The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

(Continued from front page)

• About 800 people gathered in the cold on February 21, 1885 to dedicate the Washington Monument near the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Construction had begun on the monument in 1848, but was halted in 1854 due to a lack of funds when the obelisk was 152 feet high. The Civil War further delayed the project, and work was not resumed until 1879, after Congress agreed to appropriate $200,000 to carry on. As a result, the bottom 27% of the monument is a slightly different shade of marble than the upper portion. Made of marble, granite, and sandstone, the Washington monument stands just shy of 555 feet tall, and is the world’s tallest obelisk, and Washington, D.C.’s tallest building. It held the honor of world’s tallest building from its completion until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed. For those interested in skipping the elevator ride, there are 893 steps to climb to reach the top of the Washington Monument.

• How about some Number One songs on the Billboard charts this week in history? In 1971, The Osmonds were at the top with “One Bad Apple.” Linda Ronstadt captured Number One with “You’re No Good” in 1975. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were the leaders for six weeks in 1970 with “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Paul Simon’s solo song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” was there six years later. This week in 1980, Queen led with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and in 1997, it was the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”

• Some famous magazines were published for the first time this week in years gone by. “Ladies Home Journal” started up in 1883, and by 1903, it was the first American magazine to have one million subscribers. Although primarily an online publication, it’s still in print today, although available only quarterly on newsstands. In 1925, the “New Yorker” debuted as a weekly publication focusing primarily on the cultural life of New York City. It’s still on newsstands 47 times a year. “Newsweek” magazine was founded this week in 1933, and is still in print today, although there was a four-year period when it was only available digitally.

• Old-timer baseball fans may remember the name of Joe Nuxhall, one of the stars of the Cincinnati Reds. Joe was the youngest player ever to play in a major league game, age 15 years, 316 days. He signed a contract with the team on February 18, 1944, in the middle of his freshman year at Hamilton, Ohio, high school. Of course, he had to obtain permission from the school principal to miss school on Opening Day. The left-handed pitcher was a member of the National League All-Star team in 1955 and 1956, and retired from the Reds in 1966. He continued his team loyalty by broadcasting their games for the next 40 years.

• World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945, with the U.S. launching its invasion of the Japanese with 30,000 U.S. Marines. Photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the image of six Marines raising the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi on February 23, a photo that won the Pulitzer Prize. Tragically, three of those six in the picture were killed in action just days after the flag-raising.

• The popular antacid Alka Seltzer was introduced on February 21, 1931. The medication, a mixture of aspirin, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium citrate, was offered as a source of relief from minor aches, inflammation, fever, headache, heartburn, indigestion, and hangovers, among other symptoms. Alka Seltzer has had several well-known ads, including a cartoon character known as Speedy, used from 1954 to 1964, “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” aired in the 1960s, and the slogan, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” was popular during the 1970s and 1980s. Alka Seltzer even had its own radio show in 1932, the Alka Seltzer Comedy Star of Hollywood.”

• In the world of Olympic Games, this was the week that Scott Hamilton captured the gold medal in figure skating in Sarajevo in 1984. Skater Sonja Henie won three golds in 1928 in St. Moritz, and speed skater Eric Heiden set a record with five gold medals in 1980 in Lake Placid. The first brother combo to win gold and silver in the same event was Phil and Steve Mahre in the slalom in 1984.

• Just over eight years after the ground-breaking flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, Frenchman Jules Vedrines made history by making the first flight over 100 mph on February 22, 1912. Vedrines went on to fly clandestine missions during World War I, landing behind enemy lines. Sadly, the 37-year-old was killed in 1919 on a flight from France to Rome.