How to
Behind the SIGNS (Jan, 1947)

Behind the SIGNS

How the mechanical “spectaculars” work with steam, bubbles and light.

The new sky sign is an excellent example. Nearly every large city has at least one running electric sign—where words chase one another across the side of a building. But the dirigible “runner” is definitely new.

It took 26 miles of wire and 10,000 light bulbs, 5,000 on each side, to construct the dirigible sign. Enough ordinary lamps to light the display would have added too much weight, so Leigh’s thinker-uppers grouped small bulbs, about the size of Christmas-tree lamps, in such a way that their light appears to come from single large bulbs. “What from the ground looks like a single pinpoint of light is actually 10 small bulbs arranged in a spiral cluster 18 inches across.

Laughing Glass (Aug, 1956)

Laughing Glass

Those malicious mirrors are no joke to Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company folks who make them.

IF YOU really want a fun house mirror for your front hall, the place to write is Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, one of the few outfits in the world that make these roguish reflectors. Top grade glass and top workmanship go into this product. Pittsburgh makes eight standard laughing gallery mirrors and will also bend glass to order. Pictures on opposite page show how it’s done.

Birth of a Bauble (Jan, 1941)

Birth of a Bauble

IN ITS first year of operation, the world’s only mass-production factory for manufacturing glass Christmas-tree ornaments, the Wellsboro, Pa., plant of the Corning Glass Works, has turned out more than half of all the new decorations which will bedeck American trees this season. At the rate of 400 a minute—approximately 2,000,000 a week—the brightly colored globes have been pouring from the production line. Six months of intensive work by Corning engineers made possible the ingenious machines which turn a pound of glass into thirty average-size ornaments.



IF YOU think diving is a glamorous profession, visit the Navy’s Deep-Sea Diving School, at the Washington Navy Yard, and be disillusioned. Here, picked men are trained in the grim and hard business of rescuing sunken submarines, repairing ship bottoms, and doing a hundred and one specialized mechanical jobs on the bottom of the sea.

With every man a potential hero, facing injury and death in his routine daily work, the idea of developing diving “prima donnas” is discouraged at the outset. Students are sent down to their underwater jobs strictly in rotation, and for periods depending upon their strength and ability— just as they will be later sent down as regular divers of the navy.

CIRCUS Laugh Making Requires Inventive Genius (Jun, 1936)

CIRCUS Laugh Making Requires Inventive Genius

INSTEAD of provoking laughter with comic songs, funny quips and conundrums as did the great circus clowns of the past, the modern Joeys of the big top rely on explosive microphones and slapsticks, collapsible motor cars, ingenious mechanical devices and papier-mache figures for their fun. Owing to the increased size of the modern circus, clowning has adopted the mass-production methods of our age. There are two types of chalk-face laugh- makers in the present day circus, the fill-in clown who merely imitates the others, and the producing clown, who originates and builds new acts and gags.

Balloons Are Booming (Jun, 1951)

Balloons Are Booming

Dream up a new inflatable toy and you’ll also inflate your bankroll.

By John Noah

“WHY do so few people have new ideas for toy balloons?” That’s the question that puzzles H. W. McConnell, president of one of America’s largest toy-balloon companies.

Balloon sales are booming and retail outlets are begging for new types to market —but the fresh ideas don’t seem to come. For want of amateur inventors, virtually every toy balloon that McConnell and many other balloon men produce must be devised by someone within the industry.

$10,000 If You Die Laughing (Dec, 1951)

$10,000 If You Die Laughing

Insurance against laughicide is all in the day’s business for these Mad Hatters of the comic greeting-card industry.

By Edward Dembitz

“WHY don’t you write?” the card asks tenderly. “Is your hand broken?” You lift the cover and, wham, a miniature metal bear-trap clamps down on your finger!

“Well, now it is!” jeers the caption. “Now you’ve got a real excuse for not writing.”

If this card kills you, don’t worry about it. The Barker Greeting Card Company of Cincinnati even has that one figured out— they’ve taken out an insurance policy which pays $10,000 to the heirs of anyone who laughs himself to death over one of their products.



From a single boy on a bicycle to a nationwide service whose trucks travel more than 20,000,000 miles per year— that’s the story of United Parcel Service which delivers hundreds of thousands of packages a year in sixteen cities. The “delivery boy” organization specializes in handling deliveries for retail stores. Above, left, driver checks up on himself before starting day’s run. Right, loading parcel-filled container on tailboard of truck. Tailboards of some trucks are elevators which hoist the containers to level of truck floor.

Can Soft Drinks Poison You? (Jul, 1931)

Can Soft Drinks Poison You?

Billions of bottles of beverages ate drunk in America each year—Analyzed by the Government Pure Food Board, harmful ingredients are kept out of them—This article tells why locally made drinks may prove injurious By GEORGE LEE DOWD, JR.

TO QUENCH the Great American Thirst, eleven billion bottles and glasses of soft drinks are consumed every year—enough to nil a giant bottle as wide at the base as a city block and twice as high as the Empire State Building, the world’s tallest structure! This means that, if you are a law-abiding citizen in good health between eight and eighty, you probably will drink an average of one glassful a day during the three hot summer months.

Tricks of the House-Wreckers (Jun, 1930)

Tricks of the House-Wreckers


Have you ever watched a huge factory chimney being leveled to earth with a charge of dynamite? If you have, you will have wondered how the wrecking crew was able to make sure in advance that the shattered chimney would fall to the ground in a spot where it would miss adjacent buildings. The trade of house-wrecking has its full complement of tricks which are explained in this fascinating article by Mr. Albelli.