100 YEARS AGO: What is a sandwich? Necessity for a revision of the popular definition of a sandwich was pointed out to the federal board in a message from the food administration, made public today. "A sandwich," the message said, "instead of consisting of meat or cheese between two slices of bread, may quite as appropriately be two muffins with meat or cheese on a plate beside them."

50 YEARS AGO: Almost as amazing as heart transplant surgery itself has been the number of medical scientists condemning such operations. Nobel Prize-winning German surgeon, Werner Forssman called it "a crime to perform an operation in a field where fundamental research is not yet finished." Shortly after the first operation in South Africa, the Soviet Union announced that it had banned heart transplant operations on humans. Opposition has centered on two points. One is the as yet unsolved problem of getting around the body's mechanism for rejecting foreign tissue. The other is the who, how and when of deciding that a potential heart donor is "dead," especially since doctors are able to keep a patient in a comatose state of "non-death" for indefinite periods. Associated with this are all sorts of ethical and legal questions raised by theologians and lawyers.

The controversy has tended to obscure two obvious truths: Every new medical technique has been unproven and dangerous in the beginning; and had the operation not been performed, Philip Blaiberg of South Africa would be dead today, as would the young man whose heart was given to him. The half-dozen others who have been operated on unsuccessfully would also be just as dead, as would their donors, had the operation never taken place. 

Update: According to Wikipedia, Philip Blaiberg was a South African dentist and the third person to receive a heart transplant. He survived the operation, and continued with his life for nineteen months and fifteen days before dying from heart complications Aug. 17, 1969. There are approximately 5,000 heart transplants performed worldwide each year with about 2,000 performed in the U.S. alone. Dick Cheney's, former vice-president, was one of them. 

25 YEARS AGO: Voters narrowly defeated a non-binding proposal to urge the city council to ban handguns from the state's second largest city. The mayor, who was pushing for the ban, blamed Tuesday's loss on extensive radio and television advertising by gun owners backed by the National Rifle Association. James Buckmaster of the Madison-Area Citizens against Crime, which opposed the ban, said the mayor and other supporters had received plenty of free publicity since proposing the ban three months ago. The mayor proposed, in January, that anyone found with a handgun will face a fine of $100 to $500 and will have to surrender the gun to police. Law officers, security guards, collectors and owners of antique firearms would be exempt under the plan.

FIVE YEARS AGO:The Executive Committee of the Marinette County Board opposes switching the county from a coroner to a medical examiner system — at least for now. The committee voted 4 to 7 Tuesday not to recommend making the change in January of 2015 after the current four-year term of Coroner George Smith expires. Schroeder, chairman of the county board, said the issue will be revisited at a future committee meeting.

"It's going to come back because people who voted no wanted more information before they could vote intelligently," he explained, after the meeting. "Obviously it's too early for them to make a decision so we want to get more information for them." The debate over whether to make the shift began at the committee's March 7 meeting and continued Tuesday after a presentation by Smith on the differences in the two systems.

Smith, who was appointed deputy coroner in 1975 and served in that capacity until he became coroner in January of 1987, said "basically coroners and medical examiners do the same things" with some minor differences. He said he has three deputies that reside in Peshtigo, Porterfield and Athelstane, while he lives in Wausaukee. In a handout to the committee the main differences in the two positions he pointed out were that coroners are elected and medical examiners appointed. The scenario envisioned by County Administrator Ellen Sorensen and some committee members is the county belonging to a regional medical examiner system with a board-certified forensic pathologist in one county and death investigators throughout the region. Sorensen said there are currently nine board-certified pathologists in Wisconsin.

Smith said talks under a previous administrator estimated the cost of switching to a medical examiner system would range from $40,000 to $60,000. Sorensen on Tuesday projected changing systems could save the county $5,000 a year, but admitted there were uncertainties.

Keller, who is also chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee, said it's time for the county to "move forward" and shift to a medical examiner system and made the motion to recommend the switch. "We've been proactive in the past and I'm hoping we can advance now while the timing is good," he said. "As a smaller county to get on board with the top-notch medical examiner system I think would be a real plus. This has nothing to do with the current coroner or the ones who work for him. I think they've done a fine job through the years. But I think it's time to move forward."