Let me set the stage for you. Five mature adult males are dealing with the pandemic, but staying in touch. Other than groceries and going out to get necessities, for the most part they are staying at home. No graduations, no weddings, no funerals, no concerts, no ballgames, no going out with friends for coffee, beer or sandwiches.

They have invented periodic calls focused on subjects they all have some interest in: sports, news, politics, music, history – almost any subject. Much of the information is very important and some is pure trivia. The way it works is that they take turns where one of the guys calls the other four, one at a time, with a quiz to see how many answers they know or can remember. It’s somewhat competitive, but winners and losers are not named and there are no prizes. The purpose is to test old memories, to keep the mind sharp, to maintain old friendships and to remember the old days.

To give you an idea of the nature of the questions, here are some of the actual challenges. How many can you answer? I won’t be providing answers. If you’re interested you can dig out the answers yourself. Here it goes:

  • Name two blind singers.

  • What was Yogi Berra’s true first name?

  • Who was known as “Old Hickory”?

  • Who was known as “Old Blood and Guts”?

  • What is the shortest verse in the Bible?

  • In what book of the Bible is that verse?

  • Name two twins who appear in the Bible.

  • How many lakes in Minnesota are named Long Lake?

  • The name Stephanie JoAnn Angeline Germanotta is the true name of what current entertainer?

  • What president’s cabinet member had a tattoo of the Princeton Tiger on his buttocks?

  • What professional football player was known as “The Refrigerator” (or “the Fridge”)?

  • What was Babe Ruth’s first name?

  • What was the first state in the union?

  • Who was governor of Minnesota twice?

  • Who was President George Washington’s vice president?

  • In 1960, what item was featured in an Andy Warhol art exhibit?

  • How many minutes is the ball actually in play in your average NFL football game?

  • Richard Nixon had two vice presidents. What were their names?

  • George H.W. Bush had one vice president. What was his name?

  • What former governor of Minnesota was a candidate for president eight times?

  • What entertainer was known as “the Chairman of the Board”?

  • Tim Walz, the current governor of Minnesota, was born in what state?

  • What former heavyweight boxing champion was known as “the Brown Bomber”.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt had three vice presidents. Who were they?

  • What candidate for president used the slogan, “Where’s the Beef?” part of his campaign?

  • What baseball player was known as “the Georgia Peach”?

  • What three countries border on Norway?

  • What state was the last state to ban interracial marriage in 2000?

  • What was the highest mountain in the world before Mt. Everest was discovered? (Was this a trick question?)

  • In what country is the deepest freshwater lake in the world?

There were about 12 to 15 questions in each exercise. Everybody understood that if you know something but cannot think of it, you still know it. But picturing it in your mind and having it on the tip of your tongue does not count. No player ever got more than about half right. The discussions about these old memories went on and on. But the games continue to the present time and the friends are staying in touch. They think the pandemic has made them all smarter.

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