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
  • Operation Pedro Pan

    Operation Pedro Pan was an under-the-radar plan of the early 1960s to help families get their children out of Cuba before the Communist regime had complete control of the country. Unaccompanied children traveled on commercial flights from Havana to Miami. A representative of Catholic Charities of Mi »

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  • The Balloons in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and was originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade. To any retailer, the advent of the Christmas season has always been an important time. There were no balloons for the first three years. (more…) »

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  • Japanese American WWII Vet Receives Medal of Honor Belatedly

    George T. “Joe” Sakato (1921-2015) served in the American infantry during World War II. Like many other Japanese Americans, he faced many obstacles in his effort to fight for his country. Americans of Japanese descent who enlisted in the military shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor were clas »

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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 becaus »

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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 »

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  • Mar-a-Lago: The Winter White House

    Mar-a-Lago, owned by President-Elect Donald Trump, was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) in the 1920s. The cereal heiress wanted a winter retreat for herself and her second husband, Edward F. Hutton. She was said to have climbed through the jungle-like undergrowth with a real estate ag »

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  • Kenny Washington: Broke Color Line in NFL

    Kenny Washington (1918-1971) was the first African American to sign with an NFL team after a 13-year unspoken pact among owners to bar black football players from teams. Kenny Washington signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, pre-dating baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s 1947 signing with the Br »

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  • Who Invented the Shopping Cart?

    The shopping cart was invented in the mid-1930s by Sylvan N. Goldman (1898-1984). Goldman ran a grocery store chain called Humpty Dumpty, and he observed that shoppers struggled with the “hand carry” shopping baskets. “They had a tendency to stop shopping when the baskets became too full or to »

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  • Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle’s Dog, Luke

    Fatty Arbuckle’s dog, Luke, was one of the most talented stars of silent films.  In a day when camera tricks were technologically not possible, Luke is seen jumping from one wall on a building rooftop to another narrow wall across the way. He climbs from ground to roof via ladders, leaps into win »

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  • Bubble Gum: How Dubble Bubble was Invented

    Bubble gum.  Few adults chew it, but all of us surely chewed the delightful pink stuff while growing up:  the sweet smell when unwrapping the paper, the powdery sugar that came off on one’s fingers, the fun  of reading the funnies wrapped inside, and the thrill of blowing giant bubbles or even »

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  • President Taft’s Weight: Keeping the Pounds Off

    President William Howard Taft (1857-1930), who served as president from 1909-1913, was a big man.  At about 6 feet tall, his weight fluctuated from 255 to over 350 pounds, and he was constantly fighting to keep the pounds off. Taft’s career of choice was in the judiciary, but fate intervened and »

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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 December 8, 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in New York City. Famous for his musical contributions and the Beatles, Lennon had signed his autograph for Mark David Chapman earlier in the day. Later Chapman shot him at close range as Lennon arrived home at his apartment on the Upper West Side. Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, memorialized Lennon by dedicating a special garden in Central Park, naming it “Strawberry Fields.”
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Who Thought of That?

Embalming came about because of the Civil War

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American Presidents and Their Families

Mary Lincoln’s Shopping Habits in Perspective

Mary Lincoln’s shopping habits and most other aspects of her life made news once Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) won the presidential election of 1860. Though Lincoln... continue »

A Newfoundland in the White House with President Buchanan

The Newfoundland that had the run of the White House from 1857-1861 was the beloved pet of our 15th president, James Buchanan (1791-1868). The 170-pound... continue »
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