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Looking Back Dec. 26

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or

As a new year rapidly approaches, here is a look back in time -- 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago.


* The United States Army formally adopted the M1911 pistol as its standard sidearm, thus giving the gun its 1911 designation.

* Charles F. Kettering filed U.S. patent 1,150,523 for an electric starter.

* Chevrolet officially entered the automobile market to compete with the Ford Model T.

* The U.S. Supreme Court found Standard Oil Company (May 15) and American Tobacco Company (May 29) to be in violation of Sherman Antitrust Act.

* On Nov. 5, thousands of people showed up in Pasadena, California, to witness the arrival of Calbraith Rodgers, after a 49-day flight across the United States. Rodgers made 69 stops along the way, including 16 crash landings, and was followed by a special train carrying spare parts. Rodgers' trip was sponsored by the Armour Meat Packing Company to promote Vin Fiz, a soft drink. Rodgers received $5 for each mile from Armour, for a total of $21,605.

* New York City police introduced a new prosecutor's tool, latent-fingerprint evidence, to prove Caesar "Charley Crispi" Cella's presence during a burglary. He was convicted.

* Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital formally opened with a reception and miscellaneous shower. Hundreds of visitors toured the facility and brought gifts, including chairs, linen, cooking utensils and rugs. An solid white ambulance driven by two white horses was donated by Louis Vannuci.

* Georgia Gov. Hoke Smith signed an act reducing the maximum number of hours textile workers could be required to work from 66 to 60 per week.

* H.C. Gortatowsky was hit on the head and knocked down as he walked along Broad Street. A window blind fell from the second story of the Artesian House, but Gortatowsky escaped serious injured -- he was carrying an open umbrella.

* The first yard of cotton fabric ever manufactured in Albany was on display in the window of The Albany Herald. That first yard was woven at the newly opened Albany Cotton Mills.


* U.S. unemployment averaged about 17 percent. For those with jobs, average annual wages totaled $1,713.

* The first superhero to wear a skin-tight costume and mask, The Phantom, made his first appearance in U.S. newspapers.

* Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted of kidnapping and killing Charles Lindbergh III, was executed in New Jersey.

* Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind" was published which, in just six months, surpassed the sales of the previous best seller in American history, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

* Stress was first recognized as a medical condition.

* Eugene Schueller, a French chemist, invented the first sunscreen. Schueller went on to found the L'Oreal line of cosmetics.

* Prices in 1936: new house -- $3,925.00, gallon of gas -- 10 cents, loaf of bread -- 8 cents, and a Studebaker -- $995.

* The first running of the Indianapolis 500 was won by Ray Harrounat at an average speed of 74.59 miles an hour.

* There were 2,000 television sets in use -- worldwide.

* An ad in The Albany Herald for Camel cigarettes stated that smoking Camels would help ward off indigestion caused by "the breathless pace of modern living."

* The Cudahy Packing Plant opened in East Albany. The facility was windowless and air-conditioned with hospital-like sanitation.

* Albany's Opportunity School issued over 100 certificates for course completion. Among the courses completed were Penmanship (23), Business Spelling (20) and Motherhood (28).


* President John F. Kennedy advised American families to build bomb shelters.

* A pound of bacon cost 67 cents and the price for a dozen eggs was 30 cents.

* Pampers disposable diapers were introduced.

* Alan B. Shepard becomes the first American man in space aboard the Freedom 7. Shepard took a 302-mile round trip ride.

* Television favorites included: "Wagon Train" (NBC), "Bonanza" (NBC), "Gunsmoke" (CBS), "Hazel" (NBC), "Perry Mason" (CBS), "The Red Skelton Show"(CBS), "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS), "The Danny Thomas Show" (CBS), "Dr. Kildare" (NBC) and "Candid Camera" (CBS).

* The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Cuba after Cuba demanded the U.S. reduce its embassy staff to 11, claiming 80 percent of the staff were FBI and Pentagon spies. Two weeks later the U.S. forbade its citizens to travel to Cuba.

* Sprite, the lemon-lime competitor of 7-UP, was introduced by Coca-Cola. Barbie got a boyfriend (Ken), Fritos were introduced and electric toothbrushes went on the market.

* The Albany YMCA boys earned top rating in the National YMCA Athletic Achievement Program for a fourth consecutive year.


* "Top Gun," "Crocodile Dundee " and "Platoon" were among the top movies of the year.

* Smoking was banned on all public transport, including trains, planes, buses and coaches. It was this same year that the nicotine patch was created.

* The Tandy 600 Portable Computer was available for just $1,599.

* Monthly rent in the U.S. averaged $385.

* The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift off. Viewed live on televisions sets around the world, the explosion killed all seven crew members aboard.

* Oprah Winfrey's television show made its debut.

* Nintendo video games were introduced in U.S.

* The most popular non-fiction book of the year was "Fatherhood" by Bill Cosby.

* Albany Police Chief Norman Denney, who survived two crashes during his five years as a motorcycle cop, disbanded the department's motorcycle unit.

* Two Georgians, James Brown and Ray Charles, were among the first eight inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Trivia answer from last week: The Indiana license number of the Parker family Oldsmobile in the movie "A Christmas Story" was 56 498.