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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Tag Archives: pittsburgh

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.

That’s a Lot of Ants…

 

On January 7th of 1950, it was reported that Railway Express Clerk Steve Flaherty had a 70 lb (32 kg) box of ants that was sitting on his desk in the basement of Pennsylvania Station in Pittsburgh. 70 pounds of ants. That is a lot of ants! He had brought them in from the warehouse because he was afraid that they would freeze to death if left there.

The package was addressed to the Union Fire Brick Company, but Steve was unable to contact anyone there by phone because the fire brick company was closed for the weekend.

He said, “ I don’t know whether them ants is alive or dead in there. I sure wouldn’t know what to feed them.”

It was later determined that the ants were purchased buy an executive at the fire brick company for his daughter. The ants were in a glass box, which allowed viewers to see them digging tunnels under the surface. They had been shipped by a California company who is marketing them as an “Ant Circus.” If only they had changed the name to an “Ant Farm” and then they could have made millions of dollars.

1966 Ant Farm Ad
Classic advertisement for an Ant Farm that appeared on page 79 of the Famous Monsters of Filmland 1966 Yearbook.