Good News on This Day in History

135 years ago today, Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen was built in Karlsruhe, Germany, designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine with an original cost of around $150 (equivalent to $4,268 today).

Benz’s wife, Bertha, financed the development of the 3-wheeled automobile, which had a rear-mounted engine and many new inventions. The steel-spoked wheels and solid rubber tires were Benz’s own design. Steering was by way of a toothed rack that pivoted the unsprung front wheel. Fully elliptic springs were used at the back along with a beam axle and chain drive on both sides. A simple belt system served as a single-speed transmission. The chassis was improved in 1887 with new wooden-spoke wheels, a fuel tank, and a manual leather shoe brake on the rear wheels.

Wanting to demonstrate its usability to the public, Bertha, without telling her husband, drove the Patent-Motorwagen No. 3 on the first long-distance auto road trip with her two sons on August 5, 1888. It took the 39-year-old 12 hours to reach her parents house 65 miles away.

The round-trip route today, (121-miles/194km) from Mannheim to Heidelberg to Pforzheim and back, is marked with official government signposts as a Heritage Scenic Route—and the ‘Bertha Benz Memorial Route’ is traveled by a parade of antique automobiles celebrating her historic trip every two years. WATCH a dramatization of what happened when she ran out of gas! (1886)

With no fuel tank and only a 4.5-litre supply in the carburetor, the trailblazing woman had to find ligroin, the petroleum equivalent needed for the car to run, which is how the pharmacy in Wiesloch, Germany, became the first gas station in the world. Bertha’s pioneering road trip attracted worldwide attention and brought her husband’s inventions the promotion they needed to succeed.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • W. C. Fields, the comedic actor was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1880)
  • Desert Island Discs first aired on BBC radio when Roy Plomley asked a guest, called a ‘castaway’, to choose eight recordings (along with a book and luxury item) that they would take if they were to be stranded on a desert island—it’s now the longest running UK radio show, with the most requested piece of music over the first 60 years Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1942)
  • Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney’s animated feature fairy tale, premiered (1959)
  • The first direct commercial flights from mainland China to Taiwan since 1949 (2005)
  • President Obama signed his first major piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which made it easier for people to get equal pay regardless of their gender, race, or age (2009)
  • The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt ruled that people who do not adhere to one of the three government-recognized religions are still eligible to receive government identity documents (2009)

On this day in 1936, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America inducted the first players into the Baseball Hall of Fame:1936_Hall_of_Fame_Inductees

Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York would open three years later.

And, on this day in 1958, actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward began their storied marriage saying ‘I do’ to a partnership—rare for Hollywood superstars—that lasted 50 years, until Mr. Newman’s death ten years ago. The two co-starred in 11 films, including The Long, Hot Summer in 1958, which led to their marriage—and a family in Connecticut with three daughters.

Newman and Woodward
By Kate Gabrielle, CC license

As humanitarians, Newman and Woodward established the Hole in the Wall Gang 30 years ago, a nonprofit camp that has welcomed free of charge 20,000 children and their families who are coping with cancer or serious illness.

And, on this day in 1929, Dorothy Harrison Eustis established The Seeing Eye in the US, the first school organized to train dogs for assisting the blind. By the end of her first year, 17 blind men and women had gained independence because they were alongside their “Seeing Eye dogs” (a trademarked name). Founded in Nashville, today The Seeing Eye, is located in Morristown, New Jersey, and last year the nonprofit group reached a milestone pairing their 17,000th partners. And, the cost is the best part.

Seeing Eye cofounders Morris Frank and Dorothy Harrison Eustis with Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog.

The cost for one of their life-changing service dogs has remain unchanged since the early 1930s: The Seeing Eye tuition is $150, and just $1 for veterans of the military, which covers the dog,  its equipment, travel expenses, room and board and specialized training in the care and use of their dog.

Also, 176 years ago today, Edgar Allan Poe’s iconic poem The Raven was first published. Printed in the New York Evening Mirror, it made Poe a household name almost immediately, and turned the writer into a national celebrity. The narrative poem depicts a mysterious bird’s midnight visit to a distraught lover.

Noted for its musicality and supernatural ambiance, the talking raven accompanies the man’s slow descent into madness. Poe wanted to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, so he uses plenty of rhyme, alliteration, and repetition—a constant use of the word ‘Nevermore’.

Though it made Poe popular in his lifetime, and resulted in invitations to recite The Raven and lecture in public and private social gatherings, it did not deliver financial success—even though evermore one of the most famous poems. READ a short excerpt…

(The opening stanza)
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

(More lines)
Nothing farther then he uttered — not a feather then he fluttered —

Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before —
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

The name of the professional American football team Baltimore Ravens was inspired by the poem, chosen in a fan contest to honor the hometown of Edgar Allan Poe, who spent his early career in the Maryland city—and was buried there four years after the famous poem was published. (1845)

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