Machine-Made “Stars and Stripes” Replace the Flags of Betsy Ross’ Day (Jan, 1924)

Machine-Made “Stars and Stripes” Replace the Flags of Betsy Ross’ Day

Uncle Sam’s Factory Turns Out Nation’s Colors

IT is a far cry from the handmade flag of Betsy Ross to the production of flags by machinery, and yet the cradle of the “Stars and Stripes” has remained in Philadelphia since the symbol of our nation was born there 145 years ago. The traditional scene of this woman patriot patiently fingering the colors of a new nation, has shifted to the operation of scores of machines, increasing production a thousandfold.


Larger than the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is a massive monument recently erected on an island in Lake Patzcuaro, State of Michoacan, Mexico. The upheld right arm is reminiscent of the American Goddess of Liberty, but the striking, angular lines of the Mexican statue are more modernistic in style. The monument is a memorial to Jose Maria Morelos, a leader in the war by which Mexico won her independence from Spain.


Sounds great, what could possibly go wrong?

Crossing the Tigris, Jordan, and Euphrates rivers and winding for 1,180 miles across the birthplace of Christian civilization, a new pipe line will soon begin transporting oil from the rich fields of Iraq to the Mediterranean sea coast. At some points, the line descends into valleys more than 800 feet below sea level and at others has to rise over mountains. It is estimated that the twin ten-inch pipes of the line will transport 30,000,000 barrels of oil a year. In spite of dust storms, heat, and the rugged nature of the country, gangs of welders have been laying as much as four miles of pipe in an eight-hour shift. Many American methods are in use. Iraq, formerly Mesopotamia, is the site of some of the world’s richest oil fields and the new pipe line will cut the cost of getting this oil to outside markets.


I think this might be the expedition in which George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared.

Like aviators who ascend extreme altitudes, mountain climbers often wear special clothing, protectors for the face and eyes, and carry supplies of oxygen to breathe in the rare atmosphere. The height to which they can go frequently depends upon the efficiency of their equipment. Members of the British geographic expedition, who failed by only 1,700 feet in 1922 to reach the top of Mt. Everest, 29,002 feet above sea level, wore goggles to shield their eyes from the intense rays of the reflected sun, carried tanks of oxygen and had costumes especially designed to meet the rigors of the biting winds. They reported that often as early as 8 o’clock in the morning, the heat of the sun’s rays beating down on their backs caused extreme discomfort. Another effort to conquer the peak is to be made this summer. Every device known to science will be used in the effort.

The Man Who Opened the Door to Space (May, 1959)

The Man Who Opened the Door to Space

NO MAN made a greater personal contribution to this fearsome and challenging era of missiles than the late Robert H. Goddard, an ailing, publicity-shy physics professor from Worcester, Mass., who sought only peaceful scientific uses for his epochal inventions.

This month, 14 years after his death at 62, the entire U. S. missile industry will honor him at a conference.

“He was just as surely the father of modern rockets as the Wright brothers were of the airplane,” Henry F. Guggenheim, noted patron of aeronautical research, has declared.

A Portfolio of Ageless Cars (Feb, 1954)

The Twelve Finest American Classics – A Portfolio of Ageless Cars

By Arthur R. Railton, Automotive Editor
Color photographs by Don Honick

IN THE EIGHT PAGES which follow, Popular Mechanics salutes the Classics among the Classics—12 American automobiles chosen as the finest produced in that golden era defined as the period from 1925 to 1942.

Ranked in the order of their selection, the Classics are portrayed here in true color by Popular Mechanics photographs and sketches. The roll of honor:
1. Duesenberg 1931-J Roadster-Murphy.
2. Duesenberg 1931-J Victoria-Rollston.
3. Lincoln 1932-KB Phaeton Dual Cowl.
4. Packard 1929 Sport Phaeton.
5. Pierce Arrow 1933 Silver Arrow V12.

The 1950 U.S. Census (Feb, 1950)

The census department had some serious technical chops in 1950. Census workers were given maps and aerial photos of their districts so they could find all of the residences. The punch card counting machines seem pretty advanced as well with data validation circuits that would reject, for example, a two year old with six kids. I wonder how many kids they considered it alright for a two year old to have?


By Richard F. Dempewolff

For A house-to-house canvass that will make all the brush salesmen in the world look like an army of pikers, wait until you see the one that gets under way April first. Yup, it’s time for the 1950 decennial census, Uncle Sam’s national inventory of noses—the biggest quiz show, most mammoth tabulating phenomenon and most accurate poll in history.

It’s a job that has taxed the ingenuity of a harried Census Bureau every zero year since 1790. At that time 17 U. S. marshals and 600 assistants knocked on colonial doors, asked five questions of whoever answered, then tacked their lists on the walls of local taverns, so that people who’d been skipped could add their names or Xs when they dropped by for a flagon of ale. Results were mailed to the President.

OLD WORDS GET NEW MEANING IN Queer Trade Lingoes (Feb, 1933)


Workers Coin Original Phrases as Short Cuts in Giving Orders or in Describing Features of Their Jobs

By Gaylord Johnson

An engineer is a hog-head
A new circus hand is First of May
Electric current is hot stuff
A yard switchman is a snake
A circus elephant is a bull
A fast freight train is a hot shot
A movie electrician is a gaffer
Circus monkeys are old folks
A freight yard clerk is a mud hop
A circus performer is a finker

IF YOU could listen to the jargon of two freight trainmen, you might hear this:

“You may not know it, Snake, but you’re lookin’ at a stinger that was once in line to ride the cushions. If it hadn’t been for a student tallow-pot—but I’ll tell you about it:

FIFTY YEARS OF Aluminum (Feb, 1936)


The Strange Story OF THE Magic Metal

By Edwin Teale

JUST half a century ago, the commonest metal in the earth’s crust was as scarce as silver. Prof. Frank F. Jewett, of Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, was pointing out this curious paradox to his chemistry class in the spring of 1883.

“If any of you can extract aluminum in commercial quantities,” he concluded with a smile, “you are sure of a fortune.” A slender student in one of the front rows nudged his neighbor. “I’m going after that metal!” he whispered.

That was the beginning of one of the most dramatic achievements in chemical research. The student was Charles Martin Hall. Hardly three years later, in a wood-shed workshop, using makeshift apparatus and homemade batteries, he achieved the goal which the greatest scientists in the world had failed to attain. On February 23, 1886, Hall rushed into Jewett’s laboratory with a few small buttons of silvery metal in his hand.

Abraham Lincoln, Inventor (Mar, 1924)

You can view Abe’s one and only patent here.


WHILE every schoolboy is familiar with the life of Abraham Lincoln— a pioneer home, few books, hard labor at all the many trades of the frontiersman and the battle to save the Union and abolish slavery—few know that he also was an inventor.

To his genius as a statesman a united nation today bears witness, but only a rude model in the archives of the National Museum at Washington remains to give mute evidence that he possessed an inventive ability that alone, if followed, might have won him enduring fame.

Appearing as though it had been whittled out of a shingle and a cigar box, the model is about eighteen or twenty inches long, and bears the inscription: “6469, Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. Improvement in method of lifting vessels over shoals. Patented May 22, 1849.”