CLOSE

The Time Young Fidel Castro Asked FDR for $10

The year: 1940. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was residing in the White House; a 14-year-old Fidel Castro was studying at a boarding school, Colegio Dolores in Santiago, Cuba. Fidel read about Roosevelt’s re-election and, on a whim, decided to drop one of the most powerful men in the world a line. (In the letter, he says he's 12.) At the time, Fidel's allowance was only 80 cents a month and he apparently saw an opportunity to increase his income.

“My good friend Roosvelt [sic],” the note begins rather chummily, and then goes on to say, “If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american, in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.”

Maybe hoping to entice FDR to include that coveted bill, Castro added a postscript: “If you want iron to make your ships I will show to you the bigest minas of iron of the land. They are in Mayari Oriente Cuba."

As most presidents do, Roosevelt had staff specifically assigned to answer low-priority correspondence such as this.

So Castro did receive a response. It briefly thanked the young Cuban for his “letter of support and congratulations.” Though Fidel was pleased that “FDR” (it was really the U.S. Embassy in Havana) responded accordingly - he even posted the letter on a bulletin board at his school - he was annoyed that no cash was included.

Something tells me he’s seen plenty of those green bills since then.

Obviously, the President of the United States receives thousands and thousands of letters from children every year. So how was this innocuous, nearly 40-year-old letter discovered in 1977? The official story is that a researcher was combing through a bound volume of State Department documents that were about to be declassified. The signature caught his eye, he realized the historical impact, and the letter was made public.

Check out the whole handwritten letter (Castro's cursive is pretty impressive) over at Letters of Note.

arrow
video
26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

Original image
iStock
arrow
video
Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
Original image
iStock

Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios