From Strange Company: “On April 9, 1947, the town of Woodward, Oklahoma was slammed by a tornado. Hutchinson Croft was a successful sheep farmer who lived with his wife Cleta and their two children, Joan and Geri. The tornado flattened their home, killing Cleta, but four-year-old Joan and eight-year-old Geri were only slightly hurt and were brought to Woodward’s hospital. Later that night, as the Croft girls lay together on a cot, two men wearing khaki Army-style clothing came into the hospital basement announcing that they had come for Joan. The men told hospital staff that they were friends of the Croft family, and were taking Joan to Oklahoma City Hospital. But she never got there.”
This World War II plan would have buried soldiers alive in a cave on Gibraltar
From Now I Know: “The British Army dug a maze of defensive tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar during the Second World War, and part of that maze was something called the “Stay Behind Cave,” a two-story bunker. The first floor was a room with bare rock walls and a wooden floor, and up the stairs were two more rooms — a bathroom and a radio transmitting station. The plan was for six British soldiers stationed at Gibraltar to brick themselves into the Stay Behind Cave if Germany were to take over the Rock. The Cave was outfitted with enough supplies to last a year; after that, the soldiers were expected to bury each other in the floor — unless the army could save them beforehand.”
Churchill ordered that his home must always have a marmalade cat named Jock
From Churchill.org: “On leaving their home to the National Trust in 1966, the Churchill family requested that there would always be a marmalade cat named Jock, with a white bib and four white paws, in residence at Chartwell. The National Trust has always honoured this request and has recently welcomed Jock VII, a six-month-old rescue kitten, to the property to take up this unique role. The original Jock was a birthday present to Churchill from one of his private secretaries, Sir John ‘Jock’ Colville, and was named after him. Today’s Jock VII, previously known as Sunshine, was rescued by the RSPCA before being adopted by Chartwell’s Visitor Experience Manager, Viktoria Austen. He was rescued along with thirty other cats from squalid conditions.”
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If you see someone on a TV show drinking a beer, it’s probably a Heisler
From VinePair: “If you’ve ever seen “New Girl,” you’re likely familiar with True American. The fictional drinking game — which is as patriotic as it is confusing — is a favorite among the sitcom’s characters, who play it sporadically throughout the show’s seven seasons. The aftermath usually involves horrific hangovers, divulged secrets, and dozens of empty beer cans scattered across the roommates’ loft. Those bright red cans of suds belong to a brand called Heisler Beer. And though you might be able to cobble together some of True American’s chaotic rules, you’d be hard-pressed to find any Heisler to chug while you play. The beer doesn’t actually exist, but its on-screen presence is so extensive that it’s earned the nickname “the Bud Light of Fake Beers.”
A record number of ancient treasures and antiquities were found in 2022
From the Art Newspaper: “An intricately carved ivory bead showing a lovely young woman on one side and a skull on the other was among the star objects in a record year for treasure and archaeological finds, according to the British Museum. The bead may have come from a rosary broken more than 500 years ago, and was found by Caroline Nunnery, a licensed mudlarker on the Thames, who took up the hobby while recovering from illness. Nunnery’s find joined 53,490 other objects added to the database maintained by the British Museum in 2022 under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which has helped identify thousands of prehistoric, Roman and medieval finds.”
He talked with an astronaut on the space station from his backyard
From Kottke: “A Michigan ham radio operator used a homemade setup with a handheld antenna to talk to an astronaut orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station. The astronaut even sent him a QSL card acknowledging the conversation (included at the end of the video). The ISS even has an unofficial program that allows students to talk to astronauts on the station via ham radio. An almost-all-volunteer organization called Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, now helps arrange contact between students and astronauts on the space station. Students prepare to ask questions rapid-fire, one after another, into the ham radio microphone for the brief 10-minute window before the space station flies out of range.”
Study shows that dancing is the best treatment for depression
Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as “serendipty engines,” such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg’s Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis’s Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton’s The Browser, Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy’s Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova’s The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me.