The American public was scooped way back in June of 1896 when a fellow by the name of Alfred L. Cralle filed a patent for his invention, the ice cream scoop.

It seems folks were accustomed to digging out the ice cream with two hands. Mr. Cralle noticed this hardship and engineered a mechanical “disher” for convenient, one-handed use.

The operator of this device would hold it in hand with thumb on a spring-loaded gear. After curling the ice cream into the curve of the scoop, the operator pressed the gear with thumb causing a bail inside the scoop to cut and drop ball of ice cream onto dish.

We’ve since grown up flicking the bails on our ice cream scoops in eager anticipation, delighted to sneak the cold treat of ice cream at every opportunity.

Wikipedia has the best biography of this African American inventor, Alfred L. Cralle.


Sharing Skills

I picked up a used book in the Half Price Bookstore the other day. On the front was a banner that read “Twentieth Anniversary Edition.” On the back was a large line that proclaimed “over 750,000 copies in print.” Now that’s an accomplishment!

You might think this 235 page paperback was written by a popular romance author to have sold so many copies. But it wasn’t. Instead, the book was a tomb of technical material on how to repair your bicycle!

“Anybody’s Bike Book: An Original Manual of Bicycle Repairs” by Tom Cuthbertson was first published in 1971 by Ten Speed Press. It then went through more than six reprintings. This humble repairman penned an item of value to many folks who struggled to keep their bicycles running.

Now let’s calculate his possible royalties. If the author earned $1 per book, then he has made $750,000. Way back then, this was unlikely. Perhaps one-half, $375,000. No maybe only a quarter, $185,000. Oh, more like a flat writer’s fee, $3,000.

Well, it doesn’t matter. Mr. Cuthbertson helped nearly a million people be self-sufficient by sharing his knowledge and skill. And he was amply rewarded for a job well done.

I’ve come across trade books like this before on a wide range of subjects. They are steady sellers!

Have you mastered a skill? Will you share it with us?