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Columns

1906: The year the White Sox could get the runner over

1906 Chicago Hitless Wonders, aka, the Chicago White Sox. The Sox won the American League pennant that year with a team batting average of just .230
1906 Chicago Hitless Wonders, aka, the Chicago White Sox. The Sox won the American League pennant that year with a team batting average of just .230

We’re moving into what is arguably northern Illinois’ best season. Autumn around these parts generally boasts dry, sunny weather. With the days getting shorter, the temperatures and humidity levels of summer, which often remind a person of the Amazon jungle might show up but they leave quickly.

There’s always that hot humid spell that arrives just as kids head back to school, of course. Nowadays, that’s in mid-August. But back in olden times when air conditioned school buildings were the subjects of students’ fevered imaginations, we used to sweat through hot afternoons impatiently waiting for that last bell to ring so we could find somewhere to cool off—and fool around, of course, since we were kids and that was our job.

The soybean harvest is going in full force, the Sandwich Fair has run its course, and the cornfields are drying up. High school football games are underway, with cheers and the glow of lighted fields brightening Friday night skies. Native grasses are drying up, and the first leaves are beginning to fall as walnuts and butternuts begin to shed their green coats.

Although we’re in the midst of a season change, a lot of life just keeps moving steadily along. Take your local mail carrier, just for instance. Six days a week they make their rounds in those goofy looking jeeps, keeping the whole nation in contact with each other. Here at History Central in downtown Troy, we keep a sharp eye out of the arrival of the mail because we know we’ll have some important sorting to do, separating the useful wheat mail from the chaff junk mail. Every once in a while, a bit of useful information shows up among the junk that I put aside for later contemplation. Here, for instance, are a whole bunch of things I never would have wondered about if I hadn’t gotten the mail each and every day the postal carrier showed up out front:

It wasn’t exactly a prime example of offense. In 1906, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series with a team batting average of only .230.

September comes from the Latin name meaning seven, because once upon a time it was the seventh month. But those pesky ancient Romans fooled around with the calendar, adding months here and there until September became the ninth month.

The kangaroo rat, a tiny desert rodent (who apparently mimics W.C. Fields), has never been known to drink water. It gets all of the moisture it needs from desert roots and herbs.

Talk about a traveler! The arctic tern spends three months of each year in the Arctic, three months in the Antarctic, and almost six months six months in the air.

The first public laundry was the Washeteria, which opened in Fort Worth, Texas on April 18, 1934. It boasted four electric washing machines you could rent by the hour. No driers in those days; you had to take your wet wash home and hang it up.

Speaking of firsts, the first escalator was the Reno Inclined Elevator, patented by Jesse Reno of New York on March 15, 1892. It was first installed at the Old Iron Pier on Coney Island in the fall of 1898.

South American Indians called the rubber tree “cahuchu,” which meant “weeping wood,” because the drops of oozing latex on the tree trunks made them think of big white tears.

When Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner,” he was thinking of a national flag that had 15 stars and 15 stripes, one each for each of the original 13 states plus the then-new states of Vermont and Kentucky.

Says here the birthstone for September is the sapphire, which is said to reduce inflammation, treat fever and act as a lucky charm for the person wearing it. The sapphire, which can be found in almost every color (rich blue, pink, yellow, green etc.), symbolizes intuition, clarity of thought, peacefulness, as well as loyalty and trust.

On this day in 1609 (Sept. 12), Henry Hudson began exploring up the Hudson River in his ship, the Half Moon.

Helpful household hint: Put a piece of chalk in your silver chest and it will absorb moisture and retard tarnishing. Providing you’ve got silver in your chest, of course.

The narwhal is a large aquatic mammal that develops a tusk that is sometimes half as long as its body. During the Middle Ages, this tusk was highly prized because it was believed it was the horn of the fabled unicorn.

The earth is not perfectly round. Distances measured through the poles are shorter than those at the equator.

The record for the longest filibuster goes to the evil U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957, according to U.S. Senate records.

Not sure what to make of this: Crickets have their hearing organs in their knees.

A whale’s heart beats only nine times a minute.

It’s not ALL genetics, but a lot of it is: There were at least 52 musicians in the family of famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

If you’re going to an Amish wedding, I hope you don’t have additional plans for the day. Says here Amish marriage ceremonies last an average of 3.5 hours.

People believe if you carry a potato with you, you will be healthy. Your friends will also disappear in relation to just how long you’ve carried your lucky potato, too. When I worked at a grocery store during high school, nothing was worse than the smell of a rotten potato.

Finally, as we all learned in our latest editions of “The Weekly Reader” in elementary school, the first ship to cross the North Pole under the ice was the nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus on Aug. 3, 1958. I figured you knew that, but thought a reminder wouldn’t hurt.

Looking for more local history?

Visit http://historyonthefox.wordpress.com/

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