DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Aug 25 2014

The Know Nothing vs. Alex

by Hope L

Alex1Remember a while back when I said I was a Know-It-All?

Well, when I’m watching Jeopardy (with your host, A-LEX TRE-bek!) and the Final Jeopardy question is U.S.  Presidents, I arrogantly jump for joy.  You see, I pride myself on knowing a lot about the presidents.

I was perusing the stacks of DCPL the other day, and a title leapt out at me: So You Think You Know the Presidents? Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives.  I had to read it just to confirm (yet again) that I do indeed know a lot about the presidents.  The Know-It-All in action!

Well, it turns out I don’t know all that much about the presidents.  Truly.  Sure, I can name them all, in order.  I can usually tell you who is what number, as in Grover Cleveland was number 22 and 24.  But when I began reading this fascinating book (yes, I know I say that about every book I blog about!) I was dumbstruck.

Like, take this about Theodore Roosevelt:

“…He was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, when a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him.  The bullet lodged in his chest after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket.  Roosevelt concluded that since he wasn’t coughing up blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately.  Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping onto his shirt.  He spoke for 90 minutes.”

I mean, can you imagine?!  First of all, it’s a very good thing he wore eyeglasses and that he wrote a very wordy, 50-page speech!  And second, can you imagine this happening today?  Why, the Secret Service would have a cow.

Many of the tasty tidbits in this tome had me wanting to dial up Alex Trebek and ask, “Did you know that…,” because, SURELY, even the sage of game-show fame does not know THAT.

Imagine the smirk on my face as I ask Alex why Abraham Lincoln decided to grow a beard:

Alex: “Hmmm … well, Hope, I’m not sure …because it made him look older?

Hope: “WRONG!  No, of course it was because eleven-year-old Grace Bedell wrote him a letter suggesting that he do so!  The letter was written on October 15, 1860, just before the 1860 election.  He had NEVER worn a beard before!”

Alex (mouth agape, eyebrows raised):  “Um … really?”

Of course, for casual readers, this volume might not be up your alley, but for your real Know-It-All’s like yours truly, it’s a treasure trove of trivia that is fascinating and curious, some of it almost strange.

Hope: “Alex, betcha’ don’t know the only president to have officially reported a UFO sighting…”

Alex: “Hmmm … well, Hope, I’m not sure… “

Hope: “JIMMY CARTER!  (in Leary, GA, in 1969, seven years before he became president and two years before he became governor of  Georgia).”

Alex (smiling, eyebrows raised): “Um … really?”

Oh, and btw y’all:  The former president who later ran for office as a member of the Know Nothing Party?

“Who is Millard Fillmore.”  I’m calling Alex…

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dea Anne M August 27, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Thanks, Hope, for the entertaining post. I always thought that I would make a great contestant on Jeopardy but then I run into such categories as “Physics” or yes, “U.S. Presidents” and I know that it wouldn’t take me long to get clobbered and sent home.

Hope L August 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Thank you, Dea Anne. Yes, I would never make it as a contestant for many reasons: World Georgraphy, Opera, Chemistry, NFL, Algebra, aging synapses …

Joseph M August 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Nice post. I love Jeopardy and would love to be a contestant, but I definitely have areas where my knowledge would likely be less than adequate. What really kills me is when there is a category that I think I’ll do great with, but then all the questions still throw me off. Still, I try out every time they have the online audition tests.

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