The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

(Continued from front page)

• All along the way, Audubon was drawing birds. Because cameras and binoculars had not yet been invented, it was necessary to shoot the birds in order to draw them. The birds would be skinned, the skins preserved with arsenic, the empty carcass stuffed with rope, and then the specimen were mounted on sticks with wire in order to be drawn.

• Because Audubon was so often in very remote regions where food was scarce, he typically ate the birds that he drew, taking extensive notes on their taste. “The flesh of this bird is tough and unfit for food,” he wrote of the raven. The green-winged teal, on the other hand, had “delicious” flesh, “probably the best of any of its tribe.”

• During the Civil War, the Confederates took up what they thought was an impregnable position at the Battle of Missionary Ridge during the Chattanooga Campaign. However, the Union Army led by General Sherman successfully forced the Confederate contingent off of the ridge they occupied. As they fled, the Confederates left behind munitions and supplies. General Sherman was so excited about the victory that he straddled a captured Confederate cannon, whooping it up and urging his men forward. Following suit, General Wood did the same thing with the cannon right next to it. However, he did not realize that his cannon had recently been fired and was red-hot. He was sidelined for the two weeks it took his embarrassing burns to heal.

ROSEMARY KENNEDY

• Rosemary Kennedy was born to Rose and Joseph Kennedy in 1918. It was a difficult birth, and perhaps because of that, Rosemary was never quite normal. She struggled to read and write; she struggled with temper tantrums and seizures; and when she was a teenager, she struggled to adhere to societal norms. Joseph Kennedy had high political ambitions both for himself and for his sons, John, Ted, and Robert Kennedy. When the media began paying attention to Rosemary’s misbehavior, he authorized two surgeons to perform a lobotomy on his 23-year-old daughter. At the time, lobotomies were a health fad guaranteed to cure everything from alcoholism to nymphomania. But this lobotomy, performed when Rosemary was fully conscious, went horribly wrong. Afterwards, she was never able to speak more than a few words and was never able to walk or stand again. She spent the next 64 years hidden away, being tended by nurses round the clock. Perhaps due to the guilt of this tragic episode, Rosemary’s sister Eunice Kennedy founded the Special Olympics.

• Boston, Massachusetts, had a thriving rum manufacturing district back in 1919. Molasses was needed in the manufacture of rum, and therefore a tank that held 2.5 million gallons of molasses was built by the United States Industrial Alcohol Company. The tank was sealed with no way to expand or contract. On Wednesday, January 15, 1919, the overnight temperatures had gone from quite cold to reasonably warm. The molasses inside the sealed tank expanded with the heat until it suddenly burst without warning, spilling its entire contents catastrophically. A wall of molasses 15 feet high swept down the streets, carrying off vehicles, swamping buildings, drowning horses, and killing pedestrians. In all 21 people died in the mess, and another 150 people injured. Many were carried to the hospital completely covered in molasses. Even long after clean-up was completed, the locals claimed they could smell molasses for years afterwards whenever the weather was warm.

PESKY ELEPHANTS

• Allan Savory was born on a livestock ranch in Zimbabwe in 1935. He earned a degree in botany in 1955 and then went to work for the game department in Northern Rhodesia. He theorized that the desertification in Africa was caused by thousands of elephants trampling and overgrazing the land. In the 1960s he convinced land managers to work towards killing off the elephants in order to let the grasslands recover. Over 40,000 elephants were slaughtered. Only afterwards did Savory realize that herds of animals moving through a territory are necessary for a healthy ecosystem and that degradation is caused by the animals remaining in one place for too long of a time. He subsequently became the champion of responsible grazing practices and continues his work today, while also working towards the conservation of the elephant herds he worked so hard to remove.

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