Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America's past. These stories are about Americans - people just like you - who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you. Kate Kelly
  • Ace Pilot Pete Fernandez: Korean War

    Ace pilot Pete Fernandez was one of the top fighter pilots in the Korean War, but he almost didn’t see combat. He was so valuable to the military as a flight instructor that their preference was to keep him safely in the United States. That was hard for a man like Manuel J. Fernandez, Jr., (known as Pete). When Fernandez finally convinced the »

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  • X-Ray Shoe-Fitting Machine

    The X-ray shoe-fitting machine (fluoroscope) was a common fixture in American shoe stores during the 1930s-50s. In ads, the machines were touted as a new way to check the fit of a shoe, thereby “guaranteeing” that the shoes would be comfortable. Children’s shoes were said to last longer because the fit could be more exact. The first »

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  • Wishbone, Dog TV Star

    Wishbone, played by a Jack Russell terrier named Soccer (1988-2001), was the star of his own PBS Children’s Show that aired from 1995-2001. The idea for the show came from producer Rick Duffield, who explained to Entertainment Tonight in 1995, that like many pet owners, he often said things for his pet. He wondered if there was a place for a »

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  • Smoky, Yorkshire Terrier and WWII War Dog

    Smoky, a four-pound Yorkshire terrier, went to war by Courtesy of Bill Wynne happenstance. She was found in New Guinea near an American military base in 1944. No one was going to send home a lost dog, no matter how tiny.  She soon embedded with a unit of the U.S. 5th Air Force and was adopted by one of the photographers working »

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  • Jefferson Davis and his Dog Traveler

    Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) acquired his dog, Traveler, during his retirement years. Immediately after the war, Jefferson Davis was on the run from Union soldiers. He was captured and imprisoned for about two years and then freed. At that point, Davis wanted to leave the country, so he and his family traveled in Europe for »

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  • Retiring a Service Dog: Mary Hill, Indy and Britt

    The bond between a person and his/her service dog is strong and special. They are a unit. They are a team. They are an almost inseparable pair. But a sad fact is that a dog’s working life is generally only about ten years. The dog may tire more easily, and the tasks may seem more difficult. For the person involved, it’s time to start again »

    Retiring a Service Dog: Mary Hill, Indy and Britt Learn More »

  • The Service Dog and the Professor

    When chemistry students at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, enter their classroom with big smiles, one might presume their faces represent their enthusiasm for learning chemistry. Their professor, Dr. John Terhorst, knows otherwise. He is well aware that the huge smiles, and certainly the hand-waves, are actually for his service »

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  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall: Dog Lovers

    Both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall loved dogs. She was Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images partial to cocker spaniels and had two of them--one named Droopy and another, Puddle.  Bogart owned several breeds during his lifetime including a Newfoundland terrier, a couple of Scottish terriers, and a Sealyham terrier (a breed that »

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  • Slate: Service Dog to Veterans

    “Slate saved my life,” is the way John Wiesniewski describes having a Slate service dog like Slate by his side every day. SSD Slate, a black Labrador, is trained as a psychiatric support service dog by Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD), located in Grantville, Pennsylvania. These dogs are often placed with military veterans suffering »

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  • Grover Cleveland’s Dogs and Other Pets

    Grover Cleveland holds a unique place in American history. He is the Grover Cleveland with one of his dogs only person elected for two non-consecutive terms of the presidency (1885-1889 and 1893-1897). In addition, he was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War. Personally, Cleveland also went through changes. He was a bachelor »

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  • Confederate Dog in the Civil War: Sawbuck

    Loyal dogs populated both armies in the Civil War. For every Union What Sawbuck might have looked like dog, there was a Confederate dog taking part in the battles. Like wars before it, the Civil War had no organized canine corps. (The first canine corps for the U.S. did not come about until World War II.)  But if men were going to war, »

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  • Buster Brown Shoes and Mary Janes

    “I'm Buster Brown, and I live in a shoe. That's my dog, Tige, and he lives there, too,” went the jingle for Buster Brown shoes. The Brown Shoe Company began in 1878 as a partnership among three St. Louis businessmen: George Brown, Alvin L. Bryan, and Jerome Desnoyers. George Warren Brown was the lead partner. He was born on a farm in »

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  • Pancho Barnes: Pioneering Aviator and Legendary Woman

    Pancho Barnes (1901-1975) was a fearless pilot and aviation pioneer, flying at a time when flight was in its infancy. She went on to work as a Hollywood stunt pilot, among many other things. Pancho pursued just about anything that interested her, including partying. (The parties were generally at her house with Pancho providing the liquor.) »

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  • The Wheelchair: Who Thought Of It?

    Wheelchairs today offer a very high level of independence and mobility to people who cannot walk because of injury or disability. When and how did they come about? While not in common use until the last century, the earliest known wheeled conveyance dates to the Greeks who put wheels on a bed in order to move an invalid from location to »

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  • Lionel Barrymore: Actor Opened Door for People with Disabilities

    Lionel Barrymore ((1878-1954) had a long and successful acting Barrymore and Lew Ayres from Young Dr. Kildare career, primarily playing character roles in films from the silent era through the early 1950s. Barrymore didn’t limit himself to acting; he was a successful director and composer and continued to pursue his love of the fine »

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Topics At America Comes Alive



Part of the inspiration for this site comes from a remark made by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams (1860-1935)
"People do not want to hear about simple things. They want to hear about great things - simply told."

On This Day


On September 29 in 1982, seven people died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide. As a direct result, Johnson & Johnson (with the FDA) introduced a tamper-proof packaging that included foil seals. These and other protections soon became the industry standard for over-the-counter medications.
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Who Thought of That?


The polygraph--or lie detector machine--was invented by John Larson, an employee of the Berkeley Police Department. However, the device wasn't patented for about 10 years. Holder of the patent was Leonarde Keeler, also from Berkeley.

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Only in the USA

Ace Pilot Pete Fernandez: Korean War

Ace pilot Pete Fernandez was one of the top fighter pilots in the Korean War, but he almost didn’t see combat. He was so valuable... continue »

X-Ray Shoe-Fitting Machine

The X-ray shoe-fitting machine (fluoroscope) was a common fixture in American shoe stores during the 1930s-50s. In ads, the machines were touted as a new... continue »
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What can one person do? Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead