Ask Not What Your Socks Can Do For You…

Happy Birthday #35!  On May 29, 1917, President John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, MA.

President Kennedy’s legacy includes a Pulitzer Prize for his book Profiles in Courage.  Though, maybe Jack should have also written children’s books.  In a 2011 interview, his daughter, Caroline, recounts his story-telling skills.

My father was spectacular at making up stories. And he used to tell me about a purple shark…. He said there was a purple shark that used to follow the Honey Fitz[the small presidential yacht]. It liked to eat socks. My father would make people throw their socks overboard, and they’d disappear. He’d say, “See? See? Did you see the purple shark? He ate the socks!” And I’d go [gasps like a child], “I don’t really see him. Oh, oh, I think I see him! Look, the socks are gone, so it must have been the shark that ate the socks!” Those stories were fantastic.

Here’s to President Kennedy and to purple sharks.


Happy Birthday Pac-Man!

Released on May 22, 1980, the classic yellow man turns 35 today.

There are two legends of how Pac-Man received his moniker.  The original Japanese title for the game was Pakkuman, which was based on the onomatopoeic term paku paku (supposedly, the sound of the mouth opening and closing while eating).  The second story is that the name was initially Puck-Man due to the main character resembling a hockey puck.  The name was then changed to Pac-Man when released in the United States to avoid vandals altering the name to something less than family friendly.

American Red Socks

Today, in 1881, the American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton in Washington, D.C.  Barton was inspired by the work of the International Red Cross in Switzerland during the Franco-Prussian War.

The organization is known today for its blood drives and disaster relief efforts.  But, during the first and second World Wars, the American Red Cross enlisted volunteers from across the country to hand-knit heavy-duty wool socks for soldiers.

Not only was this a kind gesture and reminder of home, but it was instrumental in keeping the troops from getting trench foot.

WWII veteran Dr. Giulio D’Angio donated his socks back to the Red Cross chapter 70 years after he received them.  You can read his story here.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Also called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, the holiday commemorates Mexico’s defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  Though the French were better equipped and had more than twice the number of troops, the Mexican victory was significant as this was the last battle in North America of an invading European force.

Be sure to celebrate… but do so responsibly.

Happy Birthday #18!

“I have never advocated war, except as a means of peace.
Nor have I advocated the wearing of socks with sandals.”

~Ulysses S. Grant, 1889

Born today in 1822, Ulysses S. Grant gained notoriety leading the Union Army to victory during the American Civil War.  He went on to be elected President twice and his face now graces the $50 bill.  That bill, though, would only buy you two and a half pairs of Confederate Army socks, adjusted for inflation.  At the time, a pair of soldier’s socks in the South were $1, or $17.50 in today’s dollars.  Good thing the North won.

Happy Birthday Frederick Law Olmsted!

Famous for co-designing Central Park in New York City, Frederick Law Olmsted was born today in 1822.

In addition to being a landscape architect, Freddy was a journalist, social critic, and conservationist.

But his landscape plans have brought him his fame due to the volume of his work.  Olmsted designed parks, college campuses, and other public spaces in 25 states and 3 Canadian provinces.  If you live in North America, chances are you’ve got an Olmsted park close to you.