Column: There’s always time for trivia


One of the good things about never throwing anything away is having an endless supply of trivia items to write about. Whenever there is a lull in what’s going on in my world, I dig into my dusty filing cabinet.

Back in 1995, a local printing company published a trivia mailer designed to inform and amuse, probably with the idea that once informed and amused, readers would flock to the firm and get something printed.

I don’t know how well it worked, but here are a few of the informative and amusing items included:

The only President to get stuck in the White House bathtub was William Howard Taft. The man weighed more than 300 pounds, and after getting stuck in the normal size tub in the residence, he ordered a new one big enough for four men. He also had his dining room chair reinforced with steel.

On the flip side, the only president to weigh less than 100 pounds was James Madison. He was only five-feet-four and tipped the scales at 98 pounds, a size that would have enabled him to bathe in the kitchen sink and in the Rose Garden birdbath during the summer.

A ball player by the name of Joel Youngblood has the distinction of the only man to get a hit for two different teams in the same day. In 1982, he was playing for the New York Yankees. After hitting a single in the third inning, he was pulled from the game and told he had been traded to the Montreal Expos. Unfazed, he caught a plane to Philadelphia where the Expos were playing, suited up and hit a single in the sixth inning.

As unlikely as it seems, there once was a Queen of England who never set foot in England. In the 12th century, Berengario, the daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, married Richard the Lionhearted in Cyprus. She reigned for eight years during which she spent a lot of time in France and Italy but never visited Merry Old England. She did, however, accompany her husband for a short time during the Third Crusade.

It’s an election year, so here’s a political story. In the 1970s the people of the little town of Picoaza, Ecuador, were disappointed with all the candidates running for mayor. A foot deodorant company, meanwhile, encouraged customers to “vote for Pulvapies,” a popular foot powder. Pulvapies got enough write-in votes to win the office.

There is no evidence that Pulvapies ever took the oath of office, or that James Madison ever took a dip in the White House birdbath.