Odds and Ends

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who held 11 state dinners, famously served King George VI and Queen Elizabeth hot dogs and beer at a 1939 state dinner.” This line was published in the last Washington Watch, and it triggered the following from a Washington Watch reader.

Senator Birch Bayh’s parents – Birch & Leah Bayh – stood outside the British Embassy on June 8,1939 to catch sight of King George and Queen Elizabeth as it was apparently the “first time a reigning monarch visited the United States”. The temperature rose to 108 degrees that day as the streets were lined with onlookers.

Leah wrote, “The King and Queen rode in an open car with the top laid back. The Queen was dressed in a lovely white organdie dress, wore a large white hat, long white kid gloves and carried a fancy parasol to protect her from the sun. She smiled sweetly and waved to everyone, but the King didn’t smile and looked tired.” [Thanks to Kitty Bayh.]

The average merino wool sweater will travel 18,000 miles of the course of its production before it reaches a store shelf. [NYT 12/12/21]

The U.S. Navy is offering free maternity uniforms to pregnant sailors as part of a pilot program offering a “full array” of pregnancy garb through September 2026. The program… is being offered to 400 volunteers from enlisted and officer ranks, Stars and Stripes reports…Expectant sailors hoping to join the program will be chosen on a first come, first-serve basis, and they must return the uniforms when their pregnancy ends. [Daily Beast – Cheat Sheet 12/22/21]

Barack Obama approved 5.3% of clemency requests, which is the lowest rate of all presidents. [NYT 12/26/21]

Fifty trans or gender-nonconforming Americans have died by violence in 2021, cementing it as the deadliest year on record for trans people. [NYT 12/26/21]

GM’s 90-year reign as the best-selling car maker in the U.S. is over. Toyota finally overtook the Detroit giant in 2021. [Quartz Daily Brief 1/5/22]

A “femtosecond” is one-millionth of one-billionth of a second. [NYT

January 6, 1872: Duluth mayor tagged for city’s first speeding ticket

On this day in Duluth in 1872, the Minnesotan reported that Mayor Clinton Markell and his party received the first ticket for speeding in Duluth—and possibly in the state. Just weeks earlier the city government had passed an ordinance making it illegal for those on horseback or in a horse-powered wagon to cross over the Lake Avenue Viaduct, which carried traffic over the railroad tracks south of Michigan Street, faster than a “walk.” On January 1, 1872, Markell—along with former mayor J. B. Culver, town of Duluth founder William Nettleton (whom Markell had defeated in the mayoral election), County Attorney (and future mayor and district court judge) J. D. Ensign, and two others—hired a four-horse sleigh from Pratt & Co. to take them about the city making “calls” on their fellow citizens.

A teamster named Trowbridge was at the reigns, and his team “got into a ‘tantrum’” while crossing the bridge, which “propelled them over it a good deal faster than a ‘walk.’” The spectacle was witnessed by “that indefatigable police officer” Thompson, who made a complaint against Trowbridge the next day. The driver and his employer were fined a total of $8, and according to the newspaper, “every man in the sleigh cheerfully ‘forked’ over his share of the penalty”. [Source – WW/Mike Berman, born and raised in Duluth]