Telling strangers’ ages: A little trick (1889)

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Telling strangers’ ages

Not as difficult as it seems after you know how

from the Punxsutawney Spirit

“Give me a list of the names of the men in any city or town in this country, and without ever having seen or heard of them, I will tell you half their ages,” said a prominent citizen yesterday.

“How can you do that?” asked an incredulous bystander.

“Simply by the initials of their names. In the first place, you must remember that about half of the male population of this country have been named after Presidents of the United States, or candidates for President, and all you have to do is to know when these Presidental candidates were at the zenith of their popularity. Of course, exceptions must be made of George Washington and Andrew Jackson, for people have not quit naming their boys after these illustrious men to this day.”

“For instance, here is the name of W H Johnson — William Henry Harrison was elected President in 1836. Consequently, Mr Johnson is about 63 years old. Here is W Scott Smith — Winfield Scott ran for President in 1852. Smith is therefore about 37 years old. The next name on the list is A L North — Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. Mr North is therefore about 28 years of age. Now take the next — M F Smathers. Millard Fillmore was a candidate for President in 1856. M F Smathers is therefore, in all probability, about 33 years old. And so on. By studying the Christian names of men, you can figure out the ages of many of them very closely.”

>> Also see: Top 50 baby names of 1890

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