CHARLOTTE, NC, February 3, 2016 – A bit of this and tad of that are the entries in today’s trivia with a combination of poetry, history, idioms and quirky geography.
1 – A revolutionary ride: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized Paul Revere in an epic poem, but did you know that a young female teenager outdid the Boston silversmith in 1777?
Her name was Sybil Ludington who took to her horse, Star, and made a night ride to warn revolutionary forces that the British were approaching. Ludington was only 16 years old at the time, and she rode twice as far as Revere on April 26, 1777.
Sybil raced forty miles through the night to alert her father’s troops that the British militia was planning an invasion of Danbury, Connecticut.
Ludington, the eldest of 12 children, began her ride at approximately 9 p.m. and finished near dawn on a cold, rainy night. During her journey, she defended herself against a highwayman using a long stick before returning home exhausted.
The stick was also used to prod her horse and knock on doors during the ride, and in the process, her efforts aroused more than 400 soldiers.
The only record of Sybil Ludington’s ride was written by her great grandson because the episode was intentionally kept a secret for personal reasons.
Ludington died in 1839 at the age of 77. She was buried next to her father in the Patterson Presbyterian Cemetery in Patterson, New York, but in another quirk of history, Sybil’s first name was misspelled on her tombstone.
Nevertheless, she has been honored since 1979 with a 50-kilometer race each April that approximates the hilly course of Ludington’s. It finishes near her statue on the shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel, New York.
2 – “Here’s mud in your eye”: It’s an odd little toast to be sure, but one with which we are all familiar. So where did it originate? Unfortunately, like so many trivial pursuits, there are multiple theories. Take your pick.
One source claims the saying was popularized by soldiers slogging through the trenches during World War I. Others believe it began long before that as a phrase to symbolize a good harvest among farmers.
For whatever reason, another favorite is that was used in saloons in the U.S. as early as 1890 but supposedly it was also used by English fox hunters before that.
Even the Bible gets into the act when it was opined that Chapter 9 of the Gospel of John mentions medicinal qualities of mud, leading to the toast wishing clarity.
Healing the Man Born Blind
1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.
Back in the day when baseball truly was America’s national pastime, there was a popular song written in 1905 titled Let’s Get The Umpire’s Goat. The lyrics were:
“We’ll yell, “Oh, you robber! Go somewhere and die,
Back to the bush you’ve got mud in your eye!
Oh what an awful decision! Why don’t you put spectacles on?’
Let’s holler like sin, and then our side will win, when the umpire’s nanny is gone.”
That’s about all the dirt we could dig up on the phrase. The choice is yours.
3 – Geographical gems: When you look at a map of the world, it’s hard to believe but the city of Rome is roughly on the same latitude as Boston. Once you accept that tidbit of information, it is not difficult to realize that the French Riviera is north of Boston, while the city of London is actually 700 miles farther north than New York.
Though you probably never thought about it, if someone asked you select the closest point in the U.S. to Africa, what would you say? Most of us would probably not choose Maine, but Quoddy Head State Park in Maine is the nearest location.
At the western end of the “Dark Continent” lies Safi Province, Morocco which is a distance of 7,322 miles.
California is widely known for its “oddities” but in geographical terms it gets credit for having both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States. At 14,505 feet, Mt Whitney is the highest spot while Death Valley is 281 feet below sea level.
And there you have it, the highs and lows of today’s excursion into the wonderful world of trivia.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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