Heavenly Form

The U.S. Customs Service received an odd bit of paperwork on July 24, 1969:

apollo 11 customs form

All three Apollo 11 astronauts signed the form, which was filed at the Honolulu airport on the day they splashed down.

“Yes, it’s authentic,” NASA spokesperson John Yembrick told Space.com. “It was a little joke at the time.”

See Business Trip and Space Bills.

Scales of Silver

The president of New York’s Tradesman’s Bank in 1829 was named Preserved Fish. The Fishes were a well-established New England family, and Preserved was a Quaker name that meant “preserved in a state of grace” or “preserved from sin.”

“The story that Preserved Fish was picked up on the shore of the ocean when a child, and named Preserved in consequence, is pure fiction,” reads a rather humorless 1890 history of the New York Chamber of Commerce. “His father’s name was Preserved, and it is highly probable that the same name was given to the son, in order to perpetuate it in the family.”

Black and White

black and white

By Auguste D’Orville. White to mate in two moves.

Click for Answer

Track Shoes


With these special soles, patented by the United Shoe Machinery Corp. in 1968, you can leave animal tracks in natural surroundings, “for the purpose of serious instruction or for games and amusement.”

The tracks shown here match those of a Kodiak bear cub. So now you can have an anxious mother bear follow you through the woods. Good, right?


In 1990, weary of repetitive interviews, Phillies pitcher Don Carman posted this list of responses on his locker. “You saw the game,” he told reporters. “Take what you need.”

  1. I’m just glad to be here. I just want to help the club any way I can.
  2. Baseball’s a funny game.
  3. I’d rather be lucky than good.
  4. We’re going to take the season one game at a time.
  5. You’re only as good as your last game (last at-bat).
  6. This game has really changed.
  7. If we stay healthy we should be right there.
  8. It takes 24 (25) players.
  9. We need two more players to take us over the top: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
  10. We have a different hero every day.
  11. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.
  12. This team seems ready to gel.
  13. With a couple breaks, we win that game.
  14. That All-Star voting is a joke.
  15. The catcher and I were on the same wavelength.
  16. I just went right at ’em.
  17. I did my best, and that’s all I can do.
  18. You just can’t pitch behind.
  19. That’s the name of the game.
  20. We’ve got to have fun.
  21. I didn’t have my good stuff, but I battled ’em.
  22. Give the guy some credit; he hit a good pitch.
  23. Hey, we were due to catch a break or two.
  24. Yes.
  25. No.
  26. That’s why they pay him _____ million dollars.
  27. Even I could have hit that pitch.
  28. I know you are, but what am I?
  29. I was getting my off-speed stuff over so they couldn’t sit on the fastball.
  30. I had my at ’em ball going today.
  31. I had some great plays made behind me tonight.
  32. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.
  33. You saw it … write it.
  34. I just wanted to go as hard as I could as long as I could.
  35. I’m seeing the ball real good.
  36. I hit that ball good.
  37. I don’t get paid to hit.


A Mr. Smith was attacked at night, about a fortnight ago, in the neighbourhood of Hexam, by three men, who dragged him from his horse, and threw him on the ground face downwards. They made no attempt to rob him, nor did they utter a syllable. Mr. Smith also held his tongue until feeling the teeth of a saw enter into the flesh at the back of his neck, he exclaimed — ‘What are you doing with me?’ On hearing his voice, one of the men observed with an oath — ‘It is not him!’ And all three immediately departed. These barbarians had obviously been upon the look-out for some object of revenge, whom they had intended to destroy by means of the instrument we have mentioned.

The Times, Dec. 19, 1821

False Plaid


In 1871 a man calling himself Lord Gordon-Gordon arrived in Minneapolis. He said he had come to purchase about 50,000 acres of Minnesota land to resettle some tenants from his ancestral estates in Scotland. After selecting the land he traveled to New York, ostensibly to arrange a transfer of funds. There his apparent wealth attracted financier Jay Gould and editor Horace Greeley, and the three formed a partnership to gain a controlling interest in the troubled Erie Railroad. Gould gave his new friend $1 million in cash and securities as a gesture of good faith.

When Gould discovered that Gordon-Gordon was selling these, he realized he had been conned, but the swindler fled to Canada before he could be tried. There he escaped an attempt to kidnap him and eluded capture until 1874. When officers finally confronted him with charges of larceny and forgery, he drew a revolver and shot himself.

To this day, his real identity remains unknown. A Scottish peer he certainly was not: It turned out that before coming to America he had swindled Englishmen and Scotsmen out of some $50,000 while posing as “Lord Glencairn.” “Whatever and whoever he was,” writes historian Edward Harold Mott, “he had genius enough to deceive the shrewdest financiers, the greatest editor, and the most brilliant lawyers of this country.”

“Unearned Increment”

morley - unearned increment


“As a general rule, nobody has money who ought to have it.” — Benjamin Disraeli

The Virtue of Education


From an 1895 Strand feature on eccentric ideas, a mortarboard that “may be opened as shown during times of elemental disturbance.”

“It is to be unfolded and folded in a similar way possible with ungummed envelopes. By what manner of means it is to sustain its four unfolded corners, no man (even the inventor himself) knoweth.”