African American Inventions Improve Our Daily Life

By Caryl Clem:

Through the last 100 years, when faced with a problem that needed a solution, African American inventors created products we still use today.  A common example, today’s ironing board with a narrow to wider proportioned curved board. A former slave woman whose main job was ironing women’s garments had moved from Craven County, North Carolina to New Haven, Connecticut after the Civil War.  The president of Yale College in New Haven was a fervent supporter of blacks acquiring the same standard of living as whites. In 1892 when Sara Boone was 60 years old, she patented the device as a cheap, efficient method to iron clothing. Previously, square planks on stands or across chairs were used for ironing.

Do you love to climb stairs or would you rather ride an elevator?  An unsung hero that invented the automatic elevator door is Alexander Miles. His own granddaughter nearly fell down an elevator shaft due to a faulty door. Since his patent in 1887, it’s the base of ones manufactured today.

If you have traveled on a main road, your safety was increased by the installation of the 3 Way Traffic Light Systems.  A successful African American inventor, Garrett Morgan, was the first black man to own a car in Cleveland, Ohio where he witnessed a terrible carriage accident. He was confident that a warning yellow yield light would decrease accidents. He patented his 3 Way Traffic Light in 1923 that was later sold to General Electric. His patents ranged from friction clutches in cars, hair straightener, breathing devices in safety hoods firefighters wear, gas masks, and sewing machine improvements. He left home after an elementary school education.

In 1940 a method to cool the roofing of a truck by Frederick McKinley Jones was the start of a new industry, refrigerated trucking.  Now supermarkets could receive from other areas perishable meat, fish, fresh eggs, bread, dairy, vegetables, fruits, medical supplies, donated blood, and flowers. During World War II his idea made possible sending supplies to our troops of food, blood and medical supplies. He had 60 patents.

Dr. James West was given the assignment to develop a sensitive, compact microphone while working at Bell Labs. He co-founded the electret transducer with Gerhard M. Sessler that is used in  90% of microphones. During his career he had 250 patents and was a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Pioneer computer trailblazers include African American Dr. Mark Dean who was the first African American to win the Black Engineer of the Year Presidential award in 1997. He was the chief engineer at IBM heading a team of 12 members.  At career’s end, he held 3 of the 9 original IBM patents. Dr. Dean was responsible for the color IBM monitor and co- founded the Gigahertz chip that increased processing speeds at a billion calculations per second. . He developed with his colleague Dennis Moeller, The Industry Standard Architecture that allowed plug in devices such as disk drives, printers and monitors to go directly into the computer. He was inducted into the National Inventor Hall of Fame in 2001.

African American Inventors are a bulwark of our national strength and capability.

Doggone Advantages

By Caryl Clem:

February hosts several media ignored holidays. Your dog has the keenest sense of smell, can read human moods, capable of learning support for the handicapped while offering consistent loyalty.  National Dog Walkers Day is 2/23 and February boasts supporting Responsible Pet Ownership month. “Going with the Dogs” has positive not negative results.  Documented healthy advantages include fighting heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and improving muscle tone and stress while improving mental bonding enjoying natural beauty.  Every pet broadens the spectrum of love in your life.

Feeding  your dog is past the time when uneaten food from a dinner plate slid off to land under the table because your dog was ready to lick the floor clean.  Dessert for dogs was not a concern. Dog food has evolved to supply a full range of nutrition. Dog food treats reflect the same food trends their owners are experiencing. February is National Snack Food month and Milk Bone is proof that doggie treats can keep pace with our chips and various munchies markets.

The first dogs walking to consume dog biscuits were show dogs. Spratt from England was marketing a dog biscuit cake to nobility and wealthy owners asserting that his cake would make the dogs stronger and fit to compete. By 1895 his product had arrived in America becoming famous after a 1902 scandal from the Madison Garden dog show claimed a Lady Ella dog contestant had died from poisoning found in her dog cake. The secular market of dog cakes was ready for the common place owner.  An American inventor, Carlton Ellis in 1907 patented the dog bone shaped biscuit in three sizes. Milk Bone pounced on this image in their first big advertising campaign.  The original very expensive biscuit geared to satisfy the wealthy dog owner market shifts its customer base.  In 1908, F. H. Bennet Company was mass manufacturing dog bones packaged in cardboard boxes at affordable prices.

The Milk Bone Company has a web site that shows the marketing themes through 100 years.  The first in 1940 proudly features the three sizes ready to please any dog.  The push for home grown wholesome foods ingredients was seen in the 1958.  The star flavor in 1971 was “Beefy” during the same time big burgers were the rage. Getting rid of teeth plaque has its own video.  ” Ham and cheese” flavors were featured in 2008 and by 2016 along the list of 20 flavors added the all American favorite, “Peanut Butter”.  The latest addition has a pouch in which to place dog medication.  The early ingredients that were causing dogs to gain weight have been streamlined into diet friendly combinations.  Del Monte now owns Milk Bone.

During a time when an increasing number of people are fighting obesity or isolation, owning and walking a dog makes sense.  Dog ownership is a cure for loneliness while a motivation to practice healthy habits for the sake of your dog.   Finding “treats” for your dog(s) offers a wide variety of choices online, below are a few suggestions:

Three Dog Bakeries: Home

Dog BakeryDog Birthday Cakes Cookies & Treats, Fresh…

The Barkery Gourmet Dog Birthday Cakes, Cookies, Treats …

What happened to handkerchiefs?

I received a box of seven, neatly-packaged handkerchiefs at one of my elementary birthday parties…each symbolizing the days of the week though I don’t remember ever really using one. Each day was a different color for me. I remember one day was an ugly brown color..though I could not remember the day. At friends birthday parties, it was the gift to give. Some were decorated with daily girl chores or colorful childhood scenes. Some were floral with colored lace. However, my Mother did encourage me to put one in my first handbag and my great aunt used one all the time. Her variety was sometimes yellowed with age and she had a special place in her robe or clothes to carry it wherever she went. Some just referred to their kerchief which was easier. Handkerchiefs could be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.

Handkerchiefs have long been displayed in the chest pocket of men’s jackets. Used in this way, they are referred to as a pocket handkerchief or pocket square. A traditional pocket square will have the hem rolled, contrary to handkerchiefs. The trend of pocket squares as a fashion accessory really started during the 1920s, and continued until the 1960s.

I don’t remember my friends or my children ever receiving a hankie or carrying one either. It just wasn’t popular. However, you can still buy handkerchiefs and studies have proven that they are relatively sanitary followed by the user watching his hands. They can be laundered many times. You can pick out the size and material that works for you. Of course, it all depends on how you handle the kerchief; never blowing your nose on and leaving it out in front of others.

Of course, vintage handkerchiefs are available on Ebay and while I was researching the collection, I noticed that Ebay had a days- of-the- week sitting among a large collection. It was a 1960’s children’s variety. There, in the picture above, was the ugly color handkerchief I got as a child! It was Wednesday…..I will never forget that color and there it sits in the photograph…still haunting me. Even though people today like Wednesday’s….it’s hump day and half way through the week, it was never my favorite day. Now, I know why!!!!

 

African American cuisine, Chicago soul food suggestions

By Caryl Clem

Winter weather lingers during February while we look for ways to find comfort waiting for spring. I dig out the recipe books to look up  favorites. When it’s cold outside, I crave eating made from scratch macaroni and cheese bubbling under the bread crumb crust. If you think about Sunday dinner meatloaf or finger licking crusty fried chicken, warm cornbread smothered in butter followed by a tasty cobbler for dessert, all these originated from African American culinary ingenuity. Kentucky Fried Chicken won success with soul food staples as well as several other fast food chicken rivals. Getting the most for your money and taste buds has earned “soul food’ a place on our plates and in our hearts.

Several of our founding fathers all had Black African American chefs that were educated in Europe. In France, Parmesan cheese, butter and pasta was the new rage during the 1800’s. Thomas Jefferson sent his chef to France to learn how to prepare French delicacies. By February in 1862, Thomas Jefferson was hosting parties featuring this macaroni pie specialty. President, George Washington had a famous Black African American Chef Hercules whose clothing can be seen in an museum exhibit in Washington D.C. African Americans as chefs showcasing American food has been established for centuries. These chefs have shaped America’s palate:

Chef Hercules was an African American slave owned by the Washington family, serving as the family’s head chef for many years.

Chef Edna Lewis was a renowned African-American chef, teacher, and author of several cookbooks who helped refine the American view of Southern cooking.

Chef Joe Randall was a good friend of the late Edna Lewis, has been a veteran award-winning chef for over 50+ years.

Chef Leah Chase was an American chef based in New Orleans, Louisiana. An author and television personality, she was known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine. She passed away at 96 in 2019.

Chef Patrick Clark was an American chef. He won the 1994 James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Region” during his tenure at the Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington, D.C. and also competed.

The reputation of Southern wealthy families depended on offering superior feasts. The culinary feats were achieved by slave chefs from a variety of African regions. New to colonists dinner ‘s influenced by West Africa offered tomatoes, lima beans, onions, and chili peppers with peanuts, ginger and lemon grass. Natural sugar from dates, coconuts, sorghum and sweet potato lessen the need for granulated sugar. Garlic, cumin, and chili peppers for meat followed by allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Chili made with cinnamon was probably the result of African spice blends.  Africa has five regions that use the same spices and seasoning blends. Across America distinct African American influence is broken down into these categories: “Northern States, “ Agricultural South”, “ Creole Coast”, lastly, “ Western Range”.  Trivia fact, over 1/3 of cowboys in the west after the civil war were African Americans. Spices and flavors from a distant continent won new fans and changed the rather bland  fare forever.

Chicago offers several “soul food” restaurants, a phrase that started in the 1960’s and was common place by the 1970’s. Foursquare provides some great comments and pictures about several. Here are just a few with pictures above that describe their menus:

  1. Luella’s Southern Kitchen
  2. Wishbone Restaurant
  3. Big Jones
  4. Virtue
  5. Feed

Good Old Days: Valentines Day

Saint Valentine’s Day was a feast day in the Catholic religion, added to the liturgical calendar around 500 AD. The day was commemorated for two martyred roman priests named—you guessed it—Valentine. … Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. No one knows exactly when the celebration began in sending cards but their is evidence that it took place as early as the fifteenth century,

It is said by the 18th century,February 14th became an occasion for people to exchange letters or small presents to commemorate love between lovers and friends. But back in the day, it was very expensive to buy Valentines cards and huge boxes of candy.

NJM Blog offers some information about Valentines Day candy. For example, the history of Sweethearts Candy Hearts began in 1866. Daniel Chase developed a machine that could press food dye letters onto the candy lozenges made famous by his brother, New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) founder Oliver Chase. Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolates: Richard Cadbury, son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, created ‘fancy’ boxes of chocolates to increase sales.

School celebrations of Valentines Day consisted of making your own valentines in the early eighteenth century here in America. Teachers would help students make cards; passing them out to everyone in the classroom. Teachers would decorate classrooms with felt hearts and banners. As a Baby Boomer, we brought Valentines to school that were sold in a small red box with a variety of small, one dimensional cards to choose from that would fit the personality and gender of each child. You better pick something that was sports oriented for the boys…never kissing anyone. Your gifted valentines were stuffed in a plastic bag to bring home. The same was for my own children growing up in the 1990’s but Valentines were more theme-oriented celebrating famous toys, stars, or movies. I remember my son sending Spiderman cards. There was a collection of cards with Michael Jordon on them that said your cool and of course, Barbie or Pocahontas (celebrating the movie) was a favorite for girls 20 years ago.

Now, however, decorated Valentines Day boxes that are sometimes larger than the student, are brought to school. They represent mailboxes of all different themes with an opening ready for cards that may be a monsters teeth, a unicorn, a cat, a dog or a fairy castle with a magic door for cards. They are absolutely gorgeous and a great idea for parents to help decorate; bringing out how special and creative Valentines Day can be. Today, classrooms also celebrate Valentines Day parties usually hosted by volunteer parents. Though candy is an issue, the parents bring great snacks for the kids.

This year for the kindergarten students, my daughter and I made Valentines with two hearts glued together with a Tootsie Pop in the center that had attached googly eyes, Looks like a butterfly with glitter heart stickers since the parents agreed to the lollipop this year. Since we have a short week at school, I passed them out yesterday. There is something special about making your own creation and not one disliked the Tootsie Pop or the flavor they received since they were able to eat them in the classroom…all at once…following afternoon recess. Wow…maybe we should do this more often for it was much quieter than usual at one point. Their little mouths had something else to concentrate and couldn’t talk and lick at the same time.

Happy Valentines Day!

My favorite fast food hamburgers

Since childhood, it was always a hamburger and chocolate shake that was my faovrite lunch away from home. It began with Henrys.  In 1956, Henry’s, or as some old timers called it, “O’Henry’s” was running 35 locations in and around the city and suburbs. By the ’60s, Henry’s expanded to over 200 restaurants nationwide,  surpassing McDonald’s, White Castle, Jack In the Box, and Wag ‘s. Occasionally, I would have a white castle hamburger at a birthday party. The first White castle opened at 79th and Essex in 1929…my old neighborhood and the oldest hamburger chain.

My next favorite was Wimpy Grills always a place to eat when we took the Illinois Central downtown in my pre-teens and went shopping with friends at Carson’s or Marshall Fields. Though I did love the olive burger at the Narcissus room at Fields. The Wimpy brand was established in 1934 by Edward Gold, when he opened his first location in Bloomington, Indiana under the name Wimpy Grills.The name was inspired by the character of J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons created by E. C. Segar. Gold did not open his first Chicago area location until two years later in 1936, after opening units in five other Midwestern cities. The one I remember the most was located on the northeast corner of Randolph Street and Wabash Avenue which originally opened in 1940 and is no longer there. By 2011, Famous Brands had 509 Wimpy restaurants in South Africa no longer apart of the US.

But in 1973, my still favorite fast food cheese burger was established and will still eat it today when I am looking for something close to home, fast and affordable. Though I do love their chocolate shakes too. The quarter pounder with cheese, just had one yesterday, of course a McDonald favorite. In 1979, the Happy Meal for children was created followed by Chicken McNuggets in 1983; the latter still a favorite of my 30+ children

The first McDonald’s restaurant was started in 1948 by brothers Maurice (“Mac”) and Richard McDonald in San Bernardino, California. They bought appliances for their small hamburger restaurant from salesman Ray Kroc,who was intrigued by their need for eight malt and shake mixers.Seeing great promise in their restaurant concept, Kroc offered to begin a franchise program for the McDonald brothers.

On April 15, 1955, he opened the first McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, and in the same year launched the McDonald’s Corporation, eventually buying out the McDonald brothers in 1961. The clown,Ronald McDonald, was created in 1963.  The corporation is still located in Oakbrook and today McDonalds is considered the largest restaurant chain.

 

 

Go Noodle…I’m Still Standing and Footloose

There called brain breaks in elementary classrooms which I have talked about before.  In our kindergarten, its Go Noodle kids videos and it varies from year to year what the kids really enjoy. GoNoodle is free for teachers, parents, and kids! In addition to energizing content, GoNoodle has 300+ dance videos, mindfulness activities, and super engaging videos for kids!

Last year, the popular, always requested number was Boom Chicaka Boom-Moose Tube.  A favorite both years is also Koo Koo Kanga Roo, a comic team that does a variety videos that include a funny ride on a roller coaster and weird sounds, just to name a few. This year, right before the next animated movie came out, it was Snap Along with the Addams Family. But now a new hit has become the winning choice.

As the teacher selected the hit and it began to play, I wasn’t paying attention to the kids dancing on the screen. It was the music, the song that hit before I looked up. It was Elton John from 1982 when I’m Still Standing was released and played over and over…yeah, yeah, yeah. In fact when I hear the song one time, I can’t get the lyrics to stop playing in my head. And now I’m Still Standing is recorded by Go Noodle; a top hit in another decade. But it is the dance troup that the kids follow which is two girls and a boy that perform a variety of dance moves that the kids truly take the time to figure and follow. It is amazing to watch the kids become better after each time the video is played.

After researching Noodle Television, there are more from the Baby Boomers era from this kid trio including Footloose. Footloose is a 1984 American musical drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small western town where he lives with his mother, aunt, and uncle. Throughout the movie, McCormack is seen attempting to overturn the ban on dancing, which resulted from the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow).

The movie received mixed reviews but the song by Kenny Loggins has been popular. Another Footloose movie came out in 2011 where city teenager, the same Ren MacCormack moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace.

Lose your blues, kick off your Sunday shoes. The video has a row, top and bottom, of dancing shoes. When it first came out in the early 1980’s, many rock and roll fans thought it was a stupid song. Not anymore. Not for the elementary students today following their favorite dance troupe.