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Friday, April 24, 2020

A to Z Historic Trivia - U


In a world as fascinating and sometimes frustrating as ours, it’s refreshing to realize that beneath this wild and crazy place lie other, equally crazy, though often enchanting worlds. For instance, the underwater world is host to perhaps three million sunken ships, lost treasures, forgotten cities, and public parks like the one in Austria called Green Lake, which is not accessible during summer – due to flooding.  There are underwater waterfalls and rivers, such as the one flowing under the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Strait. Every so often, the sea offers up surprises we didn’t have to look for like the cobalt blue, grapefruit-sized eyeball that appeared on Florida’s Pompano Beach.  An expert’s best guess is that the eye once belonged to a 10 ft. long Swordfish.
The underground world is a resting place for just about anything departed, discarded, or discreetly defended.  America’s oldest (1638) maintained cemetery is the Myles Standish Burial Ground, wherein lie a few of the original pilgrims who sailed here on the Mayflower. Underground storm shelters and panic rooms are a must for both weather events and war situations, though only the latter necessitates secrecy. There is an underground city in Derinkuyu, Turkey, built in the 14th century BCE that can accommodate 20 thousand people with plenty of room left for stores and livestock. Arizona (U of A) operates an education facility called San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory, which boasts the only working vertical shaft in the United States. In addition to training, the facility offers health and safety programs and occasional public tours.
In some circles, the Underworld is where folks without a ticket to Heaven go at closing time. Most Americans consider it the stomping grounds of organized crime, its members' purveyors of how to get around anything prohibited.  They were some of the best secret-keepers in the country. But they didn’t always escape justice. Vincente Gigante was a mob boss who, for 30 years, wandered around Greenwich Village (NY) wearing pajamas and mumbling incoherently, earning the nickname “The Oddfather” all for the purpose of appearing, as well as pleading insane to avoid prosecution for racketeering. He was eventually sentenced to 12 years.

According to sources, Ulysses S. Grant had no idea what the middle S in his name stood for. It seems it was nothing more than a clerical error when a friend of Grant’s father nominated him for enrollment at West Point.



  1. Hi, diedre!

    Happy "U" Day, dear friend! The A to Z finish line is in sight. Let's muster our last ounce of strength and proudly cross it together!

    My friend's son was in a rock band called The Underwater. I suppose its human nature to give little or no thought to that which isn't directly in front of our noses. It is exciting to think of the treasures to be found in all those sunken ships and lost cities, and the otherworldly beauty to behold in underwater caverns, reefs, rivers and falls. Imagine a beachcomber coming upon a grapefruit size blue eyeball! In recent years Florida's Gulf Coast has been beset by the red tide scourge and thousands of dead fish rot on our beaches. Red tide burns the eyes and closes the throat.

    Many of us are experiencing a bad case of cabin fever pinned down as we are by the COVID plague. Imagine having to live in an underground shelter for a prolonged period. I did some extra reading about that massive underground city in Turkey. It is three miles long, multilevel, has a place of worship and, as you mentioned, a zone closer to the surface where animals were housed. Residents of the Turkish province's underground caves and city lived underground to escape the harsh elements and their enemies.

    It's fascinating to learn the lengths to which mob boss Vincente Gigante went to earn the nickname “The Oddfather” and avoid prosecution.

    I am still trying to answer that age old question: "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?" :)

    Have a safe and happy day, dear friend diedre.

    1. Hi Shady!

      That's a great name for a band!

      Red Tide sounds ghastly.

      No doubt about the cabin fever aspect. But I must say, Turkey had the right idea of a place where you could bring along three or four-hundred of your closest friends ;-)

      Thanks so much for coming along with me for A to Z. I've enjoyed your thoughtful input. To W and beyond!

      Have a great weekend, dear Shady!

  2. Underwater is also home to a whole lot of creatures we have never seen. it's like another planet.

    1. Hi Alex!

      I've never seen the Unicorn fish of the Red Sea. Hadn't even heard of it before today ;-)
      Thanks for visiting!


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