Columns

2011.10.19 Have you had your daily ration of new factoids?

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY 

It’s not as bad as taking your medicine. Just read on and absorb a brand new batch of factoids. It can’t hurt. Really, it can’t.

The city of Cleveland, Ohio owes the spelling of its name to the typographical needs of a newspaper.  Calvin Noble, founder and publisher of the “Cleaveland Advertiser,” discovered his chosen name was too long to fit on one line on the paper’s front page in the type size he wanted.

His solution was to remove the first “a” from Cleaveland, enabling the rest of the paper’s name to fit. Over time, people came to accept the shorter version, permanently changing the spelling to Cleveland with only the second “a.”  

Isle Royale National Park, off the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is the only place on Earth where moose and wolves co-exist without the presence of any bears. But a park with no bears doesn’t sound like a park I’d want to visit.

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” About 73 million viewers tuned in, at the time a record for a television program. For those other acts on the show forced to follow the Fab Four, it was practically a career killer. That is, except for one Broadway actor who probably had no idea at the time what effect the Beatles would have on his future.

The cast of the show “Oliver” also appeared on the Sullivan show that night, doing a short performance from the play. Just two years later, a television series starring a manufactured Beatles-like rock band hit the airwaves. “Oliver”  and Sullivan alum Davy Jones was hired to play one of “The Monkees,” who were for a time nearly as famous as The Beatles themselves.  

 Back in 1961, the Chrysler Corporation was looking for a new president. Several top executives from competitors were approached, as was American Motors Corporation president George Romney, who passed on the offer and instead successfully ran for governor of Michigan.

Next, the Chrysler search committee zeroed in on a famous public figure who was then out of work. Former Vice President Richard Nixon, who had recently lost an extremely close 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy, was offered the presidency-of Chrysler, not the United States. 

He turned down the offer, and the position eventually went to Chrysler vice president Lynn Townsend. But just think how history might have changed had Nixon taken the job instead of staying in politics. And how do you think today’s cars might have looked after years of Nixon’s influence?

Ever visit the state of Sequoyah? Obviously not, but the eastern part of present-day Oklahoma applied for statehood under that name in 1905. With the organization of surrounding states, a much larger Indian Territory was by 1890 reduced to just the current Oklahoma boundary, minus the panhandle region. During that year, the western part of Indian Territory was organized as Oklahoma Territory and the unorganized “Neutral Strip,” roughly 167 miles by 34.5 miles was added to the new territory, giving it a “panhandle.”

When citizens of the remaining Indian Territory tried to join the union, opposition by President Teddy Roosevelt and Congress killed the plan. Two years later, citizens of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories asked for admission as a combined single state. Now named simply “Oklahoma,” the joined areas were granted statehood in November, 1907.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway sits on a 963-acre parcel, bigger than either the principality of Monaco or Vatican City, as well as a few other countries. The 269 acres within the actual racetrack walls could contain Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, Churchill Downs, the Roman Colosseum and four Pentagon buildings at the same time.

At one period in its history, Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge factory contained 2,900 drinking fountains, all with water temperature kept between 55 and 60 degrees. I’m not sure about the Rouge plant, but it’s said the Indianapolis Speedway has 2,200 toilets. Pretty impressive, I guess, but hopefully Rouge workers didn’t have to travel that far for a bathroom. 

 That’s enough factoids for now. Until next time, feel free to make your own pit stop.

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