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Happy Birthday, George and Abe

Commentary

February 21, 2005|Merl Reagle | Merl Reagle is a nationally syndicated crossword creator whose puzzle appears every week in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine. He is the author of 10 crossword anthologies.

One was the father of his country, the other saved the Union and they both have February birthdays, which provides you with a three-day skiing weekend. But what else do you know about George and Abe? In the numbered statements below, key words are represented by their first letters only. (For example, in the statement, "George Washington died a very R man, owning 33,000 As," the answers would be "rich" and "acres.")

GEORGE WASHINGTON ...

1. was promoted posthumously to the rank of S-S G by an order of President Carter so that George would always be America's highest-ranking military official.

2. was the only president elected U.

3. was related to James Madison and Robert E. Lee (in America) and to Queen Elizabeth II and W C (in Britain).

4. carried a portable S around with him, so that he wouldn't be late.

5. loved fighting Fs.

6. was an avid S by the age of 16. (Hint: It's an anagram of "kelp nurse.")

7. loved cream of P soup. (Hint: It's not potato, and it's not a traditional fruit or vegetable.)

8. being on the puritanical side, once issued an order barring all S in the Army.

9. refused to wear a powdered wig, which was the fashion at the time. Instead, he powdered H O H.

10. had F T made of rhinoceros ivory, whalebone and deer antlers, but never wood.

11. is famous for the shortest-ever I A (because his F T hurt).

12. had a D named Sweet Lips.

13. had an interesting family motto: T E J T M.

14. introduced the J to America (although it took 200 years for it become the name of a TV show).

15. avidly collected and played Ms. (So did John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.)

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ANSWERS

1. six-star general; 2. unanimously; 3. Winston Churchill; 4. sundial; 5. fires; 6. spelunker; 7. peanut; 8. swearing; 9. his own hair; 10. false teeth; 11. inaugural address (it lasted just 90 seconds), false teeth; 12. dog; 13. "The end justifies the means"; 14. jackass; 15. marbles.

*

ABRAHAM LINCOLN ...

1. was the first president to wear a B while in office. (He did it at the suggestion of an 11-year-old girl.)

2. was the first president to receive a P. (It was for a sort of floating dry dock.)

3. loved the sport of W.

4. is related to movie star T H.

5. was the T'est president.

6. was the first president to be P'ed at his inauguration (in fact, many scholars believe that one of the men standing a few feet from him as he's giving his speech is J W B).

7. had a cat named Bob, a dog named Jib and a T named Jack.

8. allowed Ss to be held at the White House.

9. loved the works of E A P.

10. was admired so much by M M that she had a picture of him on her wall.

11. had a son whose L was once S'ed by J W B's brother.

12. shared a bed with a store owner in Illinois named J S, causing a flurry of controversy over whether he was gay.

13. was closer to his stepmother, Sarah, than to his father (whose F he didn't even attend), and it was Sarah who first said that Abe "was not very fond of Gs."

14. carried letters, bills and notes in his S H.

15. has been sighted or heard as a ghost many times at the White House, including by Q W of the N (who fainted) and first lady Grace C.

*

ANSWERS

1. beard; 2. patent; 3. wrestling; 4. Tom Hanks (by way of Abe's mother, Nancy Hanks); 5. tallest (6 feet, 4 inches); 6. photographed, John Wilkes Booth; 7. turkey; 8. seances; 9. Edgar Allan Poe; 10. Marilyn Monroe; 11. life (was) saved, John Wilkes Booth's (brother); 12. Joshua Speed; 13. funeral, girls; 14. stovepipe hat; 15. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Coolidge.

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