A homemade trove of useful useless information! Constructed by an eccentric somebody from Cleveland around 1920, there are nearly 50 pages of teriffic tidbits clipped and glued in this used composition book. As blank pages towards the end ran out, maker started to panic and began layering them, so there are leaves and leaves of true facts, one over the other. Gifted by my dear friend Anne, a long lost but now found friend who has retained the charm and beauty of a high school sweetheart.
The world's largest tree? Who invented the parachute? The size of Lincoln's Hat? How much would a million dollars weigh? It is all here, in glorious yellowing newsprint. When a newspaper couldn't fill in all the spaces, the call would go out for a few of these little tidbits. And what would that call be?
Jay Thorwaldson, a long-time member of a printing family, wrote the following to describe these little filler items: "Galleys of short "filler" items—such as a paragraph telling how many llamas there are in Peru—would be kept on hand to fill up small spaces at the bottom of stories. These items were also called "crap," clearly a double-meaning word that came to be synonymous with "filler." Thus, when a printer said someone’s head was "full of crap" it could be a compliment of sorts, meaning the person knew a lot of miscellaneous facts" They would be inserted, glazed over and forgotten. Except for our obsessive bookmaker, who seemingly created the first of the successful "Bathroom Reader" series.
As the newspaper continues to wither, it is increasingly unlikely we will hear anyone scream "I need four inches of crap" but facts are facts, and if you need to know where Jefferson Davis was born or the full first name of Baseball player Ty Cobb, I can tell you.
Useful Information circa 1920