Born in Philadelphia in 1861, William Wrigley, Jr. became one of the foremost chewing gum industrialists in the world (just how many chewing gum industrialists are there in the world, you ask).
In 1891, at the age of 29, Wrigley traveled to Chicago with $32 in his pocket and a big idea – a product, actually – Wrigley’s Scouring Soap. Okay, he wasn’t about to set the world on fire with scouring soap, but he also had the bright idea to include a free gift with each package of soap – a can of baking powder. Now here was something to set consumers’ hearts a-pitter-pattering. Eventually, he found the premium to be more popular than the product and, being a flexible entrepreneur, he switched to selling baking powder.
Did he offer free scouring soap with the baking powder? No, he offered two free packs of chewing gum. And once again the premium, not the product, caught the public fancy. Odd, since chewing gum had been around for 5,000 years or so – under desks and park benches, on the soles of pedestrians’ shoes. Nevertheless, it caught on, and Wrigley bagged the baking powder and concentrated on gum.
Two years had passed since his arrival in Chicago when he went full steam into the chewing gum business, founding the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, giving the world Juicy Fruit and Spearmint gums, and, in 1914, double your pleasure, double your fun, Doublemint gum, which eventually spawned Wrigley’s most notable gift to humanity, the Doublemint twins.
With the chewing gum business firmly established, Wrigley’s mind wandered – to the west coast. There he bought a rocky island off the coast of California, known as Pimugna to its original inhabitants, the Pimugnans. The island was first claimed (as was just about everything) by the Spanish Empire, then by Mexico, then by the United States. A home to hunters, gold-diggers and smugglers, it was a natural to become a tourist destination – which under Wrigley’s guidance it did – 26 miles across the sea , Santa Catalina, the island of romance.
Girl Around the World
Reporters Leo Kieran of the New York Times and Herbert Ekins of the World-Telegram were out to demonstrate that air travel was shrinking the world and that it was pretty much in the reach of most people. They would do this by means of a race around the globe using commercial transportation available to anyone with the price of a ticket. When the race started on the evening of September 30, 1936, they had been joined by a last-minute participant from the Evening Journal — a 23-year-old rookie crime reporter named Dorothy Kilgallen.
A fierce rainstorm kept the three contestants out of the air for the first leg of the race — a short hop to Lakehurst, New Jersey, to catch the airship Hindenburg. Kilgallen almost missed the flight, but the crew delayed departure until she boarded.
Ekins quickly proved to be the savviest traveler as well as the most competitive. Arriving late in Frankfurt, Germany, he quickly boarded a KLM DC-2, a plane that had finished second in an air race from London to Melbourne. Kilgallen and Kieran, on the other hand, headed to Brindisi, Italy, by train to catch a flight from there to Hong Kong on a British carrier, Imperial Airways. The train was excruciatingly slow, and the flight was delayed for seven hours because of wind.
When the two reporters arrived at a stopover in Bangkok, Siam, Kilgallen opted to hire a single-engine plane whose pilot lost his way in Indochina and made a frightening landing in the middle of a field before finding his way to Hong Kong.
Waiting to board a steamship headed from Hong Kong to Manila and the Pan Am China Clipper for the flight back to the States, Kieran and Kilgallen learned that Ekins was long gone. He had talked his way onto a Pan Am trial flight as a crew member. Although taking the no-passenger flight was cheating, Ekins was pronounced the winner, having completed his journey in 18 days.
With just the tiniest bit of grousing, the two defeated reporters acknowledged his victory in a cable from Manila while waiting for a typhoon to pass. They completed the journey in 24 days. In some ways, Kilgallen was the real winner, despite her second-place finish. Her accounts of the journey, cabled back to the Evening Journal each day, filled with descriptions of exotic lands, jungles full of dangerous beasts and shark-infested waters, made her a celebrity. It also launched her successful career which ended abruptly in 1965 with her mysterious death (a story for another day).
Alice in Donaldland, Part 3: The White Knight’s Witch Hunt
After Alice had walked for a little while, she heard the pattering of footsteps in the distance and wondered what sort of strange person or animal she might meet this time. It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking about anxiously as it went.
“Oh my dear paws,” the White Rabbit muttered, not even noticing Alice. “Oh my fur and whiskers! The Queen will have me executed, as sure as foreigners are foreigners. Where can I have dropped my gloves?”
The White Rabbit finally noticed Alice and said angrily: “Why are you just standing there? Help me find my gloves. I can’t go to the press briefing without my gloves.”
Alice dutifully began looking around for a pair of gloves as the White Rabbit continued wailing: “First I recuse myself, now this. The Queen will have my head for sure.”
“I don’t think I understand what exactly recusing oneself is.”
“Of course, you don’t. You’re a girl.”
Alice was getting quite tired of hearing such talk and she replied: “I’ll have you know I’m smarter than any … any … dumb bunny.”
“Recusing oneself,” the White Rabbit continued, ignoring her outburst, “is very much like excusing oneself. Recuse, excuse. For instance you would say ‘excuse me’ when leaving the room. But if you said ‘recuse me,’ you would stay in the room and just pretend you weren’t there. See?”
“I’m pretending that I’m not paying any attention to the White Knight’s terrible, terrible Witch Hunt because of a conflict of interest. I suppose you know what that is?”
“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.”
“A conflict of interest is when I’m very interested in what’s going on in the room, but I’m pretending that I’m not.”
“Why is the White Knight hunting for a witch?”
“The White Knight and his mob of 23 sinister democreeps are looking for Collusion, Obstruction, Distraction, Distortion, Discombobulation, Uglification and Derision.”
“I don’t know about all those other things, but your gloves are under that little bush over there.”
Incoming tweet: “White Knight and WHORED of 35 pernicious dems. Worst witch hunt in history. Let me say this about that: I am not a witch!”
The White Rabbit scooped up his gloves and ran off without even a thank you or goodby. Alice tried to follow him but lost him when he ran behind a large mushroom. The mushroom was even taller than Alice but, by stretching herself up on tiptoe, she was able to peep over the edge of it. There her eyes met those of a large blue caterpillar, that was sitting on the top, showing not the slightest interest in her or anything else.
Part 4, Coming Thursday