Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Boys of Peace

“Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and stroke a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
Then said Jesus unto him, ‘Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.’” Mathew 26:50-52

During my birthday party on Thursday my brothers and I were reminiscing with our mother about our childhood growing up in Bloomingdale. We lived in an odd sort of neighborhood; the houses were modest but well-kept, with well-tended lawns. Not the sort of place where you would expect to hear fathers beating their children at night, nor where neighborhood children had to live in fear of bullies and neighborhood gangs.

My father was too well-educated to beat us, or even verbally abuse us. For all that he had an Irish temper, he never laid a hand on us and neither did our mother. Consequently, my brothers were not the types to beat up on other, smaller children, though Big Brother very often took out his boyish aggression on Little Brother, at least until Little Brother grew up four inches taller than he was.

Big Brother was a negotiator, not a fighter. He was the consummate business-boy, and with his best friend, built up an afternoon newspaper empire, covering our entire development and even a portion of the Flats. He had a good reputation for delivering his papers on time and being honest in his dealings.

Their gentleness made them targets in our neighborhood. Little Brother was sent for karate lessons to learn how to defend himself. Big Brother got his lessons not from Dad, but from Mom.

Big Brother came home one day from his paper route with torn clothes, a black eye, and even teeth marks. When Mom asked him what happened, replied dolefully that a neighborhood rough neck beat him. Big Brother had been taught that it was wrong to fight. The next day, he came home in the same condition, and the day after that.

Mom said that it was time for him to fight back. “You say he waits behind the house and then comes up from behind to attack you? Then you’re going to listen for him. As soon as you hear him coming – and you’ll hear him – you drop that papersack and you rush him. He won’t be expecting it. You knock him down to the ground, and sit on him and you start pounding him with your fists, get him by the hair and pound his head into the ground, you scratch his face. Whatever you do, don’t let him up until he stops moving!”

At the party, Mom said she couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth. What kind of thing was this for a mother to be saying?! But Mom came from the Bronx, one of the toughest neighborhoods on earth. She and Dad thought they’d moved away from the violence – but here it was, amidst the green, rolling hills of suburbia. It was beat or be beaten.

“But Mom!” Big Brother argued. “He’s bigger than I am!”

“Not on the ground, he isn’t!” she replied.

What Mom didn’t realize was that I waited for my brother on the corner where it would happen. Seeing me, he told me to go home. But I knew my brother better than our mother did; he wouldn’t fight on his own. He’d let himself be beaten up rather than break that principle of non-violence. As certain as the sun rose, the bully came up behind him.

“He’s coming,” I said.

“I know.”

“What?” the bully, still a distance off, laughed, “Did you bring little sister along to protect you?”

Big B stood there for a moment with his head hanging. The bully started running towards him.

“Remember what Mom said!” I cried. “Drop the bag and rush him!!” He threw it off. The bully stopped and my brother turned, his fists balled. Then he did it. Before the bully could make another move, he rushed him, forcing him to the ground. Big Brother sat on him, pounding him and scratching him, with Little Sister cheering him on.

The bully finally gave in. By now, a crowd had gathered. Seeing that my brother was all right, I sped home to tell our mother, with the crowd of kids behind me. I gave her a blow-by-blow description.

“So it’s finally over,” my mother said. “And why did the rest of you just stand by? Why didn’t you stop it?”

“You don’t understand, Mrs. R.!” they cried. “This kid beat all of us up. [Your son] was the only one brave enough to stand up to him!”

My brother, the hero. Only he wasn’t proud of the victory. My mother warned him that this wasn’t the end; that the bully wouldn’t stand for being bested. He’d want revenge – and he did. It took some more fights and some phone calls between the mothers before it was settled.

The bully’s mother called my mother.

“Your son scratched my son!”

“Well, your son bit mine!!!” my mother retorted. “Now listen. This can go on and on, until we’re both over at the hospital picking up what’s left of our sons. Or we can end it now! If you tell yours to stop, I’ll tell mine to stop and if I tell mine to stop, he will. But if yours doesn’t stop, I’ll tell mine to keep defending himself.”

According to Mom, the other woman agreed, and after that, there were no more beatings, at least not by this kid. There were even tougher gangs waiting for both my brothers. However, they at least knew how to stand up for themselves.

Big Brother still doesn’t like to talk about it. He’s not proud of the victory at all. He would rather have been left in peace. Eventually, he became friends with this other kid.

Both my brothers have more honor in having the ability to defend themselves, yet not boasting of that ability or using it unnecessarily than any victories they gained in those fights. It must have been something our father said to them that I wasn’t privy to. Something about being a good man, I guess, or being a better man. But it was our rock ‘em, sock ‘em Mom who kept them from being pulverized.

Mom taught us about the Bible and had us memorize us some of the verses.

“What happened to turning the other cheek?” I asked her once.

“Well,” she said, “even Jesus ran out of cheeks to turn!”

The Bible says that both the guards of the Pharisees and the Roman guards slapped Him when He was being interrogated and mocked, his hands bound behind him. But His is the greater power, both for retribution and for forgiveness.

“’Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But then how shall the scriptures be fulfilled? Thus it must be.’”

As he lay dying on the cross, the two thieves between him argued. The first reviled him and mocked, asking why He didn’t save Himself and them, if He was the son of God. But the second remonstrated him.

“’Dost thou not fear Good, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done nothing amiss. Lord,’ he said, ‘remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’

“And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’”

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

America: Entitled to Greatness, Part Two

Contrary to popular – and Progressive – belief, most America’s great inventors, scientists, and pioneers came from humble beginnings. They left to the posterity of future generations technological, scientific, and medical advances that improved not just America but the world, and advanced America economically, as well.

California: Charles P. Ginsburg

Technology has made such giant leaps that Charles Ginsburg’s contribution, the first practical video cassette recorder, or VCR, is already a museum piece.

Ginsburg, otherwise known as the "father of the video cassette recorder," was born in San Francisco in 1920.

He received his bachelor's degree from San Jose State University in 1948 and worked as a studio and transmitter engineer at a San Francisco area radio station. In 1951, he received a telephone call from Alexander M. Poniatoff, founder and president of the Ampex Corporation in Redwood City, Calif., who believed Ginsburg could help him with an important project.

At Ampex, Ginsburg got the opportunity to lead the research team that developed the first broadcast-quality videotape recorder (VTR), U.S. patent number 2,956,114. The VTR revolutionized television broadcasting. Tape recording of television signals dates to just after World War II, when audio tape recorders were used to record the very high frequency signals needed for television. These early machines were pushed to their limits, running the tape at very high speeds of up to 240 inches per second to achieve high-frequency response.

Ginsburg and his team came up with a design for a new machine that could run the tape at a much slower rate because the recording heads rotated at high speed, allowing the necessary high-frequency response. The Ampex VRX-1000 (later renamed the Mark IV) videotape recorder was introduced on March 1956. The machine sold for $50,000. With the advent of the VTR, recorded programs that could be edited replaced most live broadcasts. CBS was the first network to employ VTR technology, starting in 1956. With that, today's multimillion dollar video business was born.

Colorado – Willard Frank Libby

Just how ancient is the VTR, the forerunner of the VCR? Well, thanks to Willard Frank Libby’s discovery of carbon dating, we could find out.

Libby was an American physical chemist, famous for his role in the 1949 development of radiocarbon dating, a process which revolutionized archaeology.

Born in Grand Valley, Colo., in 1908, he attended Analy High School in Sebastopol, Calif. The school library has a mural of Libby, and a nearby highway is named in his honor.

He received his B.S. in 1931 and Ph.D. in 1933 in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, where he became a lecturer and later assistant professor. Libby spent the 1930s building sensitive geiger counters to measure weak natural and artificial radioactivity. In 1941, he joined Berkeley's chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma.

Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, he spent most of 1941 at Princeton University. After the start of World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University with Nobel laureate chemist Harold Urey. Libby was responsible for the gaseous diffusion separation and enrichment of the Uranium-235, which was used in the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

In 1945, he became a professor at the University of Chicago. In 1954, he was appointed to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Los Angeles, in 1959, a position he held until his retirement in 1976. He taught honors freshman chemistry from 1959 to 1963 (in keeping with a University tradition that senior faculty teach this class). He was Director of the University of California statewide Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) for many years including the lunar landing time.

In 1966 he married Leona Woods Marshall, an original experimenter on the world's first nuclear reactor and a UCLA professor of environmental engineering. He also started the first Environmental Engineering program at UCLA in 1972.

In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for leading the team (namely, post-doc James Arnold and graduate student Ernie Anderson, with a $5,000 grant) that developed Carbon-14 dating. He also discovered that tritium could be used for dating water, and therefore wine.

Connecticut: Charles Goodyear

The first thing you might think of when you hear the name “Charles Goodyear” is the Goodyear Blimp, and the second think you might think of is tires. But Goodyear was born in the year 1800 and died in 1860, before the Civil War, and long before anyone even remotely thought of an automobile as a means of transportation.

As a matter of fact, by the mid-1830s, the American rubber industry was going under. Rubber was unstable. In winter, it froze solid and cracked. In summer, it melted into goo. After accidentally learning about rubber’s fatal flaw, Goodyear – an inventor with no training in or knowledge of chemistry – set out to find a way to make the substance more stable.

Goodyear was born in New Haven, Conn., the oldest of six children. His father, Amasa, was quite proud of being a descendant of Stephen Goodyear, one of the founders of the colony of New Haven in 1638.

In 1814, Charles left his home and went to Philadelphia to learn the hardware business. He worked industriously until he was 21, and then, returning to Connecticut, entered into partnership in his father's business in Naugatuck, where they manufactured not only ivory and metal buttons, but a variety of agricultural implements.

In August 1824 he married Clarissa Beecher. Two years later the family moved to Philadelphia, and there Goodyear opened a hardware store. This is where he did most of his work. His specialties were the valuable agricultural implements that his firm had been manufacturing, and after the first distrust of domestically-made goods had worn away — for all agricultural implements were imported from England at that time — he found himself heading a successful business.

This continued to increase until it seemed that he was to be a wealthy man. Between 1829 and 1830 he broke down in health, being troubled with dyspepsia. At the same time came the failure of a number of business houses that seriously embarrassed his firm. They struggled on, however, for some time, but were finally obliged to fail.

Between the years 1831 and 1832, Goodyear heard about gum elastic and read every article that appeared in the newspapers about this new material. The Roxbury Rubber Company of Boston, had been for some time experimenting with the gum, and believed it had found means for manufacturing goods from it. It had a large plant and was sending its goods all over the country. It was some of Roxbury's goods that first attracted Goodyear's attention. Soon after this, Goodyear visited New York, and his attention went to life preservers, and it struck him that the tube used for inflation was not very effective nor well-made. Therefore, upon returning to Philadelphia, he made some tubes and brought them back to New York and showed them to the manager of the Roxbury Rubber Company.

The manager was pleased with the ingenuity that Goodyear had shown in manufacturing the tubes. He confessed to Goodyear that the business was on the verge of ruin, and that his products had to be tested for a year before it could be determined if they were perfect or not. To their surprise, thousands of dollars worth of goods that they had determined to be of good quality were being returned, the gum having rotted, making them useless. Goodyear at once made up his mind to experiment on this gum and see if he could overcome the problems with these rubber products.

However, when he returned to Philadelphia, a creditor had him arrested and imprisoned. While there, he tried his first experiments with India rubber. The gum was inexpensive then, and by heating it and working it in his hands, he managed to incorporate in it a certain amount of magnesia which produced a beautiful white compound and appeared to take away the stickiness.

He thought he had discovered the secret, and through the kindness of friends who invested in his experiments was enabled to improve his invention in New Haven. The first thing that he made was shoes, and he used his own house for grinding, calendering and vulcanizing, with the help of his wife and children. His compound at this time consisted of India rubber, lampblack, and magnesia, the whole dissolved in turpentine and spread upon the flannel cloth which served as the lining for the shoes. It was not long, however, before he discovered that the gum, even treated this way, became sticky. His creditors, completely discouraged, decided that he would not be allowed to go further in his research.

Goodyear, however, had no mind to stop there in his experiments. Selling his furniture and placing his family in a boarding house, he went to New York and in an attic, helped by a friendly druggist, continued his experiments. His next step was to compound the rubber with magnesia and then boil it in quicklime and water. This appeared to solve the problem. At once it was noticed abroad that he had treated India rubber to lose its stickiness, and he received international acclamation. He seemed on the high road to success, until one day he noticed that a drop of weak acid, falling on the cloth, neutralized the alkali and immediately caused the rubber to become soft again. This proved to him that his process was not a successful one. He therefore continued experimenting, and after preparing his mixtures in his attic in New York, would walk three miles to a mill in Greenwich Village to try various experiments.

In the line of these, he discovered that rubber dipped in nitric acid formed a surface cure, and he made many products with this acid cure which were held in high regard, and he even received a letter of commendation from Andrew Jackson. Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as nitric acid and lead oxide, adversely affected his health, and once nearly suffocated by gas generated in his laboratory. Goodyear survived, but the resulting fever came close to taking his life.

Together with an old business partner, he built up a factory and began to make clothing, life preservers, rubber shoes, and a great variety of rubber goods. They also had a large factory with special machinery, built at Staten Island, where he moved his family and again had a home of his own. Just about this time, when everything looked bright, the panic of 1837 came and swept away the entire fortune of his associate and left Goodyear penniless.

His next move was to go to Boston, where he became acquainted with J. Haskins, of the Roxbury Rubber Company. Goodyear found him to be a good friend, who lent him money and stood by him when no one would have anything to do with the visionary inventor. A man named Mr. Chaffee also assisted him financially. About this, time it occurred to Mr. Chaffee that much of the trouble that they had experienced in working India rubber might come from the solvent that was used. He therefore invented a huge machine for doing the mixing by mechanical means. The goods that were made in this way were beautiful to look at, and it appeared, as it had before, that all difficulties were overcome.

Goodyear discovered a new method for making rubber shoes and received a patent which he sold to the Providence Company in Rhode Island. However, a method had not yet been found to process rubber so that it would withstand hot and cold temperatures and acids, and so the rubber goods were constantly growing sticky, decomposing and being returned to the manufacturers.

In 1838, Goodyear met Nathaniel Hayward in Woburn, Massachusetts, where Hayward was running a factory. Some time after this Goodyear himself moved to Woburn, all the time continuing his experiments. He was very much interested in Hayward's sulfur experiments for drying rubber. Hayward told Goodyear that he had used sulfur in rubber manufacturing.

Some say that Goodyear tried the experiment with a similar material over an open flame, and saw that the gum elastic was charred, but on the edge of the charred areas were portions that were not charred, but were instead perfectly cured. Other sources claim that Goodyear accidentally spilled the rubber mixture on a hot stove. The key discovery was that heating natural rubber and sulfur created vulcanized rubber. This process was eventually refined to become the vulcanizing process.

The inventor himself admitted that the discovery of the vulcanizing process was not the direct result of the scientific method, but claims that it was not accidental. Rather it was the result of application and observation.

Now that Goodyear was sure that he had the key to the intricate puzzle that he had worked over for so many years, he began at once to tell his friends about it and to try to secure capital, but they had listened so many times that his efforts were futile. For a number of years he struggled and experimented and worked along in a small way. He and his family were plunged into extreme poverty. At last he went to New York and showed some of his samples to William Ryder, who, with his brother Emory, at once appreciated the value of the discovery and started manufacture. Even here, Goodyear's bad luck seemed to follow him, for the Ryder Bros. had failed and it was impossible to continue the business.

He had, however, started a small factory in Springfield, Mass., and his brother-in-law, Mr. De Forest, who was a wealthy woolen manufacturer, took Ryder's place. Goodyear continued working to make his invention practical. In 1844 the process was sufficiently perfected that Goodyear felt it safe to take out a patent. The factory at Springfield was run by his brothers, Nelson and Henry. In 1843, Henry started one in Naugatuck, and in 1844 introduced mechanical mixing of the mixture in place of the use of solvents.

In 1852, Goodyear went to Europe, a trip that he had long planned, and saw Thomas Hancock, then in the employ of Charles Macintosh & Company. Hancock claimed to have invented vulcanization independently, and received a British patent, initiated in 1843, but finalized in 1844. In 1855, in the last of three patent disputes with fellow British rubber pioneer, Stephen Moulton, Hancock's patent was challenged with the claim that Hancock had copied Goodyear. Goodyear attended the trial. If Hancock lost, Goodyear stood to have his own British patent application granted, allowing him to claim royalties from both Hancock and Moulton. Both had examined Goodyear's vulcanized rubber in 1842, but several chemists testified that it would not have been possible to determine how it was made by studying it. Hancock prevailed.

Despite his misfortune with patents, Goodyear is claimed to have said, “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents. I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits. A man has cause for regret only when he sows and no one reaps.”

Goodyear died July 1, 1860, while traveling to see his dying daughter. After arriving in New York, he was informed that she had already died. He collapsed and was taken to the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City, where he died at the age of 59. He is buried in New Haven at Grove Street Cemetery.

Forty years after his death, in 1898, another entrepreneur named Francis Seiberling, nearly 40, married, with children and also penniless decided to start a rubber business, which he named after Charles Goodyear – The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

Delaware – Oliver Evans

Building a steam engine turned out to be a dirty business – or at least it was built for dirty purpose – and Oliver Evans was the man to do it.

Evans was born in 1755 in Newport, Del., to a family of Welsh settlers. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a wheelwright. His first invention was in 1777, when he designed a machine for making card teeth for carding wool. He went into business with his brothers and produced a number of improvements in the flour milling industry. His most important invention was an automated grist mill which operated continuously through the use of bulk material handling devices including bucket elevators, conveyor belts, and Archimedean screws. Evans described this invention in The Young Mill-wright and Millers' Guide. He patented this invention in a few states and, when the U.S. patent system was established, in the federal patent system. Evans devoted a great deal of his time to patents, patent extensions, and enforcement of his patents. In 1782, Evans built the first automatic mill on Red Clay Creek, Delaware.

In 1792 he moved to Philadelphia, Pa., where he produced an improved high-pressure steam engine — his second most important invention. For some years he contemplated the idea of applying steam power to wagons. He was granted a patent for a steam-carriage design in 1789, but did not produce a working example of such a machine until over a decade later. Part of his difficulties was a failure to get financial backing. After lack of support in his native land, in 1794 he sent copies of some his designs to Great Britain in an attempt to interest investors there.

Because Evans designed a refrigeration machine which ran on vapor in 1805, he is often called the inventor of the refrigerator, although he never built one. His design was modified by Jacob Perkins, who obtained the first patent for a refrigerating machine in 1834.

The device for which Oliver Evans is best-known today is his Oruktor Amphibolos, or “Amphibious Digger”, built on commission from the Philadelphia Board of Health. The Board was concerned with the problem of dredging and cleaning the city's dockyards, and in 1805 Evans convinced them to contract with him for a steam-powered dredge.

The Oruktor Amphibolos was never a success as a dredge, and after a few years of sitting at the dock was sold for parts.

Evans wrote up proposals to mechanize road vehicles, but failed to get backing from investors, who saw the scheme as impractical. In 1812 he published a visionary description of the nation connected by a network of railroad lines with transportation by swift steam locomotives. It should be remembered that at the time the locomotive was little more than a crude curiosity, and no attempts to use it for long distance transport had yet been made

In 1811, he founded the Pittsburgh Steam Engine Company, which in addition to engines, made other heavy machinery and castings in Pittsburgh. The location of the factory in the Mississippi watershed was important in the development of high pressure steam engines for the use in riverboats.

In 1819, while in New York City, Oliver Evans was informed that his workshop in Philadelphia had burned to the ground. Evans suffered from a stroke at the news, and died soon after. He is buried in Trinity Cemetery, Broadway at 154th St., New York City.

Florida – Charles E. Merrill

What is capitalism without capitalists? If Charles Goodyear and Oliver Evans had known Charles Merrill, Goodyear might have gotten his vulcanized rubber vulcanized sooner and Evans would have realized his dream of what was, essentially, the automobile.

Charles E. Merrill, the son of physician Dr. Charles Merrill and Octavia (Wilson) Merrill, was born in 1885 in Green Cove Springs, Fla., where he spent his early childhood. In 1898, the same Goodyear Tire and Rubber came into being, the family briefly moved to Knoxville, Tenn., but within the year returned to Florida to settle in Jacksonville. After the school Merrill had been attending was damaged in the Great Fire of 1901, his parents decided to send him to the college preparatory academy operated by John B. Stetson University (yes, that John B. Stetson, of cowboy hat fame).

Merrill studied there from 1901 till 1903 and then in 1903 for the final year of high school was transferred to Worcester Academy. After two years at Amherst College, Merrill spent time at the University of Michigan Law School from 1906 to 1907. He worked at Patchogue-Plymouth Mills from 1907–09 and at George H. Burr & Co., New York City, from 1909–13. In 1914, he established Charles E. Merrill & Co. in 1914, changing the name to Merrill Lynch & Company in 1915 when his friend, Edmund C. Lynch, became his partner. He was 30.

Merrill made his money by investing. He orchestrated the 1926 merger which created the Safeway food chain, and Merrill Lynch provided investment banking services to Safeway to finance the acquisition of other chains, growing Safeway to more than 3,500 stores across the United States by 1931.

“Evil Capitalist” that he was, Merrill anticipated the Stock market crash of 1929, and divested many of his holdings before the Great Depression. Merrill merged his retail brokerage and wire operations with E.A. Pierce and Co., thereby restructuring Merrill Lynch and Co. to focus upon investment banking. Additionally, Merrill was known to have pleaded with President Calvin Coolidge (like Merrill, an Amherst alumnus) to speak out against speculation, but Coolidge did not listen to him.

In 1939, immediately preceding the boom caused by World War II, Merrill was approached by Edward A. Pierce to merge the struggling brokerage E.A. Pierce & Co. back together with Merrill Lynch. Merrill agreed to do so, but insisted that the combined firm retain the Pierce. Following a simultaneous acquisition of Philadelphia-based Cassatt & Co., the firm was reopened as Merrill Lynch, E.A. Pierce and Cassatt. Merrill was convinced that the average American who wanted to invest should be able to buy shares in the stock market, which was previously a playground for the wealthy. He instructed his employees to hold seminars at which husbands and wives could leave their children with child care providers while the parents learned how they, too, could invest.

Not only was he an “evil capitalist”, but Merrill was also a well-known philanderer and bon vivant. He was married three times and gained the nickname "Good Time Charlie Merrill". Still, all three of Merrill's children became wealthy from unbreakable trusts made early in childhood. In 1926, their father purchased the James L. Breese House at Southampton in Suffolk County, New York. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Merrill was the father of educator and philanthropist Charles E. Merrill Jr. (b. 1920) (author and founder of the Thomas Jefferson School, Commonwealth School, and former chairman of the board of trustees of Morehouse College); San Francisco philanthropist Doris Merrill Magowan (1914–2001); and poet James Ingram Merrill (1926–1995). Merrill's grandson, Peter A. Magowan, was President and CEO of Safeway Inc. and also the former managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants.

Okay, so “Good-Time Charlie” Merrill was an evil capitalist and a cad. But at least he didn’t leave his children and grandchildren on welfare. His investment banking operation initially allowed average income investors to build upon their savings instead of depending upon the government. His firm allowed businesses to flourish.

Inventors need investors. Businesses need backers. Economies need entrepreneurs. What America doesn’t need is a socialist government.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out how Coke was once used for medicinal purposes, who invented the gas pump, who invented the electrical digital computer, and how a quick-tempered railroad mechanic started a famous car company.

Monday, April 18, 2011

America: Entitled to Greatness, Part One

You know the roughly 150 years before Roosevelt‘s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society? Well, if you ask Barack Obama, America was just so-so during that time.

During his budget speech at George Washington University recently, Obama said that it’s only because of government entitlements that America became a great country. CNS News has the transcript and video:

“‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities,” Obama said. “We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.”

Obama also dismissed rugged individualism. But it was rugged individuals who, with the grace of God, built this country, made it the greatest nation on earth, and gave us all the improvements we take for granted today. George Washington signed the First United States Patent Grant on July 31, 1790, and the patent examiner was Thomas Jefferson.

The first U.S. patent ever granted went to American inventor Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, Vt., for a new method of making Potash, an industrial chemical used in making soap, glass, fertilizers and gunpowder. Other rugged individuals Obama conveniently overlooked include: Benjamin Franklin, who invented the Franklin stove, the lightning rod, and bifocals, without which people with impaired vision would not be able to read this blog. Franklin had nothing handed to him. Benjamin was the eight of some 15 surviving children between Josiah Franklin and his first and second wives, Anne and Abiah (Benjamin’s mother).

Benjamin was born in a rented house on Milk Street in Boston. The city already had enough dyers, so Josiah, an English Protestant dissenter, learned a new occupation – soap and candle-making. Eventually, the good living it provided enabled Josiah to buy a home.

Benjamin had very little formal education. His father sent him to what would become the famed Boston Latin School. But after year, he could no longer afford the tuition. For awhile, Benjamin was tutored in writing and arithmetic. By age 10, however, his formal education was over and he was apprenticed for awhile in his father’s shop. The life of chandler bored him and he thought of going to sea. His father opposed this trade and introduced him to other trades so he would not choose the occupation of his eldest stepbrother, who was lost at sea.

Finally, Benjamin was apprenticed in his brother James’ printing shop. While the labor was hard, literacy was widespread in the American colonies and the demand for books, pamphlets and newspapers was strong.

From there, the rest of his long life is well-known history. But Franklin was a self-made, self-educated man who became the conscience of the colonies and the toast of France. No one helped him.

When Thomas Alva Edison was a young boy, doctors feared that he might be brain damaged because of the size of his head. However, by 1869, this odd young man named had become a full time inventor. In addition to inventing the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, and motion picture camera, Edison established over 1,093 patents earning him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park."

Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Mich. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. and Nancy Matthews Elliott. In school, his mind often wandered, and his teacher labeled him “addled.” Edison's three months of official schooling ended. Instead, his mother home-schooled him. Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker's School of Natural Philosophy and The Cooper Union.

Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle-ear infections. Around the middle of his career, Edison attributed the hearing impairment to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Mich., along with his apparatus and chemicals. In his later years, he modified the story to say the injury occurred when the conductor, in helping him onto a moving train, lifted him by the ears.

In 1854, Edison's family was forced to move to Port Huron, Mich., when the railroad bypassed Milan. But his life there was bittersweet. He sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, and he sold vegetables to supplement his income. This began Edison's long streak of entrepreneurial ventures as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still in existence as one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.

Edison became a telegraph operator after he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a runaway train. Jimmie's father, station agent J.U. MacKenzie was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Edison's first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction, Ontario, on the Grand Trunk Railway.

In 1866, at the age of 19, Thomas Edison moved to Louisville, Ky., where, as an employee of Western Union, he worked the Associated Press bureau news wire. Edison requested the night shift, which allowed him plenty of time to spend at his two favorite pastimes - reading and experimenting. Eventually, the latter pre-occupation cost him his job. One night in 1867, he was working with a lead-acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto his boss's desk below. The next morning Edison was fired. Oops.

Every state in the union has produced at least one genius – some states, a number of native geniuses vie for the honor of “State Genius”. Let’s start with the A’s:

Alabama: Waldo Semon

Waldo Lonsbury Semon wasn't a government leader, or someone who cured diseases, but he had a profound effect on our lives that carries on to this very day and is actually said to have saved the world. So many things we come in contact with—computer, credit card, wall covering, garden hose, food wrap, drainage pipe, plastic bottles—are made from vinyl, just one of several things this brilliant chemical engineer invented during his lifetime.

In 1926, Semon was working for the B.F. Goodrich Company in the United States as a researcher, when he invented plasticized polyvinyl chloride. Waldo had been trying to dehydrohalogenate polyvinyl chloride in a high boiling solvent in order to obtain an unsaturated polymer that could bond rubber to metal. For his invention, Waldo Semon received United States patents #1,929,453 and #2,188,396 for the "Synthetic Rubber-like Composition and Method of Making Same; Method of Preparing Polyvinyl Halide.

Semon, who died at the age of 100 changed our world and then helped to save it during his long and distinguished career as a chemist at B.F. Goodrich. He was perhaps most famous for bringing about the age of vinyl, after he was able to convert polyvinyl chloride from a hard, unworkable substance to a pliable one that is used in hundreds of products and accounts for a $20 billion industry.

He helped save our world when, just before World War II, he developed Ameripol, a form of synthetic rubber. He went on to play a vital role in creating Government Rubber-Styrene, a synthetic blend of rubber that was essential to the Allied war effort in World War II.

Interestingly, Semon took the most pleasure out of another invention that was far less heralded than Ameripol or vinyl—synthetic rubber bubble gum. “It looked just like ordinary gum, except that it would blow these great big bubbles,” he said years ago. However, B.F. Goodrich thought it was a defect and that nobody would buy it. Conventional bubble gum was invented in 1928 by Walter Diemer, an accountant at the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia.

Semon was born on Sept. 10, 1898, in Demopolis, Ala., the son of a civil engineer. He moved to the Pacific Northwest when he was 7 years old, and in 1916, entered the University of Washington, determined to be a chemist. He wasn't satisfied with theoretical science alone, so he became a chemical engineer. His Ph.D. in chemical engineering (earned in 1924) from the UW was one of the first in the nation.

He was hired on as a faculty instructor at the UW, but found it difficult to live on an instructor's salary. So he did consulting on the side. He was paid $3,000 for his consulting work, equal to his UW salary. When the state legislature, then fighting financial problems, ordered all faculty to donate their consulting fees to the state, Semon decided he was through with academia. After a long career at B.F. Goodrich, he returned to higher education as a research professor at Kent State University.

The holder of 116 U.S. patents and another 100 foreign patents, he received the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus award, the UW's highest honor, in 1946.

Alaska: Leonhard Seppala

Which is nobler – to be born in Alaska or to want to live there?

Leonhard Seppala born in Skibotn, Norway, and grew up on the nearby island of Skjervøy in Storfjord municipality. When Leonhard was two years old, the family moved to Skjervøy, where his father lived as a blacksmith and a fisherman, and built up a relatively large farm. The oldest of the siblings, Seppala grew to adulthood and followed in his father's footsteps as both a smithy and a fisherman. However, he emigrated to Alaska during the Nome gold rush of 1900. His friend Jafet Lindeberg had returned from Alaska and agreed to lend Seppala money for the ticket on the condition that he would work for Lindeberg.

In 1913, Seppala inherited a team of imported Chukchi huskies, later to be known as Siberian dogs or Siberian Huskies. Those dogs, owned by Lindeberg's mining company Pioneer Mining Co., had originally been scheduled to take explorer Roald Amundsen to the North Pole, but with the impending outbreak of World War I, the trip was canceled and dogs were given to Seppala.

The first Chukchi (Siberian) dogs had been imported to Alaska in 1908 to run in the 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes (a 408 mile from Nome to Candle and back), and a team of Siberians took first place in record time in the annual race in 1910. At first derisively called “Siberian rats” by Alaskan mushers because of their small stature in comparison to the local sled dogs, the Siberian dogs' excellent temperament and stamina soon made them very popular for transport, mail runs, and racing in Alaska.

Seppala entered his first All Alaska Sweepstakes in 1914; his team was inexperienced and he had to withdraw in the middle of the race. But in 1915, 1916 and 1917, Seppala and his team of Siberians won the All Alaska Sweepstakes. This established a racing fame for Seppala that continued into the 1920s and 1930s.

When an outbreak of diphtheria occurred in Nome in January 1925, temperatures ranging down to −50 °F along with 80 mph winds meant that the primitive air transport of that day would not be able to deliver the needed medicine. Instead, the serum was carried by rail from Anchorage to Nenana and relays of dog teams were sent the remainder of the way—674 miles. After only five and a half days, Gunnar Kaasen—with a dog named Balto leading his team—was the last relay driver into Nome. Kaasen and Balto captured most of the media attention at the time, and in the aftermath, a statue of Balto was erected in New York City's Central Park.

However, Leonhard Seppala's team traveled 340 miles out from Nome and back through the most treacherous sections of Alaska's wilderness, including across the perilous ice of Norton Sound, and carried the serum over 91 miles of the relay route. Seppala's lead dog was the famous racing champion Togo. In comparison, most other drivers in the Serum Run covered approximately 50 miles. Both Kaasen and Seppala used teams of Siberian Huskies. This emergency delivery, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy,” is commemorated annually with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

After the Serum Run, Seppala and some 40 of his dogs toured the “Lower 48” with an Eskimo handler. His tour ended in January 1927 with the dogsled race at Poland Spring, Maine, where he accepted the challenge to race against Arthur Walden, founder of the New England Sled Dog Club and owner of the famous lead dog “Chinook.” Despite a series of amusing and time-consuming mishaps on the trail, Seppala won the race against the bigger, slower dogs driven by Walden and his followers. The enthusiasm for sled dog racing in New England together with the Serum Run publicity and the victory over Walden made it possible for Seppala and partner Elizabeth Ricker to establish a Siberian kennel at Poland Spring, Maine. This was the start of the spread of the Siberian Husky breed in the United States and Canada.

Arizona: Frank Luke Jr.

Before there was Sen. John McCain, maverick politician, there was Second Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr. of the U.S. Army Air Service. Luke was second only to Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker in number of aerial victories during World War I. Rickenbacker was credited 26 victories, Luke had 18. Nevertheless, Luke was the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor.

He was born May 19, 1897 in Phoenix, Ariz., after his family emigrated from Germany to America, settling in Arizona in 1873. Frank grew up excelling in sports, working in copper mines, and participating in bare-knuckle boxing matches. Following America's entry into World War I, he enlisted in the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps and received pilot training in Texas and California. After being commissioned a Second Lieutenant in March 1918, he went to France for further training, and in July was assigned to the 27th Aero Squadron. Although Luke was still a second lieutenant at the time of his death, he received a posthumous promotion to first lieutenant.

Because of his arrogance and his occasional tendencies to fly alone and disobey orders, Luke was unpopular with some of his peers and superiors. The 27th was under standing orders to destroy German observation balloons. Luke, along with his close friend Lt. Joseph Frank Werner, continually volunteered to attack these important targets despite the fact that they were heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns on the ground. The two pilots began a remarkable string of victories together, with Luke attacking the balloons and Werner flying protective cover. Werner was killed in action on Sept. 18, 1918, in a dogfight with Fokker Davis which was attacking Luke. Luke then shot down two of these Davis and two balloons, thereby achieving his 13th official kill - a Halberstadt C type observation plane of 'Flieger Abteilung' 36.

Between Sept.12 and Sept. 29, Luke was credited with shooting down 14 German balloons and four airplanes. These 18 victories, which Luke earned during just ten sorties in eight days, was a feat unsurpassed by any pilot in World War I.

Luke's final flight took place during the first phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. On Sept. 28, after achieving his 14th and 15th victories, he landed his SPAD XIII at the French aerodrome at Cicognes where he spent the night, claiming engine trouble. When he returned to the 1st Pursuit Group's base at Rembercourt the next day, he was confronted by his squadron's commanding officer. Despite being under threat of arrest for being AWOL, Luke took off without authorization and flew to Verdun, where his sympathetic Group commander cancelled the arrest order and gave Luke tacit approval to continue his balloon hunting.

That evening Luke flew to the front to attack three balloons in the vicinity of Dun-sur-Meuse, six miles behind the German lines. He first dropped a message to a nearby U.S. balloon company, alerting them to observe his imminent attacks. Luke shot down the enemy balloons, but was then severely wounded by a single machine gun bullet fired from a hilltop above him, a mile east of the last balloon site he had attacked.

Luke landed in a field just west of the small village of Murvaux, after strafing a group of German soldiers on the ground near the Ruisseau de Bradon, a stream leading to the Meuse River. He ran toward the stream, intending to reach the cover of its adjacent underbrush, but collapsed some 200 meters from his airplane. Approached by German infantry, Luke drew his Colt Model 1911 pistol and fired a few rounds at his attackers before dying.

On Sept. 30, the Germans buried Luke in the Murvaux cemetery, from where his body was retrieved two months later by American forces. His final resting place is the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, located east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.

Arkansas: Scott Edward Parazynski

The Arkansas Traveler is an old country tune and a good nickname for post Baby Boomer and high achiever, Scott Edward Parzynski. An American physician born in Little Rock and a former NASA astronaut, Parazynski is a veteran of five Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks. His latest mission was STS-120 in October, 2007, highlighted by a dramatic, unplanned EVA to repair a live solar array. He retired from NASA in March 2009 to pursue opportunities in the private sector. He is the only person to have both flown in space and summited Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. He enjoys mountaineering, rock climbing, flying, SCUBA diving, skiing, travel, woodworking, and nature photography. A commercial, multi-engine, seaplane and instrument-rated pilot, Dr. Parazynski has logged over 2500 flight hours in a variety of aircraft. As a mountaineer, he has scaled major mountains in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Andes and the Himalayas. His summits include Cerro Aconcagua (22,841 feet above sea level) and 53 of Colorado’s peaks over 14,000 feet in altitude. After failing to reach the summit of Mount Everest (29,035) in 2008 due to a severe back injury, on May 20, 2009 he became the first astronaut to stand on top of the world.

Parazynksi attended junior high school in Dakar, Senegal, and Beirut, Lebanon. He attended high school at the Tehran American School, Iran, and the American Community School, Athens, Greece, graduating in 1979. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Stanford University in 1983, continuing on to graduate with honors from Stanford Medical School in 1989. He served his medical internship at the Brigham and Womens Hospital of Harvard Medical School (1990). He had completed 22 months of a residency program in emergency medicine in Denver, Colo., when he was selected to the Astronaut Corps.

Today, we studied a Founding Father from the 18th century, a genius from the 19th and 20th, the man who made plastic wrap possible, a musher on a mercy mission, a maverick, and a high-achieving baby boomer.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the videotape recorder, carbon dating, vulcanized rubber, the high pressure steam engine and Slater’s Mill, and how to become a millionaire without lifting a finger. That should frost the cakes of the Socialist, the Islamists, and the Social Islamists, not to mention the Progressives.