The American HOTUS podcast shares a quick and witty look at 5 different moments in the History of The United States, giving the short-attention span listener a fresh look at some of our country's most iconic moments.
First up, the President that kicked the bucket right after moving into the White House! It was a residency that was so short, he didn’t even have a chance to get his change of address junk worked out with the post office…if the post office existed…which it didn’t yet, that’s another story. Anyhow, it’s 1841 and at just 31 days in office; William Harrison’s time as the head honcho was the shortest ever, beginning with his inaugural address that was the longest ever. You see, he was 68 years old, the oldest man to be elected Prez at the time. So to prove he was young-ish, he left his coat at the coat-check and stepped out into the nasty cold and wet Washington D.C. inaugural day. Well, to no one’s real surprise, stubborn Bill Harrison from Indiana caught a nasty cold and then died of pneumonia just a month later. He was just the 9th President for our young country, and it was the first time a sitting POTUS died while in office and quite honestly no one really knew what to do, who should take over? But just like a good game of Musical Chairs, his VP John Tyler saw opportunity and jumped in the White House chair before anyone else could pull it out – so he was now the new man! And as far as we know, he always wore a coat…when it was cold out, because that’s the smart thing to do.
So…it’s 1903, a couple brothers from Dayton Ohio, come up with the first airplane that would change the world and how people go on vacation, forever! But before they take off for the first time, they’re like hold-on, we should probably get a picture of this thing. So of course, why not, they turn to some random Coast Guard guy that was just hanging out watching it all go down on the North Carolina coast. Coast Guard “Surfman” John Daniels said sure I’ll take your pic, even though I’ve never taken a pic or even seen a camera before, ever…in my entire life! When the time came, Wilbur grabbed the controls, launched into the wild blue yonder, “Coast Guard Surfman” John snapped the pic, they exchanged some high-five’s, then they all went home. 3 weeks later, the Wright Brothers finally got around to looking at the classic picture we know so well today – and hey it turned out pretty good, perfect for framing! Despite his newfound skill at photography, Daniels stayed with the Coast Guard another 15 years, retiring in 1918, then passing away 30 years later…just one day after Orville Wright passed away ! Eerie, right?! So next time you need someone to take a pic, look for someone from the Coast Guard – oddly enough, they usually take a pretty good action shot!
It’s 1891, it’s cold outside, you’ve got a bunch of restless teenagers, and they’re crazy-bored with what’s available inside the gym – the same old gymnastics, calisthenics, and workout machines. So, a big wig instructor at the YMCA in Massachusetts named James Naismith comes up with an idea…why not take a couple peach baskets and throw a ball into them? Sounds REALLY boring, yes. But throw in some of the best parts of other sports, like soccer – shape and size of the ball, rugby-passing and jumping for the ball, and some crazy game called Duck on a Rock-which gave him the idea for where and how the goal was placed! Well, add all of this up and you’ve got something! The teens were into it, they not only played out some pent-up energy, but they also began to form school teams and leagues. And one of the original players even came up with the name “basketball”, which is way better than its original name, “Naismith Ball” which I can’t even imagine Jordan or Shaq really getting into. Over the next 130 years, the game of basketball becomes one of the planets most popular hardwood sports. And credit to Dr. Jim’s original set of rules – the game has pretty much stayed the same. What he isn’t responsible for, is the shot clock, the 3-point line and all the fancy sneakers. Those came later.
You always remember your first, and when you think about all our nation’s incredible National Parks – we should all remember Yellowstone! It became Yellowstone National Park Reserve, when President Uncle Sam Grant, aka Ulysses, put his pen to paper to make this 1st National Park super-official in 1872. Story goes, humans first hung around the place some 11,000 years ago. In 1805, Lewis and Clark strolled through, then a bunch of fur trappers and hunters and gold prospectors moved in and made it their own. The Northern-Pacific railroad company saw opportunity, so in 1870 they hired some fellas to really explore the park and document what they found, laying the groundwork for how we explore the park today. Dig just a little underground though and you get a whole different layer to the story. You see, a couple of million years ago, one of the largest volcano eruptions known to man happened here, covering over 5-thousand square miles with ash. It’s most likely gonna happen again, but don’t worry too much – experts don’t predict another blow-up for another thousand…or ten thousand years! Until then, Old Faithful reminds us of what lies underfoot, today, every day, every hour or so! Yellowstone National Park - 2 Million acres, 3,400 square miles, covering 3 states, hell, this national treasure is so big, there are still a lot of places that few have ever wondered around, or even seen! Maybe that’s where the lovable little bear named Yogi is hanging out, he and his friend Boo-Boo!
It’s the early 1900s, and cars are incredibly expensive – too expensive for regular folks to lay down some cash and jump behind the wheel. The biggest problem to making them affordable, was how long it took to build the things – an excruciatingly slow half a day for each car. Whether you’re amazed by this or appalled by it, the capitalists of the day found it incredibly disturbing! They wanted more, more, more for less, less, less. So a guy named Henry came up with an idea called the Assembly Line, an idea that brought the work to the workers instead of the workers to the work! Suddenly, cars were taking shape at 6 feet per minute by workers focused on specific parts of the process. Ford Model T’s with about 10,000 parts were now being built in just an hour and a half, instead of half a day! It was an impressive mix of man and machine, turning America into an industrial powerhouse and making cars not just reliable, but cheap, dropping the price from $825 in 1908 to just $260 in the 1920’s! Today, car makers are back to taking a half a day to build your new ride, but there’s good reason. They’ve become a bit more complicated in the last hundred years or so; anti-lock brakes, power-steering, GPS, and the fancy bun warmers, it all adds up to a hefty 30,000 parts per car! But the assembly line concept has actually aged pretty well and continues to adapt to these modern changes, cranking out car after car after car after…well, you get the idea.
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