Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

America: Entitled to Greatness, Part Three

Every American is born with the native ability to achieve greatness. It’s right there in the Constitution – all men are created equal. Not all of us will. Those who do may have to work hard, while others will have the opportunity to achieve greatness with a silver sppon in their mouth. Every single one of those inventors, scientists, artists and musicians (well some of them), and entrepreneurs deserve our respect, not our envious scorn. We should not be making laws to take away the rewards they’ve earned. Who knows what life-saving device or useful machine won’t be invented because of our class envy, our desire for “equality” and “justice”?

Georgia: John Stith Pemberton

Dr. John Pemberton did not invent Coca Cola out of some ambition to be a millionaire or to see his product flashing from neon billboards. Nor did he invent to get an entire generation obliquely hooked on cocaine. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Born in Knoxville, Ga., in 1831, Pemberton was a graduate of the University of Georgia Pharmacy School. In April 1865, he was wounded in the Battle of Columbus (Ga.). Like other wounded veterans, he became addicted to morphine. Searching for a cure for his own addiction, he began experimenting with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own version of Vin Mariani, containing kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.

In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County enacted temperance legislation, Pemberton produced a non-alcoholic alternative to his French Wine Coca. He relied on Atlanta druggist Willis Venable to test and help him perfect the recipe for the beverage. The test was strictly trial and error. With Venable's assistance, Pemberton worked out a set of directions for its preparation that eventually included blending the base syrup with carbonated water, and Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name “Coca-Cola” for the alliterative sound, which was popular among other wine medicines of the time.

Although the name quite clearly refers to the two main ingredients, the controversy over its cocaine content would later prompt The Coca-Cola Company to state that the name was ‘meaningless but fanciful.” There is also some debate about whether Pemberton or Robinson hand wrote the Spencerian script on the bottles and ads. However, being a bookkeeper, Robinson also had excellent penmanship. It was he who first scripted "Coca Cola" into the flowing letters which has become the famous logo of today.

Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. The soft drink was first sold to the public at the soda fountain in Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886.

Hawaii - Chang Apana

Chang Apana (Ah Ping in Chinese) was the Chinese-Hawaiian star of the Honolulu Police Department. His crime-fighting exploits were so legendary that a famous character – Charlie Chan – was based upon Chang.

Novelist Earl Derr Biggers was vacationing in Hawaii in 1919. He was staying at a hotel that literally had no locks on the doors where he conceived his novel House Without a Key. In 1924, while reading Honolulu newspapers in the New York library, he read about the exploits of 'Chang Apana' (Apana is the Hawaiianized version of the Chinese name Ah Ping). To his earlier-conceived mystery, he added a new character, making his first appearance a quarter of the way through the book, though it was his fictional superior that actually summed up the case for the novel.

In 1925, the first Charlie Chan mystery novel, House Without a Key, was published, The character quickly became popular and Derr Biggers expanded his presence in his novels; when the author met Chang in 1928 the real detective was already being called “Charlie Chan,” and Chang enjoyed watching his fictional counterpart's films.

Ah Ping Chang was born Dec. 26, 1871 in Waipio, Oahu, Hawaii. His family moved back to China when he was three, but Chang returned at the age of ten to live with his uncle in Waipio. As an adult, Chang was fluent in Hawaiian, and knew Hawaiian Pidgin (Creole English) and Chinese as well. He never learned to read, relying on his family to read newspapers and documents for him.

In his youth, he worked as a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy), starting in 1891, and it was as part of this job that he first began carrying a bullwhip on a regular basis. Three years later, Chang started working for the Hawaii Humane Society, which at the time was part of the police department on the island. The Humane Society was founded by Helen Kinau Wilder, the owner of the horses that Chang had handled as a paniolo. Wilder was daughter of shipping magnate Samuel Garner Wilder.

Chang joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1898. In a force of more than two hundred men, the officers were mainly Hawaiian and the chiefs mostly white. As the only Chinese member of the force, he was assigned to patrol such Chinatown areas as “Blood Town” and “Hell's Half Acre.” Instead of a gun, Change carried a bullwhip. In his early years as a detective, beginning in 1916, Chang worked primarily on opium-smuggling and illegal gambling cases.

Chang also helped round up people infected with leprosy and sent them to a leper colony on the island of Molokai. While performing this duty, Chang was attacked by a Japanese leper with a sickle, giving him a distinctive scar over his right eye. Another time Chang was thrown out a second story window by drug dealers only to land on his feet. Reportedly, he was able to jump from roof to roof. Another account say s that he raised the alarm on a shipment of contraband after being run over by a horse and buggy.

Due in part to his fluency in several languages, his wide network of informants and because of his shrewd and meticulous detective style, Chang was successful in solving many cases. He still holds the record for number of people arrested at one time by one officer for his arrest of 70 gamblers, who he lined up and marched back to the police station one night. Over the years, he received a number of scars to his face, fighting with criminals. He also became famous for his whip, Panama hat and cigars. He was married three times.

He met Charlie Chan actor Warner Oland when “The Black Camel” was filmed in Hawaii. After five more novels, Derr Biggers publicly acknowledged Chang as the inspiration for his character in a letter to the Honolulu Advertiser dated June 28, 1932. His widow states, though, that Chan was actually based on Derr Biggers himself, resembling him in physique and character, whereas Chang was slight in build, quick to anger, and involved in very few actual murder cases.

After 34 years of service, Apana had to retire in May 1932 as a detective when he was injured in a car accident. He briefly worked as a watchman for the Hawaiian Trust building. On Dec. 2, 1933, he was admitted into Queen's Hospital after a month-long period of serious illness. Chang and his family had a history of diabetes. On Dec. 7, 1933, his gangrenous leg was amputated and he died the following day. Chang Apana is buried at the Manoa Chinese cemetery in Honolulu.

Idaho: Gutzon Borglum

Mount Rushmore is one of the seven wonders of America, thanks to Idaho-born sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

The son of Danish immigrants, John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum was born in 1867 in St. Charles Idaho. His father worked mainly as a woodcarver before leaving Idaho to matriculate in a homeopathic medical program in St. Louis, Mo. Upon graduating from the Missouri Medical College in 1874, Dr. Borglum, moved the family to Fremont, Neb., where he established a medical practice. Gutzon remained in Fremont until 1882 when his father enrolled him in Saint Mary’s Academy.

After a brief stint at Saint Mary’s Academy, Borglum relocated to Omaha, Neb., where he apprenticed in a machine shop and graduated from Creighton Preparatory School. He was trained in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he came to know Auguste Rodin and was influenced by Rodin's impressionistic, light-catching surfaces. Back in the U.S., he sculpted saints and apostles for the new Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City in 1901. In 1906, the Metropolitaan Museum of Art accepted his group sculpture — the first sculpture by a living American the museum had ever purchased—and made his presence further felt with some portraits. He also won the Logan Medal of the Arts.

After graduation from Harvard Technical College, his reputation surpassed that of his younger brother, Solon Borglum, already an established sculptor. A fascination with gigantic scale and themes of heroic nationalism suited his extroverted personality. His head of Abraham Lincoln, carved from a six-ton block of marble, was exhibited in Theodore Roosevelt's White House and can be found in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. His Mount Rushmore project, 1927–1941, was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson. His first attempt with one of the faces was blown up after two years . Dynamite was also used to remove large areas of rock from under Washington's brow. The initial pair of presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, was soon joined by Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. When Gutzon died of complications after surgery, his son carried on his work.

Illinois: Fred L. Maytag

The Maytag Repairman is a commercial icon. But the founder of Maytag Company was hardly idle and his invention – the motorized washing machine – made him the hero of housewives all over America.

Fred Louis Maytag was born in Cook County, Ill., in 1857, the eldest of 10 children born to German immigrants Daniel William Maytag and Amelia Tarebun. Prior to immigrating to America, their name was Maitag, but the couple Americanized their name.

Fred Maytag attended North Central College in Naperville, Ill. in 1872-73. Twenty years later, Fred, his two brothers-in-law, and George W. Parsons each contributed $600, for a total of $2,400, to start a new farm implement company named Parsons Band-Cutter & Self Feeder Company. This company produced threshing machines, band-cutters, and self-feeder attachments invented by Parsons.

Fred (F.L.) Maytag eventually took sole control of the firm and renamed it the Maytag Company. As Maytag grew, he forayed into other businesses. In the 1910s, Fred left the day-to-day company operation in the hands of sons Elmer Henry Maytag and Lewis Bergman Maytag, to concentrate on other business areas including new innovations of a washing machine with a gas powered motor branded as the Multi-Motor and a washing machine with an agitator that forced the water through the clothes branded as the Gyrafoam.

These inventions proved extremely valuable. By 1927, Maytag was producing more than twice the washers of its nearest competition and had outperformed the industry with growth doubling for five consecutive years.

Even after Elmer became Maytag's president in 1926, Fred was still active in promoting Maytag products, and ensuring worker happiness and often greeted employees by asking, “Is everybody happy?”

In 1937, Frederick Maytag died of a heart ailment at Good Samaritan Hospital, near his winter home in Beverly Hills, California. He left a $10 million estate. A special train brought mourners from the East Coast to Newton, Iowa, and an estimated 10,000 factory workers and salesmen formed a line five blocks in length to observe the funeral procession. Those who could not fit into the First Methodist Church were taken to four other churches and two halls.

Maytag was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1995.

Indiana: Sylvanus Freelove Bowser

In America, we refer to the gas pump as, well, the gas pump. But in New Zealand and Australia, the gas pump is called “The Bowser”, after its inventory, Sylvanus Freelove Bower.

Not much is known about Bowser’s early life, other than that he was born in Fort Wayne, Ind.  Bowser Avenue in Fort Wayne is named after him. But his invention is ubiquitous.

Bowser started marketing his patented kerosene pump in 1885. The introduction of automobiles, mainly powered by gasoline, led him to develop it into the “Self-Measuring Gasoline Storage Pump,” which was launched in 1905.

Bowser's invention operated with a manual suction pump, which dispensed the gasoline into the car through a flexible hose. The 50-gallon metal storage tank, housed in a wooden cabinet, could be set up at the curbside in front of a store.

Under the banner of his company, S. F. Bowser & Company, this activity expanded to the measurement and handling of many commercial liquids. Bowser opened branches around the world, and “bowser” became a generic term for fuel dispensers, then fuel tankers (especially on airfields), then finally for any kind of self-propelled liquid tanker with the ability to dispense direct to consumers.

One cold morning in 1885, Sylvanus Freelove Bowser, the son of a farmer, went to his well to draw water for his wife before hitting the road as a salesman for a wholesale paper company. The mist rising from the 70-foot well froze on the ropes, making the task of hauling the bucket very uncomfortable. The idea came to him of a simple pump that would produce a constant measure of liquid with each stroke of the pump handle. He built and tested the pump in his barn.

Although it turned out not to be feasible for a deep well, Bower’s self-measuring pump mechanism revolutionized the oil industry and, later, gasoline industry, by making possible easy, accurate handling of liquid fuels from storage tanks.

So, is everybody happy? Sadly, no. Too many Americans are either too lazy, frightened, or intimidated to be the next Fred Maytag, Sylvanus Bowser, or Chang Apana. They prefer to worship that other denizen of the state of Hawaii who would gladly legalize marijuana, than a genuine hero cop who made a career of fighting drug dealers and who has a bigger head than anything Gutzon Borglum could have created.

Tomorrow, we find out about the guy who invented the digital computer and the railroad mechanic who founded a famous car company (they were supposed to be in today’s post, but I forgot about Hawaii. Initially, I couldn’t find any information about genuine Hawaiians, other than politicians, native-born movie stars, and surfers), as well as a traveling salesman who wanted to share information about the best restaurants with other taveling salesman and wound founding a famous baking company. We’ll also learn about the doctor who made open-heart surgery possible, and incidentally, gave us the MASH unit, and a runaway slave who taught other slaves that the path to freedom is knowledge.

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