Dazzle your friends and family with these nuggets of historic trivia. You’ll be crowned Master of Brilliance at the next barbeque, party or get-together!
- Rich American men wore make-up until 1840, when Martin Van Buren lost his chance at a second presidency after his opponent mocked how many cosmetics he had on his dressing table.
- Imagine a time when there were no pain-killers. Soldiers who were wounded in battle usually had their injured limbs amputated. To get them through this agony, a surgeon would strap the soldier down and give him a soft lead bullet to bite into. This reduced screaming and gave the soldier a way to vent. It also gave us the phrase, “biting the bullet,” which means to take pain like an adult.
- In 1867, an average of four New York pedestrians were killed each week by horses. That’s slightly more than the city’s weekly traffic fatalities today.
- In 1908, a man named Jack Norworth and a friend wrote a song called “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” As you know, it is now sung at all professional baseball games in the United States. But Jack Norworth had never actually been to a baseball game before he wrote this song. When Norworth finally did go to one, many years later, he wasn’t very impressed.
- In 1940, comedian Gracie Allen ran for president on the Surprise Party ticket. To make fun of the very remote possibility of a woman being elected, her campaign slogan was “It’s in the bag.”
- In the 1940s, a new soft drink appeared in Tennessee. Its label stated that it would “tickle your innard,” and featured pictures of outhouses. Since it was designed to be mixed with homemade alcohol, there were also pictures of stills on these first bottles of . . . Mountain Dew!
- Mullet nicknames: shorty longback, Camaro crash-helmet, haircut o’ death, Kentucky waterfall, hockey hair, Tennessee tophat, New Jersey neck-warmer, ape drape, Missouri compromise, Canadian passport
- In 1982, a group celebrated new tax cuts by baking the world’s largest apple pie. Free pieces of the pie were to be handed out at the Washington Monument. (It’s symbolic!) But five protestors showed up and dove right into the huge pie. As shocked onlookers watched, the protestors rolled around in the pie pan, yelling, “It’s all for me!” The protestors were arrested and no one got ANY pie.
Excerpted from The Pocket Guide to Brilliance
Text © Bart King
Go forth and be brilliant! Share the wealth of knowledge you have gained from this post with family and friends. Why shouldn’t they be brilliant too?!