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Looking Back - May 27, 2012

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 mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

School is out, tomorrow is Memorial Day and the weather is hot. Regardless of any calendar, summer is here for South Georgia. Here is a look back at things associated with summer.

SUN

• Each day the sun causes about one trillion tons of water to evaporate.

• Panama, because of a bend in the isthmus, is the only place in the world where one can see the sun rise on the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic.

• It takes approximately 12 years for Jupiter to orbit the sun.

• It is scientifically proven that sun exposure alleviates symptoms of stress and depression.

• In Victorian times, a sun tan was seen as a sign of poverty, due to a life laboring under the elements. Women went to extremes to follow the fashion for delicately pale skin, even using bleach on their faces.

• Honeybees navigate using the sun as a compass, even when it is hidden behind clouds.

• Ancient Olympian athletes were required to take sun-baths as part of their training.

• Because of the speed at which Earth moves around the sun, it is impossible for a solar eclipse to last more than 8 minutes.

• The planet Venus does not tilt as it goes around the sun, so consequently, it has no seasons.

WATERMELONS

• Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds.

• “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons, the first cookbook published in the United States (1796), contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles. Food historian John Martin Taylor says that early Greek settlers brought the method of pickling watermelon with them to Charleston, S.C.

• A watermelon was once thrown at Roman Governor Demosthenes during a political debate. Placing the watermelon upon his head, he thanked the thrower for providing him with a helmet to wear as he fought Philip of Macedonia.

• In China and Japan watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.

• Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

• In 1939, the seedless watermelon was developed by treating the unpollinated flowers of watermelons with a specific acid.

HOT DOGS

• Americans eat more than 16 billion hot dogs each year.

• George J. French introduced his French’s mustard in 1904, the same year that the hot dog was introduced to America at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

• President Franklin D. Roosevelt served hot dogs to King George VI of England during his 1939 visit to the United States.

• Babe Ruth once ate 12 hot dogs and drank eight bottles of soda between games of a double header. He was reportedly rushed to the hospital after the second game with a severe case of indigestion.

• Baseball fans enjoy “in the ballpark” of 26.8 million hot dogs at U.S. baseball stadiums each season. That’s enough to circle the bases 36,000 times.

• NASA approved hot dogs as a regular item on Apollo moon flights, Skylab missions and space shuttle flights.

• The first words ever uttered by Disney’s Mickey Mouse were “Hot Dogs!” in the short film “The Karnival Kid” from 1929.

SWIMMING

• In the 1896 and 1906 Olympic Games, the swimming took place in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1900, it was in the Seine River and in 1904, it was in an artificial lake. The events took place in a swimming pool for the first time in 1908.

• An hour of vigorous swimming will burn up to 650 calories.

• The first ocean liner with a swimming pool was the Titanic.

• Actress Esther Williams popularized synchronized swimming when she starred in movies known as “aqua musicals” produced by MGM in the forties and fifties.

• It is estimated that it would take three days for Niagara Falls to fill all the swimming pools in US.

• The sun evaporates about 13 million gallons of water per hour from U.S. swimming pools.

• Elephants can swim as far as 20 miles a day — they use their trunks as natural snorkels.

• Ancient drawings and paintings found in Egypt depicting people swimming date back to 2500 B.C.

• In 1827, the first swimming school opened in the United States in Boston, Mass. John Quincy Adams and John James Audubon were students of this school.

THIS ‘N’ THAT

• In the early 1800s, urban American schools were in session about 11 months per year. Rural schools had breaks in the spring and fall to allow the kids to help with planting and harvests. Horace Mann, the great education reformer, worried that overstimulating the minds of children could lead to mental breakdowns and insanity. So in the 1840s, the summer break was created.

• In 1905, an 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson invented the first Popsicle. Frank accidentally left a mixture of powdered soda and water, with a stirring stick, on his porch. He awoke the next morning and found a frozen pop! He first named his frozen pop an “Epsicle,” but when he got older his kids asked for “Pop’s” sicle and the new name was born.

• Mosquitoes are insects that have been around for 30 million years. They have chemical sensors that can detect mammals from 100 feet away; they have heat sensors to detect warm-blooded creatures; and they have visual sensors that detect movement and contrast in colors.

• The average American eats around 5 1/2 gallons of ice cream a year, most of it in the summer.

• A cricket’s chirp frequency fluctuates with temperature. Count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, then add 37 to whatever number you reach, and you have an approximate outside temperature (in Fahrenheit).

• If your child has just started a summer job, assure them that others have gone before them. Multi-billionaire Warren Buffett’s first job was at his grandfather’s grocery shop; Bill Murray sold chestnuts outside a grocer’s; Beyoncé Knowles swept up in her mother’s hairdressing salon. Mick Jagger sold ice cream. Brad Pitt dressed up as a giant chicken to promote a restaurant.