August 25th National Banana Split Day

Continuing on with eating our way through the summer, the next day up is “Banana Split Day”. It all started back in 1904 when an apprentice pharmacist created the first banana split at Tassel’s pharmacy in Latrobe, Pa. He cut a banana in two halves and placed them in a long bowl, filling the center of the bowl in with vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream. He covered the strawberry ice cream with a pineapple topping, the vanilla with chocolate flavoring, and the chocolate with strawberry topping. All of that was covered in whipped cream, to which crushed nuts and maraschino cherries, wete added. It cost a dime.

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Today we make a number of variations including those that add fresh fruit to the recipe and maybe use different flavors of ice cream. Of course back in 1904 there weren’t that many varieties of ice cream to choose from. In fact, you can use any flavor of ice cream you choose, any fruit that’s in season (which is practically all of them since it is summer), and you can use heavy, regular, or light whip cream. And nuts have become optional since so many are now allergic to them.

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You don’t even have to use the bowl any more. You can put all the fixings in a ice cream cone and carry it with you where ever you go.

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You can also make it into a cake, using the same ingredients, or those of your choice, and turn it into a party. You can still use ice cream if you like, or a flavored batter, that will taste like the Split, but is lactose free.

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Or you can make the best of both worlds and turn your banana split into a pie and meet the ice cream half way!

Anyway you choose to have a banana split is totally acceptable, so long as you accept the calories that go along with it.

This year, 2016, the US Post Office came up with a stamp celebrating the banana split. It sells for 47 cents. More than the original Split, but less than any single item in the split would cost you by itself.

How to celebrate – Have a banana split. Make your own banana split cake or pie. Make up your own banana split recipe -as long as you include the banana, anything goes!

August 24th National Peach Pie Day

It seems appropriate that as the summer winds down it should do so with a treat that comes from the south and somehow reminds us of a balmy summer evening sitting by a river and watching the sun set. Naturally the peach is most commonly found in “The Peach State”, Georgia. If you go to Atlanta, try and find a road that isn’t name Peach Tree!

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No matter how you make it, a good peach pie appeals to practically everybody. Served warm with ice cream or cold by itself, it is sweet, gooey, and fun to eat. Each peach (medium sized), contains 30 calories, 7 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 140 mg of potassium, and 8% of the daily requirements of Vitamin C.

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Of course, when you put the peach in a pie with other ingredients, many of those numbers will go up. Or you can be healthy and add things like blueberries. The peach is strong enough to challenge any other flavor of fruit it may be mixed with. A peach by itself does not need sugar added, though in a pie you will probably add sugar. You needn’t peel it, as you would an apple, since the skin is soft and adds to the flavor.

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By mixing it with whipped cream, along with other ingredients, youcan make it into a light dessert – a chiffon. Peaches and cream also go well together (though that makes it a little heavier). Add a little mint to spice it up, or maybe some key-lime, that’s a typical southern thing to do!

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You can make it as Chantilly by layering in other fruits to make every bite a new and different experience. Or try a recipe of your own.

How to celebrate – Make a peach pie for your family. Go to a peach orchard and pick your own peaches. Peaches are generally picked between June and the end of August. Read or watch James and the Giant Peach. Have a peachy keen day!

August 23rd National Ride the Wind Day

Since the beginning of time, man has tried to harness the wind to bend it to his will and make it work for him. He made it turn large blades attached to giant wheels made of stone to grind wheat and oats and corn to make meal for bread and a base for many foods.

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Man figured out how to make the wind propel ships through water to move them faster than man could row, and with much less effort. The more sails the ship could hold the more wind it could capture and the faster the ship could go. Of course, when there was no wind, or very little wind, these ships floated calmly in the water. When storms would hit, ships could be blown off course by thousands of miles.

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But man always looked at the wind as a way to fly. He built model gliders to watch how they would respond to different winds in the hopes he could learn to control the flight. A few of the models worked for short distances, but it wasn’t until powered flight became available that the controls to make a glider work came along. While you could catch the wind, get the lift, and fly, you could not control where you were going, or whether you might suddenly plunge to the ground in mid-flight.

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During World War 2, gliders were used by nearly every army. The ability to fly more troops and equipment on course rather than haphazardly by parachute. Parachutes could easily be caught by the same wind the gliders used but the trooper could not control where he landed, the gliders could. Often the flights ended in tragedy but when they worked, they massed forces behind enemy lines in a way no other means could provide.

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Today we have learned how to harness those winds for sport. Building mini-gliders that can be operated by a single flier.

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And the windmills that ground grain back in the day now produce electric power all over the world. The wind indeed offers a great potential for all mankind and it’s just there for the taking.

How to celebrate – Come up with as many things as you can about how the wind affects our lives. Try paragliding for yourself. Find out what percentage of the power supplied to your town is powered by windmills.

August 22nd National Tooth Fairy Day

As you will note, National Tooth Fairy Day, is actually celebrated twice a year, once on August 22nd, the other on February 28th. My guess is because so many teeth are lost in the course of a year.

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The Tooth Fairy has not always been around but traditions of what to do with a lost tooth have been practiced for centuries. Among the traditional ceremonies are: casting the tooth into fire, throwing it at the sun (actually it says to the sun but I doubt anyone has actually thrown a tooth that far), throwing it over a house, offering it to an animal, burying it somewhere, hiding it from animals at any location so they will not be able to find it, placing it in a tree or inside a wall, and of course, albeit gross, have the mother, or a child, or an animal swallow it.

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It wasn’t until 1927 that the idea of the Tooth Fairy came up in the imagination of Esther Watkins Arnold. Her Tooth Fairy came to life in her playscript written for children, teaching them to eat their veggies, brush their teeth, and get plenty of fresh air. It caught on when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a picture showing fairies surrounding 2 girls.

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Anyway, in part because of Doyle’s photo, a school put on Arnold’s play about the Tooth Fairy in 1928 and the idea caught on. One of the key ideas in the play was placing the tooth under a pillow and receiving a reward from the Tooth Fairy.

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Real or not, the idea works! And children realizing they will get a reward are a lot more willing to lose that tooth. Apparently the value of a tooth has gone up from the nickel originally rewarded to $5.00 shown in the photo earlier, or the $100 on Modern Family. But if the idea of the Tooth Fairy gets children to take care of their teeth it’s still cheap!

How to celebrate – See if your school has put on the play and if not, suggest it. You could try one of the older traditions, but don’t expect to get very good results. Find a Tooth Fairy outfit and dress up in it whenever your child loses a tooth.

August 21st Poet’s Day

I am stealing this description of poetry from someone else because I have never heard a better definition. “At it’s most base description, poetry is a form of writing that uses the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of a language, combined with simile and metaphor, to bring out meanings deeper than the mere definition of the words”(they were not quoted so I am not sure who they were).

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Poetry is meant to capture the moment in time it was written, whether that is historic, legendary, rhetoric, song, drama, or comedy. In England they called their poets ‘Bards’, of which the most famous, of course, was William Shakespeare. His poetry was turned into plays and performed before audiences both then, as well as now. His poems teach us about how people lived in his day, what they thought, and some of the history that went on around them. Living peacefully was the desire of most poets, even though they often referred to wars going on around them, their hope was for peace among all mankind. Perhaps since man has walked the face of the earth, the desire for peace has always been in the forefront. Perhaps that’s why there are a lot of poems a there certainly have been a lot of wars.

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Emotions always run stronger during the time of war, love is more cherished, and the moments of peace are so welcome. Rudyard Kipling tries to get us up close and personal to war in “GungaDin”.

There are more than 50 styles of poetry, the most common are Haiku, free verse, sonnets, and name poems. They all have been used to try and describe war and the gambit of emotions people go through while living in those times. Poets like Walt Whitman fought during the American Civil War but served as a nurse while he wrote of the horrors of war.

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Another favorite subject is all about love. Here poets try to describe something that most of us know can’t be described. Love is not about words, but nearly every poet that has ever lived has tried to explain it. Some of us know better, but I  admire their persistence. You can describe a rose because you can see it, but love is something different in everybody’s eyes. Perhaps the best poets for love are the many songwriters out there that add another layer to the meaning by describing it in song, another feeling you cannot see.

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And of course nature is a popular subject for poets, or more so, the destruction of nature. “I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree.”, by Joyce Kilmer explains it all. There is little doubt that we are destroying nature around us. Maybe someday it will only live in poems but Kilmer is correct, no poem can be as beautiful as the subject it is describing. Not that poems aren’t beautiful or useful, they are, but so often they are trying to teach us about emotions that they can never quite reach the same end.

Then there are the tales of the bizarre, as in Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Raven”. You sort of have to wonder what he was on when he wrote his poems. They are exciting, but very, very dark.

Some of the best poets of all time are listed here, along with those I’ve already mentioned. Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Blake, Elzabeth Barrett Browning, Maya Angelou, Williams Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Burns, Carl Sandberg, John Keats, Robert Browning, George Gordon Byron, Ogden Nash, OscarWilde, E.E. Cummings, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Louis Stevenson, T.S. Elliot, Henry David Thoreau, J. R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, and Percy Oyssae Shelly.

How to celebrate – Try writing a poem yourself, if it’s good enough, see if you can get it published. Read poems from the masters as those listed above. Come to an understanding of the different styles of poetry.

August 20th National Radio Day

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Radio changed life forever. It allowed for news, speeches, and entertainment to be broadcast into homes live all over the world. Credited to Guglielmo Marconi in 1894 the radio could be found in 2 out of 5 homes in America by 1931.

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Sometimes the radio became a little too life-like as in Orson Welles, “War of the Worlds”, where several people committed suicide rather than be taken by aliens from outer space.

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By 2012, there were over 15,000 radio stations transmitting around the world.

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How to celebrate: We all listen to our radios in our cars, but try listening to one when you aren’t in your car. Try and name at least 5 radio stars from the past.  Put on a show for your family where you are the radio show.

August 19th National Aviation Day

Orville and Wilbur Wright did not invent the airplane. There were others before them. The debate of who invented it first goes on-and-on but we know it was not the Wright Brothers. What they did invent was a way to control the airplane.

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Their first flight came on December 17th, 1903 and it truly was the first airplane flight that could be controlled by the pilot. They would elaborate on their success and help launch a mode of transportation that has never been equaled.

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While the airplane was built to transport people it rapidly became a weapon of war. Above are the types of airplanes flown in World War 1, not long after the Wright Brothers flight. The planes were crude and fragile but they proved their value to the army, and to the world.

In the years that followed World War 1, there were many advancements in aviation. Transporting the mail, cargo, and occasionally people began to find a place in every day life. While war raged in Europe, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, proclamated National Aviation Day in 1939, placing it on August 19th, Orville Wright’s birthday (1871).

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World War 2 launched the airplane into an entirely different world. Planes became more and more advanced and proved to be the most decisive weapon in history. Planes were able to fly faster and higher than ever before, Germany even invented the first ever jet. When the war came to an end, hundreds of experienced pilots flooded the world as airlines began to spring up and the experience of hauling cargo during the war was turned into a profitable business.

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Today planes are accepted as a common way to travel, ship cargo, and make our lives better. Of course their use in war is even more advanced and effective than ever before. And to think it all started just a little over 100 years ago when Orville and Wilbur Wright, while not inventing the airplane, made it so we could fly one.

How to celebrate – Study the history of aviation.Visit an exhibit on flight. Learn how to fly.