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Columns

Reflections: The 'Wonderful World of Color' began 68 years ago today

Indian Summer seems to have arrived in the Fox Valley with a vengeance, as Mother Nature scatters her golden and scarlet leaves across the landscape.

Of course, we can’t leave well enough alone so far too many of us have to burn those colorful leaves, which in turn, causes a lot of smoke, which I imagine is really giving Mother Nature a slow burn.

Anyway, it’s fall, it’s sunny, the corn and beans are both coming out of the fields just fine with some of it already on its way to the waterway, and so it must be time to open our junk October mail. Indeed it is, and so, here are a few disturbing facts none of us would even have pondered if I hadn’t opened all my mail – even my junk mail – each and every day (the mail carrier showed up out in front of the Matile Manse).

Hanging a coat on the bedpost, it was once believed, would prevent nightmares. Ha, ha. Those folks in olden times were really humorous. Now, of course, we know that copper socks and healing crystals are the best ways of mellowing our bad vibes out.

Indians were no slouches at agricultural genetics. Besides inventing corn, Indians also early on recognized the beneficial effects of planting beans. Beans fix nitrogen with their roots, and that helps corn – which depletes nitrogen in the soil – grow better. The Indians planted beans with their corn and squash, both for their food value and because of the help the rotation gave the soil.

If you were born in October, your gemstone is the opal.

Quick – what are the two novels buried in the 1939 New York World’s Fair time capsule? Hunter S. Thompson wasn’t writing then, so we can forget “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The two works were “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell and “Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis.

An object traveling at the speed of sound would take 14 years to reach the sun. Or you could take a train to the sun. But if you do, please make sure the dining car is well-supplied. A train traveling at 60 mph would take 176 years to get to the sun.

October is both American Cheese Month and Apple Month, which is especially handy for those folks who like a little cheese with their apple pie.

Dinosaurs, Dodo birds, and liberal Republicans aren’t the only things that have become extinct. Of the 250 known alphabets in the history of written language, only 50 are still alive today. And half of those are being used in India.

The safety razor was invented by – I’m not making this up – King Camp Gillette in 1895. And I bet you’ve always thought your mother gave YOU a funny name.

Cry your eyes out, dentists. Among the largest human teeth scientists have found are those of Java man, who lived a million and a half years ago.

Tabasco sauce, in case you’ve always wondered, is named for the state of Tabasco in southeastern Mexico.

If you definitely would not like to live on a liquid diet, don’t wish to be an ant when you trick the Leprechaun into giving you three wishes. Adult ants can swallow nothing but liquids. Suppose they’d like a Bud Lite? Me either.

Geographers think there may be as many as 30,000 islands in the Pacific.

Lefties, don’t despair. The two greatest Renaissance artists, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, were both left-handed.

On this date in 1929, James Cash Penney’s department store company opened a new store in Milford, Delaware. And with that, Penney’s became a national company with a store in each of the lower 48 states. Which was all there were at the time, of course.

When it gets tired of looking at the world from beneath the surface of a pond, the Australian walking fish can not only survive out of water, it can actually climb trees to feed on insects. Or maybe scientists have misunderstood. Maybe the fish is just looking for a good spot from which to perform high dives.

Can you top this, golfers? In March 2014, 14-year-old Cale McLellan, the son of San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, was playing in a tournament at the Santa Teresa Golf Club Short Course in San Jose, California, when he hit consecutive holes in one on Holes 8 and 9. Even so, he only managed to come in third in the tourney.

Bert Loomis’ name isn’t exactly a household word, but it should be. Bert was the first professional basketball player to use the dribble in a game.

Time to reach out and touch someone? The last pole of the transcontinental telephone line, which linked the East and West coasts, was erected in 1915.

One out of three Americans lives in an apartment or a rental house.

Here’s some late-breaking news: The state with the greatest number of roller skating clubs is California, with over 100.

No wonder the fake (and admittedly somewhat creepy) Col. Harlan Sanders looks so happy in his television commercials – Americans consume an average of 58 pounds of chicken per year per person.

Speaking of October news, it was on this date, Oct. 11, back in 1950 that the Federal Communications Commission issued the first license to broadcast television in color. CBS, by the way, got that first license.

One of the fastest stock rises in history occurred on Feb. 11, 2011, when Gateway Industries’ stock price rose 20,000 percent, from its long-time price of a single penny to $2.97 a share on news the company was being acquired by businessman Robert F.X. Sillerman.

Finally, today’s travelin’ on fact: The average person, in the course of a lifetime, walks a distance equivalent to almost three times around the equator.

• Looking for more local history? Visit historyonthefox.wordpress.com.

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