Today in 1957 the Wham-O toy company rolled out the first batch of plastic discs now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, students from nearby universities would throw the empty Frisbie Pie Company pie tins to each other. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the “Flying Saucer.” After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the “Pluto Platter”–an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects.
In 1958, Wham-O–the company behind such top-sellers as the Hula-Hoop, the Super Ball and the Water Wiggle–changed its name to the Frisbee disc, misspelling the name of the historic pie company. By aggressively marketing Frisbee-playing as a new sport, Wham-O sold over 100 million units of its famous toy by 1977.
Today, at least 60 manufacturers produce the flying discs–generally made out of plastic and measuring roughly 8-10 inches in diameter with a curved lip. The official Frisbee is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.
Today in 1775, London merchants petitioned Parliament for relief from the financial hardship put upon them by the curtailment of trade with the North American colonies. Most critical to the merchants’ concerns were the £2 million sterling in outstanding debts owed to them by their North American counterparts. The petitioners begged Parliament to consider re-implementing the system of mercantile trade between Britain and the American colonies, which had served the interests of all parties in the empire prior to 1764.
Following the Coercive Acts of 1774, the colonies had quickly agreed to reinstate the non-importation agreements first devised in response to the Stamp Act in the autumn of 1765. Because debts the colonies owed British merchants were generally paid in exports, not currency, such an action would indeed have caused tremendous financial loss to the British economy.
Today in 1968 the American ship USS Pueblo was seized by North Koreans in the Sea of Japan, claiming the Navy ship was spying within North Korea’s 12-mile limit. Pueblo was in international waters, 16 miles from the coast.
On December 23, 1968, negotiators reached a settlement to resolve the crisis. Under the settlement’s terms, the United States admitted the ship’s intrusion into North Korean territory, apologized for the action, and pledged to cease any future such action. The commander Capt. Lloyd Bucher, grudgingly signed a confession indicating that his ship was spying on North Korea: “I will never again be a party to any disgraceful act of aggression of this type.”
With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans turned the crew and captain (including one crewman who had died) over to the United States across the “Bridge of No Return” at Panmunjom to freedom in South Korea. They were hailed as heroes and returned home to the United States in time for Christmas.
The Pueblo incident was a blow to the Johnson administration’s credibility, as the president seemed powerless to free the captured crew and ship. resulting in a serious faltering of Johnson’s popularity with the American people. The crewmen’s reports about their horrific treatment incensed American citizens; many believed that Johnson should have taken more aggressive action to free the captive Americans.
In April 1969 a North Korean MiG fighter shot down a U.S. Navy intelligence aircraft, killing all 31 men aboard.
Today in 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell was granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history. In 1857, after several years of private practice, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister, Emily Blackwell, also a doctor. In 1868, the institution was expanded to include a women’s college for the training of nurses and doctors, the first of its kind in America
Blackwell was born in Bristol, England, and came to the United States in her youth. Blackwell returned to England, where in 1875 she became professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, a medical discipline she had helped to establish.
Today in 1941 Charles Lindbergh testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Lend-Lease policy and suggested that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Hitler.
To flee unwanted publicity following the kidnapping and death of their son, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow, moved to Europe. During the mid-1930s, Lindbergh became familiar with German advances in aviation and warned of Germany’s growing air superiority. Lindbergh also became enamored of the German national “revitalization” he encountered, and allowed himself to be decorated by Hitler’s government, which drew tremendous criticism back home.
Upon Lindbergh’s return to the States, he denounced “the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration” as instigators of American intervention in the war. Anti-Semitic comments lost him the support of other isolationists. In 1941, President Roosevelt denounced Lindbergh publicly, and the aviator resigned from the Air Corps Reserve.
Lindbergh contributed to the war effort, flying 50 combat missions over the Pacific. His participation in the war, along with his promotion to brigadier general of the Air Force Reserve in 1954 by President Eisenhower; a popular Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Spirit of St. Louis,” and a movie based on his exploits worked to redeem him.
Today in 1907 Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first person of Native American ancestry to serve in the U.S Senate. He later served as vice president under President Herbert Hoover from 1929-33.