Trivia is such a trivial pursuit

Published 12:00am Saturday, May 11, 2013

Back when our small family got together often, we sometimes played trivia games. Some took pride in learning, storing, and spouting trivia. I was not one of them. I tried to keep away from those games when I could in defense of concealing my ignorance.

But recently when I ran across some fascinating trivia, I decided to toss a few facts to you for your enjoyment. If you are a trivia enthusiast, you might even know it all anyway.

Do you remember one of the first things you learned about Abraham Lincoln in grammar school? For me, it was the fact that he was the first president born in a log cabin. Do you have any idea who was the last president born in a log cabin? I didn’t, but here are some clues for you. He was the first left-handed president and the first one to use a telephone. His birthday was Nov. 19, 1831. If your answer was President James Abram Garfield, you were right.

Have you ever heard of passenger pigeons? Maybe not. They are extinct—since 1911. The last one died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoological Garden in 1914. One source said that an Ohio youth killed the last wild one in 1900. Those birds lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to their demise.

If you like Wild West stories, maybe you have read that a woman named Pearl Hart and a male accomplice pulled off the last Wild West stagecoach robbery in 1898. In researching that story, however, I found claims it was untrue. Hart did rob a stagecoach, but one source said the last actual stage robbery occurred on Dec. 5, 1916, near Jarbridge, Nev. During that hold-up, a man killed the driver and absconded with more than $3,000 worth of gold coins.

Speaking of hold-ups, Jesse James’ last one was a train robbery in 1881 at Blue Cut, Mo. They found so little money when they broke open the train safe that some of the James gang turned to passengers to collect money, jewelry and watches.

Focusing on wartime trivia, I found that it took only four months to establish 16 World War I camps to train draftees and volunteers. I learned that the State of Tennessee earned its nickname, the Volunteer State, after it filled its military quota for World War I entirely from volunteers.

Have you ever been a soap opera fan? Did you listen to radio soap operas before soaps exploded on daytime television? The first radio daytime soap opera, “Painted Dreams,” was the saga of Irish-Catholic Mother Moynihan and her family. It originated in 1930. I never dreamed that a soap went that far back.

Here’s something we are familiar with in south Alabama. Did you know that of the more than 3,000 species of nasty, disgusting cockroaches, only four species are common household pests? That’s four species too many, in my opinion.

Trivia game, anyone?

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