Les Clefs d'Or is the international organization of hotel concierges, the people who can solve any problem, meet any request and answer any question a hotel guest might have. The name is French for "keys of gold," like the trademark crossed keys lapel pins professional concierges wear. Dating back to 1929, Les Clefs d'Or now includes member concierges in more than 80 countries.
Since 1976, February has been officially recognized as Black History Month in the United States, but its origin goes back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson proposed the idea of "Negro History Week" to commemorate the historic achievements of black Americans. A Harvard Ph.D., educator and author, Woodson chose the second week of February for the commemoration because it included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 12, and Frederick Douglass, Feb. 14.
When soldier-explorer Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere sailed from France to Florida in 1564, his crew included artist Jacques Le Moyne. While Laudonniere organized the French settlement at Fort Caroline (in what is now Jacksonville, Florida), Le Moyne documented the expedition in sketches and watercolors, including rare portraits of the local Timucua people, who eventually were wiped out by Spanish conquerors. After Le Moyne's drawings were lost during an invasion at Fort Caroline, he returned to France and recreated them from memory.
Leroy "Satchel" Paige was the first Negro Leagues player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After a full career pitching for teams that included the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Kansas City Monarchs, Paige became a Major League Baseball rookie with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He was 42 years old at the time. The announcement of his Hall of Fame induction in 1971 called Paige the "ageless patriarch of the pitching mound." That wasn't hyperbole. He pitched his final MLB game on Sept. 25, 1965, at age 59.
You never heard of a talking horse? Well, listen to this: "Mister Ed," the sitcom about a talking horse, ran on network television from 1961 to 1966. It attracted millions of fans and quite a few celebrity guest stars, including Mae West, Clint Eastwood, Abigail "Dear Abby" Van Buren, and baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who pitched to Mister Ed while legendary Dodgers manager Leo Durocher looked on in amazement.
From 1947 through 1964, the Golden Globe Awards included a category for the best film promoting international understanding. The first winner was director Leopold Lindtberg for "The Last Chance," a Swiss film about refugees during World War II. Several winners are well-known films: "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "The Diary of Anne Frank," for example. Others, such as "The Happy Road," starring and directed by Gene Kelly, are known today mainly by film buffs and trivia fans.
1. How many keys are on a standard piano keyboard?
2. In December 2022, Steven Horsford became the 28th chair of which organization?
A) American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
B) Congressional Black Caucus
3. Fort Knox is named for a man who held what position?
A) Governor of Kentucky
B) Secretary of the treasury
C) Secretary of war
D) Vice president of the United States
4. "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson" are part of a cycle of plays by August Wilson set in what city?
C) Kansas City
5. What makes Claude the alligator at the California Academy of Sciences unique?
A) He's albino.
B) He can do math.
C) He's a clone.
D) He's the world's oldest alligator.
6. Who won the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's first Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contribution to entertainment?
A) Cecil B. DeMille
B) Alfred Hitchcock
C) Louis B. Mayer
D) Shirley Temple
1) A standard piano keyboard has 88 keys.
2) Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford is the current chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
3) Fort Knox is named for Henry Knox, America's first secretary of war.
4) "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson" are part of August Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle."
5) Claude the alligator at the California Academy of Sciences is albino.
6) In 1952, Cecil B. DeMille received the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's first Cecil B. DeMille award.
WEEK OF FEB. 13
Sheep's eyes are set wide on their heads, and their pupils are rectangular, which gives them expansive peripheral vision: 270 to 320 degrees. That means a sheep can see most of the way behind itself without turning its head. Sheep are naturally farsighted, and they can distinguish colors, but their depth perception tends to be poor. So, they're good at spotting a threat from far away but less adept at seeing what's right in front of their noses.
Virginia Clemm Poe wrote an acrostic Valentine poem for her husband in 1846. "Ever with thee I wish to roam," said the first line. "Dearest my life is thine," said the second. And so on, with the first letter of each line spelling out her husband's name: E-D-G-A-R-A-L-L-A-N-P-O-E. Befitting a Poe romance, the sentiment was heartfelt yet ominous. For the second L, she writes, "Love shall heal my weakened lungs." But it didn't. She died from tuberculosis the following year. (Virginia's handwritten manuscript resides at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.)
After the Civil War, members of the all-black regiments of the U.S. cavalry — nicknamed buffalo soldiers — were assigned duties in U.S. national parks, guarding against poaching, fighting fires and building infrastructure. At what is now Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, they built a road to the Giant Forest and a road to the base of Moro Rock under the direction of Col. Charles Young, who is considered to be the first black superintendent of a U.S. national park.
The Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island might be the world's largest collection of paper sewing patterns. Started with the personal collection of theatrical costumer Betty Williams, the archive now includes nearly 64,000 patterns in an electronic database, with an estimated 53,000 taken from delicate tissue paper patterns that were never intended to outlive the life of current fashion. The oldest is an 1847 pattern from the French fashion magazine "Petit Courrier des Dames." Among the more unusual is a men's zoot suit pattern from Vogue magazine.
When whales rise smoothly to poke their heads straight up out of the water, it's called a spyhop. Most likely, they do this to "hop" up and take a look at what's happening on the water's surface. At the other end of the whale behavior spectrum, there's lobtailing. That's when a whale raises its tail and slaps it sharply on the water's surface. Why whales lobtail isn't clear, but it certainly makes a big splash.
In 1885, Wilson Alwyn Bentley of Jericho, Vermont, rigged a microscope to a camera, enabling him to take the first "photomicrographs" of individual snowflakes — or snow crystals, as he called them. Working for years in an unheated studio, he photographed some 5,000 snow crystals and then documented and categorized their unique shapes and patterns.
1. What is a paladin?
A) A medieval French knight
B) A religious headdress
C) A spotted sheep
D) A type of pancake
2. Which U.S. state was admitted to the union on Valentine's Day 1912?
C) New Mexico
3. Which of these would most interest someone studying phenology?
A) Effects of climate change
B) Food allergies
C) Sports and athletic performance
D) Workplace safety
4. Zoot suits are most closely associated with what decade?
5. Who's the main character in John le Carre's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"?
A) James Bond
B) Harry Palmer
C) George Smiley
D) Napoleon Solo
6. When and where was the sport of snowboarding first contested as an Olympic event?
A) Lake Placid 1980
B) Albertville 1992
C) Nagano 1998
D) Salt Lake City 2002
1) A paladin is a medieval French knight from the court of Charlemagne.
2) Arizona's statehood was granted on Feb. 14, 1912.
3) Phenology is the study of how climate change affects plant and animal life cycles.
4) Zoot suits were popular with young men in the 1940s.
5) George Smiley is the main character in John le Carre's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."
6) Snowboarding made its Olympic debut at the 1998 winter games in Nagano, Japan.
WEEK OF FEB. 20
Official state bird, tree, song ... these we expect. Official state nut? Well, yes. Some states do have one. Passion for pralines and pie led to the pecan becoming the official state nut of Alabama and Arkansas. Pecans are the "official state health nut" of Texas as well. For Missouri, the official state nut is the eastern black walnut. For Oregon, it's the hazelnut, since Oregon grows about 98% of all the hazelnuts produced in the United States.
Tambourines originated in the ancient Middle East and were played mainly by women, especially during religious ceremonies. In Ottoman Turkey, the tambourine's perfect circle shape became associated with the sun. In medieval Europe, angels playing tambourines were depicted in paintings. Yet even an object so seemingly flawless can be improved. In the 1970s, percussionist Richard Taninbaum devised a headless, crescent-shaped tambourine with an ergonomic grip to prevent muscle fatigue. His design for the Rhythm Tech tambourine is now in the collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Two American presidents are depicted in Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware." One is George Washington, of course. The other is James Monroe, the officer holding the flag. Leutze was exercising artistic license in this depiction. Monroe did serve under Washington in the Revolutionary War and was wounded at the Battle of Trenton, but it's unlikely he was part of the group that crossed the Delaware River in 1776.
Two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame bear the name Harrison Ford. One honors the actor you know from "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The other honors a well-respected stage actor and silent film romantic leading man. Hollywood's first Harrison Ford appeared in dozens of films between 1915 and 1932 including "Janice Meredith," a Revolutionary War-themed drama that starred Marion Davies as the woman who instigated Paul Revere's midnight ride. In that film, Ford played her love interest, and W.C. Fields played a drunken British soldier.
Unless someone's driving around in a Harbaugh or a Lombardi, it seems likely that Knute Rockne is the only football coach to have inspired a namesake automobile. Preparing to introduce a reliable, popular-priced car in 1931, Studebaker realized the Notre Dame football coach was pretty reliable and popular himself. The fact that both the automaker and the university were in South Bend, Indiana, only made the pairing more appropriate. Studebaker even hired Rockne to give motivational workshops to its sales department.
Designated in February 1917, Alaska's Denali National Park was established largely to boost tourism that would sustain the railroad being built near what was then called Mount McKinley. For naturalists who led the campaign to establish the park, preservation of the area's natural beauty and its wildlife — especially the Dall sheep — was paramount. They also wanted the mountain to retain its Native American name, Denali, meaning "The Great One."
1. Which of these is NOT a tree nut?
A) Brazil nut
2. Which song was a duet hit for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty in 1981?
A) "Gold Dust Woman"
D) "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
3. Which of these things do George Washington and James Monroe have in common?
A) Never lived in the White House
B) No middle name
C) Practiced medicine
D) Wives named Martha
4. Replicants cause problems for Harrison Ford's character in which film?
A) "Blade Runner"
B) "Clear and Present Danger"
C) "The Empire Strikes Back"
5. Which princess from Greek mythology married the only man who could defeat her in a footrace?
6. The New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and which other team moved from the WHA to the NHL in 1979?
A) Calgary Flames
B) Edmonton Oilers
C) Kansas City Scouts
D) New York Islanders
1) Peanuts are not tree nuts; they're legumes.
2) "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" was a duet hit for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty in 1981.
3) Neither George Washington nor James Monroe had a middle name.
4) Replicants cause problems for Harrison Ford's character in "Blade Runner."
5) The mythological princess Atalanta married the only man who defeated her in a footrace.
6) The Edmonton Oilers were a WHA team that joined the NHL in 1979.
WEEK OF FEB. 27
The first jockey inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame was Isaac Burns Murphy, who rode 530 winners in 1,538 races, between 1876 and 1895 — for a remarkable 34.46% career victory rate. Murphy won his first Kentucky Derby in 1884 and went on to win that race twice more — in 1890 and 1891 — making him the first jockey with consecutive Kentucky Derby victories and the first to win it three times.
Hunting, habitat destruction and interbreeding with domestic cattle nearly brought bison to extinction in the United States. By 1913, one of the few remaining groups of pure bison was living at a zoo in New York City! Fourteen of them were shipped to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota to help reestablish herds in the Great Plains.
You might have heard that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb ... except in Bulgaria, where March comes in like a grumpy old lady. Her name is Baba Marta (Grandma March), and her mood is as unpredictable as March weather on its way to spring. To keep Baba Marta smiling — and the sun shining — people in Bulgaria wear bracelets and trinkets made from red and white yarn, traditionally until they see the first stork of the season or the first buds on the trees and they're sure spring has arrived.
Hatshepsut was a notable pharaoh of ancient Egypt, not least because she was a woman and it was unusual for a woman to rule alone. (This was about 1,400 years before Cleopatra was born.) Over time, Hatshepsut adopted the wardrobe of a man and even wore a false beard. Her successful reign included grand building projects and a trade expedition to what is now Somalia. But not everyone loved her. When her stepson/nephew Thutmose III succeeded her, he tried to have all traces of her obliterated.
Founded in 1908 with just nine members at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest Greek-letter organization for African American collegiate women. Among its notable alumnae are actress Phylicia Rashad; singer Cassandra Wilson; comedian Wanda Sykes; tennis champion Althea Gibson; and the three NASA mathematicians portrayed in the 2016 film "Hidden Figures," Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.
Despite the fact that he didn't receive an official Academy Award nomination, cinematographer Hal Mohr won an Oscar in 1935 for his work on the film version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," starring James Cagney and Mickey Rooney. Mohr is the only person to have won an Academy Award as a write-in candidate. The Academy changed its rules about allowing write-ins the following year.
1. To reach the crown of the Statue of Liberty from the main lobby, how many steps must you climb?
2. Known for its free-range bison herds, Antelope Island is situated in what American lake?
A) Lake Champlain
B) The Great Salt Lake
C) Iliamna Lake
D) Lake Ontario
3. In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined what international group?
A) European Union
D) United Nations
4. DNA studies have shown that King Tutankhamun suffered from what illness?
5. Who was the first real-life astronaut to appear in the "Star Trek" TV franchise?
A) Buzz Aldrin
B) Samantha Cristoforetti
C) John Glenn
D) Mae Jemison
6. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki earned consecutive Oscars for "Gravity," "Birdman" and which western survival epic released in 2015?
A) "Brokeback Mountain"
C) "The Revenant"
1) It's a climb of 377 steps from the main lobby to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
2) Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake is home to free-range bison herds.
3) In 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO.
4) DNA studies have shown that King Tutankhamun suffered from malaria.
5) Mae C. Jemison, who flew on the space shuttle Endeavour, appeared as Lieutenant Palmer in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
6) Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki earned consecutive Oscars for "Gravity," "Birdman" and "The Revenant."
TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of "Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts." Contact her at [email protected]
Photo credit: rdlaw at Pixabay