Columbus Day special: American myths debunked, from George W. to George W. Bush

Christopher Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue, since the water in the late 1400s was still clear from major oil spills, but a few other supposed facts about this guy’s journey – and American history – are wholly incorrect.

George Washington's teeth were not wood - or windup plastic/Thinkstock

Columbus did not, as we have all heard, technically discover America, since people were already inhabiting the place. But this is just one historical myth that clearly needs some clearing up.

George Washington’s false teeth were NOT made of wood. His fake choppers were instead constructed of elephant and hippo tusks along with some cow teeth thrown in. They also had hooks to somehow attach them in his mouth.

This, too, may be the real reason he could not tell a lie, as the contraption in his mouth was too painful to talk much at all.

John F. Kennedy did NOT cause the men’s hat market to crash just because he didn’t wear one at his 1961 inauguration. Many have been losing sleep over this one since 1962.

Hat sales declined because they are hot, itchy and uncomfortable. They are also part of the chivalry movement that died with World War II, according to a professor at Brooklyn College who yelled at students who wore baseball caps to class.

Pennies/File photo Ryn Gargulinski

Abraham Lincoln’s new line of pennies was NEVER planned with the phrase “In God We Trust” omitted. The rumor started when new coin designs were issued, all of which honored Lincoln’s life. One had a cute little picture of a log cabin, another showed Lincoln on a log, and so on.

Some folks who saw the new designs were appalled to find “In God We Trust” did not appear on any of them and the rumor mill began to churn. The only problem with the rumor’s veracity was that the new designs were only to grace the back of the coins and “In God We Trust” appears on the untouched front of the coins. Penny for your silliness?

Lizzie Borden did NOT administer 40 whacks to her mother, nor did she chop down her dad with 41.
First off, the woman killed was not Lizzie’s mother but rather her step-mother. Secondly, the dead woman was struck with “no less than seven wounds,” said an early account in The Fall River Herald, and certainly nowhere near 40.

Since Lizzie was eventually acquitted, the playground rhyme needs to further be amended to include the word “allegedly.”

George W. Bush did NOT wave at Stevie Wonder. This erroneous tidbit came from a 2002 “Washington Post” story that said Bush was attending the concert and excitedly waved at Stevie at his keyboard – and Stevie did not wave back.

Bush did make a hand gesture while Mr. Wonder was settling at his keyboard, but it was not an excited wave. It was more a casual palm raise. It was also not intended for Wonder but rather for event emcee Kelsey Grammer. No word on if Grammer waved back, either.

Sources:, The Fall River Herald, children’s book in dentist’s waiting room entitled “Open Wide: Tooth School Inside

NOTE: Ryn has Columbus Day off but needed to clear up these myths before she could fully enjoy it.


What other historical myths need clarification?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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8 Responses to Columbus Day special: American myths debunked, from George W. to George W. Bush

  1. tiponeill says:

    Those pictures of Columbus arguing with professors over a globe ?
    Myth: Columbus did NOT figure out that the world was round while others thought it was flat.
    People had known that the earth was round, and even knew it’s circumference, for thousands of years (Eratosthenes).
    Columbus’ idea was that he thought that the circumference was much less that it really is, and that he could sail East to India.
    He would have never been heard from again if there hadn’t been a continent that no one knew about in the way and he ran into it.
    So the fool thought that he had hit India, named the natives Indians, and returned home in triumph.
    That’s one “Columbus Day” myth that I’d love to see taken out of the history books.

  2. anonymous_coward says:

    Here’s another myth:
    George W. Bush and his policies caused our current financial crisis.

    The financial crisis was caused by Carter’s community reinvestment act which forced banks to make risky loans, government backed corporations (fannie/freddie) who insured those loans, and the federal reserve who creates larger than normal boom/bust cycles by printing money while devaluing out currency.

  3. Alan in Kent WA says:

    Does this mean, by omission, that Nixon really did show dinner guests at the White House the alien bodies from Roswell?  You didn’t mention that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor!  They have to be true.  Although you don’t watch TV, you are going to totally wreck my beliefs by telling me that George Washington did not drive a Dodge Challenger to victory in the Revolution as the commercials show.

    • Rynski says:

      hahahhahahah! – thanks for laughs alan in kent wa –
      true – on alien bodies
      false – on fdr/pearl harbor
      true – on geo washington driving a dodge challenger – i will NOT wreck your tv viewing pleasure, nor your revolutionary beliefs – no way! hahahha

  4. radmax says:

    Rynski…debunker of myths and legends…next you’ll want us to believe that you cannot call Bloody Mary, that your soul doesn’t escape from your body when you sneeze and that George W. Bush didn’t have a steamy love affair with a male black preacher, as inquiring minds know this to be a fact… 😉

    • Rynski says:

      ha!thanks for your additional inquiries, radmax –
      true – on bloody mary (or at least from what i could see after calling her at midnight then running away screaming from the mirror as she started to show up)
      false – on soul escape during sneeze, it only escapes during yawns
      undetermined – on geo w. bush with preacher affair – wow, where did you get that one? sounds like something from the enquirer or globe? hahahahh

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