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This Day in History

On April 26, 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, which were to involve 1.8 million children, began in McLean, Virginia.  This was the first time a double-blind study method had been used (neither doctor nor patient knew who was receiving the vaccine and who was receiving a placebo.

On April 29, 1974, President Richard Nixon announces to the public that he will release transcripts of 46 taped White House conversations in response to a Watergate trial subpoena issued in July 1973. The House Judiciary committee accepted 1,200 pages of transcripts the next day, but insisted that the tapes themselves be turned over as well.



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In Celebration of National Park Week: Admission to Parks is Waived

National ParkThis weekend is the beginning of National Park Week (April 19-27), and on April 19 and 20, those parks that charge an entrance fee will be waiving the fee in order to more broadly share the parks.

This week is also a perfect time to pause and consider how fortunate we are for the Park Service and for the lands and monuments that Congress has designated to be national treasures.  Whether you are interested in preserving parklands, maintaining areas that depict geological changes, or saving monuments and lands that tell our American story, the National Park Service provides an enormous service  to the American people by safeguarding these lands as part of our national heritage.

And if you can possibly sneak away this week to visit one of the parks’ 394 properties, you should: those that charge admission are waiving fees for the week.

The Original Concept

The concept for a national park system is generally credited to George Catlin (1796-1872), an artist who traveled the West painting Native Americans.  He traveled extensively, eventually visiting more than fifty different tribes.  While visiting the Dakotas in 1832 he worried about the encroachment of westward expansion. Catlin is quoted as having written that the lands should be preserved “by some great protecting policy of government …in a magnificent park…A nation’s park, containing man and beast in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty!”


Martha Ann Maxwell (1831-1881): Naturalist and Taxidermist

First woman field naturalist to obtain and prepare her own specimens Set a precedent for showing the animals…


First Female Surgeon in Civil War: Physician Mary Walker

• Volunteered with the Union Army but had to serve as a nurse, not a physician because of her gender; eventually surgeons were so badly needed that her skills…


Eddie Anderson (1905-1977): Created Role of Rochester

• First African-American to have a regular role on a nationwide radio–and then television–program • Though the character of Rochester was a valet, Anderson, working with Jack Benny, developed…


The Inventors of Crayons: Binney & Smith

Edwin Binney (1866-1934) and Harold Smith  (1860-1931) were cousins. They formed Binney & Smith in 1885 when they took over the chemical company started by


Gus Arriola and The Comic Strip Character of Gordo

From 1941-1985, Gus Arriola (1917-2008) produced a comic strip a day (panels for daily and Sunday strips) about Gordo, a…


Reginald Lewis (1942-1993), Self-Made Business Success

• First African-American businessman to make Forbes list of wealthiest people • In 1992 donated largest gift from an individual in…


The “Boston Molassacre”

When we think of potential disasters in the Northeast during the winter months, we…


Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles has only been home to the Dodgers team for a little over fifty years. Here’s…


KCAL-TV in Los Angeles invited me to talk with them about America Comes Alive and the "Dog Days of Summer," where we examine stories from America's past through our dogs.

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