ACTED ON HER VISION— “SESAME STREET,” WHICH TRANSFORMED CHILDREN’S TELEVISION PROGRAMMING, MADE ITS BROADCAST DEBUT ON November 10, 1969. The program was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney, a former documentary producer for public television, who sought to create programming for toddlers and preschoolers that captured their attention and was both educational and enjoyable. The far-reaching series was geared originally for children 3-5 in underprivileged neighborhoods and intentionally multi-racial (The Muppet Ernie has darker skin than his roommate and sidekick Bert, for example.) Sesame Street’s most popular components were puppeteer Jim Henson’s Muppets, which took on a life (and several feature-length movies) of their own. “Sesame Street” also featured vignettes that were actually sendups of popular game shows, operas and even news broadcasts. Other segments included numbers or geometric shapes dancing to jazz melodies. Among the popular Muppet characters were Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, and in later seasons, Count von Count and Elmo.
More than half a century later, “Sesame Street” and the Children’s Television Workshop that produced it have expanded the program and introduced spinoffs like “The Electric Company,” geared for older kids.
REJECTED A USEFUL INVENTION — THE GADGET THAT WIPES RAIN AND SNOW FROM CAR WINDSHIELDS had its origin as an invention by a Birmingham, Alabama woman named Mary Anderson who, on November 10, 1903, was awarded U.S. Patent No. 743,801. The inventor, who was also a rancher and real estate developer, described her instrument as a “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window.” However, her marketing efforts were unsuccessful and even mocked on the grounds that it had “no practical value.” People scoffed at Anderson’s invention, saying that the wipers’ movement would distract the driver and cause accidents. Before she could persuade anyone to try the product, her patent expired.
Ten years later, around 1913, mechanical windshield wipers had become standard equipment in passenger cars, but Mary Anderson never profited. The Canadian company that rejected the product might have become rich with more foresight.
‘THE FEW AND THE PROUD’ NEIGHBORHOOD — THE MARINES WERE ORIGINALLY ESTABLISHED ON NOVEMBER 10, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the fleet. It is said also that Captain Samuel Nicholas installed the first Marine Corps recruiting headquarters at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, PA, looking for “a few good men.” This resolution established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the amphibious United States Marine Corps. Although the Marines were disbanded after the Revolutionary War, President John Adams signed a bill into law that established the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the Department of the Navy’s jurisdiction, according to the Marine Corps University website. This law was necessitated against the backdrop of international conflict at sea during France’s own Revolution. The Marines also fought the Barbary Pirates of North Africa.
The Marines, which now use the motto, “The Few, the Proud,” mark their official birthday on November 10, the day before Veterans Day, even though the latter observance originated a century and a half later and was initially called Armistice Day, for the end of World War I in 1918.
INSPIRED BY AN ARCHITECTURE STUDENT’S DESIGN — THE VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WAS DEDICATED ON NOVEMBER 13, 1982. The occasion capped a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War and included a march by Vietnam War veterans. This memorial monument was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict. In contrast with other memorials, this one listed the names of the slain soldiers in order of their deaths rather than by rank. Although many veterans’ groups initially opposed the design because it lacked the usual statues and stirring words. However, their opinions changed when the loved ones visiting the wall discovered they could etch the names of their soldiers or leave artifacts.
The Vietnam War Memorial’s designer was Maya Lin, a Chinese-American Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument.
BROKE THE BASEBALL GLASS CEILING — Kim Ng, a veteran front-office official with Major League Baseball, hit her own career-ball out of the field on November 13, 2020, breaking several glass ceilings simultaneously when she was named General Manager of the Miami Marlins. Ng is the first woman and first person of East Asian descent to lead a Major League Baseball front office, as well as the first female GM in the history of North American professional men’s sports. The daughter of two Americans of Chinese descent, Ng played softball at the University of Chicago and wrote her college thesis on the effects of Title IX. She began her MLB career as an intern with the Chicago White Sox and stayed with the Major League. The New York Yankees in 1998 hired her as an assistant GM. Word of her talent spread, and during this time, the Yankees won three World Series. Then, she left to work with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was former Yankees team captain and Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, now entering MLB broadcasting, who finally picked Ng to lead a team’s baseball operations. He presented Ng with a Women in Sports and Events Award.
See previous milestones, here.