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Milestones: Monday, June 26, 2023

June 26, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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RETAIL BARCODES — The codes that we scan in the grocery checkout aisle were born on June 26, 1974, and the first item to be swiped in the scanner was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum, which came up at 67 cents.  A group of grocery-industry trade associations had in 1973 recommended a Universal Product Code (UPC), a bar code for supermarket items that would allow electronic scanning of prices. The product of several other prototypes and systems, the UPC was used at a grocery store for the first time — the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, not far from Dayton. Today, barcodes are used to keep track of everything from freight cars to cattle.

IBM, which was one of the first suppliers of scanning equipment to the supermarket industry, has expanded into one of the world’s largest vendors of bar code scanning products, serving retail and other industries.

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HUMANITARIAN ANSWER TO BLOCKADE —  June 26, 1948 marks the 75th anniversary of the BERLIN AIRLIFT. Following the end of World War II, Allied forces – which at the time had included the Soviet Union – had occupied and parceled out Germany, with the eastern part of that country, including its capital, Berlin, well within Soviet territory. After relations between the Soviet government and Allies soured, the Soviets challenged the West’s access to Berlin and implemented a blockade of its borders. So that Berlin’s population of more than 2.25 million could have access to water, food and other necessities, Allied forces began an airlift that brought in almost 1.6 million tons of supplies. The Berlin Airlift lasted 321 days, until Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin relented and ended the blockade.

However, according to an archived history page from the US Department of State,  the West did not immediately cease the humanitarian mission and the airlifts continued until September 30, 1949.

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WON PULITZER AND NOBEL PRIZES — PEARL SYDENSTRICKER BUCK, born in West Virginia on June 26, 1892, was author, humanitarian and expert on Chinese society who won both the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for her book, “The Good Earth,” and the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature – the first woman to win – for “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China” and for her “masterpieces”, two memoir-biographies of her parents, who were missionaries in China. The Sydenstrickers had brought Pearl, then four years old, to China and she lived among the Chinese people until she was 40.

Surviving in the midst of anti-colonial, anti-Christian attitudes in China, Pearl S. Buck and her family rejected racism against the Chinese, insisting that the Chinese people were equals to whites. She later became an advocate for human rights and credits her second husband, Richard Walsh (after having divorced agricultural economist John Lossing Buck) with giving her the love and steadfast support to pursue her goals.

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DISCOVERY DAY — Canada each year marks the discovery of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the 15th-16th century Italian navigator explorer John Cabot made on June 26, 1497. Newfoundland is an island off the coast of the Labrador peninsula. Cabot, whose name was Anglicized from the original Giovanni Caboto, sought financing and patronage backing from England. Newfoundland and Labrador, part of a peninsula on Canada’s Atlantic coast, did not become a Canadian province until 1949, until then the territory was controlled by Great Britain.

Upon Cabot’s return to England in August 1497, Cabot was given a reward of 10£, at that time the equivalent of two years’ pay for a craftsman. He was also given a huge fête.

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A TORONTO LANDMARK — The CN TOWER opened on June 26, 1976, as a communications and observation structure that was three years in construction. Its original intent was conceived in 1968 the Canadian National Railway wanted a major large television and radio communication structure for the Toronto area, which would also serve as a symbol of Canadian industry.

The CN Tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure at 1,814 feet, until the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. It is still the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere and has taken its place as the “Seven Modern Wonders of the World,” along with the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

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PART OF THE NEW DEAL — The FEDERAL CREDIT UNION ACT was enacted on June 26, 1934, part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal initiative to authorize the organization of credit unions throughout the United States. The federal law, which authorized the formation of non-profit credit unions through federal charters, had the goal of making credit more readily available to Americans and promoting thrift.

Today, credit unions have expanded their level of service. Membership is usually by association with an employer, a trade union or a church. Boards are run by the members.

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MUGGLES LOVE THIS MAGICAL SERIES — HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, which became the cornerstone of a blockbuster franchise, was published by Bloomsbury on June 26, 1997. J.K. Rowling wrote this children’s fantasy book about a young boy with magical powers who is whisked away from his contemptuous relatives to live and make friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he also learns that he is a legend in the magical world for having survived a great evil. Becoming an instant hit, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” became the first of a seven-book series and eight movies (the latter being a two-part version of Book 7) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Harry Potter books have sold more than 500 million copies. In the States, the title of the first book was published as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

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THE NEW YORKER’S FICTIONAL SMALL TOWN — Another famous literary work, Shirley Jackson’s sang-froid short story “THE LOTTERY” was published 75 years ago, on June 26, 1948. The story, which first appeared in the New Yorker Magazine, unfolds the story of a small-town ritual, giving insightful glimpses of the various characters hoping that they and their families do not win this event.

“The Lottery” generated an unprecedented response, most of it negative and angry, with many people canceling their subscriptions.

See previous milestones, here.


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