New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Cemetery contains 16,000 headstones and only one statue, a life-size sandstone carving of Army private Dennis O’Leary, who died in 1901 at age 23.

Legend has it that O’Leary was stationed at lonely Fort Wingate, where he carved the statue himself, inscribed the death date, and shot himself. Military records show that a Pvt. Dennis O’Leary died of tuberculosis on this date. But then who carved the statue, and why?

Officer Material

Three privates in the Army Air Forces caused some confusion when they showed up at the advanced flying school at Mather Field in California in 1942.

Their names were Admiral C. Allen, General Rudolph Merriweather, and Lieutenant Garnes. (Berkeley Daily Gazette, Oct. 8, 1942)

General L. Phillips and Lieutenant Tisdale were inducted into the Army (as privates) in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1952. (Lubbock Evening Journal, March 20, 1952)

“Private Colonel Underwood found it convenient to drop the title when requesting hotel reservations while on leave,” wrote Elsdon Coles Smith in The Story of Our Names (1970). “He would say, ‘This is Colonel Underwood speaking.’ It usually worked.”

Dog Tech

With J.R. Richards’ dog exercising device, patented in 1939, your pet can walk himself. Just strap him into the harness above the adjustable treadmill and he can “walk, run or exercise at practically any speed, according to his own desire, and without compulsion, preliminary training or instruction.” (The device is not powered, so the dog controls the pace.)

After his workout, send him through Clem Blafford’s automatic dog washer, below, which will spray him with soapy and then clear water and then blow him dry. “It is undesirable to remove the animal from the housing while it is still wet since the animal in such conditions generally shakes itself vigorously … and this results in the animal handler, the adjacent floor, walls and any others who may be in the vicinity being the recipient of the water.”

Words and Numbers

There are only six integers between 1 and 1,000,000 whose English names contain six letters: ELEVEN, TWELVE, TWENTY, THIRTY, EIGHTY, and NINETY.

As it happens, the same is true in Spanish: CUATRO (4), QUINCE (15), VEINTE (20), MIL UNO (1,001), MIL DOS (1,002), and DOS MIL (2,000).

(Thanks, Claudio.)

Black and White

calvi chess problem

By Calvi. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer


Many of the characters in Lewis Carroll’s stories were suggested by the illustrated tiles that decorated the fireplace in his study at Christ Church, Oxford:

  • At top is the ship that the Bellman steered, though “the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.”
  • At top left is the Lory, who joined in the Caucus-Race in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Below the Lory is the Dodo, who claimed a thimble as his prize.
  • At bottom left is the Fawn that couldn’t remember its name in Through the Looking-Glass.
  • At top right is the Eaglet, another Caucus-Race participant.
  • Below the Eaglet is the Gryphon, also from Wonderland.
  • At bottom right is the Beaver from “The Hunting of the Snark,” the only creature that the Butcher knew how to kill.

One of Carroll’s child-friends, Enid Stevens, supplied these particulars for The Lewis Carroll Picture Book, published in 1899. “As I sat on Mr. Dodgson’s knee before the fire,” she wrote, “he used to make the creatures have long and very amusing conversations between themselves. The little creatures on the intervening tiles used to ‘squirm’ in at intervals. I think they suggested the ‘Little birds are feeding,’ &c., in ‘Sylvie and Bruno.'”


“It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.” — Thoreau


When you think of the hosts without no.
Who are slain by the deadly cuco.,
It’s quite a mistake
Of such food to partake,
It results in a permanent slo.

A young lady sings in our choir
Whose hair is the color of phoir,
But her charm is unique,
She has such a fair chique,
It is really a joy to be nhoir.

There once was a choleric colonel
Whose oaths were obscene and infolonel,
And the chaplain, aghast,
Gave up protest at last,
But wrote them all down in his jolonel.

— Anonymous

Home Made

Sears used to sell houses by mail. Between 1908 and 1940, about 75,000 American families bought kits that included everything necessary to construct a finished house, including nails, screws, shingles, windows, staircases, mantelpieces, and paint. All this would be delivered to the local railroad station, and the customer would assemble it with the help of friends (or, later, local contractors).

With 447 varieties and a wealth of options — customers could choose their own hardware, light fixtures, cabinets, bookcases, and telephone niches — Sears houses have no characteristic appearance. But it’s thought that most of them are still being lived in today.

Case Closed

Another French trial is related of a beggar who being famished went to the door of a victualing house and inhaled the smell of the dinner until refreshed. He was sued by the proprietor for the price of a dinner. He declared he had taken nothing but the plaintiff declared that he had been refreshed at his expense. The justice gave this case a study that might well be imitated by our superior judges and finally decided that as the defendant had been refreshed by the smell of the dinner, the proprietor ought to be compensated by hearing the jingle of the coins.

— H.C. Shurtleff, “The Grotesque in Law,” American Law Review, January-February 1920