For 10 points:
Name the winners of the last Midwest Trivia Contest
by Calmetta Coleman
The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 1995.
Any idea where the largest gathering of bassoonists met for a crabfest? Know the name of the first mail carrier to retire on pension in Manitowoc, Wis.?
If you answered Baltimore and Elton C. Gibson -- or if you knew how to find the answers -- you just might be ready for tonight's Midwest Trivia Contest.
The contest, which specializes in the most trivial of trivia, is broadcast for 50 straight hours by the campus radio station at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. Contestants, who may register individually or in teams, call in with answers to the more than 300 questions. Teams that respond correctly within a given amount of time, usually five minutes, get five, 10 or 100 points, depending on difficulty. Last year's winners amassed more than 1,000 points.
Since the contest was founded in 1966, trivia buffs on and off campus (more than 800 participated last year) have eagerly answered such questions as "Who was the shortest U.S. president?" (James Madison.) This year's prize is anybody's guess, but past prizes have included a tire, an old boot and a used violin case.
Contestants don't have to answer off the cuff. Most keep piles of reference books on hand and don't hesitate to call around for information. The winning team one year phoned the Hard Rock Cafe in London to get the words on a T-shirt that is in a glass case near the restaurant's kitchen. "People run up huge phone bills during trivia week," says Dale Weiman, a member of the 1991 winning team.
For the past three years, Stan Erickson, 41, has been on a winning team. This year his team -- now 30 strong -- has rented space and installed phones at an Appleton mall. They used to stay up for the entire 50 hours when they were younger, "but it's getting harder," admits Mr. Erickson, who first entered the contest when he was in junior high school.
To help along this year's contestants, here are a few of the upcoming questions: 1. How much did Della Dillingham spend on a platinum fob chain for her husband's watch in the O. Henry classic "Gift of the Magi"? 2. What was the first fast-food chain to appear in America? 3. Who was the only U.S. president born in New Hampshire?
ANSWERS: 1. $21 2. White Castle 3. Franklin Pierce.