National Whatever Day: April 15th

By: Allison Ricke Email
By: Allison Ricke Email

Three is no crowd today, the April 15th National Whatever Holidays are: Rubber Eraser Day, Titanic Remembrance Day, and Tax Day.

Rubber Eraser Day
We've all had hundreds if not thousands of No. 2 pencils with rubber erasers on them to fix our mistakes throughout grade school, but does anyone know when the rubber eraser came to be?

In 1770, Edward Nairne, an English engineer, is credited with developing the first widely-marketed rubber eraser for an inventions competition. Until that time the material was known as gum elastic or by its native American name (via French) caoutchouc. Nairne sold natural rubber erasers for the high price of three shillings (36 cents) per half-inch cube.

According to Nairne, he inadvertently picked up a piece of rubber instead of breadcrumbs, discovered rubber's erasing properties, and began selling rubber erasers. The invention was described by Joseph Priestley on April 15, 1770, in a footnote: "I have seen a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black-lead-pencil. ... It is sold by Mr. Nairne, Mathematical Instrument-Maker, opposite the Royal-Exchange." In 1770, the word rubber was in general use for any object used for rubbing. The word became attached to the new material sometime between 1770 and 1778.

However, raw rubber shared the same inconveniences as bread, since it was perishable. In 1839, inventor Charles Goodyear discovered the process of vulcanization, a method that would cure rubber and make it a durable material. Rubber erasers became common with this advent of vulcanization.

On March 30, 1858, Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia, USA, received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil. It was later invalidated because it was determined to be simply a composite of two devices rather than an entirely new product.

Titanic Remembrance Day
On this day in 1912, a British Passenger Liner, the Titanic, sank after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage to New York City. The Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time of her maiden voyage.

On April 14,1912, four days into the crossing and about 375 miles south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 pm ship’s time. The glancing collision caused Titanic’s hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea; the ship gradually filled with water.

Meanwhile, passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats, many of which were launched only partly loaded. A disproportionate number of men were left aboard because of a “women and children first” protocol followed by the officers loading the lifeboats. By 2:20 AM, she broke apart and foundered, with well over one thousand people still aboard. Just under two hours after the Titanic foundered, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking, where she brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors.

The wreck of the Titanic remains on the seabed, split in two and gradually disintegrating at a depth of 12,415 feet (3,784 m). Since its discovery in 1985, thousands of artifacts have been recovered and put on display at museums around the world. Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, folk songs, films, exhibits, and memorials.

Tax Day
If you're not old enough to do your taxes, count your blessings! Today is the day that taxes are due to the IRS. You must keep a record of things purchased throughout a given year, what you were taxed on based on your household income and purchases, and the federal government responds by sending you money you are owed or sending you a bill for money you owe. Hopefully everyone is debt free and have already turned in their taxes!


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