Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Every year is magical: 1937

Any year you investigate will yield a detail that does not change: something noteworthy occurred. So it’s not a shock to learn that 1937 is no exception. The reason I bring up this particular year, and the reason I bother with this topic as a post in the first place, is because I find myself talking about 1937 every time I speak at a school.

The starting point is—surprise—Superman. He debuted in 1938 (after three-and-a-half years of rejection), and that’s the year that gets almost all of the attention with regard to the world’s first superhero. But writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster sold the idea the year before. (I’ll do the math: 1937.)

The same year that the Superman deal was inked (and it should be said that the deal was really anything but for the creators), another future pop culture legend (whose name also begins with “S”) entered stage left: Dr. Seuss. That was the year his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published (after more than two dozen rejections).

For years, I’ve been telling kids that KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was founded in 1937; I am no fan of KFC but I am a fan of persistence, as you’ve probably already gathered, and apparently KFC’s founder, Harland Sanders, endured 1,000 rejections before a bank agreed to invest in his idea for a fried chicken restaurant.

My quoting this date goes back to the late 1990s, but uncharacteristically, I didn’t save my source for the date. Upon revisiting the KFC story, I now see that 1937 was the year Sanders opened a cafĂ© that is considered the precursor to a KFC operation. Coincidentally, Sanders makes the third “S” in my 1937 retrospective.

Here’s the fourth: Ms. White, first name Snow, who, in 1937, was the star of Disney’s first feature-length animated film (and, I believe, the first fully animated film in world history).

Some non-S pop culture milestones of 1937:
  • the first issue of Detective Comics came out (two years later, Batman would debut in #27)
  • The Hobbit was published
  • nylon was patented
  • Daffy Duck debuted
  • the Golden Gate Bridge opened
Some milestones were grim (making them notable rather than magical):
  • Amelia Earhart went missing
  • the Hindenburg exploded
I started this post by writing that every year is magical in some way, yet it does appear that 1937 got an extra helping.

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