The only thing that goes faster than the month of December is your summer vacation. Let’s ponder a few December dates, but we’d better hurry, before the month of January arrives.
December 2, 1927 — Henry Ford introduced his Model A roadster which was priced at $385. It seems like a laughable amount today, but I guess back in 1927 that was a big chunk of money.
December 5, 1854 — The folding theatre chair was patented. It’s another thing that we take for granted and never even think about. But it had to start somewhere. Somebody had to say: “Hey, it’s really annoying, trying to get by these theatre chairs. What if the seat flipped back. Then there would be more room. Hmm, I think I'll work on that.”
December 7, 1849 — The safety pin was invented by Walter Hunt in New York. Clever idea. Way to go, Walter!
December 8 has produced some interesting sports trivia:
• In 1987, Ron Hextall of the Flyers became the first goalie in the NHL’s 40,219-game history to shoot the puck into the opponent’s net for a goal.
• In 1977, 49-year-old Gordie Howe of the Whalers scored a very significant goal against Birmingham. It was the 1,000th goal of his long career.
• In 1940, one of the biggest routs in NFL history occurred when the Chicago Bears crushed the Washington Redskins 73-0. Oops! Fifteen Bears scored that day making the Redskins want to crawl away and consider trying some other sport.
December 12, 1899 — The wooden golf tee was invented by George Grant of Boston. George got tired of hitting the ball off a small mound of dirt and figured there had to be a better way. George was right. Too bad, we can’t tee up on every shot.
December 12, 1901 — The first trans-Atlantic wireless message was received by Marconi at St. John’s, Newfoundland. The message read: “If you act before midnight tonight, we’ll send you the Ginzu knife, plus the sharpener, plus the juicer, all for just ...”
December 17, 1903 — Orville and Wilbur did it. They made the first successful airplane flights in history near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville was airborne first for 12 seconds; Wilbur managed to stay aloft later for 59 seconds. The thing that always fascinated me about this momentous event is that there were only five people present. I would have thought that hundreds or thousands would be lining the field for the big event. But, it was a cold, windy day and many must have thought, “Oh, it’s just another of those unsuccessful flying machine attempts.”
December 24, 1879 — It was on that Christmas Eve that Winnipeg’s coldest-ever temperature was recorded. How cold was it? It was sooooo cold that Rudolph’s nose wouldn’t light. Santa must have had his thermals on that night because the temperature sank to -48°C (-54°F). Can you imagine that with a wind-chill factor?
December 28, 1869 —This seems to be a big month for inventions down through the years. This time it’s chewing gum. We would guess that the man behind it would have been William Wrigley, right? Nope. It turns out that the patent went to a fellow named William Semple. So, chew on that.
December 29, 1952 — A kidney stone was removed from an 80-year-old woman in London, England. It was more like a curling stone, as it weighed 13 pounds, 14 ounces — the largest kidney stone recorded in medical history.
December 30, 1981 — The ice magician, Wayne Gretzky, marked another milestone in his amazing career. Gretzky, then an Oiler, scored five goals against Philadelphia to become the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in less than 50 games. Wayne only needed 39 games. By the way, whatever happened to the NHL?
December 31 — New Year’s Eve. Consider this New Year’s “drinking” trivia:
• Myth No.1 — It’s better to drink beer than liquor.
In fact, a bottle of beer has the same alcohol content as one “hard” drink and one five-ounce glass of wine. Three “lite” beer equal two “hard” drinks.
• Myth No. 2 — If you eat food, you get less drunk.
Food does delay the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the blood, but all the alcohol in your system will eventually be absorbed and you’ll be just as drunk.
• Myth No.3 — Drinking coffee counteracts the effects of alcohol.
Coffee will only make you a less drowsy drunk.
• Myth No. 4 — It will make a difference if you wait half an hour before having another drink.
The sometimes-abused liver processes one standard drink per hour. At the half hour mark, you’re still feeling the full effects of the drink.
• A final thought: It was a year-end observer who said, “You know that age is catching up with you when, after painting the town red, you need a long rest before applying a second coat!”