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BOA anecdotes

by MartinM 

Posted: 29 July 2004
Word Count: 399

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Example of Age 20

Prior to his rise to fame as Tarzan in the films of the thirties, Johnny Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer, winning three golds in the 1924 Games in Paris. Austrian skier Toni Sailer also won three gold medals at the winter games in 1956, but both of these were eclipsed by the achievement of Wilma Rudolph, who won three gold medals (100m sprint, 200m sprint and 4*100m relay) at the Rome Olympics in 1960. While the medal tallies are equal, neither Weissmuller nor Sailer ever had polio, nor were they ever told by a doctor that they would never walk again – both of which happened to Rudolph.

Example of Age 43

In 1933, Charles Darrow took ‘The Landlord’s Game’ (which had been invented in 1904 by Lizzie Magie in order to teach people the inequities of the tax system) and adapted it to become the property trading game ‘Monopoly’.

Example of Age 49

In 1868, a problem was facing users of the typewriter. Typists were becoming so proficient at typing quickly that the keys would jam. Lathan Sholes realised that the best way to solve this problem was to arrange the keys in an unfamiliar order, with the commoner letters arranged on the left side – most typists being right-handed. His solution, the QWERTY keyboard, had the marketing advantage over rival systems that you could type out the word ‘typewriter’ using keys on the top row. It was also successful at slowing typists, and was universally adopted. Even now, when most keyboards are electronic, and the problem of key-sticking is a thing of the past, Sholes’ key arrangement remains.

Those able to make use of typewriters include Mark Twain, who claimed to be the first person to use a typewriter to produce a work of literature, and who published ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ in 1885.

Example of Age 85

Skijumper Anders Haugen competed in the first ever winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1920, and was placed fourth. However, when a fiftieth anniversary reunion of the Norwegian skijumping team was being organised, it was discovered that there had been an arithmetical error, and in fact, Haugen had scored more points than the third-placed jumper – and therefore was the rightful recipient of the bronze medal. He was awarded his medal at a special ceremony held in Oslo, in 1974, at the age of 85.

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Comments by other Members

Dee at 18:35 on 29 July 2004  Report this post
Martin, loved the tale about the ski jumper! One of those ‘awww geee’ moments.

Example of Age 43

In 1933, Charles Darrow took ‘The Landlord’s Game’ (which had been invented in 1904 by Lizzie Magie in order to teach people the inequities of the tax system) and adapted it to become the property trading game ‘Monopoly’.

This is an interesting snippet of information but it leaves me with more questions. Who was Lizzie Magie? Who was Charles Darrow, and what prompted him to adapt the game?

The QWERTY thing – you could add some info about the people who have tried to introduce a ‘better’ keyboard layout (it must be like trying to change the position of the foot-pedals in a car!)

I’m not expecting biographies but a bit more of the human story behind the achievements would – for me anyway – improve the interest.

Something which has just occurred to me –could you perhaps produce this book as a research tool for writers? List the facts and cross-reference to where more detailed information can be found… just a thought… could take you a lifetime…

Keep going. It’s got potential.


MartinM at 14:50 on 30 July 2004  Report this post
This gives me something to bite on, Dee. Many thanks.



I like the idea of the big reference book. If it takes me long enough, I could include it.

"...and the author completed this book at the ripe old age of 107."

I'll post something when I've reworked it.

halfwayharry at 20:34 on 30 July 2004  Report this post
Interesting stuff. Any more?

old friend at 09:50 on 02 August 2004  Report this post
Very interesting anecdotes. The challenge facing you is to decide upon the theme and the way it develops over the chapters of the book. If age (or 'adversity', as in the case of the swimmer) is to be the link, then I feel you would need to make this far more predominant - almost the fundamental of the book. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

The title of the book.(The Book of Ages is not bad but ones more relevant to human achievements may offer themselves as the book becomes clearer).

Your first chapter or Introduction. What you write here will establish you, your style, your approach, your reasons but mostly it should catch the interest of the reader with its relevance to them. Perhaps this could be mildly amusing, whimsical, even poking a tongue out at young people who think all 'oldies' are incapable, over the hill and so on once they have passed 24/25... the age when 'scientists' tell us that our brain cells start to diminish in number! Make the reader (of whatever age) feel that he or she can surpass anyone in their age bracket in whatever field of their choosing.

The following chapters can then divide themselves into 'age groups' with notable achievements by people within that group. Ideally I would choose including your 'voice' as the strong narrator not just a list of 'notables'. There is something of this in some of your examples but I feel that much more from you would improve the work.

With this approach there emerges a clearer development pattern. Even the Chapter headings
Could be made interesting... 'I'm still only 29!'
(30-40 age group), 'Life begins at 40? How should I know?' (40-50 age group), 'I'm too young to be a grandparent!' (50-60 age group), 'Yes, but the grey hairs are young grey hairs!') (Over 70 age) group.

You could then add a chapter dealing with those achievers who have not only overcome age 'barriers' but also physical difficulties.
Then perhaps another with achievers of a venerable age?

The need to plan out the intended book will still be there if you decide that this is to be more definitive reference book. The emphasis will change but the need for clarity will remain.

Best of Luck


MartinM at 14:05 on 03 August 2004  Report this post
Len - many thanks for this. I've had some of these thoughts, but you've really made me focus on things.

I certainly do see age as the prime link - to the extent that each chapter will be about 'achievers' at a particular age.

Nice point on the title - perhaps 'The Book of Ages' is too general - 'The Octogenarian Olympian and other Achievers' is an example of something more specific. And I like your point about making the reader feel that they can surpass anyone in their age bracket.

HalfwayHarry - yes there are more - I've posted another one. The next thing I need to do is go away and think more about Len's points, and work out the best way to get that message across. Watch this space!

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