Lawrence University’s 17th annual Midwest Trivia Contest now history

The Appleton Post-Crescent, January 30, 1982.

During 50 hours last weekend, 384 questions were asked on Lawrence University’s radio station WLFM in what is believed to be the longest running and largest trivia contest in the country in terms of participation.

WLFM’s computer registered 124 off-campus teams and 50 teams on the Lawrence campus. Questions are asked at intervals of about three minutes, and the teams are given time to answer by telephone. Point values range from 5 to 100.

The top five off-campus teams and their point totals, of a possible 3,710, were Toys in the Attic, 1,735; Camellia Chips, 1,655; Fox Off, 1.480; Infomaniacs, 1,420; and Merlin’s Magical Mystical Machine, 1,280.

The top five on-campus teams were the 14th Street Bridge Club, 1,810; Happy Joe’s Syzygy, 1,705; Air Potomac, 1,630; Sammy’s Pizza Network and Unicorn Puka Puka, 1,375.

As usual, the trivia contest prizes were as useful as the information asked for in the contest. The first place winners received a milk pail full of inflated balloons, second prizes were traps for catching mice alive, and the third prizes were two nursing bottles for calves.

The winning off-campus team, Toys in the Attic, is composed mostly of public school teachers and teacher aides. According to Dennis Meredith, a Spanish teacher at Appleton High School West, the secret to their success is organization. Team members have indexed information in the book “Super Trivia”, which does not have an index, and have also indexed a book called “First Facts.” “We have many, many other reference materials,” Meredith said. “Everything is organized, and everything is in its place, the key is indexing.” The team, which plays in the attic of a house near Appleton’s City Park, has two telephones equipped with speed dialing and a third phone that is kept open, “When team members go home for rest,” Meredith explained, “they keep their radios on. If they know the answer to a questions, they call us.”

Meredith said his team made calls for trivia contest answers to London, England, Van Nuys, California, and to the White House in Washington, D.C. “We all share in the cost,” he said. The team was joined this year by two former Appleton residents, Roberta Burkhardt, who lives near Allentown, PA., and her daughter, Jodi Burkhardt, of Hartford, Conn.

Meridith said that team members, about 30 of them, get together at least four times during the year for social occasions and to compare trivia notes. Toys in the Attic tried to reach No. 10 Downing Street in London, home of the British Prime Minister, the answer to the final questions. They could find no number for it in the London phone book, Meredith said.

Now, for the first question of next year’s contest. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher graduated in 1934 from Huntingtower Road Primary School in Grantham, England. For 100 trivia points, what are the names of the two girls who sat on either side of her in her graduation picture?

The answers: Barbara Bools and Kathleen Howard.