131 years ago today, inventor Marvin Stone received a U.S. patent for the first ‘artificial drinking straw’, which was made of paper. He used the newfound wealth from his straw business for a variety of philanthropic causes. He furnished lodging for his female employees, including a large library, music room, meeting room, and dancing floor. In addition, he and several others built two blocks of tenement houses for African-American residents of Washington, D.C. (1888)

Photo of paper straws by jamieanne, via Flickr, CC license

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Turkey made peace with Armenia (1921)
  • National Hockey League player Bobby Hull was born–one of the greatest players of all time, nicknamed “the Golden Jet” for his speed and blonde hair (1939)
  • Singer–songwriter, musician Stephen Stills—of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, was born in Dallas, Texas (1945)
  • Apple Computer was incorporated (1977)
  • Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)
  • Moscow and the United States cut nuclear warhead stockpiles in half, as Presidents Bush and Yeltsin signed the START II Treaty (1993)
  • China announced it would spend $27.7 Billion to fight erosion and pollution in the Yangtze and Yellow river valleys (1997)
  • A record number of women were sworn in as members of the 113th U.S. Congress with 80 new congresswomen joining 20 female senators — a record crop for both chambers (2013)

On this day in 1938, The March of Dimes charity to fight polio was started by President Franklin Roosevelt, who was afflicted with the disease himself. After funding Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine, the group, whose genius was in collecting small contributions of spare change, went on to spend $233 million on polio patient care.

Today, they still improve the health of mothers and babies by preventing birth defects and premature birth. To honor the achievement, Roosevelt’s image was imprinted on the U.S. dime.

And on this day in 1892, J.R.R. Tolkien, the English poet, and author of Lord of the Rings, was born in South Africa to English parents.

Working as a professor, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien never expected the Middle Earth fantasy stories, for which he had invented an elvish language, to become popular. By sheer accident a book called The Hobbit, which he had written for his own children, fell into the hands of a publisher, who persuaded Tolkien to submit it. When it hit the market, adults loved it too, and it became so popular, he was asked to produce a sequel. The resulting trilogy reinvigorated the genre of high fantasy.

And, on this day in 1926, George Martin, the English record producer, composer, audio engineer, and musician, was born. He was known as “the Fifth Beatle” for his extensive influence on the sound of the Beatles records.

He is considered one of the greatest record producers of all time, with 53 number-one hit singles in the UK and US. When Martin first heard The Beatles on a recording in 1962, he called the band “unpromising” and thought their early original songs were simply not good enough. But he signed them to a contract after meeting their enthusiastic manager, Brian Epstein, and meeting the boys, who joked about his tie and were so convivial that Martin wanted to sign them on their wit, alone. Their first #1 hit, the Lennon song “Please Please Me,” was significantly altered by Martin’s suggestion that they speed up what was initially a slow ballad, according to one Beatles biography. He passed away in 2016.

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