(Roughly) Daily

Mown down…

George C Ballas, Sr, the Houston, Texas, dance studio owner who changed the way America cut its grass when he invented the Weed Eater aka the weed whacker, died [late last month] of natural causes. He was 85. Ballas (seen here with an early prototype) got the idea for the mower while sitting in a car wash wondering if those spinning bristles could be modified to trim grass and weeds in areas a lawnmower couldn’t reach. Turns out they could. He founded his Weed Eater company in 1971, made a bundle, and later sold the invention to Emerson Electric for an undisclosed sum. “A Weed Eater comes along once in a lifetime,” he said. Although he’s known as the Weed King, Ballas’ life was dance. He was an Arthur Murray dance instructor and his own Dance Studio USA was the world’s largest (43,000 square feet); his wife was a noted flamenco dancer; his son Corky is a champion ballroom dancer; and his grandson Mark is a professional dancer, a regular partner on Dancing With the Stars. (AP photo)

Via World of Wonder.

As we dance our way under those inconvenient hedges and into those pesky corners, we might wish a spectacularly happy birthday to Phineas Taylor (“P.T.”) Barnum; he was born on this date in 1810.  Barnum founded and ran a small business, then a weekly newspaper in his native Connecticut before leaving for New York City and the entertainment business.  He parlayed a variety troop and a “curiosities” museum (featuring the ‘”Feejee” mermaid’ and “General Tom Thumb”) into a fortune…  which he lost in a series of legal setbacks.  He replenished his stores by touring as a temperance speaker, then served as a Connecticut State legislator and as Mayor of Bridgeport (a role in which he introduced gas lighting and founded the Bridgeport hospital)… It wasn’t until after his 60th birthday that he turned to endeavor for which he’s best remembered– the circus.

“I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.”

source: Library of Congress

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