The unfortunate dwelled for 69 years

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– I guess U.S. Secretaries of State used to have more time. When Thomas Jefferson held the office, he personally examined each patent application and graded the inventions on merit. He directly gave an approval or denial for each submission.

– Our Liberty Bell was not rung in joyous celebration on July 4, 1776. Folks had the bell ready, but somehow everyone with access forgot the bell existed. Finally, someone remembered. It was July 8, 1776.

– The English did not commonly use table forks until 1601 when Elizabeth I began using one while dining. Until then, meals were eaten using knives and spoons and fingers. Actually, much of the nation’s clergy preached that fork-using was an insult to the Almighty because diners should touch meat with one’s hands “in remembrance of our Lord.” I suppose my clan does not intend to insult our Lord as they almost always use fingers while eating “whatever,” even cereal.

– It was in 1636 when the General Court of Massachusetts Colony set aside 400 pounds (money) to establish “some sort of schoale or colledge” and to locate the building in Cambridge. The “schoale or colledge” became Harvard University.

– King Louis XIV had pretty much everyone afraid to speak out. Rumor reached the “Sun King” that an Irish lad, age nine, had openly joked about the monarch’s balding head. The irate king summarily had the boy imprisoned (1674) in the famous Bastille where the unfortunate dwelled for 69 years.

– Many movies depict scenes from the Great Saharan Desert showing camels (Dromedaries), no matter the year depicted. Research indicates that camels did not arrive to the Sahara before 200 A.D. The strange beasts were imported from Arabia, long after Christ died.

– Records indicate that Elizabeth Taylor had exactly 65 costume changes for the movie Cleopatra (1963).

– A string of exceptionally strange events: On July 28, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy and his wife Margherita dined at a restaurant. Several of the wait staff commented on the striking physical resemblances shared by the restaurant owner and the king. The owner and king were introduced. Both were born on March 14, 1844. Both were married to wives named Margherita. The Grand Opening of the restaurant and the king’s inauguration occurred on the same day. The restaurant owner was shot dead the next day. So was Umberto I. Egad.

– The bones of an adult owl weigh less than its feathers. Well, use caution when kidding French kings – and have a splendid day.

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