Columns

2010.08.25 More fun and foolishness, straight from The Factoid File

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Here’s another batch of miscellaneous knowledge I’ve come across while looking for something else.

Only two of our first 37 presidents, James Garfield and Harry Truman, were left-handed. But of the seven most recent chief executives, only two, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, were right-handed. Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama don’t have much else in common, but they’re left-handed, every one.

In more gruesome presidential news, ever have a desire to see the blood-stained clothing Jackie Kennedy was wearing when President Kennedy was assassinated? I can’t imagine why most people would, but the items are being held at a National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland, in a humidity- and temperature-controlled vault.

I doubt anyone reading this will ever see the clothing, though, because an agreement with the Kennedy family bars it from public view until the year 2103. If you do live that long, don’t expect to see Jackie Kennedy’s pink pillbox hat on display. Its whereabouts is not known.

Back in the 1920s and until he was killed in an airplane accident in 1935 flying with aviation pioneer Wiley Post, humorist/comedian/author/actor Will Rogers wrote a daily newspaper column for several hundred newspapers around the country.

Always on the go, Rogers would usually write his column on a portable typewriter carried off to whatever movie location or personal appearance he was doing at the time. With some time on his hands before his next movie, he jumped at Wiley Post’s offer to accompany him to Alaska for a few days.

Rogers and Post died in what first looked like a minor crash after takeoff from near Barrow, along the state’s northern tip. Found among the luggage was Rogers’ typewriter, still holding his unfinished final column. The final word he had written was “death.”

In the early days after the introduction of Wheaties cereal, product endorsements from athletes were as important to the marketing mix as they are now. Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey were two early pitchmen of the cereal. And then there was Maria Rasputin.

Billed as “Europe’s Sensational Wild Animal Trainer—Fearless Daughter of Russia’s Mad Monk,” Miss Rasputin goes on to say, “To start the day right, I always recommend Wheaties.”

And who’s going to argue with her? She is pictured next to a lion which looks almost as mean as she. Somehow, I can’t keep from looking at her eyes. It has to be among the weirdest (and scariest) product endorsements of all time.

What? You’d like more presidential factoids? OK, here goes...

George Washington grew marijuana in his garden.

One of our presidents actually believed the world was flat. Think for a minute...no, Dan Quayle was only vice president, try again...give up? The winner is Andrew Jackson! And, our ancestors elected him twice!

Andrew Johnson taught himself to make clothes. After taking office after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, he made clothes for his cabinet, as well.

As noted earlier, President Garfield was left-handed, but apparently only as the writing of English was concerned. Other sources claim he could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other...at the same time!

Due to the large amount of threatening letters received by Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House after husband Franklin’s election, the Secret Service convinced the First Lady to carry a handgun in her purse.

Smokey Bear’s Zip Code is 20252. Let me know if he answers.

Supposedly, the only Civil War movie ever made without a battle scene is “Gone with the Wind.”

More popcorn is sold every day in Dallas than any other city.

The biggest-selling restaurant food is french fries.

If you wished to see as well as an owl after dark, you would need eyeballs as big as grapefruits.

And last, but not least, remember rubber bands always stay usable longer when stored in your refrigerator. That’s all for now!  Keep watching for more useless knowledge!

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