Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

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Gift of 4-Tons of Fertilizer

Everyone loves getting gifts, particularly very large ones. But sometimes bigger isn’t better. For example, consider the case of Norval H. Milliken, who lived on McAnulty Road in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For Christmas of 1945, someone gave him four tons (3628 kg) of fertilizer. A pink ribbon completed this unusual gift.

For a greeting card, “Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Summer” were crudely painted on some wood and wrapped in tissue paper. Someone was having a good laugh with this gift.

Milliken did do some gardening, but nothing on the scale of needing so much fertilizer. In addition, he asked his friends and members of his garden club if they had gifted him this stinky prize. None seem to know anything about it.

It took a bit of detective work on Milliken’s part, but he ultimately traced the gift back to an Army buddy who had recently been released from the service. His friend confirmed that he sent the manure.

Norval Milliken may have needed a manure spreader for the unusual Christmas gift that he received. Image is from the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth collection.
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