Fascinating Facts by Kearney and Ray

Fascinating Facts

By Mark Kearney and Randy Ray

Mark Kearney of London, Ont. and Randy Ray of Ottawa are the authors of nine books about Canada, with sales of more than 50,000. Their Web site is: www.triviaguys.com They thank Laura Lee, whose book The Name’s Familiar, was an invaluable source in the preparation of this article.

Heading to the sunny south in the next few weeks?

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If yes, you’ll cross paths during your trip and once you reach your destination, with dozens of names connected to everything from food, beer and wine, to clothing, cameras, automobiles and universities.

The names are familiar but did you know there are actual people connected to many of them? People who inspired, conspired, or were just plain unlucky enough to have their names immortalized? 

Read on to learn about some of the everyday folks whose names have been part of our everyday life — and indeed, your travels — for many decades.

… Samuel Adams: if you’ve ever stopped for a cold one as you’ve wound your way down the eastern seaboard, you’ve likely heard of Samuel Adams, who despite his connections to brewing, achieved far more success after he failed in the beer industry. Adams was the son of a Boston maltster who tried his hand at brewing but turned to politics after learning beer making was not his calling.  He quickly rose to prominence in the Massachusetts Assembly in the mid-1700s and helped recruit many people to the Patriot cause.  He later rebelled against tea and was one of the men behind the famous Boston Tea Party, and worked for the creation of the Continental Congress before becoming the representative for Massachusetts. Tip one back for Sam Adams!

… Paul Stroganoff: hunger pangs are a hazard of the job when driving south, and tucking into beef stroganoff is one way to satisfy your appetite. The dish is named for Count Paul Stroganoff, a 19th century Russian diplomat who was fond of thinly sliced beef fillets, sautéed and served with mushrooms and sour cream. When others grew fond of the count’s creation, they began referring to it by his name. No beefs about that.

… John Purdue: while zipping through Indiana, you’re bound to see or hear about Purdue University. It’s named after John Purdue, who died in 1876 and had no family to carry on his name. Purdue was buried in an unmarked grave on a university campus but donated $150,000 to found a college in Lafayette, Indiana. That college was later named Purdue University. Go to the head of the class, John.

… Ludwig Doberman: crime is a hot topic in many of the states you pass but less so, we’d like to think, thanks to Ludwig Doberman. In 1890, while working as a watchman in Apolda, Germany, he began experimenting with dogs to help him do a better job as a guard. He combined a German shepherd, a Rottweiler, a black and tan terrier and a German pinscher to create a new breed, the Doberman pinscher, which was first used as a watchdog and later in police and military work.

… William Scholl: no one likes sore or tired feet, especially when strolling is a big part of a vacation. Folks young and old can thank William Scholl for their good foot health. The Indiana native began his career as an apprentice shoemaker and when he heard customers complain of foot pain, he was inspired to become a foot doctor. By the time he had worked his way through medical school in Chicago he held more than 300 patents for foot treatments and soon unveiled his first product, an arch support known as the Foot-Eazer. In 1907, he patented the name Dr. Scholl and the rest, as they say, is heel-story.

…  John Hertz: if you fly to the sunny south, you may need a rental car to get to the golf course, or for occasional day trips. While searching for the best price on a sub-compact or luxury vehicle, you’re likely to come across the Hertz name. John Hertz was a native of Austria who moved to Chicago at age five. As a young man he was involved in many careers, including a newspaper reporter, the manager for a boxer, and a horseless carriage salesman. In 1915, he launched the Yellow Cab Company. In the early 1920s he expanded into the rental car business by starting a company called Drive-Ur-Self, which was later acquired by General Motors and renamed Hertz Rent-A-Car. Hertz, you might say, had a lot of drive.

… Eddie Black: when you packed for your trip, you likely tossed a camera into the back seat. If you purchased it at a Black’s outlet in Canada you dealt with a chain launched by an icon of the photography business — Toronto native Edward Frederick Black. The son of a grocery merchant, Black worked at the Toronto Radio Company before setting up his own shop in 1930, where he sold radios and major appliances. With King George and Queen Elizabeth about to visit the city, as part of their 1939 Royal Tour, he saw potential in adding cameras to his retail mix. He later opened a store that sold only photographic equipment and as Canadians became more interested in photography the company expanded like a telephoto lens, eventually becoming a chain of more than 200 stores. The operation was eventually sold to a major camera company. Eddie Black died in 1971.

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