MARCH 11, MONDAY: Johnny Appleseed died, 1847. Blizzard of 1888 hit East Coast, 40 inches snow.

MARCH 12, TUESDAY: FDR's first fireside chat, 1933. Jack Kerouac born, 1922.MARCH 13, WEDNESDAY: Discovery of Pluto, 1930. Oil discovered, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 1968.

MARCH 14, THURSDAY: Cotton gin patented by Eli Whitney, 1794. Casey Jones born, 1864. Albert Einstein born, 1879.

MARCH 15, FRIDAY: Andrew Jackson, 7th president, born, 1767.

MARCH 16, SATURDAY: James Madison, 4th president, born, 1751.

MARCH 17, SUNDAY: St. Patrick's Day. Kate Greenaway, illustrator, born, 1846. Rubber band patented, 1845.

Ask the Almanac: I know that Adolf Hitler wrote his best seller, "Mein Kampf," while he was imprisoned. Are there other best sellers from behind bars?

- M.C., Cairo, Ill.

Answer: Sure - what else is there to do? Actually, Hitler only began his book in prison, since he was released after only nine months of what was supposed to be a five-year term for organizing the Beer Hall Putsch. Other imprisoned, best-selling authors include Voltaire (put behind bars for his poetry against the regent), Miguel de Cervantes (who began "Don Quixote," but was released after only three months), John Cleland (who was commissioned to write "Fanny Hill" for 20 guineas, enough to get himself out of debtor's prison), Daniel Defoe (imprisoned for libel), Marco Polo (a prisoner of war), O. Henry (imprisoned in Columbus, Ohio, for embezzling from a bank in Texas, where he'd worked as a teller), and Oscar Wilde (imprisoned for homosexuality in 1895). There have been other best-selling writers who took up their pens in prison as well, and many, many more prisoners who wrote and published books, which, though they may have been popular, did not hit the tops of the charts.

Ask the Almanac: When did men's names get added to the hurricane name lists?

- A.R. Banks, Ore.

Answer: In 1979, to eliminate the gender bias, men's names were listed to alternate with women's names. Any time a tropical disturbance intensifies, with rotary circulation and wind speeds above 39 mph, the National Hurricane Center, near Miami, assigns it a name. The names are chosen well ahead of time by the World Meteorological Organization at its international meetings. Members establish the lists of names, which rotate roughly every six years. In the case of a particularly severe hurricane, such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, they may choose to retire that name from the six-year list and replace it with something else. The names for 1996 are: Arthur, Bertha, Caesar, Dolly, Eduard, Fran, Gustav, Hortense, Isidore, Josephine, Kyle, Lili, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

Ask the Almanac: Were all the Burma Shave roadside ads about shaving?

- B.Y., Albert Lea, Minn.

Answer: Mostly, and it seems that all ended on the fifth road sign with the name Burma Shave. This was advertising, after all. A couple stretch just a bit from the express theme of whiskers. One, for instance, poked fun at the physical environment that the road signs had to endure: "Listen, birds / those signs cost money / so roost a while / but don't get funny. / Burma Shave." Others simply cautioned readers about roadside safety, perhaps out of some misgivings about the alertness of drivers who were busy reading their way to a punch line: "Don't take a curve / at 60 per / we hate to lose / a customer. / Burma Shave" and "Past schoolhouses / take it slow / let the little / shavers grow. / Burma Shave." There was something promised even for those who missed the turns, however. "Rip a fender / off your car / send it in / for a half-pound jar. / Burma Shave.



This Week With The Old Farmer's Almanac

March 11-17, 1996

St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

Apple John

Our American folk hero, Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) died on March 11, 1847. In celebration of his fruitful travels, we ponder a few apples including the apple-john, which is reputed to keep for two years and taste best when shriveled. There's also the apple-pie bed, another name for a short-sheeted bed, with its linen folded so one's legs cannot stretch out. This deviates from a bed in apple-pie order, which is prim and perfect. Both phrases may come from nappe pliee, French for folded linen.

"I am withered like an old apple-john." - Shakespeare, Henry IV

Tip of the Week

Never stretch pie dough to fit a pan, as the dough shrinks when baking.


4 large apples

1 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup cream

2 tablespoons brandy, opt.

pinch of salt

1/2 cup water

Put water and maple syrup in a saucepan just large enough to hold the four whole apples. Boil this while coring and peeling the apples, about 3 minutes. Immerse apples in the syrup and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes, turning several times. Remove apples and keep them warm. Boil down the syrup to about 1/2 cup. Add butter and let it melt, then add cornstarch mixed with the cream. Let thicken over low heat. Add brandy and salt, then pour warm syrup over apples and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

The March Sun causes dust and the winds do blow it about.

So many mists in March, so many frosts in May.

A pack of March dust and a shower in May,

Makes the corn green and the fields gay.

A Kerry shower is for 24 hours. - Irish proverb