Question: During pre-Olympic TV coverage, there was a discussion of unusual feats during pre vious games. There was mention of a marathon runner who took a year or so to finish the race. It doesn't make sense, and I'm wondering if you know the details. -- R.L., Pensa cola, Fla.
Answer: You must have heard about Shizo Kanakuri. I think the story of the Japanese marathon runner is one of the best of the Olympics.
In his home country, Kanakuri was celebrated as one of the best -- as a matter of fact, he was considered the "Father of Marathon" in Japan. During the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm, he lost consciousness while participating in the marathon because of the heat. A farming family took him in until he recuperated. When he recovered, he returned to Japan, never notifying Olympic officials.
Back home he continued to run, and he even competed in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics. But Swedish officials had no idea where he was. Finally, in 1966, Olympic officials tracked him down and gave him an unusual opportunity: If he wanted, Kanakuri could finish the race he started in 1912. He accepted the offer and completed the marathon in 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.379 seconds. At the end of the race, he said, "It was a long trip. Along the way, I got married, had six children and 10 grandchildren."
Q: I have a collection of pennies that have been flattened and embossed with a historic landmark or some other site of in terest. I have several questions about these tokens. When were these pennies first introduced? Is it legal to destroy a coin? What is the techy name for collecting these tokens? -- S.E.B., Musca tine, Iowa
A: It is generally accepted that these tokens were first made during the 1892 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. The correct name for these coins is elongated coins, although since I was a kid I have always called them squished pennies.
As for the legality of such coins, I'm quoting from PennyCollector.com: "The United States Codes under Title 18, Chapter 17 and Section 331, 'prohibits the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage.' However, it has been the opinion of some individual officers at the Treasury Department, though without any indication of approval, the foregoing statute does not prohibit the mutilation of coins if done without fraudulent intent or if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently." So, yes, it is legal. It is also legal in the U.K., but not in Canada.
As far as I can tell, there is not a special name for an elongated-coin collector.
For more information, visit PennyCollector.com
Q: I was young when the Unabomber was caught. I have often won dered what his name meant. -- W.K.N., Bangor, Maine
A: The FBI gave Ted Kaczynski the name because his early mail bombs were sent to universities (UN) and airlines (A). Kaczynski sent 16 bombs from 1978 to 1995; his bombs killed three people and injured 23.
Q: A while back, you answered a question re garding which countries made up the U.K., Great Britain and the British Isles. I lost the article and would like to have the in formation again. -- A.J.
A: Great Britain -- an island composed of England, Wales and Scotland.
The United Kingdom -- Great Britain and Northern Ireland make up the U.K., hence the full name, "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
The British Isles -- the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and several other smaller islands, like the Isle of Man.
Q: I am a fan of "The Godfather" movies. What happened to Robert Duvall? He was excellent in the role of Tom Hagen, but he did not return for the final movie. -- M.B., Covina, Calif.
A: Robert Duvall wanted $5 million to reprise his role of Tom Hagen in "The Godfather: Part III." The guys with the purse said "no," and Duvall was replaced by George Hamilton as lawyer B.J. Harrison. A line of dialogue was inserted that explained that Hagen had died years before.
Q: There is a word for next to last. As I recall, it could be a person or thing. I have asked all my friends, and they are clue less, too. Please help. -- B.L., Benton, Ark.
A: Look up the word "penultimate."
Q: I have wondered for years why the open ocean is called "the bounding main." -- M.L.E., Trappe, Md.
A: In 1880, a children's song about sailing on the ocean was written called "Sailing, Sailing." (It's also known by the first line, "Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main.") The song was written by Godfrey Marks, a pseudonym for British organist and composer James Frederick Swift (1847-1931). This is the earliest reference I can find that calls the ocean "the bounding main." If any reader has additional information, please let me know.
Q: My friend and I have a baseball history bet, and I have $25 riding on your answer. I say baseballs were first made with horsehide; he says they were always made with cowhide. Who wins? -- G.L., Roseburg, Ore.
A: You win. Baseballs were made with horsehide until 1973. In 1974, the supplies dwindled, so the balls used by Major League Baseball switched to cowhide.
Q: I have become enamored of Annie Randall while watching old "Hee Haw" reruns. What became of her after the "Hee Haw" years? -- B.M., Southside, Ala.
A: Anne Randall was born Barbara Burrus on Sept. 23, 1944, in Alameda, Calif. When she was 15, she became a regular on a teenage dancing show in San Francisco hosted by Dick Stewart. During the next two decades, she appeared in about 30 TV shows and movies. She was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month in its May 1967 issue and its cover girl in November 1973. From 1972 to 1973, she was a regular on "Hee Haw." At age 22, she married Dick Stewart. In 1979, she disappeared from the public eye.
Q: My childhood favorite was Deanna Durbin. Can you please fill me in on her? Did she marry? Have children? -- M.E., Whittier, Calif.
A: Deanna Durbin was born Edna Mae Durbin on Dec. 4, 1921, in Winnipeg, Canada. She grew up in Southern California and began making movies in 1936. In 1945 and 1947, she made more money than any other woman in the U.S. In 1941, Durbin married Vaughn Paul, who was an assistant movie director. The marriage ended in divorce in 1943. In 1945, she married a film writer, producer and actor named Felix Jackson. They had one daughter. The marriage ended in 1949, and she retired that year. In 1950, Durbin married Charles David in Paris. He was a producer and director. They moved to a house in the French countryside. The couple had one son. David died in Paris in 1999.
Durbin has turned down all offers to return to show business since her retirement. She is a very private person and refuses most interviews.
UPDATE: In a previous column, I discussed Hooverisms, negative nicknames given to certain items used during the Great Depression. For instance, newspapers were called "Hoover blankets" because they were often used as blankets. "Hoover flags" were empty pockets turned inside out, and a "Hooverville" was a shantytown.
I asked readers if they knew of any more; here are a few. "Hoover hogs" were armadillos in the South and Southwest and squirrels, rabbits and other small critters in Appalachia. One reader told me her husband grew up in Arkansas, where they called turnips "Hoover apples." "To this day, he will not eat a turnip." "Hoover carts" were two-wheeled carts made using the rear wheels and axles from automobiles that people could no longer afford to operate. The carts were pulled by mules, horses or other animals.
Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.