Monday, July 11, 2011

The Wright Stuff

(No, don't let the title fool you! This isn't another Grammar Nazi post! You may continue without fear!)

As I've mentioned numerous times on this blog, I live in Massachusetts. A few days ago, I spotted a car bearing an out-of-state license plate -- also known as a "license tag" in some areas of the country -- parked in the parking lot at my part-time job.

States love to put all sorts of informative crap on their license plates nowadays. State slogans, and the like. You know the drill. Anyway, I couldn't help but notice the phrase at the top of this Ohio plate: 

"Birthplace of aviation." Hmm. I could have sworn it said the same thing -- or something very similar -- on the North Carolina license plates that I've seen.

Usually, when thoughts like that occur to me, I make a mental or literal note of them, and do a quick Google search when I arrive home. This time, however, I decided to use it as an excuse for starting a series of emails with my friend Betsy, who lives in Ohio.

I put the question to her, and she replied that "the Wright Brothers were born in Dayton, Ohio."

Yeah? So? I thought. It seemed pretty "sneaky" to me (and I said so), a tenuous grasp at best on a claim to being aviation's "birthplace."

I went on to say If the decision had been mine, I would have put "Birthplace of the Wright Brothers" on the plate. That would imply that they built and flew their airplane(s) in Ohio. (I can be sneaky, too.) Of course, people are so clueless nowadays, most of the people who saw that plate would say "Who the hell are the Wright Brothers? Aren't they the guys who sang 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling?' "

I added I guess Ohio didn't want to make room to say "Birthplace of the guys who did all the groundwork [pun intended] here and then went all the way to freakin' North Carolina just to fly their stupid effin' airplane... the traitors!"

And then I thought "Hey, there's gotta be a Foxyblog post in there! Maybe I can make some really bad joke about "The Wrighteous Brothers!"

But first, being Yours Truly, I did some research on my own, and the following is what I discovered. Let's cut to the chase here and zoom in on North Carolina's plate, with its slogan.

"First in Flight," with an illustration of the Wright Brothers' famous airplane, first flown successfully in December of 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

And it gets better. Take a look at the back of these fairly recent, state-themed quarters.

As it turns out, Wilbur and Orville Wright weren't just from Ohio. They lived there for most of their lives, and had indeed done most of their "groundwork" in Ohio.

North Carolina had been chosen as a test site because it had been suggested that the Atlantic coast was ideal "for regular breezes and a soft sandy landing surface." Either that, or, as this article facetiously suggests, "they just wanted to go to the beach."

Ohio has also referred to itself as "the birthplace of aviation pioneers," since two dozen of our astronauts hail (or hailed) from there, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

Naturally, this all came to a head in 2003, when Congress had to decide which state was indeed the official birthplace of aviation.

Short version (in case you didn't bother clicking on that other link): Ohio won.


I wouldn't be at all surprised if congressmen in both North Carolina and Ohio realize that the two states share the same state bird, the cardinal. Maybe someone will decide to spend the taxpayers' dollars deciding who truly has the "right" to claim that?

And that debate should be reallllly interesting, seeing how the cardinal is also the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia!

Thanks for your time.


  1. Yep, Ohio is a neat state known for all kinds of things, including the birthplace for 7 US presidents. Another one of our slogans that is popular on license plates is "Ohio, the heart of it all" because of our shape and fairly central location.

    I bet NC is sad they can't have an astronaut on their coin. :)

    an excuse for starting a series of emails? lol....yeah, you've ever needed an excuse. :)

    And see those trees to the left on that first plate? I live just beyond those, in case anyone wants to come for a visit! ha.

  2. @Betsy: Wow, did you write that first paragraph, or take it from the DiscoverOhio website? (Just kidding.)

    Seven presidents, huh? Massachusetts only has five. And Ohio has one of my favorites, James A. Garfield.

    And... my goodness! Those trees are near your house! In fact, I can see one of your stray kittens caught in one.

  3. I actually wrote that off the top of my head, Silver! But, I have lived in Ohio for 41 years. :)

    Is that a google-live map in that first plate? I'll waive! Don't laugh as you watch me help that kitten out of the tree!

  4. "I actually wrote that off the top of my head, Silver!"

    I knew that.

    "But, I have lived in Ohio for 41 years."

    How can that be, when you're only in your mid-30s?

    "Don't laugh as you watch me help that kitten out of the tree!"

    Just make sure you're not trapped outside in your nightgown this time.

    What a second! What am I saying?!?

  5. Cute, real cute! ha.

    Hey, the WV is tapitis. Is that some kind of syndrome like carpal tunnel if we tap our toes to your playlist too often?

  6. "Cute, real cute!" Heh. Funny, that's just what I was thinking.

    "Tapitis," huh? Good one. Too bad blog authors don't have to go through WV, or I'd have one for you.

  7. I'll play too WV bliasi type that in google and get lots of family history for it from Scotland/England OK.

    It is quite pathetic what some states/provinces will take claim too and even more so how they'll spend millions of dollars debating it, yet when a few thousand is asked for to fund something new, pffft screw that, we have to save money to debate the Cardinal

    Betsy telling every one her age, I geez living in Ohio must be all the rage.

  8. 41? um...sure. let's go with that! ha.

    WV is that short for dog eared?

  9. For what it's worth, we've had teeny weeny little communities fighting over the bones of a mastodon for years. Carrolls Corner has Mastodon Days with a big parade (insert sarcasm here), and Stewiacke has Mastodon Ridge, complete with life size replica, mini-golf, gift shop, ice cream, and Tim Hortons right in the parking lot. (By modern day standards, I think that makes Stewiacke the winner.) Pretty bad me thinks when we have to start "laying claim" to such things. Like both license plates though...what's that say about me! lol

  10. @Natasha: Fighting over a mastodon, huh? Amazing...

    George Carlin had a great routine about loicense plates in the USA. My favorite part was:

    "New Hampshire’s license plates say ‘Live Free … or DIE!!’ I don’t think I want to live in a state that actually mentions death right on their license plates. At the other end of the spectrum is Idaho’s license plates - they say ‘Famous Potatoes.’ I don’t know, I think that somewhere between ‘Famous Potatoes’ and ‘Live Free or Die’ the truth lies. And I think it’s closer to ‘Famous Potatoes.’"

  11. Hey! We're Canada's Ocean Play Ground! Never mind PEI (which is all Island!) But I guess they've got THEIR potatoes! :) I really do get quite a kick out of these "taglines" :)

  12. Some of these states could lay claims to things that would be counter-productive to attracting tourists. California could use "State with the Most Famous Serial Killings," for example.

  13. Oh my! Couldn't we have fun with a challenge like that! Perhaps WE should be the writers of such things! lol (can you imagine!)

  14. hahaha probably couldn't do much worse than some of the crap they come up with.

  15. There is a strong case made by the folk of Saundersfoot in Wales that their particular village is the birthplace of flight as a lo al aviation pioneer called Bill Frost claimed he made the first powered flight in 1895, long before the Wrights. Unfortunately he made the flight without witnesses so has been forgotten by history - and by car registration plates

  16. That was great so much stuff I didn't know. Well, I knew the Wright brothers tested their plane in North Carolina, we went there and visited the site but I'm not sure I knew they were from Ohio. As for my state, Vermont, I can only claim that Senator Leahy got Lake Champlain recognized as a great lake...for all of about 5 minutes...but still.

  17. I was telling my uncle about your blog while he was drinking some beer, and all he said was "This is all Obama's fault." Then he started to cry. So sad.

  18. @Sharpie: I think "pathetic" is the word you were looking for, not "sad"....

    I assume you told your uncle that this isn't a political blog anyway (except when I want it to be)? The closest I usually get to politics is my Franklin & Kennedy "debate."


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