Warren Harding

Erector Set - June 11, 2014

One day in 1911, a professional magician named Alfred Carlton (A.C.) Gilbert rode a train from New Haven, Connecticut to New York City when he saw the construction on nearby tracks that were being upgraded with electrification.  Steel girders were being moved around and connected to one another.  He was inspired.  Two years later, he presented his Erector set at a toy fair, advertising his creation as being "Educational, Instructive, and Amusing."  

Gilbert's invention became one of the first toys to ever receive its own national advertising campaign.  Extremely popular, millions of sets have been sold over the last one hundred years, first with Gilbert running the company, then under a number of different owners. The American Treasure Tour has a number of different Erector sets on display along the tram route, in both un-assembled and completed versions.  Attached here is an image of the Erector steamboat located in the Toy Box.  Good luck finding it! 

QUESTION:  In 1949, Drs. William Sewell and William Glenn used an Erector set to construct a precursor to this modern device at the Yale School of Medicine:

a)  Artificial Heart

b)  Model of a Human Being

c)  Steamboat

d)  Defibrillator

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

Five men in the Continental Congress received appointments to a special committee on this day in 1776 to write up a document announcing the decision to sever ties with the British government.  The youngest of the five, Thomas Jefferson, was given the responsibility to do the actual writing, while John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston opted only to edit his work upon its completion.  Some contend that none of the senior members of the committee regarded writing the Declaration of Independence as a nuisance.

Today in 1920, Republicans met at the Blackstone Hotel to discuss who was going to be the candidate running for the highest office in the land.  The phrase "smoke-filled room" was coined after this discussion.  Out of it came surprise selection Warren G. Harding for what would be the first presidential election after women gained the right to vote. 

BIRTHDAYS:

Jeanette Rankin was born today in 1880.  The Montana native has the distinction of being the first American woman to serve in the House of Representative.  In fact, she served twice - first in 1916 and again in 1940.  She had the dubious honor of voting on American entry into both World Wars.  When she did in 1941, after the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor, she was the only member of Congress to do so.

Jerome Silberman shares this special day with Ms. Rankin.  The actor/director/screenwriter was born in 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It must be a hilarious city, because the young Silberman grew up to be a very funny man.  At 26, he changed his name to Gene Wilder, and started his career in comedy.  His first significant movie role came in 1968, with Mel Brooks' The Producers. The incredibly funny - yet offensive - film began a run for Wilder that included 1971's Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles in 1972, and two years later Young Frankenstein.  He has gone on to become comic royalty.  Have a happy birthday!

QUOTE:  You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go. - Jeanette Rankin

Answer:  a)  Artificial Heart. 

Heather Locklear - April 7, 2014

We at the American Treasure Tour blog have been proudly sharing with you the celebrities of our "Faces of the Tour" series for a number of weeks now.  Please don't worry - we have plenty more to talk about:  we may have more stars on our tour than attend even the Oscars!  We would like to dedicate today's blog to someone who has been an important member of many television families in a career spanning four decades.  We all know and love her:  Heather Locklear!

It's difficult to believe that Locklear is 52 years old, but she was born in 1961, and surrounded by Hollywood types from an early age.  She got into acting while attending UCLA, and has not stopped since. In fact, she was hardly 21 years old when she started working for Aaron Spelling. He kept her busy for decades on his shows, including Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, and Melrose Place. Although these programs might not have been considered critical darlings, they proved very popular with their fans, as has Locklear!  She is currently part of the cast of the TNT sitcom Franklin & Bash.  We are extremely confident that Locklear will add that little something something to make the show just perfect!

QUESTION:

Heather Locklear won a Razzie Award for "Worst Actress" way back in 1989.  The Razzies were created as a response to the Oscars, where people vote for what films and performances they feel deserve acknowledgement as the worst in the industry.  What movie did she "win" for?

a)  The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies

b)  The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

c)  The Return of Sherlock Holmes

d)  The Return of Swamp Thing

e)  The Return of the King

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

The American Revolution lasted eight years, from the fighting in Lexington and Concord in 1775 to the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  During that time, the Patriot forces were always strapped for money and looking for any advantages they could find.  They were always desperate for ships to arm and use against the British Navy - the largest in the world at the time. In 1776, they obtained a ship they named the USS Lexington.  Leaving the Port of Philadelphia under the command of John Barry - who would be officially recognized as the father of the United States Navy in the years to come the Lexington captured the British sloop Edward on this day.  It was a small vessel, and a small victory, but the Patriots took what they could get when they got it!

As Americans, we prefer to believe that our elected officials are all honest, and that they always have the country's best interests at heart.  Unfortunately, today we acknowledge the worst scandal to rock our federal government prior to Watergate in 1974. Fifty-two years before Richard Nixon was compelled to resign his office, and on this day in 1922, Warren Harding's already-controversial administration came under close scrutiny when it was discovered that Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall sold Sinclair Oil the rights to exploit the Teapot Dome Oil Field in Wyoming at bargain prices, and without competitive bidding.  It's difficult to imagine that a hunger for oil might inspire corruption in government, but remember, this was 1922.  A long time ago.  Those sorts of things don't happen anymore.  For his crimes, Albert Fall spent a year in prison.  Warren Harding was quoted upon learning of this crime that, "I have no trouble with my enemies.  I can take care of my enemies in a fight.  But my friends, my g[osh]d[arned] friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!"  The troubled president died shortly after Teapot Dome was exposed.  Federal officials realized the shame of such self-interested criminal activity, and nothing like that has ever happened again.  Never. Again.

BIRTHDAYS: 

Today is the birthday of Will Keith Kellogg, the younger brother to John Harvey Kellogg  (Will Keith is to the right in the photo). Although it was older-brother John Harvey who started the famous sanitarium in Battle Creek Michigan and developed popular holistic, vegetarian diets intended to help purify people inside and out, it is Will Keith's legacy that has proven the longer lasting.  Will Keith, born in 1860, worked closely with his brother (eight years his senior) at the sanitarium, and merchandised corn flakes and other breakfast cereals as a healthier alternative to the eggs and assorted meats popular for the day's first meal at the time.  Will Keith established his own business in 1897 independent of his brother, and the Kellogg's cereals we know today are his legacy. John Harvey may have been the visionary of the two, but he did not have the business acumen of his little brother, which was substantial.  Will Keith became amazingly wealthy, using some of his profits for philanthropic purposes and others to raise Arabian horses.

Another April 7th birthday call-out goes to William Wayne McMillan Rogers III, or more simply, Wayne Rogers.  Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1933, this octogenarian is most celebrated as "Trapper" John from the television show M*A*S*H.  He starred alongside Alan Alda for a number of years prior to his departure from the popular sitcom due to creative differences. He remained in acting for a number of years, while also dabbling in the stock market.  Dabbling became a new profession, and massive success followed.  He now appears on the Fox Network's Cashin' In as a regular member of their expert panel.

QUOTE:

You cannot work with men who won't work with you. - John Harvey Kellogg

Answer:  d)  Return of Swamp Thing