A Day’s Work

gehrig mitchell ruth

On April 2, 1931, during an exhibition game between the minor-league Chattanooga Lookouts and the New York Yankees, 17-year-old pitcher Jackie Mitchell found herself facing Babe Ruth.

She struck him out in four pitches. “I had a drop pitch,” she said, “and when I was throwing it right, you couldn’t touch it.”

The New York Times reported that Ruth “flung his bat away in high disdain and trudged to the bench, registering disgust with his shoulders and chin.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball,” he told a Chattanooga newspaper. “Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day.”

Next up was Lou Gehrig. She struck him out, too.

In a Word

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ughten
n. the part of the night immediately before daybreak

“Friendship’s Garland”

When I was a boy there was a friend of mine,
We thought ourselves warriors and grown folk swine,
Stupid old animals who never understood
And never had an impulse, and said “You must be good!”

We stank like stoats and fled like foxes,
We put cigarettes in the pillar-boxes,
Lighted cigarettes and letters all aflame–
O the surprise when the postman came!

We stole eggs and apples and made fine hay
In people’s houses when people were away,
We broke street lamps and away we ran;
Then I was a boy but now I am a man.

Now I am a man and don’t have any fun,
I hardly ever shout and never never run,
And I don’t care if he’s dead, that friend of mine,
For then I was a boy and now I am a swine.

– G.K. Chesterton

Oops

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goldsboro_nuclear_bomb.jpg

In January 1961, a B-52 Stratofortress began leaking fuel near Goldsboro, N.C., and the crew were forced to eject before they could reach Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

They watched as the plane descended toward the tobacco farmland below carrying two 3.8-megaton nuclear weapons. As the plane broke up, it dropped both of them. One smashed into a muddy field, but the other deployed a parachute to slow its descent and activated five of its six arming mechanisms.

It stopped short of detonating, which is good, because it packed more than 250 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

“How close was it to exploding?” asked disposal team commander Lt. Jack B. ReVelle afterward. “My opinion is damn close. You might now have a very large Bay of North Carolina if that thing had gone off.”

Only three years earlier, a similar mishap had occurred over Georgia.

Space Saver

https://www.google.com/patents/US541216

This kitchen cabinet dates from 1895, but it’s as ruthlessly efficient as any modern appliance. The steel frame holds containers for flour, meal, spices, and condiments, and it’s fitted with an egg beater on the left, a coffee grinder on the right, sifting screens, and a scale. Inventor Michael Shanley even stood the whole thing in two cups of water to keep bugs from reaching the meal.

Under the counter is a tiny forlorn drawer marked Miscellaneous. What’s in there?

A Parting Kiss

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In December 1912 Hungarian tinsmith Béla Kiss told his neighbors that his wife had run off with another man. At the same time he began collecting large metal drums, telling the town constable that he planned to stockpile gasoline against the approaching war in Europe.

In November 1914 Kiss was drafted and left for the front, and in 1916 he was declared dead in combat. When soldiers visited the town that June in search of gasoline, the constable directed them to the dead man’s drums. On opening these they found that each contained not gasoline but the body of a nude woman, strangled and pickled in alcohol. A search of the house showed that Kiss had been luring women using newspaper advertisements in the name of Hoffmann, a “lonely widower seeking female companionship.”

In the surrounding countryside authorities found 17 more drums, each containing a corpse. Among them were Kiss’ wife and her lover.

It got worse. In 1919 Kiss was spotted near the Margaret Bridge in Budapest, and police discovered that the Béla Kiss who had been reported dead was in fact another man. In 1924 a deserter from the French Foreign Legion told of a legionnaire named Hoffmann who matched Kiss’ description and boasted of his skill with a garotte. But this Hoffmann himself deserted before police could apprehend him.

In 1932 New York detective Henry “Camera Eye” Oswald, who was renowned for remembering faces, insisted that he had seen Kiss emerge from the subway in Times Square, but crowds had prevented him from reaching him. Kiss was never apprehended, and his final fate is unknown.

Cheap Grace

From an undated letter from Benjamin Franklin to Anne Louise Brillon:

A Beggar asked a rich Bishop for Charity, demanding a pound. — ‘A Pound to a beggar! That would be extravagant.’ — ‘A Shilling then!’ — ‘Oh, it’s still too much!’ — ‘A twopence then or your Benediction.’ — ‘Of course, I will give you my Benediction.’ — ‘I don’t want it, for if it were worth a twopence, you wouldn’t give it me.’

Elsewhere Franklin wrote, “I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully’ than ‘He died rich.’”

For the Record

brabazon pig

On Nov. 4, 1909, English pilot John Moore-Brabazon put a pig in a basket, tied it to a wing, and took off.

The basket read I AM THE FIRST PIG TO FLY.

Misc

  • Fathers can mother, but mothers can’t father.
  • The Mall of America is owned by Canadians.
  • Neil Armstrong was 17 when Orville Wright died.
  • LONELY TYLENOL is a palindrome.
  • 258402 + 437762 = 2584043776
  • “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” — Plutarch

Edward Gorey’s pen names included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Regera Dowdy, D. Awd­rey-Gore, E.G. Deadworry, Waredo Dyrge, Deary Rewdgo, Dewda Yorger, and Dogear Wryde. Writer Wim Tigges responded, “God reward ye!”

Fading Words

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William Barnes (1801-1886) loved language too well. He had written poetry in Standard English from an early age, but in his 30s he switched to the local Dorset dialect, which he felt was more linguistically pure:

Oh! it meäde me a’most teary-ey’d,
An’ I vound I a’most could ha’ groan’d –
What! so winnèn, an’ still cast azide –
What! so lovely, an’ not to be own’d;
Oh! a God-gift a-treated wi’ scorn
Oh! a child that a squier should own;
An’ to zend her awaÿ to be born! –
Aye, to hide her where others be shown!

A philological scholar, he had come to feel that Dorset speech, true to its Anglo-Saxon origins, was the least corrupted form of English, and best suited to paint scenes of rural life. “To write in what some may deem a fast out-wearing speech-form may seem as idle as the writing of one’s name in snow on a spring day,” he wrote. “I cannot help it. It is my mother tongue, and it is to my mind the only true speech of the life that I draw.”

His contemporary admirers included Tennyson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Thomas Hardy, but unfortunately he was right: As Standard English increasingly outmoded his beloved dialect, his poems passed into an undeserved obscurity.

“Had he chosen to write solely in familiar English, rather than in the dialect of his native Dorsetshire, every modern anthology would be graced by the verses of William Barnes,” wrote Charles Dudley Warner. “By reason of their faithfulness to everyday life and to nature, and by their spontaneity and tenderness, his lyrics, fables, and eclogues appeal to cultivated readers as well as to the rustics whose quaint speech he made his own.”