The title of this post is an homage to a former colleague of mine, long-time Des Moines Register sports columnist Maury White. Maury would throw in a bits column about once a week in which he borrowed liberally from his sports columnist brethren around the country with short items he found interesting.
While Maury’s columns were very homespun, some might say corny, and included frequent references to Agro B. Arlo, an acquaintance, My Neighbor Walt, and actress Toby Wing, I’ll stick to a few items that I’ve found interesting lately. (By the way, who were some of your favorite newspaper people that you read while growing up?)
Did you know that Des Moines, Iowa, police officers have to buy their own guns? Lt. Todd Dykstra revealed that tidbit during a presentation I attended Thursday. (Do you have any peace officers in your family history? What stories did they tell?)
One of my favorite personal history bloggers is Terry Thornton. His enticing, well-written blog about life in the hill country of Monroe County, Mississippi, is a good example of southern storytelling. This retired university professor brings family history to life through its stories.
Have you ever wanted to buried in a coffin in the shape of a football shoe? How about in the fetal position in an egg-shaped coffin? Vic Fearn & Co. in England has a line of unusual coffins that you can check out here. Coffins have grown in size in recent years to accommodate the ever-increasing number of obese people in the world. The oversized coffins have created a cottage industry in crematorium refurbishment as older furnaces are not big enough to accept the larger coffins. Read this for an overview of the trend.
How common is your surname? Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings has an explainer and link to a White Pages search engine that will tell you. It will also tell you the most common names in the U.S. and your state. For example, Smith is the most common surname in the entire U.S. but ranks fourth in California behind Garcia, Hernandez and Lopez.