News of the Week: Summer Minutes, Ferris Wheels, and 60 Years of Mr. Zip

In the news for the week ending July 7, 2023, are 70 stores closing, 62 hot dogs eaten, the 5-digit zip code, and more.


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The Beginning of the End

It seems that summer just gets started and immediately the days start to get shorter.

July 4th cookouts and parades and fireworks can be seen as both the beginning of the warmest season and the beginning of the end of the warmest season. We’re losing daylight every single day already. For example, in Boston, the sun sets tonight at 8:23. Tomorrow it’s 8:22. Next Tuesday it goes down to 8:21, and next Friday it sets at 8:19. After that we start to lose about a minute every single day.

As someone who hates summer, this makes me happy. But not as happy as I’ll be in September, when the sun goes down before 7:00, and especially in November, when it gets dark at 4:30.

But for you summer-lovers, don’t fret. It’s only the first week of July, so there are still plenty of hot, sticky, miserable days coming up. You have almost two whole months to enjoy your sweating and bugs and sunburn.

Christmas Tree Shops Are Closing

I’ll admit that I only visited a Christmas Tree Shop once, many years ago, but it’s still sad to see them close all 70 of their stores.

I didn’t know that until a few years ago they were owned by Bed, Bath, and Beyond, which this week saw its name taken over by the online shopping site

Wheel of Ferris

It was invented in 1893 by George Washington Gale Wheel Jr. Just kidding! His last name actually was Ferris, though. Here’s CBS Sunday Morning on its history.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

The advantage of a Ferris wheel over a roller coaster? If there’s a problem, at least you’re not stuck upside down.

Headline of the Week

“Joey Chestnut Wins 16th Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest after 2-Hour Weather Delay”

RIP Alan Arkin, Lowell Weicker, Frank Field, Susan Love, Mo Foster, Paul Justman, Dick Biondi, and Marvin Kitman

Alan Arkin won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine. He also appeared in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Glengarry Glen Ross, Havana, Argo, Grosse Pointe Blank, Freebie and the Bean, and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, among many other films. He recently starred in the TV series The Kominsky Method. He died last week at the age of 89.

Frank Field was the first TV meteorologist in New York City, for WNBC, where he was also a health reporter for many years (he helped popularize the Heimlich Maneuver). He was a frequent Tonight Show guest. He died last weekend at the age of 100.

Lowell Weicker was a three-term Republican senator from Connecticut, as well as having been the state’s governor, a state representative, and a first selectman of Greenwich. He made a name for himself during the Watergate hearings. He also formed the A Connecticut Party in 1990. He died last week at the age of 92.

Susan Love was a doctor and researcher who wrote a bestselling book about breast cancer. She died Sunday at the age of 75.

Mo Foster was a session bassist who played with Phil Collins, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Dusty Springfield, Ringo Starr, Sting, and The London Symphony Orchestra. He also had his own band, Affinity, and played on the soundtracks to two James Bond movies, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. He died Monday at the age of 78.

Paul Justman directed acclaimed documentaries on Motown, Deep Purple, The Doors, and other subjects. He also directed music videos for The Cars, Rick Springfield, and the J. Geils Band. He died in March at the age of 74.

Dick Biondi was a disc jockey for 67 years and the first to play the Beatles on American radio. He died last month at the age of 90.

Marvin Kitman was the TV critic for Newsday for 35 years, a satirist, and the author of several books. He died last week at the age of 93.

This Week in History

Mr. Zip Introduced (July 1, 1963)

The Retrologist has become one of my favorite newsletters, and this week he has a great post about Mr. Zip, the mascot created by the United States Postal Service to help introduce zip codes to the country in 1963.

Zip stands for “Zone Improvement Plan.”

Amelia Earhart Vanishes (July 2, 1937)

There are approximately 47 different theories on what happened to Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “What’s Your Favorite Picnic Sandwich?” (July 2, 1949)

Well, this is one of the most surprising “This Week in Saturday Evening Post History” plot twists.

I originally chose this ad because it has a hot dog in it (you’ll see why in about 30 seconds), but then I noticed the woman in the upper-left corner. I always like to find out what happened to various people when I see them mentioned in the pages of the Post, so I did a little research on this woman, BeBe Shopp, who was crowned Miss America in 1948. (She went up against future actresses Lois Nettleton and Vera Ralston!) Not only did I find out she’s still with us, I also found out …

… she lives five minutes from me.

Hot Dogs and Beans

You could shove 62 hot dogs (and buns!) into your mouth as quickly as possible, like Joey Chestnut did, but if you want to eat just one or two in a civilized manner, here are a few variations to try.

(By the way, July is National Hot Dog Month and U.S. Beans Month.)

The Pioneer Woman has a recipe for Pretzel Dogs, and Baker Mama has one for Grilled Cheese Hot Dogs. These Chicago-Style Hot Dogs from AllRecipes have tomatoes and pickles and peppers (but don’t you dare put ketchup on it or you won’t be allowed to enter Chicago). If you’re looking for something a little bit different, try the Hot Dog Casserole or the Chili Cheese Dog Casserole, both from Taste of Home.

For the beans, try Martha Stewart’s Classic Boston Baked Beans or these recipes from a 1912 issue of our sister publication, The Country Gentleman.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

MLB All-Star Game (July 11)

This year’s game will be played at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. It airs at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. (The home run derby airs the night before on ESPN at 8 p.m.)

National Nude Day (July 14)

Make sure you celebrate the day! (Legally.)

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  1. Interesting fact about ZIP Codes. I had not idea what “ZIP” really stood for. I always assumed it was just a synonym for “Fast.” I’ll use this piece of trivia when I return as a substitute teacher at my local high school next month.

  2. Alan Arkin – so wonderfully talented, so brilliant. I will miss him. And, yes, summer is over practically before it begins. Such a bitter pill. Wouldn’t it be a dream if we could make the long days last well into September?

  3. Mistake! As I write, I’m listening to a podcast about the year, 1962, which is why I wrote “1962” early in my comment. Later, I got it right. The movie was released in 1979.

  4. One of Alan Arkin’s funniest roles was in a comedy which ought to be a classic, The In – Laws, from 1962. That movie has things in it which are as hilarious and unexpected as the greatest comedies have, and Peter Falk is perfect as Arkin’s co – star.

    Why is it not better known? I don’t know, but wonder if this might have had something to do with it: the scriptwriter gave Penny Peyser’s character lines in which she repeatedly and gratuitously takes the Lord’s name in vain. It’s pointless, as I said, as well as being bad morally and artistically.

    I’ve wondered if word of mouth about this got around, thereby killing a lot of public interest in taking their families to see the movie? America in 1979 was a very different country, almost entirely for the better. It’s a shame, because that movie should be legendary, right up there with classics such as Young Frankenstein. But the writer sacrificed a lot in order to serve the cause of what people in Hollywood saw as hip and cutting edge in the late 1970s.

  5. Interesting first paragraph about the days gradually getting shorter with the start of the summer, and in the increments that follow. It seems more gradual than the days getting longer after winter starting. Even 2 weeks later it’s noticeably lighter longer.

    I only liked the summer a long time ago because it meant no school for almost 3 months, going on vacations and to the Olympic-sized pool only a few miles away, 6-7 days a week. Most years in Northwest Los Angeles I have to deal with the heat starting in March. As of today, STILL no terrible heat yet in ’23. It’s unbelievable! In other sections of the state (and nation) record-breaking heat. It’ll come, but even then I really can’t complain.

    Thanks for Jane Pauley’s feature on the Ferris Wheel. I’m so sorry it was demolished in 1893 right after the Chicago World’s Fair. I saw the story of the roller coaster stuck upside down. Terrifying. I like the picnic sandwich ad from 1949. Miss America 1948 (up in the corner) is Bebe Shopp, still around at 92, looking great. I think she’s a beautiful blend of Betty White and Shirley Temple (as an adult). Two of my favorites anyway. Would love to meet her!

    I did get to meet Lee Meriwether (Miss America 1955) several years ago. Very nice, gracious lady. So this week we commemorate the 46th anniversary of Styx’s ‘Grand Illusion’ album released on 7/7/77 featuring amazing songs from beginning to end, including ‘Miss America’ of course! Don’t let the first 50 seconds of it though fool you.


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