On this day 115 years ago, shoe salesman Chuck Taylor was born in Indiana. While playing basketball in high school, Taylor began wearing the Converse All-Star shoe introduced in 1917. He became such a fan that he approached the company for a job, and traveled across America selling the shoes as he organized basketball clinics. Because he was so successful in promoting the shoe—winning an 80% share of the entire sneaker industry—as well as fine-tuning its design to improve performance on the court, such as adding a reinforcing ankle patch, Converse added his signature, “Chuck Taylor,” to that patch and their star logo in 1932. The All-Stars sneakers, simply known as ‘Chucks,’ became the most successful basketball shoe in history, with 800 million pairs sold. Other notables… (1901)
In 1936, Taylor designed the white Chuck Taylor All Star high-top, with its patriotic red and blue trim, for Team USA as they headed to the first ever Olympic basketball tournament, held in Berlin (where they took home gold). The iconic show was also adopted as the official training shoes of the United States military during World War II.
Once technological advancements caused the shoes to become obsolete for sports, people began buying the canvas unisex sneakers because they were fashionable. Converse heeded the call and began making them in a rainbow of colors.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- Margaret Brent, a niece of Lord Baltimore, was ejected from the Maryland Assembly after demanding a place and vote in the body (1647)
- Canadians heard the first performance of “O Canada”, the song that would become the national anthem of their country, at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français (1880)
- Russians, which instituted the Berlin Blockade cutting off all inroads to West Berlin, did not try to stop the massive humanitarian airlift by American, British and French flyers (1948)
- President Vladimir Putin arrived in London on the first state visit to Britain by a Russian leader since the 19th century (2003)
- Australia swore in its first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, after she became the Leader of the Australian Labor Party at the group’s leadership election – and the first female in that position (2010)
- New York became the sixth and largest state in the country to legalize gay marriage (2011)
And, on this day in 1947, Kenneth Arnold reported the first known sighting of UFOs, after flying over Washington and seeing nine luminous disks in the form of saucers. Ironically, this is also the day when the US Air Force released its report, in 1997, “closing” the so-called Roswell Incident, suggesting the alien bodies witnesses reported seeing in 1947 were actually life-sized test crash dummies.