Ask Mr. Know It All


I was asked if Ronald and Nancy Reagan ever starred in the same movie together. I said no, although they did appear in one movie — “Hellcats of the Navy” — before they were married. I was wrong. That movie was released in 1957, and the couple married on March 4, 1952. The correct answer is that this is the first and only movie the married couple starred in. They appeared frequently on the anthology series “G.E. True Theater.”

Q. Ever since my sister was a little girl, she’s had a fear of clowns. What is the name of that phobia?

C.B., Lynn, Mass.

A. A fear of clowns is called coulrophobia.

Q. What is “Kensington Gore”?

R.T., Redding, Calif.

A. Kensington Gore is a place and a thing. The place is a street in central London. It was named after the Gore House, which is now the site of the Royal Albert Hall. A gore is a small triangular piece of land.

Now, what is Kensington Gore? It’s theater slang for stage blood. A retired British pharmacist named John Tynegate manufactured fake blood during the 1960s and ’70s and named it Kensington Gore. The name is a play on the street name.

Q. Where would you have to go to experience the Night of the Radishes? Is there really such an event?

B.Z., Sarasota, Fla.

A. Oh, there really is such an event — it’s an annual festival in Oaxaca, Mexico, on Dec. 23. The event dates to the mid-19th century and commemorates the introduction of the radish by Spanish colonists. The radishes of Oaxaca are not similar to the ones available in the U.S. — they are yamlike in size. During the festival, radishes are carved into elaborate figures and scenes.

Q. I’m reading a novel set in old England. At a carriage stop, the patrons are served a meal of “bubble and squeak.” The men ask for an additional helping. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t give the slightest clue as to what bubble and squeak is. Have you ever heard of it? Have you ever had it?

K.N., Albany, N.Y.

A. Yes and no. I’ve heard of bubble and squeak, but I have never tried it. But it sounds good. It’s an old English dish made of leftover boiled potatoes that are diced and mashed. Cut cabbage or other leftover vegetables are then added. The concoction is fried with butter and onion. Some recipes call for the addition of beef.

Food historians are not sure why the dish was given its unusual name, but it has been suggested it was named after the sound the potatoes make while boiling and frying. If any of my readers tries this dish, let me know how it is.


Jessica Simpson was a finalist for a part on “The Mickey Mouse Club” the same year as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but she didn’t make it.

Q. Do you have any idea who received the first Social Security check?

Y.N., Ames, Iowa

A. Yes, it was Ida May Fuller. She was born Sept. 6, 1874, on a farm outside Ludlow, Vt. She attended school in Rutland, Vt., where one of her classmates was Calvin Coolidge, the future president. Fuller worked as a schoolteacher and a legal secretary. On Jan. 31, 1940, she was issued check No. 00-000-001, for $22.54 — the equivalent of about $360 today.

Send questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

2013 Gary Clothier

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