Thursday, March 5, 2015



Emeryville, California (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago today, March 5, 1963, the Hula-Hoop was awarded a patent by the United States Patent Office.  The children's toy was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr, founders of the Wham-O Toy Company*. 

These two entrepreneurs got their idea from watching Australian children twirling wooden hoops around their waists during gym classes.  The name for the Hula-Hoop obviously came from the famous Hawaiian dance, the Hula.

Carlon Products Corporation manufactured Hula-Hoops at the rate of 50,000 a day.  25 million hoops were sold in 4 months and sales topped 100 million by 1960.

The Hoop is hollow and made of Marlex, a plastic material made by Phillips Petroleum Corporation.

*Wham-O Toy Company was founded in 1948 and named after its signature product, a slingshot which made the distinctive "wham-o" sound.  The company, still in business today, is headquartered in Emeryville, California.

Wham-O's other products include the Frisbee, invented by Fred Morrison & initially called the "Pluto Platter,"  the "Silly String," and the "Hacky Sack."


"This Day In History, March 5,"

Girl Twirling Hula-Hoop
Photo by GeorgeLouis
January 1, 1958
CC BY-SA 3.0


Manchester, New Hampshire (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, March 5, 1960, Democratic presidential contender Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts spoke at Anselm's College here in Manchester.  His topic was Africa. 

Senator Kennedy said:

"If there is one area of the world where (in Jefferson's words) 'the disease of liberty is catching' that area is Africa."

JFK said that the old colonial empires were vanishing and the people of Africa were taking up the reins of self-government.

The Senator said that America's stake in the future of the African continent was large and that to succeed the people there were in need of " education."

JFK concluded his remarks with these words...

"The flame of hope - of freedom - of progress now burns brightly across all of Africa.  It is we Americans - as leaders of the western world - who have the great responsibility of keeping it alight."

JFK with African students
JFK Library, Boston


New York City (JFK+50) Forty-nine years ago today, March 5, 1966, Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" moved to #1 on the popular music charts.

The song about the US Army's Special Forces, better known as the Green Berets, was both written and performed by Sadler who was an active duty member and served as a combat medic before being wounded in Vietnam.

In 1978, Barry Sadler shot and killed a country songwriter over a girlfriend.  He served 21 days for voluntary manslaughter and after being shot himself in an apparent robbery died a year later, September 8, 1989, at the Alvin York Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler,
US Army Special Forces


Boston, Massachusetts (JFK+50) Two hundred forty-five years ago today, March 5, 1770, a group of British Redcoats fired into a crowd of American colonists in front of the Customs House here in Boston. Five Americans were killed while several more were wounded in what colonists would call "The Boston Massacre."

Tensions between the residents of the city and the occupying British troops had been increasing. The victims were given a city-wide funeral and laid to rest in the Old Granary Burying Ground in a common grave.

The victims included Crispus Attucks, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick and James Caldwell.  

The British soldiers involved in the shooting were tried and defended by future president John Adams and Josiah Quincy. Two of the six soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter, branded on the thumb, and released.