The study of history is often useful for helping shed light on issues facing the present, and looking to the past can often make us think differently about the world and our role in it. After all, as the old adage goes, those who don’t learn from the past are often doomed to repeat it, and even historical incidents that may seem like mere trivia often contain a germ of wisdom for the present.
However, many facts about the past are often very strange, funny, and at times deeply unsettling. This trivia ranges from Bugs Bunny possibly saving a man’s life to a beer flood that devastated a poor neighborhood in London. Be sure to vote on which factoids are the most difficult to wrap your head around.
Fans of the Looney Tunes cartoons are familiar with Mel Blanc. In his decades-long career, he was responsible for creating the voices for several iconic characters, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, and Tweety Bird. It turns out these characters were much more than just a livelihood for the prolific voice actor - they might have saved his life.
After suffering severe injuries from a car accident in 1961, Blanc was in a coma. For some time, it seemed as if he might never emerge, until one of his doctors asked “Bugs Bunny, how are you doing today?” This triggered something in Blanc, who responded “Myeeeeh. What’s up doc?” He ultimately recovered, going on to live until 1989.
The 1920 presidency of Paul Deschanel was brief but eventful. He suffered from a number of health issues, some of which caused him to behave somewhat erratically; this, in combination with other types of instability in his administration, led to his resignation after only seven months in office.
Even more extraordinarily, Deschanel also fell out the window of a moving train. While on an overnight trip headed toward Montbrison, he began feeling overheated, so he opened a window - and accidentally tumbled out. No one on board noticed his self-defenestration for some time. The first person he encountered near the railroad tracks, a signalman, didn’t believe Deschanel's claim when he said he was the president of France. Fortunately, he soon found someone who did.
London has been the site of several notable disasters, including the Great Fire, which destroyed large parts of the city in 1666. One of its more unusual incidents, however, is the Beer Flood of 1814.
When a giant vat burst at the Horse Shoe Brewery in the St. Giles Rookery area, it sent a tidal wave of beer (more than 100,000 gallons) through the poor neighborhood. Unfortunately, many of the victims were women and children. The brewery in question was not punished; in fact, it was given a tax rebate. Those who lost their livelihoods and homes received nothing.
US President Theodore Roosevelt was a man of iron determination, and he took great pride in his masculine persona. He was also convinced he was the right man to lead the country, even after he didn’t receive the Republican Party’s nomination (it went to his VP, William Howard Taft).
Roosevelt then launched his campaign with the Bull Moose Party. While he was giving a speech during a campaign stop in Milwaukee, WI, would-be assassin John Flammang Schrank shot him. However, given that the bullet was significantly slowed by a folded-up speech and glasses case in his pocket, Roosevelt went on to deliver the rest of the speech before allowing himself to go to the hospital. Fortunately for Roosevelt, he survived the injury, but unfortunately, he did not win the presidency.
Few events in the 20th century would come to have such enormous consequences as the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an event that triggered the global conflagration known as World War I. However, in a twist of fate, this infamous event almost didn’t happen. In fact, the first planned assassination of Ferdinand failed, and subsequently, the Archduke planned to take a different route out of the city of Sarajevo.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t communicated to the drivers, who took the original route, right by the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, who was thus able to shoot both the Archduke and his wife Sophie at point-blank range.
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A Train Dispatcher Sent A Warning, Likely Saving Hundreds Of Passengers, Moments Before He Lost His Life
History is full of extraordinary acts of heroism, moments in which brave individuals perform feats that sometimes cost them their lives. Canadian train dispatcher Vincent Coleman was one such person. In December 1917, when he realized a ship containing numerous munitions was going to explode and devastate the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, he sent a hurried message to an inbound train, warning its crew of the danger.
It’s unclear whether his message actually kept the train from arriving - it was already running late - but Coleman's action still stands as an extraordinarily heroic move by an individual who, by all accounts, was a regular family man.