Tossing Around the…Pluto Platter

Today in History, January 23, 1957:

Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights for an invention to the Wham-O Toy Company.

He and his wife had begun on the invention by selling “Flying Cake Pans” in 1937.

Nearly a decade later, after having learned more about aerodynamics while flying combat missions over Italy in a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter (shot down, spent time as a POW), Morrison began working on the invention again after WWII.

He and an investor began working with plastics, and he eventually came up with what he called the “Pluto Platter”, which is what he sold to Wham-O. Once college students began referring to it as a “Frisbee”, Wham-O changed the name.

First US Marshall Killed in Line of Duty

Today in History , January 11, 1794:

Robert Forsythe, veteran of the Revolutionary War, had been appointed by George Washington as the first US Marshal for the state of Georgia.

On this date in 1794, Forsythe was serving civil papers when he became the first US Marshal to be killed in the line of duty.

The person he was attempting to serve, a former Methodist minister, fired on him through a door when Forsythe knocked, killing him instantly.

Former Major Forsythe, now Marshal Forsythe, was the third law enforcement officer killed in the fledgeling United States.

His son would go on to be Governor of Georgia and then US Minister to Spain, where he would negotiate the ceding of Florida to the US.

Common Sense

Today in History, January 9, 1776:

The first copies of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” are published in Philadelphia. Pamplets were the editorials, or blogs, if we must, of the day in the 18th century.

Paine had only recently immigrated to America from his homeland of England, yet he quickly took up the cause of independence.

Most of the people in America prior to the Revolution saw themselves not as Americans, but as British subjects, and proudly so. Many wanted to remain such, most were uncertain whether independence was a good idea. Most of the colonists were commoners, and it was assumed that only the elite were worthy of governance. Paine turned this theory on it’s head. He wrote to the commoners in plain language the difference between society and government; that gov’t was necessary, but must be limited; that AMERICA should govern herself. He started a firestorm….his pamphlet sold 120,000 copies the first month, 500,000 the first year. Percentages taken into account, Common Sense still counts as the best seller of all time. Paine refused to take any of the profits, donating all of them to Gen. Washington’s Continental Army.

The Electoral College

Today in History, January 7, 1789:

The states first elected their Electoral College electors, who would elect George Washington as the first President.

The Electoral College was established so that less populated states would not be left without a say in the choice of the Chief Executive.

If the President was elected by popular vote, the states with the highest population would always made the decision. This was of great concern to the more rural, less populated states. The same holds true today. During Presidential campaigns, the segments of the country not on a coast truly would be “flyover” country. No candidate would have a need to campaign there, disenfranchising vast segments of our citizens.

The system has been tested several times throughout our history, and surely will be again.

NUTS!! Monty Shows His….Ego

Today in History, January 7, 1945:

The Battle of the Bulge.

After the American 101st Airborne held out against overwhelming German forces for days, refusing to surrender (Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replied Nuts! to a surrender command, confusing the hell out of the Germans); after American Gen. George S. Patton turned his entire 3rd Army 90 degrees and ran full tilt through winter conditions to reach his comrades; after American air power helped save the day when the weather cleared,

British Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery held a press conference during which he took credit for the hard won victory.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to address Parliament to assert the truth that The Battle of the Bulge was solely an American victory after the political fall-out of Montgomery’s typically arrogant statements.

“Oh…Do You Remember the Fun of Him?”

Today in History, January 6, 1919:

“Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”

-Vice President Thomas Marshall.

President Theodore Roosevelt dies at Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York in his sleep of a heart attack. “Teddy” had taken every last drop of adventure and worthiness that he could squeeze out of life in the preceding 60 years.

Roosevelt had been a sickly child; constantly plagued by breathing problems, he could rarely play with the other children. His father, Theodore Sr., a remarkable man himself, told “Teedie” that if he wanted to have a successful life, he would have to take charge and force his body into the form he needed to match his intellect. Roosevelt did just that. He took exercise as his “raison detre” until he was barrel chested and of vigorous health. Each time he became sick during his life, he would simply work through it.

As a young man, while serving in the New York Assembly, Roosevelt was called home from Albany by an urgent message. After the train ride to NYC, he arrived home to be met at the door by his brother, “There is a curse upon this house.”

Roosevelt’s wife and mother died on the same day…February 14, 1884, within hours of each other. Writing in his diary only a large X and the words “The light has gone out of my life”, Roosevelt fled into the west, becoming a rancher and for a time a lawman in the Dakota Territory. The experience would strengthen him and give him a background people respected.

During his life he was a state rep from New York, the Police Commissioner for New York City, Governor of New York, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (he oversaw the building of a modern US Navy while his boss was not paying attention), he led the “Rough Riders” (1st Volunteer US Cavalry) up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War, became Vice President, and the President after President McKinley was assassinated.

As President he defined the modern presidency, breaking up monopolies, seeing that mistreated workers got a fair shake, sent the “Great White Fleet” around the world establishing American as a world influence, saw the Panama Canal built, saw the establishment of the National Parks Service, and countless other accomplishments.

He worked tirelessly for the American people. After the Presidency he traveled extensively, going on an African Safari, and exploring an unknown region of South America, “The River of Doubt”; a region so treacherous that it was considered a no-man’s land. He nearly died in the mapping of the river, now called “Rio Roosevelt” in his honor.

All of his male children fought in WWI, and the only reason Teddy didn’t was because the Democrat President (Wilson) refused to let him, afraid Roosevelt would run against him in the next election and win. One of his sons, Quentin, would be shot down over France and be killed. That was the last straw for the “Old Lion”. He mourned dreadfully until his death.

One of his other children, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., would be the only General to go ashore with the troops at D-Day in WWII; Teddy Jr would die of a heart attack himself several weeks after the Normandy invasion. The entire world would mourn President Roosevelt’s passing; he had become larger that life, a hero to people the world over. The quintessential American. And in case you couldn’t tell, my favorite Hero.

At TR’s funeral at Oyster Bay, what I believe is the best, most heartfelt eulogy was spoken in passing. Walking from the church a New York City Police Captain who had served with Roosevelt more than 20 years earlier when he was Police Commissioner, was overcome with emotion. He turned to TR’s sister and asked, “Oh…do you remember the FUN of him?”

Pappy’s Air War Ends

Today in History, January 3, 1944:

Moments after he became the top fighter ace in the Pacific Theater by shooting down his 26th enemy plane, USMC Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was himself shot down over the Japanese base of Rabaul.

He would be captured by the Japanese and held prisoner, brutally treated until rescued from a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Boyington had been one of the American servicemen to resign their commissions to serve in the AVG, the American Volunteer Group, or “Flying Tigers” in China prior to America’s entry into the war. After Pearl Harbor he rejoined the Marines and fought in the Pacific.

Boyington was a Medal of Honor recipient. A warrior. And a drunk. In his good will tours after the war, he stated bluntly, “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.”