Milestones: Wednesday, August 16, 2023
ROLLER COASTER PATENTS — NATIONAL ROLLER COASTER DAY is celebrated on Aug. 16. On Aug. 16, On this date, Edwin Prescott was awarded a patent for 1898 the first loop-de-loop Roller Coaster, which has a section of vertical loop. However, the claim to “first” for the first wooden roller coaster dates back to 1884, when LaMarcus Thompson obtained the patent. It was Thompson who was credited with building the Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway at Coney Island, which was completed in 1884. Vernon Keenan is credited with designing the Cyclone at Coney Island, which opened in 1927.
Every Aug 16, enthusiasts share their love for the roller coaster at amusement parks around the world, with a popular greeting: “May the force of gravity be with you!”
SHARED NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WITH SADAT — MENACHEM BEGIN who was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1977, was born on Aug. 16, 1913 at Brest Litovsk, Poland (some indicate Belarus). He was a militant Zionist and anti-communist, who nevertheless fled to Russia in 1939 before the Nazis invaded his native land on September 1 of that year. Arrested, sent to Siberia and freed two years later, Begin then went to Palestine, rose to leadership in the Jewish underground there, and fought for Israeli’s independence, which was finally won on in May 14, 1948. It was Prime Minister Begin who signed the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt with President Anwar el Sadat of Egypt, which U.S. President Jimmy Carter hosted at Camp David in 1979. Begin and Sadat shared the Nobel Prize for Peace that year. In the wake of the Camp David Accords, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which had been captured from Egypt in the Six-Day War.
Begin lived much of his life in seclusion after the 1982 death of his wife, but he continued to keep up with international affairs and was a voracious reader, often finishing a book each day.
MERGED AFL AND CIO — GEORGE MEANY, born Aug. 16, 1894 as William George Meany in New York City, was an American labor leader and president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which he later merged with past rival, the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955. The son of a plumber who apprenticed into the trade and became a plumber himself, George Meany had a solid reputation of integrity and steadfastly opposed any kind of corruption (or communist sympathies) in the unions. In his fight against corruption, Meany expelled the International Longshoremen’s Association from the AFL in 1953; and four years later he expelled Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters Union from the AFL-CIO, after Hoffa had allegedly taken the organized crime route.
Meany’s greatest accomplishment was considered to be the merger of the AFL and CIO, negotiating — amidst acrimony and opposition — a constitution that allowed each organization to join, foibles notwithstanding and to be sorted out later. He served as the organization’s president for 24 years.
BOSTON’S LOSS, NY’S GAIN — Baseball legend GEORGE HERMAN (BABE) RUTH died 75 years ago, on Aug. 16, 1948, in New York City. A lefty, he played positions, such as catcher, that right-handers normally handled with greater facility. Ruth was nicknamed both Il Bambino (the Italian word for baby) and Sultan of Swat.” Starting with the Boston Red Sox, he built on that team’s success with his home runs; and in 1919 signed a three-year contract with that team, whose manager sold it to the NY Yankees that same year, apparently needing a cash fix for the team. Babe Ruth had his greatest fame with the Yankees, bringing them to four World Series wins, and seven American League pennants. He hit 714 career home runs.
Babe Ruth’s trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees at the doing of Red Sox manager Harry Frazee may have been the root of the “Curse of the Bambino,” a championship drought that lasted 86 years. During this time, the Red Sox did not win one World Series championship — until 2004, when they beat the N.Y. Yankees.
YUKON GOLD — The discovery of gold while salmon fishing ignited the last great gold rush in the American West. Fisherman George Carmack on Aug. 16, 1896, reportedly spotted nuggets of gold in a creek bed. Word caught on fire and “Klondike Fever” reached its height in the United States in mid-July 1897 when two steamships arrived from the Yukon in San Francisco and Seattle, bringing a total of more than two tons of gold. Young men bought “Yukon outfits” (survival kits) in search of gold and land, but very few came back rich, as land had already been claimed. Carmack, however, did grow rich; he left the Yukon with $1 million in gold. By the time large-scale gold mining ended in the Yukon Territory, in 1966, more than $250 million in gold had been mined.
Author Jack London wrote short stories based on his adventures in the Klondike, including in his first book, Son of the Wolf, published in 1900. Today, visitors to Fairbanks, Alaska, in the interior portion of what became the 59th state in 1959, can get a taste of being a gold miner, complete with a hearty meal.
FOREMOST IN SPORTS NEWS — A new magazine seriously committed to covering sports launched on Aug. 16, 1954. Sports Illustrated announced its arrival on newsstands with a striking cover photo of Milwaukee Braves third baseman Eddie Mathews, swinging a hit at a home stadium game. Ridiculed and dismissed at first, Sports Illustrated soon proved itself an undisputed leader in covering U.S. sports and a major media brand. Henry Luce, although not a sports fan himself, recognized the need for coverage when he established Sports Illustrated. However, it was managing editor Andre Laguerre, a seasoned reporter who came on board in 1960, who brought structure to the magazine, with a focus on baseball and football, which were gaining popularity. He led the magazine to profitability.
By the 1970, Sports Illustrated had become the journalistic bible for American sports.
See previous milestones, here.
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