Today marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada. The British North America Act, which served as Canada’s constitution until the constitution was “patriated” with the Canada Act of 1982, was approved by the British Parliament in February 1867, and received the assent of Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867, with an effective date of July 1, 1867. The Act united the colonies of Canada (which was divided into Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
75 years ago, Americans were preparing for the possibilities of blackouts in case of enemy air raid. In this day’s issue of Life magazine, June 15, 1942, Eveready carried this ad explaining the importance of keeping a flashlight, and how to use it during a blackout.
The ad first admonished that every home should have one or more flashlights, but that before buying new ones, old ones should be inspected to see if they could be repaired. In many cases, only a new bulb or lens, or a fresh set of batteries was required. The flashlight should be kept in a convenient accessible spot, and always put back.
During a blackout, it was important to never point the light toward an unshielded window, skylight, or open door. Outside, the flashlight should be shielded. This could be accomplished by covering the lens with two layers of newspaper.
If unshielded, the flashlight should be used outside only when absolutely necessary, taking care to never point it even slightly upward, and never toward reflective objects.
And, of course, the flashlight should have Eveready batteries, with an extra set of spares.
King George V had died on January 20, 1936, at which time Edward VIII assumed the throne. Shortly thereafter, he caused a constitutional crisis after announcing his plans to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The crisis was resolved by his abdication on December 11, 1936, at which time George VI assumed the throne.
Edward’s coronation was originally scheduled for May 12, 1937, and the event went on as scheduled, with George rather than Edward being crowned.
The event was broadcast live by radio in America. Radio Guide for the week ending May 15, 1937 predicted that the event would be “without doubt, radio’s biggest show–the ‘crowning event’ in the twenty-odd years of radio broadcasting’s existence.” The magazine reported that there would be a battery of microphones in place to bring the scene to listeners all over the world.” NBC and CBS planned six hours of continuous coverage.
This ad for a humble toaster appeared 70 years ago in the May 12, 1947, issue of Life magazine.
Made in the USA, in a factory owned by General Electric, the toaster is undoubtedly well made. It’s undoubtedly heavy, reliable, and probably made excellent toast. The accompanying text touted the fact that it was adjustable, and the toast would be done exactly how you wanted it, light, medium, or dark. The snap-in crumb tray allowed it to be cleaned in ten seconds. And it even had another feature not found in modern toasters, the ability to have the toast either pop up when finished, or stay inside to keep warm until it was needed.
In the unlikely event that it broke, there were shops where you could take your toaster to be repaired.
In short, it was probably better than a toaster you would buy today, and it’s easy to pine for that simpler time when toasters were better. Until you look at the price.
This simple toaster cost $17.75. To put it another way, you could buy it with eighteen silver dollars, and those silver dollars would set you back exactly $18 in paper currency. Those same eighteen silver dollars today would cost you over $300.
So yes, the toaster 70 years ago was better than the typical toaster you would buy today. Today, you would probably buy a model similar to the ones shown below.
Yes, the 1947 version was probably better. But it was also a lot more expensive.
Ninety years ago this month, the cover of Popular Mechanics, May 1927, shows a sport that inexplicably never caught on: Balloon Jumping! As described in the magazine, a balloon of about 18 feet in diameter was attached to the jumper’s shoulders. In his pockets, he would carry lead weights. The balloon and ballast would be balanced so that the man’s net weight was about four pounds. Thus equipped, the jumper could leap to a height of about 40 feet and travel about a hundred yards. In favorable wind conditions, jumpers were known to travel over a quarter mile in one stride.
The balloon was filled with 3500 cubic feet of gas. In the event that the gas expanded in the hot sun, the balloon was fitted with a valve, allowing the jumper to vent excess gas, preventing uncontrollable lift.
After the jump was complete, the complete outfit could be packed into a large suitcase.
This video shows the sport in action, although it doesn’t look quite as graceful as depicted in the magazine:
Seventy-five years ago this month, the May 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics carried the plans for the “Veep” one-tube AC-DC broadcast receiver. The set was built on a simple galvanized chassis, and mounted in a cigar box, the “Veep” name coming from the brand of cigars.
The sew was designed to be rugged and compact, and the part count was kept to an absolute minimum to keep costs down. The set ran off standard household current, eliminating the worry of batteries running down. It was designed for instant emergency use. The set could be kept in a pocket, and in case of need for the latest news, air-raid warnings, or other programs, it ccould be put into action at the plant, office, or home at odd times.
The set used a single 117L7-GT serving as rectifier and detector. Since the set ran right off the line cord, the article warned not to use an external ground connection.
The set would pull in local stations with a 3-4 foot antenna. For greater range, the antenna could be connected to an ungrounded metal object such as a hand rail or bed springs. While the set was designed for headphone operation, it could drive a speaker for strong local stations.
On this date 150 years ago, April 24, 1867, Kansas experienced its largest ever earthquake, with its epicenter just north of Manhattan, Kansas. It was felt over an area of almost 200,000 square miles, and caused minor damage in Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri, along with a handful of injuries. Damage included cracked plaster, downed chimneys, and loosened stones in buildings. At Paola, KS, one wall of the post office was destroyed.
The report shown here appeared in the Chicago Tribune on April 27, and originally appeared in the St. Joseph, MO, paper on April 25. In St. Joseph, the earthquake was described as a “low rumbling sound, similar to that produced by a heavily loaded wagon passing over a bridge.” At St. Joseph, “almost the entire population had rushed terrified from counting rooms, workshops and kitchens into the streets. At first everybody seemed to be under the impression that his particular building had suddenly become possessed of an unusual number of devils, and was pirouetting by itself; but upon seeing his neighbors rushing out under apparently the same conviction, the idea flashed upon him that an earthquake had playfully jousted us.”