Question: I recall visit ing an aunt and uncle when I was a youngster. As a treat we went to a circus. As we entered the big tent, a woman was on the ground receiving med ical assistance for a nasty cut on her ankle. Some one stopped to ask what happened; she said it was a "snake bite." That was nearly 50 years ago, and I still wonder what type of snake would cause such a deep gash? -- G.G., Hays, Kan.

Answer: The term is "stake bite," and it is caused by the heads of the metal stakes used to hold up the tents. The tops of the stakes become flattened and flare out; some of them become razor-sharp and can inflict serious wounds on anyone close enough to touch them.

Q: I recently watched a movie I had not seen in at least 40 years. It was called "The Search," star ring Montgomery Clift. In it, a young Holocaust sur vivor is searching for his mother in war-ravaged Europe. The child is played by Ivan Jandl. What happened to him? -- T.B., Pottsville, Pa.

A: Ivan Jandl was born Jan. 24, 1937, in Prague, Czechoslovakia (present-day Czech Republic). When filming began for "The Search" in 1948, he spoke no English and had to learn his lines phonetically. For the role of Karel Malik, Jandl won an Academy Award for best child actor in 1949. Because the government would not allow him to leave the country, a delegation came to Czechoslovakia and presented him with his award. He was offered many film roles, but the government said no.


After high school, Jandl wanted to study film arts but was allegedly denied acceptance as punishment for accepting an American award. He tried several different jobs before ending up in radio in 1965, where he worked as an announcer. Jandl died from complications of diabetes in 1987. He was 50 years old.

Q: I have long studied a map trying to figure out this riddle. Can you help me out? Here is the riddle: From this town, no matter which direction you travel -- north, south, east or west -- you will enter another state, but it will be the same state. Where are you? -- P.L.T., Las Vegas, N.M.

A: Greenwich, Conn., works to solve your puzzle. To the north and west is Westchester County, N.Y. If you travel south and east you would be in Long Island, N.Y.

Q: What is the origin of the term "goody two-shoes"? -- D.K., Sebewa ing, Mich.

A: Goody Two-Shoes is a character in a nursery tale, "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes," which was first published in 1765. There are many questions about the author, but the most common suggestion is Irish writer and physician Oliver Goldsmith.

In the tale, orphan Margery Meanwell has only one shoe. She is described as being virtuous and hardworking, which leads her to gain a full set of shoes. She is so excited, she frequently brings up her two shoes, which gives her the nickname "Goody Two-Shoes." Meanwell becomes a teacher and marries a wealthy widower. The moral of the story is that hard work pays off.

"The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes" is said to be a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale.

Q: Stringbean from "Hee Haw" was murdered while the show was on. Did they ever catch the culprit? -- S.J.S., Ionia, Iowa

A: David "Stringbean" Akeman, the banjo player on "Hee Haw," and his wife, Estelle, were shot and killed when they interrupted a home invasion after a performance at the Grand Ole Opry on Nov. 10, 1973. Rumors swirled that Akeman kept large amounts of cash in his home, as he didn't trust banks. The robbers didn't find any money but took some guns and a chain saw.

Cousins Marvin Douglas Brown and John A. Brown, both 23, were identified as the culprits. Both men were tried and convicted of murder. Marvin Brown died of natural causes in 2008; John Brown was denied parole in 2011 and is not eligible again until 2017.

In 1996, $20,000 cash was found behind a chimney brick in the Akemans' house.

Q: I have a question about John Wayne, one of the best and most beloved actors in Hollywood. I'm puzzled about the secrecy of his burial location. Was it his wish for the location to stay a secret? -- D.F., Reading, Pa.

A: John Wayne died June 11, 1979. He is buried at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, Calif. His grave was unmarked for 20 years, as there was some fear of it being disturbed. It now has a quotation from an interview he did with Playboy: "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

Q: I saw a movie, "A Gathering of Eagles," about the Strategic Air Command (SAC), starring Rock Hudson, Mary Peach, Barry Sullivan and Rod Taylor. In the movie, the SAC base was called Carmody. What is the actual name of the base where the movie was filmed? I'm a retired SAC man. -- R.M., Easton, Md.

A: The 1963 movie was filmed mostly at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, Calif. Other scenes were filmed at the Strategic Air Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb.

Q: A word or phrase that reads the same for ward or backward is a palindrome -- racecar, kayak and level are exam ples. What is the term for a word or phrase that spells different words or phrases forward and backward? An example would be "evil," which spells "live" in reverse. -- N.H.J., Stuart, Fla.

A: There are several terms that would fit, but my favorite is the word "semordnilap," which is itself a semordnilap of "palindromes." Another example is "desserts" and "stressed."

Q: What is the name for a novel that depicts actual famous people thinly dis guised as fictional charac ters? -- G.C., Schuylkill Haven, Pa.

A: The term is "roman a clef," which is French for "novel with a key." The novel "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren, about Louisiana governor and senator Huey Long, is such a novel. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sylvia Plath, Bret Easton Ellis and many other authors use the technique.

"Roman a clef" is pronounced, "ro-MAN a clay."

Q: If I had a fear of overworking, what would I have? -- W.E., Mays Landing, N.J.

A: A fear of working to exhaustion is called "ponophobia."

Q: If you are a native of Galway, Ireland, what are you called? -- L.M., Troy, N.Y.

A: You are called a Galwegian.

Q: Prior to World War II, what was World War I known as? -- W.L., Syracuse, N.Y.

A: The war had several names, including the Great War, the War to End All Wars or the World War. I am sure there were other names, but these seem to be the most popular.

Q: Is the actor Danny Nucci still married to actress Paula Marshall? Did they meet and fall in love on a movie they made together? What was the name of that movie? -- S.L.B., Providence, Ky.

A: Danny Nucci and Paula Marshall met on the set of the 1997 film "That Old Feeling." The couple is still married; they have two daughters.

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