John Montgomery to describe his “O.K. Corral, Livery and Feed Stable” which he founded in Tombstone, Arizona in February, 1879, but things weren’t that okay during the gun battle with Ike Clayton and Wyatt Earp.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name Little Drink Ru is clip from the 1993 movie called, “Tombstone,” starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, in the infamous gun battle at the OK Corral.

So who really started the fight at the OK Corral?

After years of feuding and mounting tensions, on this day in 1881, the “law and order” Earps and the “cowboy” Clanton-McLaurys engage in their world-famous shoot-out near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, leaving three men dead and three more wounded.

The question of which side actually drew their guns first is still debated today, but it s believed that Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton in the chest at point-blank range, while Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaurys with a blast from his double-barreled shotgun. Wyatt Earp shot Frank McLaurys in the stomach, and the wounded man staggered out into the street but managed to pull his gun and return fire.

Sheriff Behan, who witnessed the entire shoot-out, charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. However, a month later the Tombstone justice of the peace found the men not guilty, ruling “the defendants were fully justified in committing these homicides.”

Just the other night I was watching an old Seinfeld episode called, ‘Little Kicks,” where Jerry gets introduced to one of Kramer’s friends named Brody.

The reason I’m bringing this episode up with you is because Kramer’s friend Brody pointed a gun at Jerry to make him shoot his boot leg movie inside the theatre. After everything was said in done, Jerry told Kramer, “People with guns don’t understand. That’s why they get guns, because too many misunderstandings,” which is pretty much what happened at the OK Corral on October 26th 1881.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

The First Microwave Sold to the Public

October 25th Celebrates First Microwave Sold to the Public

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how on October 25th 1955 the first microwave oven for home use was introduced by the Tappan Stove Company.
I don’t know about you but that beep to tell me my dinner is ready is such a soothing sound to me, but how did the microwave oven originate?

The microwave oven didn’t come from humble beginnings. It’s an appliance born of the radar systems used in World War II and the labs of what is now one of the biggest U.S. defense companies.

Early in World War II, physicists invented the magnetron, an electron tube that could generate microwaves and improve the capability of British radar systems to spot Nazi warplanes.

Raytheon engineer Percy LeBaron Spencer was working on an active radar set a few years later when it accidentally melted a candy bar in his pocket. He figured microwaves could cook food. Spencer then tried popping popcorn and making an egg using microwaves.

Raytheon had filed a patent for the microwave cooking process by 1945. Two years later, it built Radarange, the first microwave oven in the world.
The Radarange was as large as a refrigerator, but heavier. The tubes in the magnetron had to be water-cooled, so plumbing installation was required. Result: The first microwave oven weighed about 750 pounds and was nearly 6 feet tall.

The beta microwave was placed in a restaurant in Boston for testing. Raytheon introduced a commercial microwave oven, the 1161 Radarange, in 1954. It was expensive — priced at $2,000 to $3,000 (the equivalent of $16,000 to $24,000 in today’s cash).

Raytheon licensed its technology to the Tappan Stove company. Tappan introduced a large 220-volt wall unit as a home microwave oven in 1955. It sold for $1,295 (figure $10,500 today).

It had two cooking speeds (500 and 800 watts), stainless steel exterior, glass shelf, top-browning element and a recipe card drawer. But the price was high, and microwave cooking was an unknown.

Consumers stayed away from the device. Sales were slow.

A Studebaker subsidiary called Franklin Manufacturing had been making magnetrons and selling microwave ovens similar to the Radarange. Litton Industries bought Franklin from Studebaker in the 1960s and made a big breakthrough.

Litton developed the short, wide shape of the microwave that we’re familiar with today. And it created an oven that could survive even when there was no object in it to heat.

Prices began to fall rapidly. Raytheon, which had acquired a company called Amana, introduced the first popular home model in 1967, the countertop Radarange. It cost $495 (about $3,200 today).

Consumer interest in microwave ovens began to grow. About 40,000 units were sold in the United States in 1970. Five years later, that number hit a million.

(Nuke), no – where else because this great invention is here to stay as we remember how on October 25th 1955 the first microwave was sold to the public!

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell