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Columns

Reflections: So it was H.W. Largelamb who invented the telephone?

It’s an interesting take on fall that in England they just sort of give you a blank look when you mention the season. Then, when you explain you mean autumn, the lights go on and somebody’s home again. Turns out, fall is an Elizabethan term, a small piece of old-fashioned lingo that’s managed to survive in our everyday speech here in the New World.

As the season moves along, we have Thanksgiving, among other things, to look forward to. My son maintains Thanksgiving is the best holiday because all you have to do to celebrate it is be thankful and eat. No presents, no pressure.

But speaking of pressure, mail carriers all over the nation are gearing up for the holiday mailing frenzy. They’re already weighed down every day they make their rounds with tons of catalogs, and in a month, they’ll be weighed down with all the stuff people ordered by mail from those catalogs, not to mention the rest of the stuff they've ordered online.

But neither snow nor rain nor dark of night nor catalog nor online orders will keep them from their appointed rounds, which also include hauling stacks of junk mail, some of which finds its way into our mailbox here at the Matile Manse. They know if they don’t haul it, more will be there tomorrow until the pile reaches critical mass. So to help out the nation’s beleaguered mail carriers, here are a few things I never would have found out if I hadn’t opened all the mail each and every day our faithful mail carrier showed up out front.

Alexander Graham Bell, the great inventor, wrote for National Geographic magazine under the pen name H.W. Largelamb – an anagram of his real name.

The oldest Earth rocks ever discovered are more than 4.36 billion years old. That’s even older than Queen Elizabeth.

Tequila, that libation of our neighbors south of the border, is obtained from the heart sap of the mescal cactus.

Paprika comes from the capsicum pepper plant.

November’s official gemstone is Topaz, and the official November flower is the Chrysanthemum.

The word “companion” comes from a combination of the Latin words for “together” and “bread.” That means a companion is, literally, someone with whom you share bread.

The first known machine for manufacturing paper bags was built in the 1860s.

Patagonia in South America got its name from the Spanish word for “big feet.” The Indians that lived there when the Spanish arrived were tall guys and gals who favored large boots that they stuffed with grass for insulation from the cold weather.

The world’s largest zoological reserve is the Etosha National Park in Namibia. It was originally established in 1907 and now covers about 7,722 square miles.

The display the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents erected at the Institute of Personnel Management Conference in Harrowgate, England, collapsed as soon as it opened.

Japan is called Nippon or Nihon in the Japanese language. Historians believe the Italian pronunciation, “Cipango,” by Marco Polo is the root of the English name of the island nation. Does anyone really care?

Bet you don’t know what the full name of Little Eva, the famed character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" is. It’s Evangeline St. Clare.

November’s full moon is known as the Full Snow Moon by our Native People.

George Washington was the only president to receive all the nation’s electoral college votes twice, in the 1788 and the 1792 elections.

Ever wonder what "Fantasia," the title of the Disney classic film of 1940 really means? The literal definition is “a free musical composition structured according to the composer’s fancy.”

The only head of government in the 20th century to give birth to a child while in office was Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in January 1990. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave birth to a daughter in 2018, becoming the only 21st-century elected leader to give birth while in office.

People born around mid-November were conceived around Valentine's Day.

Scholars have identified more than 1,000 versions of the Cinderella fairy tale. Versions have developed in countries ranging from China to France and Germany to Turkey.

Why are telecommunications companies going from good-old copper wire to fiber-optic cable? One fiber-optic cable about the size of a human hair can carry as many as 4,000 telephone conversations, as well as several television signals.

Ever wonder how those famous artists managed to make enough money to paint? French impressionist Claude Monet got the money he needed for freedom to roam the French countryside and paint by winning 100,000 francs in the 1891 lottery, which made him financially independent.

November is Fun with Fondue Month, Native American Heritage Month and National Novel Writing Month. So what are you waiting for? Get busy at that keyboard, bucko.

Cortez not only butchered the Aztecs and any other Native People he could lay his hands on, but when he returned to Europe in 1519, he was the first to bring chocolate from the New World.

On Nov. 7, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition got its first look at the Pacific Ocean. Members spent the winter on the Pacific shore before turning around and heading back east in 1806.

During its history, Ellis Island in New York Harbor processed millions of immigrants. The very first to go through the process, on Jan. 1, 1892, was Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland.

The fastest fish in the sea is the swordfish, some of which have been clocked at 68 mph.

The ring-tailed lemur, a primate found only on the island of Madagascar, meows like a cat.

The word “laser” is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

Finally, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, a French chemist, developed margarine in the late 1860s as a butter substitute. He dubbed it “oleomargarine,” because of its chief ingredients, beef fat, called oleo, and mararic acid.

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

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