Lizzie Borden house
Lizzie Borden s house, located at 92 S. Second St. in Fall River, Mass., has been converted to a bed and breakfast. Guests can sleep in Borden s or her parents room for about $225 per night. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Question: I'll be traveling to New England this spring and would like to see the Lizzie Borden home. Where is it located? -- B.B., Rover, Mo.

Answer: Lizzie Borden was accused of brutally killing her father and her stepmother on Aug. 4, 1892. Borden was later acquitted of the murders, but speculation over her guilt continues to this day. The house, located at 92 Second St. in Fall River, Mass., has been restored to the look at the time of the murders and is now a bed and breakfast.

For about $225 per night, you can sleep in Borden's or her parents' room. Guests have reported strange noises, flickering lights and apparitions of the murder victims. Check out the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum website I have never stayed, but it is on my list.

Q: On Christmas Eve, I was sitting on the sofa with my wife enjoying the Christmas tree. I recalled that when I was a small child, my folks had the tree full of ornaments that bubbled. I assume it was not water in the tube, but I'm not sure. Are these ornaments still available? -- B.L., Marblehead, Mass.

A: Bubble Christmas lights were introduced in the 1940s; the tubes were filled with a liquid with a low boiling point, such as a lightweight oil or methylene chloride. The strings of light are not expensive; do a Google search for "bubble Christmas lights," and you'll get many hits.

Sure, there are modern bubble lights, but I don't like them as well. Several years ago, I bought a bubble night-light that looks just like the Christmas lights from my childhood. I used to hate putting it away, so finally I decided, why should I?

Q: Who founded Best Buy? When? -- W.L.C., Freeport, Maine

A: In 1966, Dick Schulze founded an audio component systems store he called Sound of Music in St. Paul, Minn. Later, inventory was expanded to include video products, computers and appliances. In 1983, the name was changed to Best Buy.

Q: Nolan Ryan became the first pitcher to throw 5,000 career strikeouts. Who was the hitter he struck out to reach that milestone? -- R.T.U., Roseburg, Ore.

A: On Aug. 22, 1989, in a home game between Ryan's Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, he struck out Rickey Henderson in the fifth inning for strikeout No. 5,000. During that game, Ryan struck out a total 13 batters. He pitched the entire game, but the Rangers lost 2 to 0.

By the time Ryan ended his 27-year career in 1993, he had struck out a total of 5,714 batters. He had 324 wins and 292 losses.

Q: Who invented the safety pin? When? -- R.B., Fairfax, Va.

A: New York State-born Walter Hunt (1796-1859) received a patent for the modern safety pin in 1849. He sold his idea for $400, which is equivalent to about $10,000 today.

Q: What is the name of an 11-sided polygon? -- H.C., Wood River, Neb.

A: A "hendecagon" or "undecagon" is an 11-sided figure.

Q: Actor Anthony Hopkins portrayed Richard Nixon in the 1995 film "Nixon." He portrayed a president in another movie, but I don't know which one. Can you tell me? -- T.L., Dover, Del.

A: He played John Quincy Adams in the 1997 film "Amistad."

Q: What is the "pink gold" that's associated with the Florida Keys? -- E.B., Tampa, Fla.

A: It's shrimp.

Q: A long time ago, I came across a word that described someone who hates tobacco smoke. By any chance do you know of such a word? -- P.D., Waycross, Ga.

A: There are those who do not like tobacco smoke and there are those who really, really hate tobacco smoke. Those folks are called "misocapnists." The word comes from the Greek "misos" ("hatred") plus "kapnos" ("smoke").

Q: What were the most runs scored in a single World Series game? -- J.T., Norfolk, Va.

A: In Game 2 of the 1936 World Series, the New York Yankees scored 18 runs on 17 hits against their cross-town rivals, the New York Giants. The game was played on Oct. 2 in the Polo Grounds. The "Bronx Bombers" -- the Yankees -- would go on to win the series in six games. By the way, this was the first series game the Yankees played without Babe Ruth.

Q: A Hollywood couple named their son Hopper Jack, after Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. Who are Hopper Jack's parents? -- A.J., Foxboro, Mass.

A: Sean Penn and Robin Wright are the parents of Hopper Jack, who was born Aug. 6, 1993. The couple has a daughter, Dylan Frances Penn, born April 13, 1991.

Q: I'm not into astronomy, but I'm curious about a star I heard about recently. It's pronounced "Beetle Juice." Is this for real? -- D.B., Santa Rosa, Calif.

A: It's for real, and your pronunciation is correct. The star is spelled Betelgeuse and is also known as Alpha Orionis. Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is part of the constellation Orion. The word "Betelgeuse" is the corruption of an Arabic word meaning "hand of the central one."

Q: I just rented "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom." Believe it or not, the movie was hilarious (if you like dark humor). One of the actors in the movie was Swoosie Kurtz. How did she get such an unusual name? -- J.K.M., Peru, Ind.

A: As the story goes, her father, Air Force Col. Frank Kurtz, a highly decorated pilot in World War II, named his daughter after his plane, The Swoose. The name comes from a Kay Kyser song "Alexander the Swoose," an ungainly bird that is half-swan, half-goose.

Swoosie Kurtz was born Sept. 6, 1944, in Omaha, Neb. "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" also starred Holly Hunter and Beau Bridges.

Q: What is the correct name for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis? How tall and wide is it? When was the Arch completed? -- A.L., Klamath Falls, Ore.

A: The official name of the Gateway Arch is the Jefferson National Expansion Monument. The Gateway Arch looks taller than it is wide, but it is exactly 630 feet by 630 feet. The Arch weighs 17,246 tons. According to the National Park Service, construction of the Arch began in 1963 and was completed on Oct. 28, 1965.

Q: In medical parlance, what is the big toe called? -- A.L.B., Huntland, Tenn.

A: It's known as the "hallux."

Q: In the book "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson, did Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have first names? -- L.M., Roseburg, Ore.

A: They did; their full names are Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.

Q: What does the "K" in Kmart stand for? -- O.Z., Glide, Ore.

A: It stands for the company's founder, Sebastian S. Kresge. Kresge opened the first S.S. Kresge five-and-dime store in 1899 in Detroit. The first Kmart opened in 1962 in Garden City, Mich. The world's largest Kmart is located in Guam.

Q: I'm one of the few people willing to admit that I loved the TV show "Gilligan's Island." I don't recall what Mrs. Howell's first name was. Do you? -- S.M., Binghamton, N.Y.

A: Mrs. Thurston Howell III's first name was Eunice; her maiden name was Wentworth. Her husband called her Lovey. She was played by Natalie Schafer.

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