Uncle Sam and… Chef Boyardee?

by Barbara Whitener

Old and moldy. Boring. Just some of the descriptions of federal and state government publications. But look a little deeper and you will find some that are odd, quirky, surprising, and very interesting.

Capone draft card

Draft registration card for Al Capone.

Want to see the World War I draft registration cards for Groucho Marx, Chef Boyardee, Moe of the Three Stooges, Al Capone, T.S. Eliot, J.C. Penny, Louis Armstrong, and Charlie Chaplin? The National Archives has them all and more on a web page. Oh yes and for George McWhorter, the draft registration card for Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The final score was the Roaring Gimlets 62 the Pig-Stickers 49. The Alaska State Library writes about a baseball game in Alaska in 1893 when it was 38 degrees below zero. Not your average game. Read the link to see who won.

Remember the “Mean Joe Greene” coke commercial? You can see this and more on the site Fifty Years of Coca-Cola Television Advertisements from the American Memory, Library of Congress collection. Presented are advertisements, outtakes and experimental footage. Also included is a timeline and brief history of television advertising.

What are Perseid Fireballs? That hot candy? No, Wikipedia tells us that the Perseids are a “prolific meteor shower” that people have noted for about 2000 years. Perseids will be active July 17 – August 24, 2013 with peak activity August 11-12 (thanks Wikipedia). NASA has a video at

Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller

Have you heard the one about….? The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has a website that has the Phyllis Diller Gag File and information on Phyllis Diller. How did the housewife become a comedienne and work with Bob Hope and many other stars? She put it this way: “I became a stand-up comedienne because I had a sit-down husband.”

Have you heard of a Robonaut? NASA explains that a Robonaut is a “dexterous humanoid” robot built to help “humans work and explore in space.” There are four Robonauts that can assist astronauts with tasks using their versatility and quickness. They also do those mundane tasks over and over without complaining.

“You get attacked by army ants, bullet ants. You get bitten by wasps. There are snakes and diseases. You sleep on hammocks for days” is how Jeff Chambers of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory describes working in the Amazon “counting trees.” His specialty is tree mortality and the carbon cycle. He jokes that these five years in the Amazon is “probably one of the craziest things they’ve ever done.”

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