Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today in History: 50th Anniversary of "The Flintstones"

Few people over the age of 25 wouldn't be able to most if not all of the theme song. It brought the notion of cartoons in prime time to the forefront, allowing for shows today such as the Simpsons and Family Guy to exist. The Flintstones truly is an American staple in television history and today it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Airing on ABC from 1960 to 1966, it used the Stone Age setting for modern-day issues. They cleverly incorporated real places and real people in the show however would simply reword it to fit the rock like world they lived in. Name changed such as Cary Grant to Cary Granite and Hollywood became Hollyrock.

One of my favorite aspects of the Flintstones that few people realize is that it was sponsored by Winston cigarettes for the first two years it was on the air. In fact, the characters were the subject of many advertisements for the brand during that time period. However by the 3rd season the network pushed the show toward more family friendly material and the main sponsor became Welch's. Despite only running for six seasons the cultural impact of the Flintstones has been felt for these last 50 years. Various animation programs and series have attempted to duplicate the success that the Flintstones have enjoyed since 1960. Despite being a copy of a successful television show itself, the Honeymooners, The Flintstones have had many shows try to mimic their success. It's simplicity, humor, and character contrasts are a foundation for American television which is used even today.

Great Link to the 10 Best Bedrock Inventions... Must See

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

West Florida... A Nation For 74 Days

The Southwest regions of the early republic of the United States were hotly contested between the French, English, Spanish, and settlers coming from the newly formed United States. With English and United States settlers living in the lands of Western Florida, controlled by the Spanish, their desire to rid themselves of Spanish Catholic rule grew steadily throughout the beginning years of the nineteenth century. The area of West Florida today consists of land south of the 31st parallel which is portions of Louisiana and the southern tips of Mississippi and Alabama. It was a small region which inhabited about 4,000 people in 1810. Despite attempting to negotiate with Spanish for several years over the authority and control of the territory. Seventy-five rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge on September 23, 1810. Once overtaken they raised the Bonnie Blue Flag, a blue field with a single star in the center, which commemorated the birth of a new nation, West Florida.

Within a week a Declaration of Independence was drafted and eventually a Constitution, written much in the same fashion as the United States Constitution. Although claiming independence and developing a sovereign nation, it did not take long for West Florida to be annexed by the United States. On October 27, 1810, President Madison annexed portions of the West Florida territory. The governor of West Florida, Fulwar Skipwith, disputed the United States claim to the region because they refused to recognize the legitimacy of West Florida as a nation. Skipwith was so upset he claimed he was ready to "die in defense of the Long Star flag." Skipwith and the West Florida legislature eventually backed down on the issue. By December 1810, the United States had basically claimed all territory that was the nation of West Florida. This year the independence of West Florida was celebrated in Louisiana. A commemorative flag was raised in St. Tammany Parish. In addition a historical marker will be placed in the area to memorialize the short lived life of West Florida.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

World War 1 Ends This Week... October 3, 2010

That's right. When I first read this story from the Telegraph, I was surprised to say the least. I had no idea the German government was still being asked to pay reparations which were agreed upon in the Treaty of Versailles from the first World War. A final payment of $80.8 million will be paid on October 3rd, completing the debt owed by the country since 1919. During the Paris Peace Conference the allied powers demanded a steep charge of the German government for entering them into a large scale and bloody war. Originally the demand was for 226 billion Reichsmarks, however it was later reduced to 132 billion. In U.S. dollars that is the 2010 equivalent of $400 billion, a little excessive to say the least. The initial payments after the war crippled the economy, which caused high unemployment and low morale. These circumstances gave rise to Adolf Hitler taking power. According to the report the majority of the money goes to individuals, pension funds, and corporations holding onto debenture bonds given out as a result of the treaty.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Grand Army of the Republic

As Union soldiers from the Civil War proceeded to head home in 1865 after fighting to preserve the United States Government they found themselves in a totally different and at some times equally desperate situation. Many of these men were unemployed and broke, seeking jobs and waiting on promises that the government would take care of them without any idea on how and when it was coming. Equally troubling was the loneliness in which these men experienced. Near the end of the war units from various states and towns were forced to combine giving men the opportunity to fight along side others from different regions of the country. Organizations of veterans began to join together to satisfy these needs. The most powerful of these groups which formed became known as the Grand Army of the Republic, founded on the principle of "Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty."

Founded by Benjamin F Stevenson on April 6, 1866, the GAR grew at first as an arm of the Republican Party during the period of Reconstruction. As trouble with the Republican Party increased in the late 1860s, early 1870s the GAR slowly fell apart and nearly vanished. However, under new leadership and a recommitment to its own values as well as a new organizational structure the membership and power of the GAR increased greatly by the 1880s. By 1890 the GAR saw its largest membership reaching nearly 500,000 and their power at its highest having helped elect five U.S. Presidents after the Civil War who were all members of the Grand Army of the Republic. The final encampment, or ruling body meeting, of the Grand Army of the Republic was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949 with only six surviving members left. The final member of the GAR died in 1956 and there by the organization died with him. 

During its existence the Grand Army was a powerful organization, especially in the 1880s through the 1900s. In some areas it was near impossible to get elected to a political office unless you were a member of the organization. Being a veteran of the Civil War meant a lot and to prove that you were you basically had to be a member of the GAR. In addition they worked diligently in getting quality pensions for all veterans of the Civil War. With a strong membership it allowed them to apply large amounts of pressure on local, state, federal governments. The Grand Army of the Republic is also known for establishing General Orders No. 11 which established Memorial Day. In 1868, John A Logan who was leading the GAR at the time put forth the idea which came in a letter from a member in Cincinnati, Ohio. The notion was that every May 30 flowers would be strewn on the graves of soldiers who died in the defense of their country during the Civil War. This was eventually adopted by the United States Government and turned into the last Monday of May in which we remember all soldiers who have died in the line of duty.

Little is usually said about the Grand Army of the Republic and everything they did for the veterans of this country. Memorials have been placed throughout the country in honor of this organization and of the men who died in the war. One of these memorials is U.S. Highway 6, which stretches nearly completely across the country is named after this organization. In fact if you drive down this highway today you will find signs that identify it as a memorial highway to the Grand Army of the Republic. Visit the memorial highway by finding this geocache which I hid for everyone to find.

Geocache Link:

Friday, September 17, 2010

20 years of Civilization (the game)

I did not realize this until I read the blog but the PC game Civilization has been around for nearly 20 years with its latest installment, Civilization V, being released next week. I have played a couple versions that have come out throughout the years, especially the last version which was released in 2005. As a fan of history these games are fantastic and entertaining. Although geared toward enjoyment you can surprisingly learn a lot about world history and how certain peoples lived and built up their culture. 

If you have never played the game you start by selecting a civilization you want to play. It can range from most European countries, the United States, China, India, and many more. As that civilization you start in the year 4000 BC with some great leader and build up towns, supplies, and armies as the years move on. Your civilization will discovery things such as electricity, capitalism, gunpowder. As these elements are discovered you can incorporate them into your peoples everyday living. You battle rival civilizations you invade your land or from a desire to expand your territory. Your goal depends on the type of game you play but usually it involves being the greatest civilizations by the modern era.  

I highly recommend clicking on the link below and reading the article on the various versions of Civilizations produced throughout the years. As a fan of history I suggest going out and buying the newest installment, Civilization V. You will have a lot of fun playing this game and learning a little about history along the way. I believe it could be a great tool for students to play and then write a reflection paper on what they learned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What is the History Behind... 12 Major Brand Names

This is something I pulled from another source. Found some of these interesting and some of them obvious but thought I'd re-blog it none-the-less.

1) Rolling Rock - The Mystery of 33: Drinker of this small town bear, have long debated the meaning of the "33" printed on each green bottle of Rolling Rock. a page of the Rolling Rock website is even devoted to the mystery. Some say it signifies the number of steps it took to get from the brewmaster's office down to the brewing floor. Others theorize that it took 33 steps to turn water into Rolling Rock. But the most persistent legend is that it was merely the result of a typo. The story goes that the original pledge of quality sent to the printer contained 33 words and this was noted at the end of the text by writing "33." The printer, not realizing the "33" was a word count, printed it along with the pledge text. The company embraced the 33 and even suggests that citizens should celebrate March 3 (or 3/3) by enjoying a Rolling Rock with friends.

2) KFC's 11 Herbs and Spices: When Colonel Sanders developed his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices in the 1930s, he couldn't have guessed that one day that same formula would be one of the food industry's most closely-guarded trade secrets. Portions of the spice mix are said to be made at different locations to keep the secret safe and the only complete handwritten copy of the recipe is kept in a corporate vault.

3) Formula 409: As the official Formula 409 website explains, "Formula 409 didn't get its name from the area code where it was developed. It's not the birth date of the creator's daughter. Formula 409 got its name from perseverance." It's true. It took a lot of work. After 408 tries, two Detroit scientists finally got the formula for their cleaner right.

4) WD-40: Luckily for the inventors of WD-40, it didn't take 409 tries to get their formula right! The folks at Rocket Chemical Company perfected their water-displacement mix on the 40th try. Fun fact: Police officers used WD-40 to remove a naked burglar trapped in an air conditioning vent.

5) Dr Pepper's 23 Flavors: A pharmacist named Charles Alderton created Dr Pepper in 1885. And if you've ever wondered why you can't quite put your finger on what flavor the unique soft drink possesses, it's because his patented formula consists of a blend of 23 different flavors (Notice the faint "23" under the Dr Pepper logo). While the actual flavors are kept secret, we do know that prune juice is not one of them. The "prune rumor" dates back to the 1930s, but was debunked on the beverage's official website in 2000. The company stated: Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not contain prune juice.

6) Jack Daniel's Old No. 7: It's one of the most-often-asked questions about the well-known Whiskey: Why did Jack Daniel name his product "Old No. 7"? Unfortunately, no one really knows, and the theories are many. But according to "Whiskey Business: The Many Myths of Jack Daniels", the most reasonable explanation may be the one offered by Jack Daniel biographer Peter Krass. He explains: Jack was originally assigned a district tax assessment number of 7. But the IRS consolidated districts within Tennessee, the arbitrarily assigned him the number 16. Jack didn't want to confuse his loyal consumers and he certainly didn't want to bend to the government, so he began labeling his bottles "Old No. 7."      

7) Heinz 57 Varieties: Simply put by the site: While riding a train in New York City in 1896, Henry Heinz saw a sign advertising 21 styles of shoes, which he thought was clever. Although Heinz was manufacturing more than 60 products at the time, Henry thought 57 was a lucky number. So, he began using the slogan "57 Varieties" in all his advertising. Today the company has more than 5,700 products around the globe, but still uses the magic number "57."

8) 7-Eleven: In an age where 24-hour grocery and convenience stores are now the norm, it's interesting to remember that 7-Eleven stores were so named to highlight their "extensive" hours. In 1946, the stores were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Today, many would find those convenience store hours to be limited and well, inconvenient. 

9) Baskin-Robbins' 31 Flavors: If you look at their logo, you'll notice how the pink portion of the "BR" creates the number "31." This is a nod to Baskin-Robbins long standing identity as the home of 31 flavors --one for every day of the month.   

10) A.1. Steak Sauce: According to wikipedia, the original steak sauce upon which A.1. is based was created in 1824 by Henderson William Brand, one of the chefs to King George IV of the United Kingdom. Legend has it that the king declared it "A1" and the name was born. 

11) 84 Lumber: The original 84 Lumber opened in 1956. It was a "cash and carry" lumber yard located in a rural town 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. That town was named Eighty Four, PA, and where they got their name is interesting as well. It was originally called Smithville, but due to postal confusion with another town of the same name, its name was changed to "Eight Four" on July 28, 1884.

12) MGD 64: If you're watching your calories, but still want to indulge in a nice cold one, you might want to consider a bottle of MGD 64. The "64" stands for the 64 calories. By contrast, a regular bottle of Miller Genuine Draft has 143 calories.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember September 11th

It has been 9 years since that graphic day where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to hate and destruction from Islamic terrorists who hijacked commercial planes and used them as weapons against us. Being one of the most significant events of our generation I want to always blog on this day so we can remember what happened. This year I found a link which happen to be the live broadcasts from multiple networks starting just before first tower was hit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

History in Film: John Adams (HBO Miniseries, 2008)

The one thing that I asked for last Christmas over and over again was the DVD set of "John Adams." The HBO miniseries about the life of the second President of the United States for me is one of the best miniseries I have ever seen (up there with Band of Brothers). I had previously read the book by David McCullough and before I even finished the book, John Adams became my favorite President. Understandably he had his flaws and it is difficult for me to defend some of his actions however looking back at his marriage, his politics, and his life he truly was a great man and a vital cog in the engine which drove us towards independence.

It only took one episode for me to see how amazing this series was going to be. I have never watched a movie, documentary, or TV program that depicted the characters and events of 18th century American better than this miniseries. Paul Giamatti truly deserved the Emmy he one for his portrayal of John Adams. He brought all sides to this man's personality, depicting a man with high moral character and a passion for the law and the rights of man. Giamatti also showed a man of impatience, pride, ingratitude, and most importantly love toward his beloved wife. His 'dearest friend' as Adams always indicated in his letters to to her. Unlike many of our other founding fathers John Adams would not and admitted he could not be as successful as he was without the love and support of his wife, Abagail.

The historical moments in Adams life are shown from the Boston Massacre to his death in 1826. After studying the Founding Fathers and the events before and after the American Revolution fairly extensively I can honestly say there is a great accuracy in how they showed what life was like in that period and the events which occurred. The biggest surprise for me is scenes involving the Continental Congress. After having visited Philadelphia and seeing the room in Independence Hall I realized how small and intimate the setting was for debate amongst the colonial delegates. The scenes in "John Adams" shows that tight space they had, the long hours they debated, and the massive divide between colonies along with the compromises that brought them to independence. No production I have ever seen shows this better than this miniseries.

From beginning to end this miniseries draws you in and opens yours eyes to a world you only want to learn more about. This era in our history is becoming continually distorted and muddied by the myth and unknown facts that get taught to students from a very early age. I challenge everyone to watch this miniseries at the first chance they get and then read more about our founding fathers, the events of the American Revolution, and the politics that got us to the Constitution which we live under today.

Entertainment Rating - 4 out of 5
Historical Value - 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

3000-Year-Old Temple Discovered in Jordan

Little information is being revealed at this time and pictures are not being released however according to the Jordanian antiquities department they have unearthed a 3000-year-old temple, which places it in the Iron Age. The main room of the sanctuary is said to be 97 feet by 43 feet, along with a couple additional rooms and a courtyard. The temple looks to be apart of the Moabite Kingdom spoke of in the Old Testament of the Bible (I Kings 11:7). The area is becoming known as "Little Petra" because of its close proximity (only 3 miles) from the city of Petra itself. In addition to the temple itself, numerous artifacts were found such as 300 pots, figurines of deities, and items used in their worship practices. It will be interesting to see how this discovery will shed light on an ancient culture and its religious practices.
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