2008.11.05 A nearly political-free column for your approval

Written by David Green.


While you’re wondering what the results of yesterday’s election will mean for us all, here are a few more pieces of odd trivia I’ve stumbled across recently....

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, over 511,000 people in the United States receive medical treatment for ladder-related injuries each year.

In November, 1926, the ship City of Bangor encountered a powerful ice and snow storm near Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The ship, carrying 220 new automobiles, mostly Chryslers, was forced aground off Keweenaw Point. Eighteen cars had already been blown off the ship’s decks into Lake Superior, never to be recovered.

The remaining vehicles, cut free from the ice over the next month or so, were taken to be stored in Copper Harbor. The following March, U.S. 41 was plowed for the first time ever (it took two weeks to clear the road from Copper Harbor to Phoenix, a distance of less than 20 miles) and a parade of the surviving Chryslers began their trip back to Detroit for repairs.

The last privately owned motor vehicle on Mackinac Island was a 1928 Buick. Its owner fought efforts of locals to ban it for several years, finally losing in court and ordered to stop driving it in 1935. He stored it on blocks in his garage for 40 years, before eventually selling it in 1975. It was shipped by barge to St. Ignace.

Also in 1975, a bullet-proof limousine was transported to the island under cover of darkness for the possible use of President Gerald Ford. Secret Service agents demanded that a car be available before the President could visit. Ford used the traditional horse-drawn method of transportation during his stay, and the limo was removed after his departure, again after dark, with few island residents ever aware of the presence of a dreaded motorcar.

Someone must have been in big trouble after over a million copies of Robbie William’s CD “Rudebox” were made but went unsold. I’ll admit it, I never heard of Mr. Williams in the first place, but how can you manufacture over a million more albums than you can sell, no matter who the artist is? That’s just market research at its worst.

I’m even more puzzled by the solution. The unsold CDs are being shipped to China, where they supposedly will be used to pave roads. How exactly they plan to do that may be a subject for a later column.

The first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line on June 30, 1953. Or most likely was pushed off, as it refused to start.

The British ship Lusitania, sunk by Germany at the start of World War I, still lies beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Except, that is, for one of its propellers, which was salvaged and made into 3,500 sets of golf clubs.

Seven years after the World Trade Center attacks, the post office next to the attack site still receives about 300 letters a day addressed to offices in one of the towers.

With the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in doubt and the current popularity of alternative fuel vehicles in the marketplace, have they considered a return of the 1964 Chrysler Turbine car? Fifty cars were made at the time for testing purposes, but the car was never put into production. Designed to run on diesel, it turned out that any flammable liquid would power the car without adjustments or problems.

Fuels used at one time or another in the test cars included unleaded gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, peanut oil, home heating oil, perfume and tequila. 

John Reagan, a former U. S. congressman, was named Postmaster General of the Confederate States of America by Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1861. Despite functioning in wartime conditions that crippled delivery service, Reagan still managed to eliminate the monetary deficit that existed in Southern postal operations.

Arrested at the end of the war, Reagan was later pardoned and, incredibly, re-elected to the U. S. Congress. There, his postal expertise was recognized when he was named as chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.

Maybe Reagan should have been put in charge of the Pony Express. With rates as high as $5 for a half-ounce letter when normal U. S. postage was no more than a dime, the Express still lost money and lasted only 18 months.

Famous people who used to work for the Postal Service include Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Rock Hudson and William Faulkner. But, strangely,  no mention of Newman or Cliff Claven.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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