Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Truth, half-truth, everything but truth

Wick's World


The day began hot and muggy at Fort Benning, Georgia. I remember it well. The intensity of Army airborne training was taking its toll on my body and lack of sleep was fogging my brain. But my senses went on alert as I heard the barracks radio booming, “Richard Nixon will be accepting the Republican nomination as the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the United States.”

His likelihood of winning was almost assured following the turmoil and riots that defined the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer. Every soldier in the barracks realized Nixon’s election would mean there was no end in sight for the Vietnam War.

Soon-to-be President Nixon began his acceptance speech with these words, “Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth.”

If he had listened to his own words, the history of his presidency would tell a much different story. Watergate is commonly perceived by historians and the public for bringing Richard Nixon to his knees. The truth is, he could have survived the Watergate episode. What he couldn’t survive was his failure to heed his own statement “commit ourselves to the truth.”

What we often accept as the truth can be a watered down version of half-truths and downright lies. Here is an example of some of the more interesting and humorous historical facts that often aren’t facts at all.

Panama hats do not come from Panama and are rarely ever worn there. They originated in Ecuador. Although it connects the world’s two largest salt-water oceans, the Panama Canal itself contains only fresh water. To walk across Panama via the canal, one begins on the west entrance at the Atlantic Ocean and travels east to complete the journey at the Pacific Ocean. I once took this five-day journey and walked toward the sun each morning in my quest of reaching the Pacific side of the country. Look at a map of Panama for the simple explanation.

Maine is not the easternmost state. Believe it or not, the honor goes to Alaska, which ironically is also the westernmost state. The explanation lies at the 180th meridian.

Although many canaries live on the Canary Islands, the Romans named the place after the many packs of wild dogs that dominated the area. They called the islands what can roughly be interpreted as “the islands of the canines.” The English modified the name to canary and soon the birds that resided there were called canaries. So the bird was actually named after the island, not vice versa.

The sandwich was named after an Earl who loved to gamble. He would place meat and cheese between two slices of bread so he could continue playing cards with his empty hand. Although he didn’t invent it, The Earl of Sandwich got naming rights.

The Beatles' song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” contrary to a widely held belief, had absolutely nothing to do with LSD — at least according to John Lennon. Lennon’s son Julian came home from school one day with a picture he had drawn of a classmate named Lucy. The picture’s background consisted of exploding stars. Julian named the drawing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” End of story.

Woodstock, the world’s most renowned rock concert, was held at a farmer’s field outside of Bethel, New York. The town of Woodstock was actually 45 miles to the northeast, which on August 15, 1969, this distance would have been impossible to traverse.


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