It seems that every year we reach the back half of the summer too quickly. Now, suddenly, it’s August. People are still griping about the lousy weather earlier in the summer, students and teachers are bemoaning the fact that school looms in about a month, your long-awaited summer vacation may now be over, so there’s less to look forward to, and if Mother Nature is up to her usual tricks, by mid-August the air may have a slightly cooler tinge to it.
Lest we become depressed over the all too rapid progression of summer, let’s change the subject slightly. A quick look at the August calendar down through the years brings forward these great, near-great and not-so-great events:
• August 11, 1851 — Isaac Singer obtained a patent for his new-fangled contraption, the sewing machine, and with $40 in capital, he began his business in Boston. It’s amazing to realize the longevity of the Singer company.
• August 12, 1877 — Thomas Edison turned over a crude model of his latest invention to his assistant, John Kreusi. Kreusi’s instructions were to finish a working model for demonstration. He was extremely skeptical about the potential of Edison’s new idea, saying: “I’ll bet you $2, Mr. Edison, that this contraption won’t work.” Edison took the bet and won the money from Kreusi when they successfully completed a working model of the phonograph.
• August 16, 1977 — The day we lost Elvis. See how you do on this Elvis trivia quiz (answers at end of column):
1. Who were the first two white people to have No. 1 singles on the rhythym and blues chart and what were the songs?
2. What was Elvis’ Zodiac sign?
3. One of Elvis’ biggest album hits was a movie soundtrack that was No. 1 on the charts for 10 weeks and stayed on the charts for over two years. What album was that?
• August 24, 1869 — The waffle iron had to start somewhere, and it happened on this day when Cornelius Swartout got his patent for that wonderful device that creates a terrific breakfast treat.
• August 28 — Traditionally, it’s “Sauntering Day” at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The objective of this event is to revive the nearly forgotten art of Victorian sauntering. Down through the years, certificates have been awarded and nominations accepted for the Sauntering Hall of Fame.
This event also heralds the beginning of the North American “silly season.”
1. The first white person to have a No. 1 single on the R & B chart was Johnnie Ray, with a song called Cry. Elvis was the second with Don’t be Cruel in 1956. Do you remember what was on the flip side of that 45? That’s right, it was Hound Dog.
2. Elvis was a Capricorn. He was born January 8, 1935.
If he were alive today — and let's not get started on that Elvis-sighting debate — he’d be 79.
3. The album was G.I. Blues. It was his fifth movie and the first one he made after returning home from the army.