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October 1, 2023

Motorized Roller Skates From the 1960s

The self-propelled skates that were produced by the Motorized Roller Skate Company of Detroit, beginning in 1956. The company was founded in 1955 by an intractable inventor from Lincoln Park, Michigan, named Antonio Pirrello. Retailing for $250, that’s an astounding $2300 in today’s economy, these skates feature a 19-pound gasoline motor that is worn like a backpack. The gas connects to the right skate to push while the skater holds her left foot out in front to steer. A second cable connects to the hand-held clutch to regulate speed. Quite a lot of speed. These skates can roll at up to 40 miles per hour!

Mr. Pirrello and his motorized skates were featured in the magazines Life and Popular Mechanics and were guests on You Asked for It and The Today Show.






September 30, 2023

35 Fabulous Photos of Evelyn Ankers in the 1940s

Born 1918 in Valpara√≠so, Chile, British-American actress Evelyn Ankers was known as “the Queen of the Bs”. She starred in films including The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Captive Wild Woman (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), The Mad Ghoul (1943), Jungle Woman (1944), Weird Woman (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), and The Frozen Ghost (1945).

Ankers appeared in Hold That Ghost (1941), Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), His Butler’s Sister (1943), The Pearl of Death (1944), Pardon My Rhythm (1944), Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949), and played Calamity Jane in The Texan Meets Calamity Jane (1950), one of many movies for which she received top billing. A frequent screen partner was Lon Chaney Jr., although they privately disliked each other.

Ankers made over fifty films between 1936 and 1950, then retired from movies at the age of 32 to be a housewife. She occasionally played television roles, such as that of saloon owner Robbie James in the 1958 episode “Gambler” of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Cheyenne, with Clint Walker in the title role.

Ten years later, Ankers made her last film, No Greater Love (1960), with her husband Richard Denning. She died of ovarian cancer in 1985 at the age of 67, in Maui. Take a look at these fabulous photos to see the beauty of young Evelyn Ankers in the 1940s.






Britain’s Oldest Door From the 1050s, Which Can Be Found in Westminster Abbey

This 900-year-old door has been identified as the oldest in the UK. Archaeologists discovered the oak door in Westminster Abbey was put in place in the 1050s, during the reign of the Abbey’s founder, Edward the Confessor. It makes it the only surviving Anglo Saxon door in Britain.

The oldest door was dated for the first time in 2005 by the process known as dendrochronology. It is made from one tree, with its rings suggesting it grew between AD 924 and 1030 in eastern England, most probably coming from the extensive woodland owned by the Abbey in this area, and possibly from Essex. The door has five panels and is 6.5ft high by 4ft wide. It opens into the octagonal Chapter House, where monks met every day for prayers in the 13th century.

The door was obviously retained when Henry III rebuilt the Abbey and Chapter House from 1245 but cut down to be put in a new position. In the 19th century the fragments of cow hide were first noted and a legend grew up that this skin was human. It was supposed that someone had been caught committing sacrilege or robbery in the church and had been flayed and his skin nailed to this door as a deterrent to others.






Swimming Students Learn Strokes From Machine Teacher, 1931

On a casual glance at the contraption shown here in the photo, you would think it one of Rube Goldberg’s latest inventions. But you’re wrong, for it’s a machine to teach perfect swimming strokes, in 1931.

The student rests in a belt cradle as shown, while his feet and hands connect with handles in the mechanical arms. A system of gears and levers to which the guide arms are connected serve to compel movements that conform to correct outlines as set forth by swimming experts.

45 Amazing Photos Show What New York Looked Like in the 1900s

New York City was a bustling metropolis by the early 20th century, the city was a booming business and industrial hub, with new skyscrapers going up all around during this time. The Woolworth Building on Lower Broadway topped out in 1912 and was the tallest building in the world until 1930.

Over the centuries, immigration has been one of the largest drivers of America’s success. It seems no coincidence that during a time when immigration increased significantly, so did America’s growth and prosperity. People came from all over the world looking to make their dreams a reality in great nation. Population figures skyrocketed from 1900 to 1920, going from roughly 3.4 million residents to over 5.6 million.

The rapid development of business and industry was exciting in such a short period of time. It gave residents access to more business opportunities while providing jobs and economic growth. Although there were a few growing pains associated with it, business and industry took center stage during this time, making the city an interesting place to visit or live.

Take a look at these amazing photos to see what New York looked like in the 1900s.

Italian bread peddlers, Mulberry Street, New York, circa 1900

Cab stand at Madison Square, New York, circa 1900

Casino Theatre, Broadway, New York City, New York, circa 1900

New York Central freight sheds, Buffalo, New York, circa 1900

Pell Street, Chinatown, New York, circa 1900

September 29, 2023

Historical Photos of Igor Sikorsky With His VS-300, the First Successful Helicopter

The VS-300 helicopter, created and flown by Russian-American Igor Sikorsky, was first demonstrated on May 24, 1940 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. As the first American single main rotor helicopter, it rose 15-20 feet above the ground and traveled 200 feet forward before hovering, backing up, and landing. Its original design and subsequent improvements can be seen in most modern helicopters.

After years of experimenting in aviation, Sikorsky submitted a patent for his “direct lift aircraft” design in 1931, which he received in 1935 (patent 1,994,488). Four year later, the VS-300 made its first tethered flight on September 14, 1939, before achieving free flight in 1940. Also that year, Sikorsky was awarded Connecticut helicopter license No. 1.

As the aircraft continued to improve, Sikorsky performed a water landing and takeoff, and broke the world endurance record by staying aloft for 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 26.1 seconds, both in 1941.

Originally, three auxiliary tail rotors were used to control the VS-300 and for compensation of the torque of the main rotor. By moving the control stick forward and backward, the pitch on the two horizontal auxiliary rotors would change simultaneously in the same direction. Rudder action was achieved by foot pedals connected to the pitch control of the vertical auxiliary rotor. These three auxiliary rotors rotated approximately four times as fast as the main rotor. With this design, the VS-300 could hover, and fly sideward and backward, but experienced pitching problems when moving forward at low speeds.

The fourth and final rotor configuration of the VS-300 design included a single main lifting rotor with full cyclic-pitch for both roll and pitch control and a single tail rotor for both directional control and anti-torque, which is seen on most helicopters produced today.

In 1943, the VS-300 was retired and donated to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. Sikorsky flew it there himself on October 7, 1943.

The success of the experimental VS-300 led to the R-4, which became the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942. A prototype was flown to an Army Air Forces base in Dayton, Ohio from Connecticut, which was the first cross-country flight of a helicopter in the US. This model was also used in service by the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and British Royal Navy. The Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter is still used by the military today.






Amazing Vintage Photos of Guests in Their Costumes for the 1897 Devonshire House Ball

The Devonshire House Ball in 1897 was a fancy dress ball, aka a costume party. The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire had hosted a similarly lavish ball in the 1870s, and it was immensely popular with the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). In honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, they decided to replicate the event. They held the ball at their London house, Devonshire House, in Picadilly. While multiple balls were held every night during the London season, this was the ball.


The Duke of Devonshire was a Member of Parliament and a Liberal cabinet member and was an original member of the Marlborough Set. (The Marlborough Set was the group of friends and aristocrats who were closely connected with the Waleses, named for the Prince’s Marlborough House. The group enjoyed a lavish party, where money was no object- at least not for Edward…)

Like any good costume party, the ball needed a theme. The Devonshires chose the theme of “allegorical or historical dress from before 1815”, which led to centuries and centuries of possibilities. Understandably, many of the attendees chose to attend as various historic royals, including Catherine the Great and Emperor Charles V.

Reports at the time incorrectly speculated that over 3,000 invitations were sent out ahead of the ball. However, there were between 700 and 800 attendees. The British Royal Family attended in full force. The Prince and Princess of Wales attended of course, as well as The Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George V and Queen Mary), The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, and The Duke and Duchess of Fife. 

Europe was well-represented, as well. The future King Haakon VII of Norway attended, along with his wife Maud (daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales), Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra of Russia, Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert), and The Duke and Duchess of Teck. From India, Prince Victor Duleep Singh attended, also. 

Lady Alexandra Acheson strikes a pose in a hunting costume of the Louis XV period, when the French aristocracy also enjoyed dressing up.

Count Omar Hadik as his own ancestor Field Marshall Count Hadik, easily the least embarrassing male costume.

The Countess of Gosford as an 18th century version of Minerva, goddess of wisdom.

Lady Meysey Thompson as Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia the aunt of Charles II and wife of the Elector Frederick V, who has become a significant figure in esoteric history.

Lady Katharine Scott as Mary Queen of Scots, with the look of a martyred saint in a religious painting.




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