Question: I was reading a biography of a person who was a roleo champi on. I've never heard of a roleo. What is it? -- P.H., St. Louis

Answer: A roleo is a logrolling competition. In the match, two people stand on a floating log and attempt to dislodge each other while the log spins. The last one standing wins. Logrolling is also known as log birling.

Q: I don't think about the American hobo very often, but when I do, I always picture him with a stick over one shoulder with a bag at the end. I believe there is a name for this bag. Do you know what it is? -- O.B., Santa Fe, N.M.

A: It's called a "bindle." Bindle comes from a German word meaning "bundle" or "bale." You are right -- the bindle made with cloth or a blanket is part of the visual American culture of the hobo.

Q: At our wedding re ception, the best man read a poem he wrote for us. It was beautiful and something I'll keep forev er. I'm told there is a word for this type of poem, but I have never been able to find out what it is. Can you tell me? -- J.H., Greensboro, N.C.

A: I can -- it's an "epithalamium." An epithalamium is a form of poem that is written in honor of a bride and/or bridegroom.

Q: My favorite shoes are Birkenstocks. What does the name mean? -- R.L., Nashua, N.H.

A: It means the guy who developed the shoe had the last name Birkenstock. Johann Adam Birkenstock registered as a shoemaker in his small German village in 1774. In 1897, his grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, created a curved shoe that contoured the foot, creating the arch support and eliminating many aching feet. The Birkenstock sandal as we know it was introduced in 1964.


Q: Which came first, Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola? How did Pepsi-Cola get its name? -- L.B.M., Gallatin, Tenn.

A: In 1886, Atlanta druggist John Pemberton came up with a concoction that would become Coca-Cola as a cure for his morphine addiction.

In 1898, Caleb Bradham, a New Bern, N.C., pharmacist, developed Pepsi-Cola, which he called Brad's Drink. Within a few years he came up with a new name -- "Pepsi" because the enzyme pepsin was one of the ingredients, and "Cola" because of the kola nuts used in the formula. The soda is known simply as Pepsi now.

Q: Many years ago I read a novel about moun tain climbing. There was a reference made about "English air." What is it? -- P.I., College Station, Texas

A: "English air" is the early name given to the bottles of oxygen used by foreign climbers by Tibetans and Sherpas at Mount Everest.

Q: There is no food I enjoy more than ice cream. I'm not sure I have a favorite, but I really like rocky road. If you think about it, rocky road is an unusual name for an ice cream flavor. Do you know the story behind the name? -- T.L., Waukesha, Wis.

A: In 1928, ice cream maker William Dreyer and candy maker Joseph Edy founded a small ice cream factory in Oakland, Calif. The following year, Dreyer added walnuts (which were later replaced by almonds) and pieces of marshmallow to chocolate ice cream to create a new flavor. Since the nation had just experienced the stock market crash of 1929 and hard times were ahead, the name rocky road was chosen to help put a smile on the faces of consumers. According to the folks at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, rocky road became America's first blockbuster flavor and remains one of the best-selling flavors of all time.

Q: My husband and I often think about the 1964 New York World's Fair. We had our first date at the fair. We have often talked about how expen sive it was for us. Do you know what the admission cost was? -- L.T., Hick sville, N.Y.

A: During the first year, admission was $2 for adults and $1 for children 2 to 12. The following year (1965), adult admission increased to $2.50. If you drove, parking set you back $1.50 for the day. An official guidebook cost $1, while a hardcover souvenir book was $2.50.

Q: The movie "The Great Escape" is one of my all-time favorites. I know the film was based on an actual prison break during World War II. When and where did the escape occur? -- L.I.D., Daytona, Fla.

A: The escape took 600 men more than a year to plan. The prison camp was Stalag Luft III, located in what is now Poland. The escape occurred on March 24, 1944.

While most of the film is based on true events, two events were fabricated: Steve McQueen's motorcycle scenes and the theft of a German airplane by Hendley (James Garner) and Blythe (Donald Pleasence).

Paul Brickhill (1916-1991) wrote the book on which the film is based. He piloted a Spitfire aircraft that was shot down over Tunisia in March 1943. He was taken to Stalag Luft III, where he assisted in the escape preparations.

Q: Artist Frederic Re mington, famous for his il lustrations, paintings and sculptures, has a name synonymous with the Old West. His middle name was unusual -- Sackrider. Why was he given that name? -- G.F., Bel Air South, Md.

A: Frederic Remington was born in 1861 in Canton, N.Y. He was the only child of Seth Remington and Clara Sackrider Remington. His middle name is his mother's maiden name.

Remington attended Yale University, but he left school after one year to care for his ailing father. After his father died, he took a job as a reporter. He made his first trip west in 1881 and sold his first sketch to Harper's Weekly that year. Remington died in 1909 at age 48.

Q: What is the medical term for getting gray hair? -- D.C.M., Pottsville, Pa.

A: Poliosis. It comes from "polios," the Greek word for "gray."

Q: What is the root of the word "minister"? -- H.M., Mesa, Ariz.

A: Minister can be traced to Latin "minister," meaning "attendant" or "servant," indicating humility for men of the church.

Q: If I were to measure 2,000 pounds of something, I would have a ton. Is there a term for 100 kilograms? -- T.M., DeRidder, La.

A: "Quintal" is one word that comes to mind.

Q: I see the phrase "Semper Fi," the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, on bumper stickers and in ads. I studied Latin while in high school many years ago, but I'm not familiar with the Latin word "fi." Help! -- C.V., Glens Falls, N.Y.

A: The motto is "Semper Fidelis," meaning "always faithful." The phrase is not exclusive to the Marines -- it is also used by several cities in Europe and other military regiments. The U.S. Marine Corps adopted the motto in 1883.

Q: Did Ronald and Nancy Reagan ever star in the same movie while they were married? -- J.M.A., Roseburg, Ore.

A: No. But Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis did appear together in one movie, "Hellcats of the Navy." Although the 1957 movie was not regarded well, the romance that began while filming the movie gets high marks.

Q: In the TV sitcom "All in the Family," what was the street address for the Bunkers? -- R.U., Ocala, Fla.

A: Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton) Bunker lived at 704 Hauser St., in the Corona section of Queens, N.Y. The facade used in the opening credits was located at 89-70 Cooper Ave., Glendale, N.Y.

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