Invented in 1907, the Crescent® wrench is not a type of wrench, but actually a brand name.

The original Crescent® wrench was devised by a gentleman named Karl Peterson, an inventor and woodcarver who later focused on hand tools. Soon, the Crescent Tool Company was shipping its popular wrenches (and other tools) nationwide, and Peterson was trying to fight off competitors anxious to infringe on his adjustable wrench patent.

A free bit of publicity came the company’s way in the guise of Charles Lindbergh, who on his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, was quoted as saying the only things he brought with him were "gasoline, sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a Crescent® wrench and pliers."



Turtles aren’t known for their shiny shells, so how did Turtle Wax get its name?

Ben Hirsch was an entrepreneur with a background in the grocery business. He developed several best-selling products such as chocolate-covered bananas and Angel Rinse, a cold water detergent. He met his future wife Marie while working the grocery circuit, and the two of them noted America’s growing love affair with their automobiles. The couple decided that a liquid car polish would be a guaranteed hot seller.

Using the knowledge attained from his undergraduate degree in chemistry, Hirsch confiscated his own bathtub and used the space to formulate a polish he dubbed Plastone. Marie bottled the product, and Ben set out to sell it. His stroke of marketing genius was to go to Wrigley Field during a game, and polish half a fender on the cars parked there. When their owners returned, he expounded on the benefits of Plastone. He soon sold enough of the product to open a small storefront and start peddling the polish to gas station and garage owners.

One day Hirsch was returning from a business trip in Wisconsin, and stopped at a place in the southeast part of the state called Turtle Creek. Gazing into the creek, he was struck by the shimmer of his own reflection. It occurred to him that Plastone gave a car a shine that was as reflective as the water of Turtle Creek. He further reasoned that his polish gave cars a wax coating as tough as a turtle shell, and promptly renamed his product Turtle Wax.

Today, the Turtle Wax company is often offered supplies of turtles from various sources. These are all politely refused with the explanation that the "turtles" in Turtle Wax are like the "horses" in horseradish.



Turn-of-the-century city dwellers welcomed the automobile as a solution to the pollution problem.

The late 1800s began the Industrial Period for the United States, a boom time. People flocked to cities looking for manufacturing jobs, and the main mode of transportation was horses. By 1860, it was estimated that half of all Americans lived in cities, and horses were polluting the nation’s streets with an estimated 2.5 million pounds of manure and 60,000 gallons of urine per day.

Such noxious output brought along with it added annoyances, such as swarms of flies and other pests. It the hot, dry summer months, newspapers lamented about the dung which was ground into a fine dust and blew up from the pavement to ruin clothes and fill nostrils.

Hard to believe today, when SUVs and minivans are the topics of hot debate, but back in the early 1900s, the automobile was seen as a godsend that would help to clean up the city environment.



Watch out for falling rocks, deer crossings, and… landing planes?


One of those "facts" that gets passed along via email is that the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate & Defense Highways included a rule that one mile out of every five had to be perfectly flat and straight, with no bridges or other obstructions, in case an aircraft had to make an emergency landing there. Not true.

In the early 1940s, while Word War II was still raging, it’s true that there were some airstrips built adjacent to public highways; but these were not designated strictly for military use. Aircraft at that time weren’t equipped with radar and other navigational aids, so in case of an emergency landing, any pilot could use the flow of traffic as a guide for landing. Those same airstrips were also equipped with a telephone and some repair tools.

Frank Turner, former head of the Highway Administration, points out that if you were to consciously observe the lay of the road as you drove on any given Interstate highway, you’d rarely find one mile that is perfectly straight and flat. That is done intentionally, to prevent road fatigue and to keep drivers alert.



Steam power


Steam actually was used to power cars once upon a time, and for that French engineer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot certainly doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Constantly booted out of the limelight by Henry Ford and his motor car, Cugnot was actually the first person to invent a self-propelled road vehicle … despite it’s being a steam-powered one. His creation, developed circa 1769, used a steam engine and boiler to generate power.

A tiny, tiny bit of power. Unfortunately, the contraption had to stop every 10 to 15 minutes in order to build up enough steam to resume its speedy 25 mph traveling velocity.

And while the French Army used it for a bit to haul artillery, other than that, it didn’t have many practical uses. On the up side, Cugnot did nab one claim to fame that Ford could never take away from him. After driving one of his road vehicles into a stone wall in 1771, Cugnot became the first person in history to have a motor vehicle accident.

Miscellaneous trivia

Dashboard ... the term "dashboard", a car's instrument panel, dates back to horse-and-buggy days when dashing horses kicked up mud, splashing the passengers riding behind them. The dashboard was devised to protect them.


eBay's Humble Beginnings ... it all started with a Pez. You know, those little plastic dispensers with funny heads that flip up and present you with a rectangular piece of candy. To help out his girlfriend (who is an avid Pez collector), a Silicon Valley software engineer named Pierre Omidyar created a Web site so she could chat and trade with other people online. The site was so successful that he expanded it to include other kinds of collectibles. He began charging a small fee to list items, just so he could break even. Legend has it that one day $10,000 in fees arrived in Pierre's mailbox; he quit his day job. eBay was born on Labor Day 1995. The name eBay is taken from the word "electronic" and "bay" for the Bay Area of San Francisco, where Pierre is from.


The car in the foreground on the back of a $10 bill is a 1925 Hupmobile.


Talk about gas mileage: The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.


The first traffic light was used in Cleveland, Ohio (USA), in 1914 ... The stop sign was born the same year owing its octagonal shape to the Detroit cop who took a square sign and cut off the corners.


The number of cars on the planet is increasing three times faster than the population growth


The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.


The term Cop comes from Constable on Patrol, which is a term used in England.