The centerpiece of the 1939 New York World's Fair was a pair of structures known as the Trylon and Perisphere
. Even today, they look very futuristic.
It occurred to some that the structures looked a bit like a scoop of ice cream and an upside-down cone. This inspired ice-cream parlors throughout America to offer what they called the "World's Fair Sundae" or the "Sundae of Tomorrow".
Hagerstown Daily Mail - July 21, 1939
It's a nice looking sundae. I'd get one if they were offered today. Though now the reference would be lost on most people.
At an August 1938 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Lewis F. Richardson attempted to use mathematics to predict the likelihood of war:
The professor reduced to beautiful differential equations general tendencies common to all nations — resentment of defiance, the suspicion that defense is concealed aggression, response to imports by exports, restraint on armaments by the difficulty of paying for them, and, last, grievances and their irrationality.
He concluded there was "no chance of war," which proved to be a somewhat inaccurate prediction.
The Alexandria Town Talk - Sep 27, 1938
offers some more info on what Richardson was up to:
Richardson viewed war instead in Tolstoyan fashion, as a massive phenomenon governed by forces akin to the forces of nature, over which individuals have little or no control. Accordingly, he ignored all those intricacies of diplomatic-strategic analysis usually pursued by political historians and turned his attention to quasi-mechanical and quantifiable processes which, he assumed, govern the dynamics of the international system of sovereign states.
Despite the eccentricity of his mathematical war-prediction model, Richardson was apparently quite influential in the history of mathematics. Wikipedia notes
that he did pioneering work in mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, as well as in the study of fractals.
In 1933, Donald Campbell, a truck driver, fell from his truck and hit his head. A year later he developed a bizarre condition. He started talking incessantly, non-stop. His talking was so compulsive that he couldn't even sleep. His talking was perfectly rational. He answered questions clearly. But he couldn't stop.
Doctors attributed his condition to encephalitis, or brain swelling. After about a month his non-stop talking subsided, and doctors thought he had recovered. But within four months he was dead. Strangely, the cause of his death was cancer and seemed to be unrelated to his non-stop talking.
Pottsville Evening Herald - Aug 17, 1934
Pittsburgh Press - Sep 5, 1934
Cincinnati Enquirer - Jan 6, 1935
A newspaper recorded an example of some of Campbell's rambling monologue:
Cigarets should never be taxed in Ohio. When I was a boy, Joe and I used to go swimming in Willow Creek together. Now he thinks cigarets should be taxed. Sometimes I believe that Joe doesn't realize how hard it is to be a truck driver in Columbus. But I am not getting any better. The radio seemed nice last night although truck driving wasn't mentioned. We will take the whole thing up when we get home, but I'm not getting any better, do you think?
The dispute began in 1935 between two toy and candy companies, both based in the town of Santa Claus, Indiana
. On one side there was Santa Claus, Inc. On the other side was Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc. The former alleged that the latter shouldn't have chosen such a similar name.
In response, Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc. charged that its rival illegally put up a 25-foot, 20-ton Santa statue on land leased to Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc.
The lawsuit, Santa Claus, Inc. v. Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc.
, eventually made its way up to the Indiana Supreme Court.
As far as I can tell, Santa Claus of Santa Claus, Inc. won the fight. But either way you look at it, Santa Claus won.
Muncie Evening Press - Dec 30, 1935
On April 9, 1932, Leon "Goose" Goslin of the St. Louis Browns stepped up to the plate with a striped "camouflage bat" during an exhibition game against the Cardinals. The bat was "designed to confuse the pitcher and fool the infield players." The Cardinals didn't object so Goslin used it.
But when he tried to use the bat again three days later during the opening game of the season against the Chicago White Sox, the umpire declared "That's not our kind, Goslin!" and forced him to use a regular bat.
The next day, William Harridge, President of the American League, ruled out any further use of the camouflage bat.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Apr 14, 1932
A popular toy in Nazi Germany was a miniature model of Hitler. It came in six action poses, including Hitler in an army jeep and in an open car doing the Nazi salute.
Not many of these toy Hitlers survive, so if you have one, for some reason, it's probably worth some money. One of them was featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.
Newsweek - Dec 26, 1938
A fancy name for a worm catcher.
The Elizabethton Star - Jan 12, 1938
San Francisco Examiner - Dec 16, 1937
The U.S. Treasury considered introducing a "midget coin" that would be worth one-tenth of a cent. It would have been called the "mill". The idea was that people could use it to pay the sales tax on small purchases. As we've seen in a previous post
, the sales tax often came out to fractions of a cent. However, Congress nixed the idea.
The only businesses that continue to charge tenths of a cent are gas stations. And apparently they began doing that back in the '30s
because of the fractional sales tax.
More info: Wikipedia
Baltimore Evening Sun - Aug 7, 1935
Fort Worth Star Telegram - Aug 2, 1935