Bet you didn't know . . .

January 04, 1995|By Joseph Gallagher

PRESIDENT LINCOLN received about 500 letters a day; his staff showed him only a handful. A letter from Lincoln sells for about $750,000; a signature, $20,000.

* When President Reagan was told Harrod's London store sold everything, he inquired about an elephant. The salesman replied: "Indian or African?"

* Those of us who turned 65 in 1994 were born in a United States where the Dow Jones average was 311, average yearly income was $2,060, a new house cost $7,246, a gallon of gas, 12 cents, a new car, $450.

* The cheapest Rolls Royce costs $147,100. It used to take 50 days to build one; now it takes 30 days. A Honda Accord is built in less than a day.

* Red U.S. cars get more tickets than others. Red is the color most often used in flags. Decks of British ships were once painted red to hide spilled blood.

* Half of all Russian children (including many who are not even poor) eat almost nothing but bread and potatoes.

* A billion of Earth's people struggle to survive on $1 a day. Of every 100 world births, 97 are in poor countries; there are more than 250,000 births daily.

* A 6-week-old human female fetus has already made all its eggs -- from 6 million to 7 million.

* Up to one-fifth of all earthly species are likely to disappear in the next 40 years. Countless species are lost before being recognized and named.

* One-tenth of the priests in the Church of England are now women.

* More than 50 percent of U.S. law students are women, as are 25 percent of the American Bar Association members.

* Today most Americans who claim Irish or French descent are not Catholic. German ancestry is the most often (23.3 percent) claimed.

* In order of popularity, favorite U.S. Valentine Day gifts are flowers, jewelry, lingerie and chocolate. More than 80 million cut roses are sold for that day.

* French spies rented a room under the late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's in a Copenhagen hotel. From intercepted flushings they learned he had severe liver disease.

* Maxwell House Coffee, took its name from a Memphis hotel; it served the blend as far back as 1892.

* Located at 13,000 feet above sea level, a hotel in Nepal offers room service oxygen.

* Half of all U.S. households have wireless telephones (which are really small radio stations); 10 percent of Americans have cellular phones (mobile stations).

* Top U.S. radio formats: country, adult contemporary, religious (1,200 stations). An Auburn University study claims that the more air time devoted to country music, the higher the local white suicide rate. (What happens when you play a country song backwards? You get our job, wife and dog back.)

* The world's largest advertiser is Proctor and Gamble. The world's best-selling drug is Zantac (for ulcers).

* A British study found that one-third of cancer patients have no pain. Some 90 percent of the remaining patients have pain that can be relatively easily controlled. Many can continue on strong painkillers without ill effects.

* Last year 107,000 U.S. patents were granted -- 65 percent of all applications. Fewer than 1 percent ever make it to market.

* Thirteen Star Trek books and 120 Barbie dolls are sold every minute.

* Overseas, Pepsi commands an $8 billion market. Coke outsells Pepsi nearly 3-to-1 worldwide. The $48 billion U.S. soft drink industry has seen some changes. Many Americans are suffering cola fatigue: In 1980 colas made up 63 percent of all U.S. soft-drink sales, they are now less than 59 percent of total sales.

* The average American consumes 9.2 quarts of alcohol per year; a Brit, 7.4; a German, 12.6; a Frenchman, 13.3

* The average husband arguing with his wife raises his blood pressure 14 percent, vice-versa, 6 percent.

* The average number of days per year an American is in a bad mood: 110; those always in a good mood: 28 percent.

* The average American produces 10,000 gallons of saliva in a lifetime and sends 44 Christmas cards annually; kids laugh 400 times a day, adults 15; 17 Americans are killed by hair dryers each year; the average U.S. wedding costs $3,370; a funeral, $3,800.

* About 1,000 foreigners are brought to Israel each year for burial. The largest number is from the United States. Total cost: about $6,000 per body.

* Ghoulish Charles Addams had 1,200 cartoons in the New Yorker over 61 years; 75 were covers. Fittingly, his last appearance was posthumous.

* In the United States, 41.4 percent of spending is on housing; 17.4 percent on food and beverages; 17 percent on transportation.

* Some $1 billion was charged on U.S. Visa Cards on the day after Thanksgiving.

* There are 360 billion financial transactions per year in the United States, 80 percent involve cash; some 90 percent of cash transactions are under $20.

New Year's toast: May your roof never fall in, nor those under it fall out.

Rev. Joseph Gallagher writes from Baltimore.

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