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April 15, 2005

April the Fifteenth

This day in history:

April 15th, 1955

In 1917, a brash 15-year-old excited about getting involved in the ongoing WWI, lied about his age and joined the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. He was sent to Connecticut to be trained for service in Europe but the war ended before he could serve. But that spark of enthusiasm that allowed him to charge ahead with an idea stayed with him. He had to find work, so he did, first as a piano player and then, in 1922, as a salesman for the Lily Tulip Cup Co. selling paper cups.

He sold the paper cups by day and continued playing the piano for a radio station at night. One customer, Earl Prince, was buying a tremendous amount of paper cups to use with his invention — a five-spindle multimixer for making milkshakes. Then came that spark of enthusiasm. Fascinated by the speed and efficiency of the machine, the salesman obtained exclusive marketing rights from the inventor. For the next 17 years he crisscrossed the country peddling the mixer, but also developed diabetes, incipient arthritis, had lost his gall bladder and most of his thyroid gland.

At 52 years-old, the salesman continued to dream and hope, in spite of his health and advancing years. That year, 1954 he met a couple of brother who were running a restaurant in San Bernardino, CA, The brothers ordered eight mixers for their eight stores, and kept them running continuously. The salesman was fascinated by the restaurants, and in spite of their refusal to allow others to franchise their stores, the salesman eventually talked the brothers into letting him open franchises in other states.

On April 15th, 1955 the salesman, Ray Kroc, opened his own McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois. You know the rest.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 15, 2005 11:03 AM

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