The Quick 10: 10 Weird Facts About Presidents

In case you didn't get enough Presidential Facts from the mag, I have this whole collection of strange facts I've written down about U.S. Presidents. None of them really have anything to do with one another so I've never been able to tie them into a themed post before. But since it's Presidents' Day, I don't think I really need a theme other than that.

1. James Monroe once chased the Secretary of the Treasury out of the White House with a pair of fire tongs.
2. Andrew Jackson may have looked like a hardened old soul, but he was quite the merry prankster: when he was in school, he invited a bunch of prostitutes to the annual Christmas Ball, just because he knew how much it would freak out all of the "proper" attendees. He also liked to move outhouses around so when people went out to use their bathroom, the bathroom was no longer there.
3. John Quincy Adams liked skinny dipping in the Potomac. He thought bathing and swimming in ice-cold water was good for his constitution.
4. Martin Van Buren's autobiography doesn't mention his wife even once.
fillmore5. Queen Victoria once declared that Millard Fillmore was the most handsome man she had ever seen. What do you guys think? Was Millard a hottie? My assessment: no.
6. James Buchanan is the only U.S. President to remain a bachelor his entire life. Some speculated that he was gay, and his extremely close relationship with Congressman William Rufus King didn't do anything to dispel the rumors. The two of them were often referred to as "Mr. Buchanan and his wife."
7. Rutherford B. Hayes and his family spent every single evening in the White House singing gospel hymns.
8. William McKinley's wife suffered from epilepsy. When she had seizures at public events and dinners, McKinley would just drape his handkerchief over her face and carry on with whatever matters were at hand.
9. Teddy Roosevelt was a big eater. It wasn't uncommon for him to take down a dozen eggs for breakfast.
10. Lyndon B. Johnson wore a watch with an alarm on it and liked to set it off when he got bored listening to speeches.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


More from mental floss studios