Today in 1963 the Hula Hoop was patented, although by that point it had already become a worldwide phenomenon. And toy hoops go way, way back even before the toys we know today first became popular. Plus: how a very unusual photographer won the Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition.
The Time Kate Warne, America’s First Female Detective, Saved Abraham Lincoln’s Life (Cool Weird Awesome 482)
Today in 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, having been snuck into the city to avoid a plot against his life in Baltimore. Kate Warne, the first women detective in America, was key to getting him there safely. Plus: Alex Trebek's family has donated some of the late Jeopardy! host's suits for a very fitting cause.
Guitars as we know them date back to 16th century Europe, but stringed instruments have been around for even longer. And the earliest guitar-like instrument we've been able to find appears to have belonged to Har-Mose, who played for Queen Hatshepsut 3500 years ago in ancient Egypt. Plus: it's National Weatherpersons Day, and boy are we getting lots of weather at our show's HQ.
On this day in 1917, a massive storm destroyed most of the small village of Hallsands, in southern England. Nearly everyone in town moved away after that, but one resident, Elizabeth Prettejohn, stayed for the rest of her life, until the mid 1960s. Plus: why a university in Melbourne, Australia has an upside-down statue.
Martin Van Buren May Have Had The Cheesiest First Day Of Any U.S. President (Cool Weird Awesome 463)
Some presidential inauguration days are memorable; others are quiet. But the one for Martin Van Buren was probably cheesy, thanks to a giant cheddar sent to Andrew Jackson and a public party to eat it just before Van Buren moved into the White House. (Appropriately enough, today is also National Cheese Lover's Day.)
The (possibly apocryphal) story goes that on this day in 1797, haberdasher John Hetherington walked onto the streets of London wearing the first top hat, which caused so much hubbub that he was arrested and fined for disturbing the peace! Plus: in January 1974, MIT professor James Henry Williams, Jr. built a 35 pound yo-yo made of two bicycle wheels, and dropped it off the side of a 21-story campus building.
I certainly did not expect 2021 to be what it is, but what did people back in the day predict our world would be like now? Entrepreneur Magazine looked back at predictions from a hundred years ago, and some of them were surprisingly close to the mark. Plus: Robert "Buz" Chmielewski, who's had only limited feeling and movement in his hands and fingers for 30 years, is using special gear and the power of his mind to control prosthetics and serve himself dessert.
Today is the birthday of Edwin Perkins, who invented a sweet drink known the world over as Kool-Aid. It's the only drink with a mascot that can smash through walls and shout "OH YEAH!" Plus: it's also the birthday of Elvis Presley, who in 1956 volunteered to be photographed getting the then-new polio shot to encourage mass vaccinations. Another way he used his immense fame as a singer to take care of business.
After yesterday's stunning, discouraging events at the U.S. Capitol, we decided to make today's show a chance to get to know our Capitol building a little better. Here's some of what we learned, though we could do a whole week's worth of shows about the Capitol and the people who have made it what it is.
When Czechoslovakia Split, The Two New Countries Also Split The National Anthem (Cool Weird Awesome 449)
On this day in 1993, two new countries were born out of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic and Slovakia spent months negotiating all of the old country's assets, even which side got which verses of the national anthem. Plus: many of us have tried to learn new skills during our extra time at home. Anna Chojnicka was one of them, and the skill she chose was to make art out of bananas.