| Weird History Stuff
|These are facts of events that happened in the past that have caused us to do certain things without even knowing why we do them. There are also some random things about the history of certain people. (like you couldn't figure that out)
- Abraham Lincoln's mother died when the family dairy cow ate white snakeroot and Ms. Lincoln drank the milk.
- The city of St. Petersburg, Russia, was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, hence the name, St. Petersburg. But it wasn't always that simple. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Russian leaders felt that Petersburg was too German-sounding. So they changed the name of the city to Petrograd -- to make it more Russian-sounding. Then, in 1924, the country's Soviet Communist leaders wanted to honor the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir I. Lenin. The city of Petrograd became Leningrad and was known as Leningrad until 1991 when the new Russian legislators -- no longer Soviet Communists -- wanted the city to reflect their change of government, so they changed the name back to St. Petersburg.
- While she never lived further west than Ohio, Annie Oakley enjoyed much earned fame as an expert shotgun and rifle marksman in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
- In times before the use of indoor plumbing, large segments of the population were illiterate, so the words "Men" or "Women" on an outhouse door to differentiate between the two was pointless. Therefore, simple commonly recognized symbols, the half-moon and the star, came to represent male and female outhouses, respectively. For some reason, the half or crescent moon remains the traditional decorative symbol of outhouse doors.
- The Ancient Egyptians regarded the dung beetle as sacred, and many would wear figures of these insects as charms
- April Fools Day started in France after the adoption of a reformed calender by Charles IX in 1564. Up till that time, New Year celebration began March 21 and ended April 1. When New Year's was changed, some people still celebrated on April 1. These people became known as "April Fools."
- John Dillinger once broke out of a federal prison by making a fake gun out of soap. He carved the gun with a plastic spoon he stole from the cafeteria and used shoe polish to paint it black. The guard, thinking that the soap gun was real, gave Dillinger his own gun which he knew was loaded. Dillinger was then escorted by this guard out of the prison.
- The army's jeep was not always called that. Instead it was called a general purpose vehicle. It was then shortened to GP (jeep), and the car company just started to manufacture the general purposes vehicles under the name "Jeep."
- The custom of offering up a salutation before drinking came from the ancient Roman practice of dropping a small square of toast into an alcoholic beverage to soak up any remaining sediments before drinking. The salutation was given while the bread did its work.
- Rene Descartes came up with the theory of coordinate geometry by looking at a fly walk across a tiled ceiling.
- If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
- Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
- The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
- Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."
- Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
- The term "the whole 9 yards" came from WWII fighter pilots in the South Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."
- The 'y' in signs reading "ye olde.." is properly pronounced with a 'th' sound, not 'y'. The "th" sound does not exist in Latin, so ancient Roman occupied (present day) England used the rune "thorn" to represent "th" sounds. With the advent of the printing press the character from the Roman alphabet which closest resembled thorn was the lower case "y".
- Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny) was allergic to carrots
- Cinderella's slippers were originally made out of fur. The story was changed in the 1600s by a translator. It was the left shoe that Aschenputtel (Cinderella) lost at the stairway, when the prince tried to follow her.
- Until 1965, driving was done on the left-hand side on roads in Sweden. The conversion to right-hand was done on a weekday at 5pm. All traffic stopped as people switched sides. This time and day were chosen to prevent accidents where drivers would have gotten up in the morning and been too sleepy to realize *this* was the day of the changeover.
- The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
- In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it again, Sam." Sherlock Holmes never said "Elementary, my dear Watson." Captain Kirk never said "Beam me up, Scotty," but he did say, "Beam me up, Mr. Scott".
- The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life"
- Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.
- The "huddle" in football was formed due a deaf football player who used sign language to communicate and his team didn't want the opposition to see the signals he used and in turn huddled around him.
- Goethe couldn't stand the sound of barking dogs and could only write if he had an apple rotting in the drawer of his desk.
- The term, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" is from Ancient Rome. The only rule during wrestling matches was, "No eye gouging." Everything else was allowed, but the only way to be disqualified is to poke someone's eye out.
- Sir Isaac Newton was an ordained priest in the Church of England.
- The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland's baby daughter, Ruth.
- In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television's Channel 1 to mobile services (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did not re-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has channels 2 and up, but no channel 1.
- The word 'pound' is abbreviated 'lb.' after the constellation 'libra' because it means 'pound' in Latin, and also 'scales'. The abbreviation for the British Pound Sterling comes from the same source: it is an 'L' for Libra/Lb. with a stroke through it to indicate abbreviation. Sames goes for the Italian lira which uses the same abbreviation ('lira' coming from 'libra'). So British currency (before it went metric) was always quoted as "pounds/shillings/pence", abbreviated "L/s/d" (libra/solidus/denarius).
- The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead".
- Beelzebub, another name for the devil, is Hebrew for Lord of the Flies, and this is where the book's title comes from.
- The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
- Oliver Cromwell was hanged and decapitated two years after he had died.
- Sheriff came from Shire Reeve. During early years of feudal rule in England, each shire had a reeve who was the law for that shire. When the term was brought to the United States it was shortened to Sheriff.
- The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.
- Charles Lindbergh took only four sandwiches with him on his famous transatlantic flight.
- "Testify" comes from the the Roman practice of affirming the truth of a statement made in court by swearing on one's testicles.
- Coca-Cola was once packaged in green bottles, but was never actually tinted green.
- The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.