This Week in 1908 (August 18–August 24)
How long ago was 1908?
Orville Wright (photo) celebrates his 37th birthday in Washington on August 19th. It has only been four and a half years since the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. Because only five people witnessed that first flight, Wilbur and Orville still haven’t attained legitimacy in the eyes of the American public. Most people simply don’t believe that flight is possible.
After the brothers flew with a passenger (Charlie Furnas of Dayton Ohio) in May, they signed a provisional contract with the French and American military…provided that they could actually demonstrate flight in front of their hand-picked witnesses. Older brother Wilbur is in France right now proving it to the French government, while younger brother Orville is in Washington proving the same thing to the Americans.
By the end of the year, their story will be well known.
Unfortunately, Wilbur won’t live long enough to enjoy their new found fame. He will contract Typhoid Fever and will die in 1912. By the time Orville dies in 1948, however, he is considered to be the elder statesman of flight, and is serving on the board of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which will eventually become known as NASA.
*Winston Churchill gets engaged in England. He is a liberal; laughing about ridiculous predictions that Germany & England could ever go to war against each other. (He gets married on Sept 12)
*The Cubs are hitting their stride. They beat the Braves 10-2 at West Side Grounds on August 20. Joe Tinker steals 4 bases in that game. They follow that up with consecutive shutouts against Brooklyn (2-0, 2-0). They are on a roll, and ready to face their arch rival Giants once again next week.
*At weeks end they are 64-47 and still in third place, but they are only 3 1/2 games out.
*William “Count” Basie turns 4 (Aug 21) in Red Bank New Jersey. His father is a servant working for a wealthy judge.
*Dorothy Parker turns 15 (Aug 22) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her formal education ended two years ago when she referred to the Immaculate Conception as “spontaneous combustion.” The nuns at her Catholic school were not amused.
Price Check: “Stylish and elegant rimless eye glasses” are being sold by the American Optical Company for $2.15.
If you travel back in time, don’t go looking for Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue by the river. It won’t be built until 1925.