'Silent Cal' Coolidge was actually quite the White House prankster : Reflections : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|'Silent Cal' Coolidge was actually quite the White House prankster |
|by Roger Matile|
With all this hot weather, you could expect, what with vapor lock and all, that the torrent of junk mail might have slowed a bit, but I'm here to tell you that it hasn't.
Each and every day (the mail carrier shows up out in front of the Matile manse) I open a tiny mountain of vacation get-away offers, aluminum siding come-ons, coupons for products no one ever heard of, and the occasional nugget of information I have never heard before. Or at least not very often.
Here, in one easy to read location, I have collated this month's haul of info nuggets, printed in nice, bite-sized paragraphs. If you hadn't read this column, just think-you never would have found all this neat stuff out:
President Calvin Coolidge used to hide in the White House shrubbery, then jump out and scare unsuspecting Secret Service agents. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Barack Obama tried that in this trigger- happy day and age. On the other hand, he really doesn't seem like a hide in the shrubbery kind of guy. Of course, neither did Silent Cal. Guess still waters really do run deep.
The first people to pay taxes to support a public school system were the residents of Dorchester, Mass. They raised 20 pounds sterling a year for its support, beginning in 1639.
"What a good thing Adam had-when he said a good thing, he knew nobody had said it before," Mark Twain.
The most difficult tongue-twister is believed to be: "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick." It's hard to type, too. Or do we say "keyboard" nowadays?
The oldest datable wine was in an amphora (an ancient Greek bottle with a pointed bottom whose design is one very good reason there aren't any more ancient Greeks around) salvaged-and drunk-by the redoubtable Captain Jacques Cousteau from the wreck of a Greek trading ship sunk in the Mediterranean around 230 B.C. Jacques was still narrating films in Inspector Clouseau -like English long after he found the stuff, so the wine must have been okay.
Every year, nearly $22.8 billion is spent on advertising in newspapers-everyone else is doing it, why aren't you?
During 2007, about 550 people on average became millionaires every day in the U.S. Wonder what the figure is now?
Says here that in 2009, one out of every 212 people in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy.
Are people getting married younger or older than they were in 1900? Older. In 1900, the median age at which a male married for the first time was 25.9. In 2007 it was 27.5 years for men (and 25.6 for women).
Quick, what's the official name of the Statue of Liberty? If you guessed Marilyn Monroe, you're wrong. It's "Liberty Enlightening the World." Catchy, huh?
Tongue prints are as unique as fingerprints. I wonder how that ink tastes, though.
Tennis developed from a handball game played in ancient Greece. See what I mean about those ancient Greeks? First they invent bottles with pointed bottoms and then they come up with tennis without racquets. Close only counts in horseshoes.
How do sports events evolve, you may wonder. Well, the marathon, for instance, was originally 26 miles even, but it was increased by 385 yards in the 1908 Olympic Games so that King Edward VII could see the finish from the royal box. And so it goes.
Between 2000 and 2010, 926 people moved to California every day of the year, though for the life of me, I can't figure out why.
In 1828 Philadelphia tried to sell the Liberty Bell for scrap but couldn't find a buyer.
Just how insignificant is our little yellow sun out here in our arm of the Milky Way Galaxy? There is direct proof of the existence of at least 100 billion stars in our own galaxy and there are about 100 billion galaxies. And that all adds up to 10 billion trillion stars. Give or take. Astronomers are still counting.
The pigeon is the only bird that sips water using its bill like a straw. How do other birds drink? Don't know. In moderation, I guess.
Cardboard rolls found in wax paper or foil make individual holders for long, sharp knives. That hint came to me from Norman Bates of the Bates Motel. Thanks, Norm! And how's your mom?
The elephant, like most human teenagers, can spend up to 18 hours feeding.
What does a giraffe do when it gets something in its eye? It cleans it with its tongue. That's what it says; honest.
Charles Dickens could sleep only if his head was at the north end of the bed. Doesn't say anything about east-west beds.
The inside of a cucumber holds heat so well it is sometimes 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. So much for being as cool as a cucumber.
A human being is born with 305 bones, but during childhood a number of them fuse together so that an adult has only about 206 bones.
Inefficient government is not a modern plague: Pennies minted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1787 cost two cents each to produce.
Sports trivia: The basketball dribble was first used professionally by Bert Loomis in 1896.
The last president born in a log cabin was James A. Garfield, born in 1831. Actually, relatively few of our Presidents were born in log cabins. The number includes Andrew Jackson, the execrable James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and Garfield.
As if its sting isn't bad enough, the mosquito also has 47 teeth.
If you like chocolate, you have historic taste. The first chocolate mill in the United States was erected in Massachusetts in 1765.
Finally, the first woman to fly in a balloon was Madam Thible, a French opera singer who went aloft in 1784, thereby hitting E above high C higher than anyone had before. Honest.