Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's Special About This Week--Oct. 6-10

October 6--German American Day
Given that 17% of the population of the United States can trace their roots to Germany, it is not surprising that there are many famous folks who can celebrate their heritage today. As you settle down to read your favorite book by Dr. Seuss or to watch "The Simpsons" (Mattt Groening) or at Disney movie (Walt Disney), you might want to also grab a hot dog (Oscar Meyer) and cover it with ketchup (Henry J. Heinz). Of course, you kept your food fresh in the refrigerator (George Westinghouse). Are you wearing blue jeans? Thank Levi Strauss. Rudolph Wurlitzer may be the man behind the piano in your living room. Thank Charles Pfizer for some of the medicines that help keep you healthy. We have had at least three U. S. presidents with roots in Germany--Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, and Teddy Roosevelt. University of Michigan sports names Bo Schembechler and Fritz Chrisler both had German ancestry. Other sports names include Babe Ruth and Casey Stengel. The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, is of German heritage. The list goes on and on with celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Hilary Duff, Dakota Fanning, Tina Fey, Angelina Jolie, and Elvis Presley. Don't forget those Emerson School Germans--Rolf Wucherer, me and, I'll wager, a lot more people.

October 6--Librarians Day
Say hello to a librarian.

October 7, 1983--Cabbage Patch Kids debuted
Xavier Roberts created this toy craze of soft dolls that came with adoption papers. I made the mistake of trying to make a Cabbage Patch clone at home for my daughters. They were fun to make but their curl soon fell out and, most importantly, they did not have Xavier Roberts' autograph on their bottoms.

October 7, 1935--The first time the Detroit Tigers won the World Series
The Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs four games to two. Will they win the Series again? Maybe next year.

October 8, 1906--Permanent Wave first demonstrated
A German hairdresser named Charles Nessler developed the first permanent wave process to make curls last longer than regular curling. His process used cow urine and water for the chemical reaction. A dozen hair rollers, weighing two pounds each, were put in the hair. They were kept from touching the scalp or putting too much pressure on the head by means of an elaborate system of counter weights hung from a chandelier like contraption. After the solution was applied, the hair and rollers were heated to the boiling point. The entire process took about six hours. The first two times Nessler tried this process he tested it on his wife, burning her hair off. Aren't you glad that this process, while still really smelly, has improved in the last 100 years?

October 8, 1871--Great Peshtigo Fire and Great Chicago Fire started
It is a strange coincidence that two devastating fires began on the same day. The Peshtigo Fire burned more than a million acres of forests in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. Read about it here.

The Great Chicago Fire is more famous from the legendary tale of the cow who kicked over a lantern to the way it changed the face of the city and its history. The best place to learn about the Chicago Fire is to read The Great Fire by Jim Murphy. This book traces the story of the fire from the first alarm until the final spark went out with stories of the people who were dealing with it. My favorite part is the map that ends each chapter so you can follow the spread of the fire as it consumes most of the city. You will learn about the social conditions and the living conditions that contributed to the spread of the fire. This non-fiction is as exciting as a good novel.

October 9--Korean Alphabet Day
The Korean alphabet is not made up of millions of characters like Chinese. It has 10 basic vowels and 14 basic consonants. This site will show these letters and link you to a chance to see your name written in Han Gul, as the alphabet is called.

October 9, 1855--Calliope patented
While the concept of playing steam whistles to create music had been around for quite awhile, it was Joshua Stoddard who patented the calliope in 1855. Because it produced sounds loud enough to be heard for many miles, he imagined that it would replace church bells. However, it soon was used on steamboats where the sound could float down the river. I usually think of a calliope in relation to old circus trains. The process is simple--steam is directed through large whistles such as those that were found on locomotives. You can see pictures of calliopes by going to this parade floats site.

October 10--World Egg Day
World Egg Day was created in 2006 and is now celebrated on the second Friday in October. The day was created to get more people to eat eggs. There are at least a dozen reasons to celebrate Egg Day.

October 10--Bonza Bottler or Party Party Day
Elaine Fremont, a woman who must have loved to celebrate, created the Bonza Bottler Day idea. This is one of the few holidays that occurs every month. It is celebrated whenever the number of the day is the same as the number of the month, such as January 1, May 5, or October 10. Some people will find any excuse they can for a party. Party on, dudes.

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