100 YEARS AGO: This Wrigley's Doublemint Chewing Gum advertisement was published in the Eagle-Star in 1918. It reads, "In every letter to your boy with the land forces or the fleet, send him a few bars or a package of Wrigley's. The times when it's hard to get are the times they prize it. They want the lasting refreshment, the cool, sweet comfort of this handy confection."

50 YEARS AGO: Michigan officials were shocked recently to discover that persons legally classified as blind were licensed to drive automobiles. Perhaps Wisconsin should be even more disturbed to learn that 129,000 known alcoholics are privileged to drive. Dr. E.H. Jorris, state health officer, wondered how many will be killed, "and how many will be killed by them in motor vehicle accidents this year." If this speculation seems a bit over-dramatic, it should be noted that alcohol was present in the blood of 73 percent of the drivers killed on Wisconsin roads and reported during the first three months this year under the new highway safety law. Thirty percent of the drivers had more than 150 percent alcohol by weight in their blood and this under Wisconsin law is evidence that such a driver was under the influence of intoxicants. After reviewing 1966 accidents in the United States, the National Safety Council concluded that drinking may be a factor in as many as half of the fatal motor vehicle accidents.

25 YEARS AGO: The overwhelming male Senate voted Thursday to weaken a bill designed to increase toilet facilities for women in new and remodeled arenas in Michigan. By a vote of 19-18, the Senate adopted an amendment to limit the bill — intended to shrink the long lines of women outside public bathrooms — to facilities seating more than 300. The bill, with the new amendment, was put in position for a final vote, probably next week.

FIVE YEARS AGO: After struggling to sway both state and federal lawmakers, proponents of expanding background checks for gun sales are now exploring whether they will have more success by taking the issue directly to voters. While advocates generally prefer that new gun laws be passed through the legislative process, especially at the national level, they are also concerned about how much sway the National Rifle Association has with lawmakers. Washington Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a Democrat, who had sponsored unsuccessful legislation on background checks at the state level, said a winning ballot initiative would make a statement with broad implications.

"It's more powerful if the voters do it — as opposed to our doing it," Pedersen said. "And it would make it easier for the Legislature to do even more." On Monday, proponents of universal background checks in Washington will announce their plan to launch a statewide initiative campaign that would require the collection of some 300,000 signatures, according to a person involved in the initiative planning who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the official announcement. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has scheduled a fundraiser in Seattle at the end of next month and hopes to have a campaign budget in the millions of dollars.

Ballot measures may be an option elsewhere, too. Hildy Saizow, president of Arizonans for Gun Safety, said an initiative is one of the things the group will be considering as it reconsiders strategies. An organizer in Oregon was focused on the Legislature for now but wouldn't rule out a ballot measure in the future if lawmakers fail to pass a proposed bill there. While advocates have had recent success on background checks in places like Connecticut and Colorado, they've been thwarted in some other states and in Congress. The U.S. Senate rejected a plan to expand background checks earlier this month, although lawmakers in the chamber are still working to gather additional votes. Brian Malte, director of mobilization at the national nonprofit lobbying group Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said passage through Congress is the ideal in order to have a national solution and so that states with strong gun laws aren't undermined by nearby states with weaker standards. He noted that initiative campaigns are costly endeavors that can drain important, limited resources.

Brian Judy, a lobbyist who represents the NRA in Washington state, did not return calls seeking comment about the new initiative. He has previously said the NRA would likely oppose such an effort, arguing that the recently proposed laws on background checks would largely impact law-abiding citizens instead of the intended targets such as criminals and the mentally ill. Gun measures have had mixed results at the ballot. More than 70 percent of Washington state voters rejected a 1997 initiative campaign that would have required handgun owners to pass a safety course. After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, voters in Colorado and Oregon approved ballot measures the next year to require background checks for buying weapons at gun shows.

Following another massacre in Colorado earlier this year, state lawmakers approved a bill to expand background checks to private transactions and online purchases. A similar expansion plan in Oregon is stalled in the state Senate. An independent Elway Poll conducted two months ago found that 79 percent of registered voters in Washington state supported background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.That wasn't enough to shepherd the bill through the Legislature.