Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Pennsylvania, page 1
Bathroom Readers’ Institute
San Diego, California
Our “Regular” Readers Rave!
“Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader has added a new dimension to my bathroom visits. Thank you.”
“I would just like to thank you for making me laugh. Since discovering your great series, I find myself visiting my bathroom more often. There is need of a new invention: Armrests in the toilet!”
“I think these books are the best in the world. I take them to school and show all my friends. Thank you for making my visits to the bathroom fun.”
“Today my friend was asking me who my best teacher was. I said ‘Uncle John.’ He was confused and asked me if I was home-schooled. My response? No. I was bathroom-schooled. He went out and bought a copy. Thanks for the education!”
“Just thought I’d let you know what a great job you’re doing. My whole family enjoys your books and our tradition has been to buy one, then two books at Christmastime for reading the next year. You’ve become so popular that we now have at least three new books in the bathroom, and it’s only June!”
“I absolutely love your books. But oddly, I’ve never read them in the bathroom. As soon as I get one, I have to read it cover to cover. Keep up the good work!”
“I just wanted to say how wonderful I have found the Bathroom Readers. I have bought several for friends and family, and they are truly addicted now. Everyone seems to spend an extra 10 minutes in the bathroom in order to read.”
“You guys are the funniest I’ve ever read!”
“Keep ’em coming! I am totally addicted to your books, currently owning 14. I was a teacher for 30 years, and am now a reference librarian. I suggested to my supervisor that we order your books for our local library collection, as they are the most consistently fascinating series on facts and trivia that I have ever come across. I have sung your praises to our librarian patrons on numerous occasions, so hopefully I have helped spawn a new generation of BR fanatics!”
“I love your books and have read and reread and reread the Bathroom Readers I have. My wife tells me I am a warehouse of useless information, thanks in part to you guys.”
“I have many of your books and enjoy reading them at work. By the way, my job is making toilet paper.”
Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader
Plunges into Pennsylvania
Copyright ©2009 by Portable Press. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
“Bathroom Reader,” “Portable Press,” and “Bathroom Readers’ Institute” are registered trademarks of Baker & Taylor, Inc. All rights reserved.
Some material was reprinted from the following titles: Uncle John’s Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader, Uncle John’s All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Great Lives, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into National Parks, and Uncle John’s Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader.
For information, write The Bathroom Readers’ Institute
P.O. Box 1117, Ashland, OR 97520
E-book edition: May 2012
Long Live the Revolution
Rebel with a Cause
Meet the Continental Congress
Let Freedom Ring
The Fight for the Wyoming Valley
Down in the Valley
Food, Glorious Food
Grapes of Wealth
The Rolling Rock Story
Roll Out the Barrels
Revolutionary Documents: Common Sense
The Declaration of Independence
Revolutionary Documents: The U.S. Constitution
Born to Be Wild
The Weather Prophet
It’s a Zoo Out There
It’s a Zoo, Too
Titans and Tycoons
Man of Steel
Man of Steel, Part II
Ghosts of Business Past
The Ketchup King
U.S. Steel: Then and Now
Ghosts of Business Past, Part II
The Sweet Life of Milton Hershey
Pennsylvania-isms: The Basics
Pennsylvania-isms, Part II
Name That Town
A Capital City
An Oil-American City
An Erie Feeling
The City of Brotherly Love
Prison to Peeps
Meet Me in Coupon
Getting in Toon
Stars of Sport
Make Way for the Black and Gold
An Insider’s Guide to Reggie Jackson
“Broad Street Bullies”
Five Things You Should Know About Joe Montana
Batter Up, Part II
The Little Team that Could
March of the Penguins
The Phillies By the Numbers
The Sixers By the Numbers
Fly Like an Eagle
From Paterno’s Playbook
Puzzle These Out
Welcome to “Penn State”
The Pittsburgh Pirates Quiz
A Penn-y for Your Thoughts
Oh, the Symbolism
The Joy of Sects: A Pop Quiz
Keystoners on the Big Screen
Let Us Entertain You
Behind the Hits
PA on TV
On the Radio
Philadelphia Triple Feature
The Gettysburg Cyclorama
Native Son: A Mario Lanza Quiz
The Birth of “Clean Air”
The Great Innovator
The Pittsburgh Vaccine
The Johnstown Flood
The Lattimer Massacre
Just for Fun
You Know You’re a Pennsylvanian When . . .
You Can’t Do That Here!
King of Malls
Pennsylvania By the Letters
Museums of the Strange
On the Road
On the Road (Again)
It Happened in 1787
James Buchanan Gets No Respect
The Stall of Fame
Queen of the Jail
Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon
Seven Things You Should Know About Quakers
The Fire that Won’t Die
Just the Facts
Fly That Flag
The “Commonwealth” Thing
Only in PA
The U Penn Quiz
“Nowhere in this country, from sea to sea, does nature comfort us with such assurance of plenty, such rich and tranquil beauty as in those unsung, unpainted hills of Pennsylvania.”
—Rebecca Harding Davis, author
The Bathroom Readers’ Institute thanks the following people whose hard work, advice, and assistance made this book possible.
Debbie K. Hardin
Jenness I. Crawford
Julie, Elise, and
Sophie, Bea, and Porter
the Wonder Dog
Welcome to Pennsylvania—the second state in the Union, the birthplace of commercial radio, and the leading U.S. producer of mushrooms. With credentials like these, it’s no wonder we chose the Keystone State as the subject of our latest Bathroom Reader. We recruited a group of Pennsylvania aficionados to put together this collection of the most interesting stories the state has to offer. Read all about . . .
History: When we thought of Pennsylvania, the first thing that came to mind was history—few states have a closer link to the American Revolution. Philadelphia, of course, is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and a whole lot more, but the rest of the state played an important role too: The winter that George Washington’s army spent at Valley Forge was one of the colonists’ greatest challenges, and the bitter dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut for the Wyoming Valley helped to define the states’ current borders.
Sports: Whether you prefer hockey, baseball, or football, you’ll find your team in these pages.
Business: Pennsylvania has been home to major businesses for more than a century. Whether they are building bridges, making ketchup, drilling for oil, or developing more efficient ways to make steel, Pennsylvanians are masters of innovation.
Hometowns: If you want to ride one of America’s first roller coasters, travel the country’s first major toll road, or see where marshmallow Peeps are made, you can do it in Pennsylvania.
We also asked around and found answers to some of the public’s most burning Pennsylvania-related questions:
•Who invented Little League?
•Why do Swarthmore students run naked through their school at exam time?
•What’s a Moravian Love Feast?
•Who was Pennsylvania’s “Father of the Underground Railroad”?
•Where can you see a corpse made of lye soap and the thorax of John Wilkes Booth?
•Who named Philadelphia?
•How big is the King of Prussia mall?
•What town on the Monongahela River helped to inspire the Clean Air Act of 1970?
•How many pretzels do Pennsylvanians eat in a year?
From William Penn’s Holy Experiment to heroes of the American Revolution to abolition and beyond, Pennsylvania’s history is sweeter than all the chocolate at Hershey Park. So head over to South Philly for a cheesesteak, kick back with a bottle of Rolling Rock, and pull on that Penn State sweatshirt. It’s going to be an awesome ride.
As always, go with the flow . . .
—Uncle John and the BRI staff
Museums of the Strange
From preserved livers to ceramic elephants, Pennsylvania’s got one of the most bizarre collections of museums we’ve ever seen.
Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum (Orrtanna)
If you’ve ever wondered where you could be surrounded by more than 6,000 elephants, this is the place. The owner, who goes only by “Mister Ed,” has been collecting elephant-related things since 1967, when he got an elephant figurine as a wedding present. By 1975, his pachyderm menagerie had gotten so big that it was taking up too much space in his house, so he decided to put them in a museum. Highlights: an elephant potty chair, a ceramic head with elephants coming out of it, and a nine-foot-tall talking elephant named Miss Ellie.
Choo Choo Barn (Strasburg)
Strasburg native George Groff opened the Choo Choo Barn in 1961 as a way to raise money for his sons’ college educations. He’d been collecting model trains since 1945 and thought there might be some money in displaying them. So he rented an old building on Route 741, set up his trains, and hoped people would come. They did: locals and tourists to Strasburg (in the heart of Lancaster County) visited in droves. Originally just 600 square feet, the museum has since expanded to its current 1,700 square feet. The animated displays are its most impressive asset. Set up to resemble Lancaster County, there’s an Amish barn raising, a Ferris wheel, a ski lodge with ice-skaters, and a three-minute-long fire scene in which a group of (miniature) firemen put out a real (miniature) house fire.
Mütter Museum (Philadelphia)
When it comes to weird museums, this one wins by . . . a bone. In 1858, local physician and professor Thomas Dent Mütter left $30,000 and a 1,700-piece collection of bones, plaster casts, and other medical-related items to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to start a museum. The original museum opened in 1863 at the corner of Locust and 13th streets, but in 1908, when the displays outgrew their space, the college moved them to their current location on South 22nd Street. Today’s exhibits showcase more than 20,000 objects, including a collection of brains, an Iron Lung, the “soap woman” (the body of a woman who died in the 19th century and was buried in soil containing chemicals that turned her remains into lye soap), and a plaster cast of history’s most famous Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker. But our vote for the weirdest? It’s a tie: a cancerous growth removed from U.S. president Grover Cleveland’s upper jaw, and the thorax of assassin John Wilkes Booth.
The Museum of Mourning Art (Drexel Hill)
In Drexel Hill’s Arlington Cemetery—a century-old resting place for war veterans, local celebrities, and even a Titanic survivor—is a structure built to look like George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. Inside is the Museum of Mourning Art is a collection of funerary items from history—everything from a 17th-century book with instructions of how to get to heaven, to an 18th-century cemetery gun that was rigged to fire when grave robbers tripped it. (It shot anyone who set it off, though, not just grave robbers, so the gun was quickly outlawed in England and the American colonies.)
Stoogeum (Spring House)
Off a small street that doesn’t even show up on most maps is the Stoogeum, a museum dedicated to the Three Stooges. Gary Lassin open
If you like creepy-crawlies, the Insectarium is for you. The museum opened in 1992 and today houses hundreds of thousands of insects (many live), including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, human face stinkbugs, velvet ants, and a foot-long walking stick. There’s even a man-made spiderweb for kids to play on and a simulated kitchen infested with thousands of swarming cockroaches.
Did You Know?
On November 28, 1984, Ronald Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5284, which declared William Penn an honorary citizen of the United States. (Since Penn had been born in England, he never had “official” citizenship.)
Just the Facts
Here’s a quick look at Pennsylvania.
Population (2008): 12,440,621
State motto: “Virtue, liberty, and independence”
Nickname: The Keystone State
Land area: 44,816.61 square miles
Length: 283 miles
Width: 160 miles
Other author's books:
- Uncle John's Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom ReaderUncle John’s Bathroom Reader Wonderful World of OddUncle John’s Impossible Questions & Astounding AnswersUncle John’s Bathroom Reader Weird InventionsUncle John’s Presents Mom’s Bathtub ReaderUncle John’s Unsinkable Bathroom ReaderUncle John's Creature Feature Bathroom Reader For Kids Only!Uncle John’s 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader®Uncle John's Top Secret Bathroom Reader for Kids Only!
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