The Alabama Indians used cotton to line the openings of their moccasins.
This caused some confusion when they would tell the white man,
"I love walking on cotton-mouthed moccasins."
Prolonged exposure to the elements during an Alaska winter can cause
a person to see things that aren't really there, a phenomenon known as an
Arizona's Painted Desert, part of Petrified Forest National Park,
has been temporarily shut down. The EPA discovered that
some of the paint used was lead-based.
The town of Pocahontas, Arkansas, was named after the famous Powhatan
princess, who was, of course, from Virginia, but she once stopped in
Randolph County on her way to Hot Springs to watch
the horse races at Oaklawn Park.
The original pronunciation of California (Kah-lee-FORN-ya) was all but lost until
Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor.
In Colorado's Mile-High Stadium,
every seat is in the nose-bleed section.
Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" is the
story of Hank Morgan waking up back in medieval times.
A telephone survey of nine Hank Morgans currently living in the state
found none of them claiming time travel, but one of them reported
being held against his will for
four hours on an alien spacecraft.
Irving Gordon wrote a hit song, "Delaware," which made punny questions out of
several state names, such as "Where has Oregon?" and "How did Wisconsin?" The answers
were other state puns. The first verse is supposed to sound like
"What did Della wear?" with the answer being "her new jersey." However, Gordon's
original version was "Of what was Dell aware? That every time Al ask a silly question,
he get a silly answer."
Chances of California sliding into the ocean after a major earthquake: 7.6%
Chances of Florida sinking into the gulf under the weight of
all the Yankee retirees:
thirteen and a half percent.
Hanging from many trees in Georgia is an air-fern-like plant called Spanish moss.
This sounds like the Spanish "mas," which means "more," which
sounds like the Moors, who invaded Spain from Africa, which is across
the Atlantic from Georgia, which is why
the capital is named Atlanta.
In Hawaii, the word "aloha" has multiple, even sometimes contradictory,
meanings. It is used for "love," "pity," "hello," "goodbye," and "pardon me
but you're in my parking place." It is conjectured that the inspiration for
this multifaceted word comes from an older, more primitive culture,
The state motto of Idaho is "Esto Perpetua," which is Latin for "It lasts
forever." The inspiration for this motto was the first governor's
Think about it.
Although Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, Illinois really is
"the land of Lincoln," being the only state where he owned a house or a
business, the only state where he held office, the only state in which he was buried,
and the only state whose
capital city is named . . . oh wait . . .
One of the great songs in the Broadway show "Music Man" is entitled
"Gary, Indiana." The lyrics read, in part,
"Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, . . .
Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, . . .
Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, . . .
Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, . . ."
This demonstrates an oft-used device among lyricists known as
Iowa's budget deficit has grown to the point where there is
a bill in front of the state legislature to change the official
pronunciation from "I-owe-AY" to
Despite the depiction you've seen in the movie "The Wizard Of Oz,"
the rest of the world is not Technicolor while Kansas is all
black and white.
It's more like sepia-toned.
I kinda like my grass to be green and the water blue. But Kentucky is the
home of bluegrass and the Green River.
Oh yes, and rednecks.
Not all of Louisiana is swampland, and not everyone speaks a French dialect.
In Bienville Parish, there is a place where you can walk the length of a
football field without getting your shoes wet, and there are
23 people in Baton Rouge who speak Vietnamese.
If you stand on Maine's Cadillac Mountain and face east early in the morning,
you might be the first person in the U.S. to see the sun come up that day.
And, if you read the annual "Census of Vehicles and Visitors to
Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park,"
you might be the first person to fall asleep.
The state bird of Maryland is, as you know, the Baltimore Oriole.
The state junk food is the Baltimore Oreo, the state antique truck is
the Baltimore REO, the state restaurant is the Baltimore Aria, and
the most densely populated part of the state is
the Baltimore area.
In the Charlestown section of Boston, Massachusetts,
there is a hill named Breed's Hill. On it is a obelisk named the
Bunker Hill Monument, built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker
Hill, which was fought on Breed's Hill. As Norm Crosby put it,
"The Battle Of Bunker Hill was not fought on
One often-used demonym for people from Michigan is "Michiganders."
A singled-out woman, then, is a Michigoose.
Minnesota claims to have 11,842 lakes that are ten acres or more in size
(but it rolls off the tongue more smoothly to call it "Land Of 10,000 Lakes").
Assuming an average of only 17,000 mosquitoes per lake, and that only half of them
are the blood-sucking females, the CDC has proposed the nickname
"Land Of A Hundred Million Tiny Vampires."
If you took all the nails manufactured in the United States in a single year
and placed them end to end starting at the Tennessee state line
and stretching southward across Mississippi,
they would rust.
Due to earwitness accounts, several well-known personages, including
Franklin L. Wadsworth, Emilia Kesterson, and Marcus Galbreath,
were mistakenly reported to have died in Missouri,
when in fact
they died in misery.
Everyone is familiar with Montana's Little Bighorn battle fought by
upstanding Sitting Bull and sensible Crazy Horse.
Few people know about some of the other participants:
Nebraska produces enough corn to supply ample raw material for
Frito-Lay, amateur comedians, and
Two related statistics:
Nevada's biggest industry is tourism,
and it has the highest crime rate of any state.
The connection between the two is left as an exercise for the reader.
I questioned state officials about it, but apparently,
"what happens here is a penny earned."
Until recent years, The Old Man Of The
Mountain was New Hampshire's most recognizable landmark. From a certain
vantage point, a series of rock
formations on Cannon Mountain gave the illusion of a man's profile. Erosion
finally took its toll, as was prophesied in the Bible, Genesis 4:6, which reads,
"And why has your countenance fallen?"
New Jersey is home to a legendary gargoyle-like creature known as the
Jersey Devil, which has been accused of such evil activities as killing livestock,
scaring tourists, and
hiding people's keys under seat cushions.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to have a passport
to visit New Mexico from the United States; however,
it is helpful to be able to say some things in Spanish,
so here you go:
I wondered how long a New York minute was, so I traveled there
and timed it. To my surprise, it was exactly sixty seconds long. It
wasn't until I got home that I realized that those were
New York seconds.
The town of Mayberry, North Carolina, is fictional of course. But
Barney Fife is a real person. Sort of. Except his real name is Bernie Piccolo.
And he's not a deputy, he's a security guard. And his girlfriend's name isn't
Thelma Lou, it's Thelma, and her sister is Lou.
Theodore Roosevelt claimed that he would not have become president if he
had never lived in North Dakota. That may or may not be true,
but I'm certain that
I would never have been police commissioner of
Gladstone if I hadn't lived there.
Ohio is well known as a swing state.
and canopy swings can all be found there.
Since the state is also well known for rubber products,
the most appropriate type is
the tire swing.
One year, the state's tourism bureau came up with the slogan
"Oklahoma is OK." This caused neighboring states to try
some equally underwhelming slogans of their own, including
"Kansas is about average" and
"Arkansas will do in a pinch."
Although the name Oregon is of unknown origin, it was used by the
writer Origen, who was known for playing the
organ, cooking with oregano, and dabbling in origami.
Coincidence? I don't think so!
The Religious Society Of Friends is prevalent in Pennsylvania.
Outsiders tend to call them "Quakers." The founder of the state was
William Penn, a member of the society, hence the nickname
Quaker State. This is not to be confused with the Quaking State,
which, of course, is
The oceanfront areas of Rhode Island were relatively pollution-free
until the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival saw the arrival of
South Carolina's Strom Thurmond had an unusual political history.
He was first elected to the U.S. senate on write-in votes, switched
parties along the way, and was still in office after his 100th birthday.
Despite his racist views, he fathered a child by one of his black employees.
Talk about a colorful career!
In South Dakota, there's a place that used to go by an Indian name that,
roughly translated, means
"get-on-your-horse-in-a-bigger-hurry." Later, the name was shortened to
"Mount! Rush More!"
Did I mention that thing about
the three states of Tennessee?
Everything's bigger in Texas. We're reminded of that every time an out-of-state
vehicle completely disappears into
an open storm sewer.
The desolate alkali plain in Utah known as the Bonneville Salt Flats
actually has many valuable uses: filming movie scenes, setting land speed
records, and . . .
okay, maybe just two uses.
Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were born in Vermont, and
now there are about 4000 Mormons there. At the same time, there are
5000 Jews even though
neither Moses nor Joshua was born there.
Virginia was named for Britain's Queen Elizabeth I, who
was dubbed the Virgin Queen because of her love
for wearing virgin wool, which, as you know,
comes from ugly sheep.
The typical state flag has the state seal on a blue field, but Washington's
has the state seal on a green field. Well, they are the Evergreen State.
I can cedar reasoning. It spruces up the appearance.
I'm all fir it.
West Virginia University's School Of Engineering, the state
department of transportation, and Boeing developed a Personal Rapid Transit
system that was used as a model for Walt Disney's People Mover.
Coincidently, Fred Bingendorfer of Wheeling was used as
the model for Walt Disney's Goofy.
When football season is over, Green Bay
fans turn their cheese hats upside-down
and use them as dogfood bowls.
Wisconsin has the highest canine
mortality rate in the nation.
Wyoming is home to the largest and most well-known city of its kind:
Casper, the friendly ghost town.