Random Fact Sheet #238 – 40 Surprising Revelations

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1Eva Umlauf

Eva Umlauf

A Jewish girl named Eva Umlauf arrived in Auschwitz at the age of 2 in 1944. Despite her young age, she was tattooed with her camp number: A26959. Getting it was so painful, that she passed out. Her mother was a digit lower. Eva thinks she was the youngest child to have been tattooed who survived.

2. Old books have a particular pleasant smell due to lignin being present in the paper. Lignin is related to vanillin, leading them having a faint vanilla scent.

3. The rainbow lorikeet is a colorful species of parrot native to the forests of eastern Australia. Reportedly, they love showering and sometimes sleep upside down. As intelligent birds, they easily get bored and love to play with noisy toys. When they eat fermented fruit, they can get quite drunk.

4. The marble lions outside the New York Public Library were named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Great Depression.

5. Evidence has shown that during the 7.5 months preceding Elvis’ death (from January 1, 1977, to August 16, 1977), Dr. Nichopoulos wrote prescriptions for Elvis for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables. Going back to January 1975, the count was 19,012.

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6The Great Leveler

The Great Leveler

“The Great Leveler” is a book that argues that the greatest redistributions of wealth in history are during times of war, plague, and catastrophe, citing the Black Death and World War 1 as “actually suppressing inequality, by raising the price of labor.”

7. The Zulu part at the beginning of Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ basically means “here comes a lion; yup, it’s a lion.”

8. Prior to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 being reported in St. Louis, Dr. Max Starkloff had local physicians on high alert and wrote about the importance of avoiding crowds. As the health commissioner, he closed schools, theaters, and prohibited public gatherings. The city had the lowest U.S. mortality rate.

9. Family Video still operates over 500 stores in the US and Canada. They own the real estate where their stores are located and they own all of the media they rent out so they keep all of the profits. This is why they were able to outlast other video rental businesses like Blockbuster.

10. In 2009, a San Diego man named Byron Stuckey was arrested after he placed a bag of urine and fish bait to rot into his safety deposit box in Bank of America because the bank froze his account, leaving him penniless.

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11Top Gun

Top Gun

The Top Gun (1986) movie contained no footage of the actors in the air because they all vomited while shooting.

12. In 1867, after New York City firemen sent a fire engine and fire gears for use in Columbia, South Carolina which was razed by fire during the Civil War, South Carolina promised to return the favor “should misfortune ever befall the Empire City.” After 9/11, Columbia sent a fire ladder truck to FDNY as a gesture from 1867.

13. An interactive museum named Newseum located near the Smithsonian closed in 2019 due to years of financial losses. It stood for the freedom of journalism and displayed items from a German World War 2 Tower to the Unabomber’s cabin to the antenna on top of the World Trade Center.

14. When Joseph Stalin’s first wife died, he was so overcome with grief he threw himself into her grave during the funeral. Later, secret policemen arrived at the funeral, looking for Stalin (as he was a wanted fugitive). He was forced to flee the service early by jumping the graveyard’s fence.

15. Folk Singer Phil Ochs was paranoid that the FBI was spying on him, saying, “I’m a folk singer for the FBI” in 1966. In reality, the FBI had hundreds of pages on file, but Ochs never committed a federal crime. He continued to be under investigation until his death by suicide in 1976.

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16Mystery Box

Mystery Box

In 2019, a woman in Spain gave her neighbor a ‘box of sex toys’ to hold on to. About 6 months later the neighbor noticed a stench coming from her closet where the box was stored. She finally opened it and found a decomposing severed head inside. It belonged to the original woman’s husband.

17. To increase the circulation of dollar coins, in 2008 the US Mint allowed individuals to purchase in bulk with free shipping. It was quickly exploited as a way to gain frequent flyer miles. People purchased coins with a credit card, then deposited them at their bank to pay the bill, cost-free.

18. In 2010, a fed-up Jet Blue flight attendant named Steven Slater announced his resignation over the PA system upon landing. He then grabbed 2 beers from a beverage cart and exited by deploying the plane’s emergency slide.

19. When Martin Short appeared on the Today Show in 2012, one of the co-hosts commented on how Short has one of the greatest Hollywood marriages and asked: “why they were still madly in love?” Short replied because he’s “cute.” His wife had died of cancer in 2010.

20. The Schulze-Boysens were a married couple who were members of the German high society. They were also anti-Nazi activists who formed a resistance group known as the Red Orchestra. They were caught and executed in 1942 but the Red Orchestra continued throughout the war as an espionage network.

21John Smeaton

John Smeaton

John Smeaton, an airport worker who kicked an attempted suicide bomber in the nuts during the 2009 Glasgow Airport attack was later awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

22. In the ancient Roman city of Puteoli, there was an octopus that would sneak into kitchens through the sewer and eat pickled fish.

23. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is a big Lord of the Rings fan, and under the pseudonym ‘Ingahild Grathmer’ helped to illustrate the Danish version of the book.

24. Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, produced over 179 adult-humored commercials for Wilkins Coffee from 1957-1961. The commercials followed a formula of one muppet creatively harming the other.

25. In World War 2, destroyer crews loved to rescue downed pilots, because the reward for returning them to their carrier was 10 gallons (38 liters) of ice cream.

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