President John Tyler’s grandsons are alive

mullet over

– According to scientists, bears do not hibernate. Many go into a sound sleep termed “torpor.” Bears in this “denning period” can be rather easily awakened as more than one curious explorer has dangerously discovered. Biologists sometimes refer to the condition as “winter lethargy.” I think I may have experienced some of that. Only one bear species thrives in regions of the Southern Hemisphere. That would be the Andes-dwelling Speckled Bear, which resides at elevations that can exceed 15,000 feet.

– Speaking of the Andes: botanists claim that it was in those mountains approximately 10,000 years ago that two native legumes were cross-pollinated. A hybrid freak plant resulted. The f. plant reproduced and the peanut plant was “born.”

– At 3:17 on Thursday, March 18, 1937, a horrifying blast occurred at a town named New London, Texas. An estimated 64,000 cubic feet of methane gas had accumulated under the floors of a recently finished public school building when a machine shop teacher flipped the switch on an electrical sander, igniting a devastating explosion. 280 students and 14 teachers were fatally injured.

– A regulation American Football field covers almost exactly 1.3 acres of real estate.

– John Tyler served as our 10th president 1841-1845. He died in 1862. Here’s where things get a little weird: Two of President John Tyler’s grandsons are alive now as this column goes to press. Sort of amazing?

– The product Play-Doh was initially sold as wallpaper cleaner. Later (1956), it was retailed as modeling clay intended for children to use for fun and creativity. More than 3 billion yellow cans of the product have been vended in America.

– The current manager of the Fossil Collection at our Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.) was asked how many fossils were in the institution’s possession that had yet to be expertly examined and evaluated. The answer was “about 41,000,000 in the paleobiology collection.” Only 2% of the fossils have been subjected to published research.

– The 1918-1919 influenza outbreak was a modern plague that spread horror through much of the world, including the U.S.A. Twenty-five million people in the U.S. contracted the highly contagious disease. Approximately 50% of U.S. military deaths in WWI were the result of the flu epidemic. Some famous people who were infected, but survived included: Walt Disney, Edvard Munch, General John J. Pershing, Franklin Roosevelt (future president), Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and President Woodrow Wilson (collapsed at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference). Some unfortunates who did not survive their flu infections: The Dodge Brothers (John & Horace) and Donald Trump’s grandfather (Frederick Trump). I wish you a plague-free enjoyable week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at