"Home on the Prairie" - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1939 was a big year for the motion picture industry, with the release of some films considered to this day to be classics.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Home on the Prairie, and Stagecoach are on many film critics' all-time best.  Okay, wait.  One of those films is maybe on a different scale of greatness than the others.  Home on the Prairie is a western starring none other than the legendary Gene Autry playing the role of ... well, Gene Autry ... with his loyal sidekick Smiley Burnette as Frog Milhouse, a recurring character in many of Autry's films.

A book (or a few books) could be written about Autry, widely considered "America's Favorite Cowboy," the "Singing Cowboy," and "The Man Who Created A Really Cool Museum That Is Located Near Griffith Park In Los Angeles That We Recommend You Check Out The Next Time You're In The Area," but for now, we will concentrate on the film Home on the Prairie."  This short film, clocking in at fifty-nine minutes, addresses an unusual topic for a western:  Hoof and Mouth Disease.  Hoof and Mouth is a potentially fatal virus that is highly contagious and can devastate animal populations on farms.  As an invisible killer, it is rarely presented on film.

Bellknap, played by Walter Miller, discovers that his herd has hoof and mouth, and attempts to ship them off to market before the disease takes its toll.  Gene Autry discovers the cover-up and works to make things right.   In the name of full disclosure, the American Treasure Tour editing and writing staff is prepared to admit that we have not, to date, actually seen Home on the Prairie, but we have admired the small poster on display in the Music Room here at the Tour numerous times.  We fully intend to change that, once our copy of the dvd arrives in the mail.  (We will explain what a dvd is in a future blog, to those who are only familiar with movie downloads.)
QUESTION:  Which of the following films did NOT come out in 1939?
A)  The Great Dictator
B)  Wuthering Heights
C)  Ninotchka
D)  Only Angels Have Wings

TRANSISTORS.  The transistor was introduced at Bell Laboratories on this day in 1947.  It would revolutionize electronics with its ability to amplify electronic signals, ultimately making vacuum tubes irrelevant.  Ask your neighborhood scientist what makes it important, but trust us, this little thing not only helped define the second half of the twentieth century, but earned its creators a much-deserved Nobel Prize in Physics nine years later.  

INTERWHAT?  Sticking with the science theme here, we celebrate the birth of Bob Kahn, who turns 77 today.  He is accredited with inventing the TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol - communication protocols that helped to create the modern Internet. Again, we at the American Treasure Tour could not even begin to explain them to you, so don't let your scientist friend go home without asking her.  Trust us, though, without Bob Kahn, you very likely would not be enjoying Angry Birds when you're finished reading our blog.

QUOTE:  You can't gaze into a crystal ball and see the future.  What the Internet is going to be in the future is what society makes it.  - Bob Kahn

ANSWER:  The Great Dictator.  Charlie Chaplin's brilliant comic attack on Hitler and Nazism came out in 1940.