1943 letter invites young man to play for the NFL, but he’ll need to bring his own shoes

September 14, 2014 | No comments

In April 1943, a strapping 23-year-old Harold Gutke was invited to play for the New York Giants, or the New York Football Giants, as they were called then. The letter he received acknowledges the likelihood that he would be drafted, but lets him know he can make $150 a game if he’s available.

But he’ll have to provide his own shoes…

NFL Letter, 1943

In fact, Mr. Gutke did end up being drafted so he didn’t have the chance to become a football star. After serving in the Navy, he came home, had a family (one of whom would post this letter many years later), and coached high school football and track for 35 years.

On 9/11 US fighter jets took off on a suicide mission. Meet the pilot willing to give her life…

September 11, 2014 | 2 comments

In September 2001, Heather “Lucky” Penney was a young, inexperienced F-16 pilot with the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard. As the first female pilot in her squadron, it was a dream come true; her father had served as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, so when Congress opened up combat aviation to women, she was the first in line:

I signed up immediately. I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad.

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But on that fateful Tuesday morning thirteen years ago, 26-year-old Lt. Penney was called upon to make the greatest sacrifice of her life…bring down United Airlines flight 93, no matter what. Even knowing that the pilot for one of the planes could be her own father, Penney was prepared to take them down —

We had to protect the airspace any way we could.

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Sister and brother reunited after 60 years, thanks to Facebook and a blurry photo

September 5, 2014 | 1 comment

In 1954, Siblings Allan Healey and Margaret Mitchell were separated from each other because their parents divorced. The family split up when Margaret remained with their mother in Scotland, and Allan went with their father to live in England.

But last week, a lifelong dream for both of them finally came true. They were reunited…after 60 years.  And all because of their simultaneous searches for each other on Facebook.

Years after the family’s sad separation, Allan attempted to find his sister, but due to data protection laws, he hit a wall and was discouraged by his lack of progress. He decided to give it one last try and turned to Facebook, but he couldn’t find her…because she’s not on Facebook.

In a last ditch effort, he posted this photo of the siblings — likely the last one of them all together before they were split up…

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Google used to be called WHAT? — The original names of 23 iconic brands

August 16, 2014 | 6 comments

Before it was Pepsi, it was Brad’s Drink. Instead of telling people to “BackRub that,” we tell them to “Google it.” Going to Peter’s Super Submarines for lunch? No, you aren’t. Though you can go to Subway if you really want to.

Here is a fun list of 23 major brands that used to go by another name…

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22 of the most iconic game controllers of the past 30 years photographed in one man’s hands

July 29, 2014 | No comments

Art Director Javier Laspiur’s series Controllers documents classic game controllers of the past 30 years…

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Laspiur’s series is simple — each portrait is a photo of a controller along with its name or system and the year in which Laspiur first played that game.

In addition to the GIF above, we’ve included photos of each of the 22 game controllers below…

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The evolution of World Cup soccer balls from primitive to bizarre [20 pictures]

July 15, 2014 | 1 comment

The FIFA World Cup began in 1930 with as much controversy and enthusiasm as there is today surrounding the quadrennial event. Uruguay and Argentina faced one another in the first final match 84 years ago but couldn’t agree on a ball to use. FIFA gave Argentina the right to select the ball for the first half of the match, while Uruguay chose the ball for the second half…

1930, Uruguay

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Since those first rudimentary balls were used, the soccer balls — or footballs for many of you — have changed significantly.

These photos show the soccer ball used for every World Cup final, documenting the intriguing evolution of the world’s most popular sport…

1934, Italy

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See the original draft of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” that just sold for $2 million [5 pics]

June 25, 2014 | 1 comment

In 1965, a 24-year-old Bob Dylan sat down at the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, grabbed some stationery from the desk drawer, and scrawled what would become the last original draft of his iconic song “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Later Dylan would unsentimentally sell these sheafs of paper to an acquaintance he knew outside of music without thinking much about it. And now, many years later, that anonymous collector is cashing in. At a recent Sotheby’s auction the four pieces of paper went for more than 2 million dollars, nearly doubling the previous rock-manuscript record of $1.2M brought in by John Lennon’s “A Day in the Life” back in 2010.

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Here is a closer look at each of the sheets. While the song is clearly near its final form, you can see that he was still experimenting with a lot of lyrics that ended up scrapped…

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D-Day vet recalls fighting in actual “Saving Private Ryan” battle, shares how he’s moved on

June 6, 2014 | No comments

93-year-old Thomas Blakey is one of the paratroopers who was dropped behind enemy lines and tasked with taking a bridge from German forces in a battle that was later dramatized in Saving Private Ryan.

In this fascinating interview, Blakey recounts the battle from 70 years ago as if it happened yesterday. He also describes how coming to the National World War II Museum 14 years ago helped him finally move on from war images that haunted him for decades…

93-year-old former paratrooper repeats his jump into Normandy 70 years later

June 6, 2014 | 1 comment

American Jim “Pee Wee” Martin was a 23-year-old paratrooper when he was dropped behind enemy lines on June 6, 1944. Reflecting on that experience, he says,

Everybody’s scared all the time. Anybody who tells you he isn’t is full of crap. But you just do what you have to do regardless of it, that’s the difference.

70 years later, he returned to Normandy to reconnect with other nonagenarians who fought alongside him and revisit the ground where he’d made history.

But Martin wasn’t content to stay on the ground. The humble veteran who’s embarrassed by the adulation people have showered on him returned to the air, donning a jumpsuit and taking one last jump from a plane.

When asked why he did it, Martin said,

A little bit of ego because I’m 93 and I can still do it. And also I just wanted to show all the people that you don’t have to sit and die just because you get old.

CNN met up with this fascinating man and filmed his jump for this brief segment that’s well worth your time…