G'day folks,

Welcome to some facts about the first U.S Driver's license. 

In 1886, German inventor Karl Benz patented what is generally regarded as the first modern car. Less than two decades later, in 1903, Massachusetts and Missouri became the first states to require a driver’s license, although it wasn’t necessary to pass a test to obtain one. In 1908, Henry Ford launched the Model T, the first affordable automobile for many middle-class Americans. (In 1919, when Ford’s native state of Michigan started issuing driver’s licenses, he got his first one at age 56.) The same year the Model T debuted, Rhode Island became the first state to require both a license and a driver’s exam (Massachusetts instituted a chauffeur exam in 1907 and started requiring tests for all other drivers in 1920). 

California, now known for its car culture, started requiring licenses in 1913 and exams in 1927. However, it took several decades for licenses and tests to be adopted by all states. In 1930, only 24 states required a license to drive a car and just 15 states had mandatory driver’s exams. South Dakota was the last state to begin issuing licenses (without exams), in 1954. Additionally, a handful of states didn’t impose driver’s tests until the 1950s, including Alaska (1956), Arizona (1951), Idaho (1951), Illinois (1953), Missouri (1952) and Wisconsin (1956). In 1959, South Dakota became the final state to institute a driver’s exam requirement.

Getting a license was long considered a rite of passage for many American teenagers; however, in recent years the number of young people who are legal to drive has declined. Around 77 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 24 had driver’s licenses in 2014, compared with almost 92 percent in 1983, according to a 2016 report by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Among 16 year olds, less than 25 percent had licenses in 2014, down from about 46 percent in 1983. Although the study didn’t cite specific reasons for the drop, other research has suggested that contributing factors include new transportation options as well as the Internet, which has made it possible for people to socialize and shop online instead of getting in a car to do so.

Clancy's comment:  Interesting history, eh?

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7 December 2016 - CHARLES AZNAVOUR


G'day folks,

Welcome to some background on Charles Aznavour - singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Aznavour is known for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes.

Frank Sinatra may no longer be with us, but we still have France’s equivalent. Charles Aznavour is among history’s most prolific and successful vocal artists and a revered figure in French pop music. The French-Armenian is also, in all probability, the most famous individual of Armenian descent in the world.

Born in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood of Paris’s sixth arrondissement (the epicenter of the Existentialist movement in the 1950s), Aznavour’s life in entertainment was determined early on.

He dropped out of school at the age of nine to focus on performing. The bold choice allowed him to hone his skills as an actor, singer, and dancer before he even entered his teens. When he was old enough, he transitioned into nightclub singing and was a seasoned pro at 22 when the legendary Édith Piaf discovered the tenor and invited him on tour.

Piaf would be a tremendous influence on Aznavour, who opened frequently for her at the iconic Moulin Rouge. She helped the young singer train his voice, ultimately preparing for his development into one of the most prolific vocalists of the 20th Century. Once the hits started coming, they came fast and furious. What’s more, they never let up. Aznavour’s versatility as a singer was highlighted by his multilingualism, a fact which allowed him to record songs in no fewer than seven languages.

His discography is a thing of humbling enormity. In 1953, Aznavour began a run of productivity that, at present, includes 50 studio albums, 58 EPs, 18 Live albums, more than 180 million units sold, more than 80 films acted, and an estimated total of 1200 songs written.

Aznavour is as well recognized for his efforts as an Armenian statesman and dignitary. In addition to being a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Aznavour is a Permanent Delegate of Armenia to UNESCO and the U.N., as well as Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland. Voters around the world also saw fit, in 1998, to name him as Entertainer of the Century in a CNN/Time Magazine poll.

Still, more remarkable than any of these accomplishments is the fact that in 2014, at the ripe age of 90, Aznavour embarked on his most recent tour.


Clancy's comment: A man with a haunting voice. Still performing at 90! Wow.

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