History of the Guinness Book of World Records Part 4

About the history of the Guinness Book of World Records including the story of its creation and founding, how it operates now.

PROBING THE PERIODICALS

THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS

Examples of Typical Material: Mr. and Mrs. Mills Darden were an ordinary American couple except that he weighed 1,020 lb. and she weighed 98 lb., a difference of 922 lb. William J. Cobb thought that his 802 lb. was too much, so he brought it down to 232 lb.--a loss of 570 lb.--in three years. Billy and Benny McCrary, identical twins, had a combined weight of almost 1,500 lb. and had identical 84-in. waists; when Billy died in 1979, he was buried in a square coffin.

Such assorted facts are typical of the "Human Being" section of Guinness, which also includes such bizarre cases as Shridhar Chillal, whose fingernails on his left hand total 100 in. in length; Charles Osborne, who started hiccoughing in 1922 while slaughtering a hog and hasn't stopped yet; and Hideaki Tomoyori who has memorized the value of the mathematical symbol (pi) to 20,000 places. In the "Animal and Plant Kingdom" section, the cheetah is announced to be the fastest mammal and the three-toed the slowest. The female meadow vole breeds when less than a month old and has up to 17 litters of 6 to 8 young each year. The pelts of the sea otter, or Kamchatka beaver, are considered the most valuable, although the coat which Richard Burton purchased for $125,000 in 1970 and gave to his then wife Elizabeth Taylor was a Kojah--a mink-sable cross. A collie named Bobbie, who was lost by his owners in Indiana, found his way back home to Oregon--a journey of almost 2,000 mi., which included crossing the Rockies in the dead of winter. And the world horse population is set at 75 million.

Approximately one quarter of Guinness is devoted to sports. The latest Olympic records are, of course, included; but so is New Zealander Paul Wilson's record for running 100 yd. backwards (13.1 sec.). Bowling can be traced back to 5200 B.C. The only heavyweight champion who reigned undefeated throughout his career (1947-1956) was Rocky Marciano. In 1936 English professional golfer Alfred Edward Smith shot 55 on an 18-hole par 70 or more course, the lowest score in history.

Some of the nicest records are those set without Guinnessport in mind at all. Like the 89-ft-3-in. basket scored by Les Henson, playing for Virginia Tech., in a game against Florida State on Jan. 21, 1980. Or the longest-lasting rainbow--seen for at least three hours in North Wales on Aug. 14, 1979.

Unusual Facts: Perhaps the most unusual fact about Guinness is that editor McWhirter has himself memorized most of the 15,000 entries therein, a record not yet challenged, much less bested, and which he explains by saying, "It's the same as a boy memorizing information about baseball. It's a matter of being interested."

Incidently, in case you were wondering what the answer is to Sir Hugh Beaver's original question: the fastest game bird is the red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) which has a recorded air speed of 80 mph in level flight.

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