Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Floating on Air

This Day in History: May 31, 1959


Christopher Cockerell with the
proper hovercraft model
made in 1955 from balsa wood
(Source: Hovercraft Consultants Ltd)

One of the most successful inventions of the 20th century emerged as a result of some very unusual testing. The principle behind today's hovercraft was first demonstrated by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1955 using an empty KiteKat cat food tin inside a coffee tin, an air blower (some sources cite a hairdryer) and a pair of kitchen scales. The first manned hovercraft flight took place on May 31, 1959 with the seven-ton SR.N1 developed by John Cockerell making its first test flight. It was capable of a speed of 60 knots.

Throughout history, man has been intent on improving upon ideas of moving machines for purposes of transport. The concept behind the hovercraft actually began centuries ago being traced back to the early 1700's, and ideas for flying machines date back to ancient Greece. Cockerel's idea allowed a vehicle to move over water's surface, floating on a layer of air, thus, reducing friction between the vehicle and the water.


World's first full-size hovercraft.
The prototype SR-N1 was used for research and development
(Source: Science & Society Picture Library)

For an extensive history of the hovercraft, click the links below.
1700 – 1900: The Genesis of Air Cushion Vehicles
1900 – 1950: The Evolution of Air Cushion Vehicles
1950 – 1964: The Birth of the Air Cushion Vehicle/Hovercraft Industry

An Illustrated History of the Hovercraft

The money Cockerell received for his hovercraft patent didn't cover his development costs. As with so many inventors and creative individuals, he remained bitter with lack of compensation and capitalization of such an inventive idea. It is interesting to note the US naval hovercraft is still in use today.
 A U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion,
an example of a military hovercraft
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

You haven't seen a hovercraft, until you've seen the Zubr-class, a class of air-cushioned landing craft of Soviet design that's currently the world's largest. It's designed to sealift landing assault units (such as marines or tanks) from equipped/non-equipped vessels to non-equipped shore, as well as transport and plant mines. Read MORE...
Have you ever had your sunbathing interrupted at the beach by the landing of a hovercraft? It happens!

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Mint of a Day

Today's foodie inspiration is not a food at all but a beverage, the Mint Julep. It is associated with the South, especially the Kentucky Derby. It would have been most fitting for this celebration to have been on Derby Day, during which time it has been reported the annual Kentucky Derby horse race sees around 120,000 juleps served each year. Yet, the beverage itself goes way back much farther than the beginning of America's most prestigious horse race. Ready to celebrate?

Today is...
Mint Julep Day

The true origin of the Mint Julep is clouded with mystery having never been completely traced but one thing for certain it associates the South as its heartland. For those of you into cocktails, enjoy the julep before retiring for the evening or simply any time of the day, on any day, for it is not reserved only for today or the Kentucky Derby.

Tidbits of Julep Trivia...
Mint Julep's popularity came to rest in the agricultural regions of the east and southeast, where farmers awakened at dawn. ...the julep was originally a morning drink as the spirited equivalent of coffee in today's society. "One sip and Pow! The farmers were ready to face the long day."
Mint juleps are served in pewter julep cups with crushed or shaved ice for a specific reason: The purpose of the cups isn't immediately clear to most drinkers because they are holding them wrong. Julep cups should only be held by the top or the bottom so that the crushed ice inside them can create a frost on the outside.
Premium versions of the drink are served in gold-plated cups with silver straws - The $1000 Mint Julep. You've got to be kidding!

The Clovers: One Mint Julep

 The song, which became a hit for The Clovers in the early 1950s, was one of the first drinking songs to really take off. The song is about a man who falls for a young woman only to realize a few years down the road that he’s been trapped into marriage. In the song, he laments that it all started with "One Mint Julep".
  Cheers! Remember to drink responsibly!

 Is your mouth watering yet?

yum, yum, yum . . . yummy!


Related Articles

History of Mint Julep

What Exactly is Mint Julep?

Ringo with the tambourine! Who's the drummer?

Today in Music History: May 30

Throughout the course of a year, there is hardly a day that goes by without mention of The Beatles. Today is no exception as we begin on this day with the year 1964...

1964, The Beatles went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Love Me Do', the group's fourth US No.1 in five months. The version released in America had Andy White playing drums while Ringo played the tambourine. The British single was a take on which Ringo played the drums.
Andy White: He’s cool. Always was, still is.
Songfacts: The Beatles recorded versions of this with 3 different drummers. At their first Parlophone audition in June, 1962, Pete Best was still their drummer. When they recorded this on September 4, Ringo was their drummer, but when George Martin decided this would be the single, he had them record it again a week later. At this session, he used a session drummer named Andy White and stuck Ringo with the tambourine. The version with Ringo drumming was released as the single, but the version released on the album had Andy White's drumming. Ringo didn't pitch a fit when he got bumped at the session, but was very upset and felt real insecure, especially since The Beatles had just fired a drummer.

 1968, The Beatles began recording what became known as the White Album. The double-LP whose official title was simply ‘The Beatles’ became the first Beatles album released with the Apple label. The first track they recorded was ‘Revolution’.
Songfacts: There are so many versions of this song because Paul McCartney didn't like it. Lennon really wanted this song to be the 'A' side of the single instead of "Hey Jude," and kept changing it around to come up with something that would make Paul see it his way. He basically wrote the song because he felt like he was being pulled in so many directions by different people, all of whom wanted his backing, politically. It was also him questioning his own belief in the revolution that was going on... whether he was "out" or "in." In truth, he was writing about a revolution of the mind rather than a physical "in the streets" revolution. He truly believed that revolution comes from inner change rather than social violence. (This is discussed in the DVD Composing the Beatles Songbook)

 1970, Ray Stevens went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Everything Is Beautiful'. The former DJ had a string of novelty hits, including 'Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green & Purple Pill'.
Songfacts: A very popular and family-friendly entertainer throughout the '60s, Ray Stevens was given his own TV variety show in 1970 called The Ray Stevens Show, which lasted just one season as a summer replacement. He wrote the uplifting "Everything Is Beautiful" as the theme for the show. Stevens explained to mybestyears.com, "I needed a very special song for the program. I went down in my basement for about three days. I had crumpled paper all over the place. And suddenly the idea for the song came to me. I wrote it in maybe 45 minutes. It was a very special song and one that a lot of people still remember and sing along when I do it in shows."

Today's Tidbit of Trivia...
 2007, Britney Spears said she "truly hit rock bottom" when she went to rehab earlier this year. In a message on her website, the singer wrote that she "genuinely did not know what to do with myself" following her split from husband Kevin Federline. The 25 year old singer entered a Malibu treatment facility in February after months of partying which ended with the singer shaving off all her hair.

Brittany Spears has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
In 2006, Spears was ranked sixth on Forbes list of the 100
Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world.
She is also the third most mentioned musician on the internet.

 And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Rev your engines!

This Day in History: May 30, 1911

All the excitement of competition we enjoy today had to begin somewhere, some time. The history behind most events is intriguing and most assuredly interesting. Whoever first said history is boring had no clue of anything in life except the breath of air being taken at any given moment to stay alive. Each of us has a connection...a person, a place or an event. Each connection has had an impact on what we know, experience and enjoy today. This is what Awakenings is all about...a chance to embrace the past, empower the present and enrich the future!
The starting line-up at the first ever Indianapolis 500 motor race at
Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, 1911.
Archive Photos/Getty Images
One of the world's most famous auto races began on this day, May 30, in 1911

The winner: Ray Harroun The car: a single-seater Marmon Wasp

#32 Ray Harroun was on the outside of row seven
in the 28th starting position.
Not only was Ray Harroun the winner of the 1st Indy 500 but the year prior to the race (1910) he accepted an offer from Howard C. Marmon to design AND build a racing car to be driven by him in the first big event at the new speedway at Indianapolis. Cool, huh? Designer, builder, winner!

The videos are great, especially viewed full screen!

The Indy 500 birthed many basic ideas that are standard parts on today's cars, not just race cars—your car, my car, the automobile driven back and forth to the grocery store, taking children to school and going to work. What ideas you might ask? Turbo charging, driver safety, rearview mirrors, seat belts, tires. Tires! Get real...of course the first automobile ever had tires so what impact did the Indy 500 have on tires? Interestingly enough Ray Harroun's Marmon Wasp (by the way it was bright yellow) was equipped with bicycle tires! No kidding! That is not your average run-of-the-mill tidbit of information. See why history is so fascinating? Got you hungering for more? Click HERE!

Harroun's winning Marmon-Nordyke "Wasp", on permanent display
at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
[Notice the tires!]
$1.00 was paid for admission by 80,200 spectators in 1911 to watch the first Indy 500 race. Today, ticket prices range from $70 to $186 face value. The Indy 500 seats more than 250,000 people, giving it the title of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing".
On May 30, 1911, 40 cars lined up at the starting line for the first Indy 500. On the first day of time trials, May 17, 2014, the fastest 33 cars were locked into the starting field. 
The 1911 Indianapolis "500" purse amounted to $27,550, of which Harroun earned $14,250. The total purse for the 2014 Indianapolis 500 was $14.23 million of which the winner took home $2.49 million.

What are your thoughts on the Indy 500? Are you a race enthusiast?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Code "White Christmas"

Today in Music History: May 29

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...

  Academy Award for Best Song of 1942

A perennial seller for an entire generation, 'White Christmas' is by far the biggest-selling Christmas song of all time. It was the biggest-selling song of all time, going back and forth with Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock," until Elton John released his tribute to Princess Diana - "Candle In The Wind."

1942 Initially the song painted a picture of holiday nostalgia. It was written by Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie Holiday Inn, where Bing Crosby sings it from the perspective of a New Yorker stranded in sunny California during Christmas.

Crosby recorded a version of the song for release as a single with the Kim Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra on May 29, 1942 - a few months before the movie hit theaters. At the advice of Bing's record producer Jack Kapp, the original first verse was excised as it made no sense outside of the context of the film. Now starting with the familiar, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," the song became a huge hit, going to #1 on the Billboard chart (measuring sales) in October, and staying in the top spot for 11 weeks, taking it through the first two weeks of 1943.
 1954 By 1954, this song was a holiday favorite, and that year Paramount Pictures released a movie called White Christmas to tie in with it. Crosby starred in the film along with Danny Kaye, and of course performed his famous song.
Tidbit of Trivia...


Songfacts: This has the distinction of marking the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. As the North Vietnamese surrounded Saigon, an evacuation plan was put into effect to bring the remaining Americans to safety. Their cue to evacuate was when a radio announcement stating that the temperature in Saigon was "105 degrees and rising," and followed by the playing of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." That was the signal for the mad dash to the US Embassy where helicopters were waiting.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...

Thanks for the memories!

This Day in History: May 29, 1903

Should you not know who is dubbed "Mr. Entertainment" perhaps another title tip might be of help. He is also known as "The King of Comedy." Still not sure? 
He was among the 20,000 vaudeville performers working in the 1920s. Many of these performers were, like himself, recent immigrants to America who saw a vaudeville career as one of the few ways to succeed as a "foreigner" in America. "I left England when I found out I couldn't be king."
He once said, "People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy," "No one party can fool all of the people all of the time; that`s why we have two parties," just to quote a couple. With so many comedians on stage and off, he fit the funny category like a glove. In other words, he really was funny without even trying. Le' Naturale!
The laughter was great but most importantly he loved to make people smile. "I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."
His fifty-year commitment to public service has made him one of the most honored and esteemed performers in history. "If you haven`t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble."
Some 65 million people watched him perform for troops in Vietnam on Christmas Eve in 1966 in his largest broadcast. "They said I was worth $500 million. If I was worth that much, I wouldn't have visited Vietnam, I`d have sent for it."
He was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II."What an honor and what a surprise for a boy born in England, raised in Cleveland and schooled in vaudeville."
Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS, (born Leslie Townes Hope)
May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003

When Bob Hope turned 100 on May 29, 2003, some 35 U.S. states declared it to be Bob Hope Day. He was revered by many, loved by all! He loved an audience, audiences loved him. He delivered one-line gags, he thrived on applause. His mastery of the comic monologue carried him to worldwide fame. His undying faithfulness to entertaining American servicemen far exceeds the effort of any other entertainer. The U.S. Congress declared him the "first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces." He loved America, America loved him!

A Bit of Bob Hope Humor

 Bob Hope died as a result of pneumonia on July 27, 2003, less than two months after his 100th birthday celebration. He was survived by Dolores, their four adopted children--Linda, Anthony, Nora and Kelly--and four grandchildren.

Thanks for the memories, Bob!


Wisconsin: Land of Dreams

This Day in History: May 29, 1848

Wisconsin, The Badger State, The Dairy State, The Cheese State
Wisconsin is

Picturesque farms, sun-dappled fields, contented cows...

When you hear someone mention Wisconsin, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Of course, it has to be CHEESE! Since Wisconsin is one of the top producers of milk, cheese and butter in the country, it is of no surprise that it has also been given the nickname 'America's Dairyland', which is synonymous with the The Dairy State and The Cheese State. 
Wisconsin cheeses have an illustrious heritage of more than 160 years of quality and craftsmanship. During this long and rich history, the art and science of cheesemaking have been captured in time-honored traditions that produce cheese varieties of unsurpassed excellence. Today, Wisconsin produces more than 600 varieties, types, and styles of American, international-style, and original cheeses that win more awards than any other state or country. Read MORE...
As for The Badger State, Miners earned Wisconsin that nickname because their act of digging homes out of hillsides near the mines was a little too similar to that of the badgers who also dug underground places of abode.
Just what does Wisconsin mean? The name is based on the Chippewa Indian word Ouisconsin, believed to mean "grassy place" or "gathering of the waters." The state was named after the Wisconsin River. Wisconsin was successively part of the original Northwest Territory (1788-1800), Indiana Territory (1800-1809) and Michigan Territory (1818-1836) before it became a territory in its own right (1836-1848). Wisconsin was admitted to the Union as the 30th state on May 29, 1848.
Wisconsinis a U.S. state located in the north-central United States,
in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
The Wisconsin state flag features the state coat of arms on both sides against a field of blue (see Wisconsin state seal), with the state name of Wisconsin above and 1848 below (year Wisconsin was admitted to the Union).



White-Tailed Deer
Wisconsin designated the white-tailed deer as the state wildlife animal in 1957. An animal of incredible beauty and power, white-tailed deer are able to run up to 40 miles per hour, jump 9 foot fences, and swim 13 miles per hour. The white underside of the deer's tail waves when running and is flashed as a warning when danger is sensed. Both native Americans and settlers relied on the white-tailed deer for buckskin and food.
Wisconsin State Bird: American Robin

Wisconsin designated the American robin (Turdus migratorius) as the official state bird in 1949 (voted on by the school children of Wisconsin in 1926-27). One of America's favorite songbirds, robins are watched for each year as the heralder of spring.

The American robin has many vocalizations - rich songs composed of long phrases and "whinny" and "tut" calls. The female is muted in color compared to the male. The American Robin is also the state bird of Michigan, and Connecticut.
 Wisconsin State Flower: Wood Violet
Wisconsin designated the diminutive and delicate wood violet (Viola papilionacea) as the official state flower in 1909.
  For all State Symbols of Wisconsin click HERE!

Land of Dreams

Heavily forested rolling hills
With no mountainous highrise
North toward Lake Superior
Waterfalls roar in surprise

Broad uplands, narrow valleys
Southwestern Wisconsin knows
Yet unremitting flatness
Doth central locations impose

Distinctly shaped ridges
Glaciated as planned
Southeastern part of the state
Boasts carvings not by hand

Wisconsin, oh, Wisconsin

fall, winter, spring
Beauty within landscapes
Mother nature doth bring

Summer grain fields reign golden in the sun

Autumn flames burnt orange-red
 Winter glistens amid ice and snow
  Springtime robins' melodies spread

History rich in folklore
Men labor in teams
Upward, onward, forward

'Tis a land of dreams

©2014 Sharla Lee Shults

Rhode Island: Spectacular in the Fall

This Day in History: May 29, 1790
The Ocean State is the official nickname formulated to attract tourism to Rhode Island and appears on non-commercial license plates replacing "Discover" in 1972. With over 400 miles of coastline, all Rhode Islanders live within a 30-minute drive to the Atlantic Ocean or Narragansett Bay. The historical nickname, the Southern Gateway of New England, was bestowed because Rhode Island was the most southerly of the New England states with harbors suitable for ocean-going ships.
 A step back in time: Rhode Island, 1947

  Aerial America
Rhode Island: Sneak Peak
What it lacks in size it makes up for in historical significance.
Take the high-flying tour of the little state with big stories.
The official state motto of Rhode Island is simply "Hope." The state motto appears on the great seal and flag of Rhode Island. The use of the word "Hope" was probably inspired by the biblical phrase "hope we have as an anchor of the soul" … an insightful interpretation of information literacy’s relationship as the anchor to the soul of the art of teaching and learning in America, especially for the citizens of Rhode Island.
Rhode Island was the first of the original Thirteen Colonies to declare independence from British rule, declaring itself independent on May 4, 1776, two months before any other colony. It was the last colony of the thirteen colonies to ratify the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790, once assurances were made that a Bill of Rights would become part of the Constitution, thereby making it the 13th state in the union. "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" is the longest official name of any state in the Union.

[The thirteen colonies were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations]

Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,
is a state in the New England region of the United States.
Rhode Island State Flag

The flag of Rhode Island is white, bearing on each side
in the center a gold anchor, underneath it a blue ribbon
with the state motto "Hope" in gold letters, and
surrounded by thirteen golden stars in a circle.
The flag is also edged with yellow fringe.
Rhode Island State Seal

Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island red chicken was designated the official state bird
of Rhode Island in 1954. When the bill was signed into law,
then Governor Dennis J. Roberts stated:
"The Rhode Island red has become a symbol of Rhode Islanders all over the world."

State Flower: Violet
Wood violet photo by Maia C on Flickr;
noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works.

For all State Symbols of Rhode Island click HERE!

"Rhode Island it's for Me"


Spectacular in the Fall
(and that's not all!)


Red maple tree photo © by Jeff Dean on Wikipedia - use permitted
with attribution.

Old roads and trails
Wind amidst forests ever changing
Rarely the same sights, sounds
Greet a day's dusk or dawning

Trees grow, trees die
Leaves mature and decay
Birds, woodland creatures
Come and go as they may

Somewhat flat sandy areas
Emerge as a covered mansion
Pines, scrubby oaks and blueberries
Semble sandy forests of Wisconsin

Bounties of land, water
Follow the seasons
Often changing altogether
With nature's reasons

Relics of the past

Traverse the dense forest floor
Abandoned stone wall fences
Testify an era no more

Beauty of Rhode Island forests
So-o-o-o spectacular in the fall

Golds, purples, scarlet reds
Maples abound and that's not all!

©2014 Sharla Lee Shults

Sunset at Newport, Rhode Island - photo © G.E. Long on Flick
noncommercial use permitted with attribution