Puzzles, quizzes, and “rainy day amusements” have long been a part of the Almanac. As the days grow darker (astronomically) and the merriment of holidays and hospitality rolls on, take a break and test your knowledge about U.S. history and geography.
Improbable Facts about Our Presidents
Do you know …
- Who were the shortest and tallest presidents?
- Who used the White House lawn as a pasture?
- Which president had false teeth made of animal parts?
- Who was the only bachelor president?
- How many presidents have been arrested while in office?
- Which president set a record for handshaking?
- Which president killed a man in a duel?
- Which two presidents were embarrassed while in water?
- Who was the only president to die while a member of Congress?
- Which two presidents could take shorthand?
- Which president’s corpse was the victim of grave robbers?
- Which president was married in the White House?
- Who was the most ardent golfer to occupy the White House?
1. James Madison was 5 feet 4 inches short; Abraham Lincoln was 6 feet 4 inches tall. 2. During World War I, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson pastured 48 sheep on White House turf. During his term, Zachary Taylor’s Army horse, “Old Whitey,” had grazed there, and Mrs. William Howard Taft had found it a convenient meadow for her Jersey cow. 3. At the close of the Revolutionary War, a dentist crafted George Washington a pair of false teeth made from hippopotamus teeth. 4. James Buchanan. 5. Only two—Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Pierce. Grant was fined $20 for driving his carriage well over the Washington, D.C., speed limit. In 1853, Pierce was arrested after he ran down an old woman, but the case was dropped for insufficient evidence. 6. Theodore Roosevelt, who, on New Year’s Day, 1907, shook hands 8,513 times. 7. Andrew Jackson killed young Nashville lawyer Charles Dickinson, who had disparaged Mrs. Jackson’s marital reputation. 8. John Quincy Adams and William Howard Taft. Adams liked to swim in the Potomac on warm summer mornings. Once, he emerged from the river to find that his clothes had been stolen. Taft, our heaviest chief executive at 352 pounds, was said to have become firmly wedged in his bathtub (although the facts behind the story are doubtful). 9. John Quincy Adams returned to Washington in 1831 as a member of the House of Representatives 2 years after leaving the presidency. On February 21, 1848, he rose to speak but collapsed from a stroke and died 2 days later. 10. James Madison and Woodrow Wilson. 11. In 1876, two criminals managed to get Lincoln’s casket halfway out of its tomb before they were arrested. 12. Grover Cleveland was the only chief executive to be wed in the White House. 13. Woodrow Wilson played during both summer and winter, using black golf balls when snow was on the ground.
Using only 13 letters of the alphabet, write the full names of 13 states of the Union.
There are at least six possible solutions. Using the 13 letters ADEHIKLMNOSTU, you can write the full names of 14 states: Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah.
Using the 13 letters ADEHIKLMNORST, you can make the full names of 14 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee.
The other four solutions allow the writing of 13 states each: ADEHIKLMNOSTW, ACEHIKLMNOSTU, AEHIKLMNOSTUW, and AEHIKLMNORSTU.
Rivers Flowing into Rivers
Each of the 20 rivers listed below flows into one of the following rivers: Arkansas, Colorado, Columbia, Hudson, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Potomac, Rio Grande, Snake.
Match each river above with the name(s) of the river(s) below flowing into it:
- Des Moines
Arkansas: 2, 3; Colorado: 6; Columbia: 16; Hudson: 9; Mississippi: 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 19; Missouri: 13, 20; Ohio: 4, 10, 17, 18; Potomac: 15; Rio Grande: 12; Snake: 14.