Frank B. Adams, born in 1847, was a professional carom billiards player – in the days when you used your fingers to ‘shoot’ the ball rather than a pool cue. To shoot the ball, you placed it between your thumb and forefinger and ‘snapped’ it into action.  Billed as the “Digital Billiard Wonder,” the “greatest of all digit billiards players” and the ”Champion digital billiards of the World,” his playing often drew exhibition crowds of more than 1,000 spectators. His greatest game came in 1878 in Gilmore Gardens in New York where he played against William Sexton who, at that time, was the reigning pool cue champion of the world. Adams won the three-day competition.  He died in 1923.

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As part of his duties as King of Prussia, Frederick William I, King of Prussia, (1688-1740), went to a prison in Potsdam to hear petitions for pardons. One after another the inmates came into his presence and told the king how they were innocent of any crime and were in prison because the judge had been prejudiced, witnesses had lied or their lawyers were incompetent. Cell by cell the king proceeded through the prison listening to tale of woe, disaster and prejudice. He came to one cell where the prisoner had nothing to say.

“Well, I suppose you are innocent too,” asked the king with a smile.

“No, your Majesty,” replied the prisoner. “I am guilty and richly deserve what I got.”

“Here, turnkey,” yelled the king. “Come and get rid of this rascal quick before he corrupts this fine lot of innocent people that you are responsible for!”


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This photograph intrigues me. Why?  Because these salmon left this stream five years ago when they were fry. They have never seen a grizzly bear. But here they are giving the bear a wide berth. They know it is a predator.  How do they know that?  Answer: it had to be in their DNA.  This picture is solid, scientific proof that tabula rasa is false. If salmon were born with no mental content and had to learn all from experience or perception, they would not know this grizzly was a predator. But they do know. If fish can inherit mental content, then human beings must be able to do so as well.;


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One fateful day in the 1870s, the James Robinson Circus traveled to Middleton, Missouri.  As was usual in those days, the circus made a parade circuit around town.  To drum up business, management told the circus band to ride on top of the lion’s cage and perform as the circus made its circuit. The band told Robinson this was not a good idea as the top of the cage was probably not strong enough to support ten men and their instruments.  Management disagreed and the band mounted the lion’s wagon.  All was going well until the driver of the wagon tangled the reins and the horses took off at a gallop.  But they did not gallop long. The wagon hit a large rock and the jarring motion – along with the weight of band – caused the roof of the lion’s cage to collapse.  Seven members of the band fell into the lion’s cage. Four were killed and three were badly mauled before they were pulled out of the lion’s cage.;

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Two of the best known singers of all time are Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.  But not many people know the songs that made them famous were written by Otis Blackwell.  Born in Brooklyn in 1931, Blackwell tried to become a singer. That didn’t work so he settled for songwriting. At that he was a smashing success. His song “Don’t be Cruel” was snapped up by Elvis Presley and the song spent seven weeks at Number 1 in 1956. The next year “Great Balls of Fire” sung by Jerry Lee Lewis sold one million copies in its first week and today it is one of the best-selling singles in music history. Blackwell wrote more than a thousand songs which sold more than 200 million copies. Those songs included “Return to Sender,” “Breathless,” “Handyman” and “Fever.”  Legend has it Blackwell was challenged to write a song about a bottle of Pepsi which had been dropped and was fizzing.  He did and the song hit Number One on April 13, 1957 – and stayed there for eight weeks.  The song?  “All Shook Up.”

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Here’s a trick question:  Who was the first President of the United States. For most people the answer is obvious: George Washington. It may be obvious but it is in error.  George Washington was not the first President of the United States.  He was the first President of the United States under the United States Constitution but not the first President of the United States. Depending on how you want to define “United States,” below are a list of men who served as “president” before George Washington.

Prior to the convening of the First Continental Congress, two others took place. Their presidents were:

The following men served as the President of the First Continental Congress:

  • Peyton Randolph (September 5, 1774 – October 21, 1774) and
  • Henry Middleton (October 22, 1774 – October 26, 1774)

The following men served as the President of the Second Continental Congress:

  • Peyton Randolph (May 10, 1775 – May 23, 1775)
  • John Hancock (May 24, 1775 – October 31, 1777)
  • Henry Laurens (November 1, 1777 – December 9, 1778)
  • John Jay (December 10, 1778 – September 27, 1779)
  • Samuel Huntington (September 28, 1779 – March 1, 1781)

Under the Articles of Confederation, the following men served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled:

  • Samuel Huntington (March 1, 1781 – July 9, 1781)
  • Thomas McKean (July 10, 1781 – November 4, 1781)
  • John Hanson (November 5, 1781 – November 3, 1782)
  • Elias Boudinot (November 4, 1782 – November 2, 1783)
  • Thomas Mifflin (November 3, 1783 – October 31, 1784)
  • Richard Henry Lee (November 30, 1784 – November 6, 1785)
  • John Hancock (November 23, 1785 – June 5, 1786) Due to Hancock’s failing health the following two people acted as president in his stead:
    • David Ramsay (November 23, 1785 – May 12, 1786)
    • Nathaniel Gorham (May 15, 1786 – June 5, 1786)
  • Nathaniel Gorham (June 6, 1786 – November 5, 1786)
  • Arthur St. Clair (February 2, 1787 – November 4, 1787)
  • Cyrus Griffin (January 22, 1788 – March 4, 1789)

Historians generally credit John Hanson with being the first President of the United States because the first government of the United States was the Article of Confederation. The Articles were proposed on June 11, 1776 but not approved until March 1, 1781. The Articles established the office of President and John Hanson was elected unanimously by a Congress that included George Washington. Hanson served for one year, the term of office under the Articles, and in those 365 days he quelled a mutiny in an army that had not been paid, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, created the Great Seal of the United States we still use today, established the first Treasury Department and first State Department. He also declared the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

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At precisely 12:02 pm, a century ago this September 16th, a massive bomb exploded on Wall Street in New York.  Just before noon, a wagon, driven by person unknown, parked on the curb beside J. P. Morgan at 23 Wall Street. A fuse was lit and moments later 100 pounds of dynamite went off sending 500 pounds of cast-iron sash weights slicing into the lunch crowd. The blast was so powerful it derailed a streetcar a block away and sent shrapnel soaring to the 34th floor of the Equitable Building. Thirty-eight people were killed instantly and 143 sustained injuries. The only bit of good luck was the survival of Joseph P. Kennedy, father of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Theodore “Teddy” Kennedy. Joseph P. Kennedy was only lifted off his feet by the blast. Had the blast comes seconds later, American history would have been changed substantially. The case was never solved. BUT, it has been speculated by historians – and his own relatives – that the perpetrator was an Italian anarchist by the name of Mario Buda. Here is the composite of the bomber beside Buda.  Buda died in Italy in 1963.

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Every historical era has its acronyms, legends and heroes. If you are a millennial, it will take you a while to decipher this license plate holder. If you are over 50, it will come quickly. So will terms like carriage return, dimmer switch, “top end floor” and “hang ten.”  If you want a trip down memory lane, ask your grandparents what 52/20 meant, what a 78 was and what you needed to listen to a 45. And, if your great grandparents are still alive, ask them if this is a photograph of the great grandparent of Yahoo?

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The single, most important reason to read history – ANY HISTORY – is because things do not change. The human character is the same today as it was in the cave.  And, since the cave, the rich have controlled 85% of whatever was used as money and ‘the rest of us’ fought over the 15% that was left. I find this particular photograph – excuse the pun – a snapshot of history.  Taken in about 1890, it lists this man’s name “Has No Horses.”  Apparently he ‘got no horses’ over his lifetime and you can read the  ‘fiscal despair’ in his face. A century and a half after he was born in to a ‘poor Indian family’ we have the same problems today. The rich still control 85% of the money and the rest of us scramble for the remaining 15%.  Don’t believe me? As this is being written, the unemployment rate in the United States is staggering, millions of families are wondering if their parents will ever get another job – and the stock market is in record;

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François Rabelais, the great French writer of the 1500s, was a master of creative thinking. He had an unconventional view of the world and was thus able to wring fortunate outcomes from adverse circumstances. Once, for instance, far from his home in Paris, he found himself without cash and stranded in the countryside. Not one to let such trifles stand in his way, the clever French humorist booked himself into a convenient roadhouse and asked for the best room in the house. Alone in his room he sealed two small envelopes on which he wrote “Poison for the King” and “Poison for the Dauphin.” Then he went out for a sumptuous feast that, of course, he could not pay for.

But he was careful to leave the small packets in plain view because he was sure the landlady would pilfer his belongings while he was out.

He was correct in his presumption. As soon as the woman entered the room she spotted the apparent packets of poison on the table. Frightened she might be harboring an assassin; she immediately reported her findings to the local constabulary. The rural gendarme, not accustomed to handling high treason and not wanting to be considered part of any conspiracy, immediately arrested Rabelais and shipped him to Paris under heavy guard. Rabelais, who had many friends in court, was immediately released when it was discovered that the envelopes were full of a mixture of ash and tobacco. Everyone at the court of Francis I had a good laugh over his clever ruse.

But Rabelais never had to pay for his lodging and meal in that remote roadhouse.

He never had to pay for his trip home to Paris either.;

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