Question: When I was a Girl Scout at summer camp, we used to sing a song about a bad rabbit that hit mice on the head. Do you know the name of this song? -- J.L., Garde na, Calif.
Answer: "Little Bunny Foo Foo" is a children's poem about a rabbit that harasses a population of field mice. The rabbit is scolded and punished by a good fairy. Like many traditional folk songs, there are several variations. The poem is sung to the tune of "Down by the Station." Here is the first verse of the song:
"Little Bunny Foo Foo
Running through the forest,
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping them on the head!
Down came the Good Fairy, and she said:
'Little Bunny Foo Foo,
I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping them on the head!
I will give you three chances,
And if you don't behave, I will turn you into a goon!'"
I have no idea if this song is the inspiration of the phrase "Hare today, goon tomorrow."
Q: Dad never talked about his activities during World War II. I know he served in the U.S. Navy, but that's about all I know. He has since passed away. I came across his service records and was impressed. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Cowpens, a ship I have never heard of. How did it get its un usual name? -- B.H., Mansfield, Ohio
A: The ship was named after the Battle of Cowpens, a Revolutionary War battle that took place in South Carolina on Jan. 17, 1781. The battle was a turning point in the war's Southern campaign.
As for the carrier, it was commissioned in May 1943. It had hull number CV-25 and was sent to the Pacific, where the men onboard served with distinction. Cowpens was decommissioned Jan. 13, 1947, and spent the rest of its Navy service in the reserve fleet. The USS Cowpens was sold and scrapped in May 1959. The ship was also known as "the Mighty Moo," and the crew called themselves "the herd."
Q: I'm reading a novel set in old England. At a carriage stop, the patrons are served a meal of "bubble and squeak." The men ask for an additional helping. Unfortunately, the author doesn't give the slightest clue as to what bubble and squeak is. Have you ever heard of it? Have you ever had it? -- K.N., Albany, N.Y.
A: Yes and no. I've heard of bubble and squeak, but I have never tried it. But it sounds good. It's an old English dish made of leftover boiled potatoes that are diced and mashed. Cut cabbage or other leftover vegetables are then added. The concoction is fried with butter and onion. Some recipes call for the addition of beef.
Food historians are not sure why the dish was given its unusual name, but it has been suggested it was named after the sound the potatoes make while boiling and frying. If any of my readers tries this dish, let me know how it is.
Q: Ever since my sister was a little girl, she's had a fear of clowns. What is the name of that phobia? -- C.B., Lynn, Mass.
A: A fear of clowns is called coulrophobia.
Q: What is "Kensington Gore"? -- R.T., Redding, Calif.
A: Kensington Gore is a place and a thing. The place is a street in central London. It was named after the Gore House, which is now the site of the Royal Albert Hall. A gore is a small triangular piece of land.
Now, what is Kensington Gore? It's theater slang for stage blood. A retired British pharmacist named John Tynegate manufactured fake blood during the 1960s and '70s and named it Kensington Gore. The name is a play on the street name.
Q: Where would you have to go to experience the Night of the Radishes? Is there really such an event? -- B.Z., Sarasota, Fla.
A: Oh, there really is such an event -- it's an annual festival held in Oaxaca, Mexico, on Dec. 23. The event dates to the mid-19th century and commemorates the introduction of the radish by Spanish colonists. The radishes of Oaxaca are not similar to the ones available in the U.S. -- they are yamlike in size. During the festival, radishes are carved into elaborate figures and scenes.
Q: Why do we call German measles German and not French measles or Spanish measles? -- L.O.D., Brattleboro, Vt.
A: In 1740, German physician Friedrich Hoffmann discovered the germ that causes rubella. The name "rubella" is derived from Latin, meaning "little red."
Q: Do you have any idea who received the first Social Security check? -- Y.N., Ames, Iowa
A: Yes, it was Ida May Fuller. She was born Sept. 6, 1874, on a farm outside Ludlow, Vt. She attended school in Rutland, Vt., where one of her classmates was Calvin Coolidge, the future president. Fuller worked as a schoolteacher and a legal secretary. On Jan. 31, 1940, she was issued check No. 00-000-001, for $22.54 -- the equivalent of about $360 today.
Q: I know that a Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return. The returns are generated from new investors. What does "Ponzi" mean? -- K.I.O., Aston, Pa.
A: Such a scheme is named after Charles Ponzi (1882-1949). Ponzi was an Italian businessman who became a con artist in the U.S. and Canada. Although he did not invent the scheme, he is the one who made it famous. He was convicted and sentenced to prison several times before being deported.
Q: I was fascinated by your response to the origin of the term "charley horse" to describe muscle cramps. You said that possibly it was named after Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn. You also said he died in Bloomington, Ill. -- this is my hometown. I tracked down his burial site to the Evergreen Cemetery. You made a mistake. You spelled his last name "Radbourn," while the marker spells his name "Radbourne." I suppose it's no big deal, but still. -- J.L.M., Bloomington, Ill.
A: You are right: His last name on his headstone is spelled with an "e" at the end -- as is the plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those are incorrect. I have not been able to find out why his name is misspelled on those markers.
Correction: I was asked if Ronald and Nancy Reagan ever starred in the same movie together. I said no, although they did appear in one movie -- "Hellcats of the Navy" -- before they were married. I was wrong. That movie was released in 1957, and the couple married on March 4, 1952. The correct answer is that this is the first and only movie the married couple starred in. They appeared frequently on the anthology series "G.E. True Theater."
Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.