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"The dumber question." Topic

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1,345 hits since 13 Jan 2012
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2012 8:56 p.m. PST

We know that most of the people who visited National Parks or battlefields had no idea of what they are seeing or visiting, so is common for them to made some foolish questions to the guide.
But this one that I had read, made my laught a lot!.
And maybe deserves a first place on the fool questions list.

The place was the Little Bighorn Battlefield:

"…people do ask questions like that, and he had a pretty good story from his first NPS assignment, one summer years ago at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Anyone who has visited, or seen pictures of that battlefield knows that the landscape is open, with little in the way of trees beyond the edges of meager watercourses. Bobby tells of a tourist on Last Stand Hill who, feverishly working through in his or her head how exposed the troopers were to the storm of Indian bullets and arrows, asked, "why didn't the soldiers take cover behind all these grave markers?"
And that, my friends, was Custer's last and probably most egregious mistake."

Do you know any better than that?.


Hope you enjoy! (and laught as I did).


Dan Beattie Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2012 9:27 p.m. PST

A ranger friend told me he overheard a mother telling her kids that the Germans attacked up this hill with their Tiger tanks. The hill was Little Roundtop, at Gettysburg. Makes you wonder what other information she/they know.

DJCoaltrain Inactive Member13 Jan 2012 9:54 p.m. PST

The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. ;-)

More seriously, folks who are increasingly granting moral equivalence to the antagonists in wars.

Maxshadow13 Jan 2012 10:43 p.m. PST

I'm in shock DB! Was she thinking of Bastogne I wonder?
New rule set idea "Bull Run to Bastogne" :oP

Plynkes Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 5:25 a.m. PST

I had a friend ask me if I knew how many VCs were won at Waterloo. This from someone I had taken to be an intelligent, educated man (he certainly has more formal education than me), someone with a keen interest in war gaming and military history, not merely some Joe Bloggs off the street.

I just asked him to think for a minute about what the V stood for.

Personal logo Sigwald Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 6:17 a.m. PST

That's just silly Mr Plynkes, the Viet Cong weren't at Waterloo.

Mikhail Lerementov Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 7:30 a.m. PST

Not a statement but a terrific practical joke. At Yellowstone two interns, who hadn't been treated particularly well during the summer, lugged a large steel wheel and pipe out to Old Faithful and set it up. The ranger gave his spiel explaining why it was called Old Faithful geyser and then turned to watch the show. As soon as the geyser began to erupt the kids started spinning the wheel atop the pipe. A woman in the crowd promptly stood up and pointed them out. "Look, those guys are turning it on over there" she shouted. The crowd looked and began to shout at the ranger for lying to them. A very well done revenge on those who had made the summer less than pleasant.

Private Glover Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 7:38 a.m. PST

I've got a friend who works at Gettysburg and has been asked why Buster Kilrain is not on the 20th Maine monument.

My brother works in South Dakota's Black Hills and is asked what they do with Mount Rushmore in the winter.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 9:21 a.m. PST

That ranger should've responded, "Well, they didn't take cover behind ‘em cause they knew that's where they were gonna get buried."

bgbboogie14 Jan 2012 9:33 a.m. PST

Something never cease to amaze me……

I once sent a baby chef in the Royal Navy to the cable locker to get a 'long weight', it was ages before he returned and he never got the prank either.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 9:53 a.m. PST

Back around '89, I believe, I was touring England with some friends. While visiting the Tower of London, One of our party started to get a bit miffed at this one crowd of tourists. Everytime he went to take a picture, this crowd would suddenly appear and stand right in front of him. Every. Single. Time. We began to think it was a practical joke, but sadly, it wasn't.

Finally, he gave in to temptation. One of the crowd was translating for the rest (they were all from some Asian country) and was aying that, "Yes, that is the Tower of London". My friend stepped up and said "Well, it's only a model". The translator was incredulous. He refused to believe him. My friend went on with his spiel that, due to various IRA bombings, industrial pollution damages, and other threats, the British Government had decided to dismantle the original tower and replace it with a model.

Wide eyed, the tourists and translators looked at him askance. He went on that the original could be seen in the British Museum, but you had to specifically ask to see it, as it was kept on the lowdown, sort of a local secret, as it were. Again the tourists looked at him, then got rather angry about the whole situation. "Why they no tell us? Why not put up sign to tell us"? etc.

My friend said "Look, if you've a problem with this situation, go over to that gentleman standing right over there, and demand to know why there's a model of the Tower of London on display instead of the real one". He was pointing to one of the older Beef Eaters, standing alone a short distance away.

We could barely contain our laughter as we saw the crowd scurry over to the gentleman soldier and begin to demand of him why the Tower was replaced by a model. My friend finally got his pics, and we headed out for the National Army Museum at Chelsea, though the Beef eater was giving us a rather stern glare on the way out. grin

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 10:00 a.m. PST

That same trip, we got into a bit of a tiff with some folks when visiting Caernarfon castle when the lads decided to reenact the scene from "The Holy Grail".. "

YouTube link

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 10:33 a.m. PST

As a ACW reenactor I do living history programs at many historical sites and I talk to a lot of tourists, so I've heard quite a few dumb questions.

1. At Fort Mifflin (Which is located right next to the present-day Philadelphia Airport. Jets come thundering right overhead about every 45 seconds.) A tourist asks: "Why did they build the fort so close to the airport?" We told her it was so that George Washington could stay there when he flew in on Air Force One. She accepted our explanation.

2. Overheard at Gettysburg: "I don't believe there was a battle fought here! There are no bullet holes in any of the monuments!"

3. Also at Gettysburg a tourist asked me if "those big rocks" (Devil's Den, which has boulders the size of houses) were here at the time of the battle.

AICUSV14 Jan 2012 11:02 a.m. PST

One year on April 1, one of the Park Rangers posted on the Gettysburg Battle Field web site a request, asking for volunteers to help bring the monuments out of winter storage. He had several hundred responses.

Q. Why were ACW battles fought in National Parks?
A. Because the monuments showed the soldiers where to line up.

skyking20 Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 11:06 a.m. PST

Not bragging but when I took my kids to see the USS Constitution in Boston, the guide ask the crowd questions. Nobody answered so I did. After I answered the fourth question, one of my sons said to the guide: "Why don't you let my dad do the tour. He doesn't have to ask for help. He knows it all!"

Later that day we we on the fantail of the destroyer across the dock. I was giving the boys a lecture (we were home schooling back then so it was classwork). I noticed my wife had this grin on her face and it was just getting bigger and bigger. Then the kids started giggling. I didn't know it but a crowd of about 20 people were standing behind me listening!

And I didn't even have a hat to pass!


Whitestreak Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 1:26 p.m. PST

Twice in the past, I've developed followings without knowing about them at first.

Once, at Little Big Horn, I was explaining to my then-wife about the fight. I was telling her how the Indians greatly outnumbered the 7th Cav troops, and how they moved under cover to completely defeat the soldiers. As I finished with "No one knows exactly when, during the fight, Custer was killed. It's possible he died early, which would explain the disrupted manner in which the bodies were found. If he died late, it might have completely destroyed the morale of the troopers," there was a large round of applause behind me.

When I turned around, there were about 20 folks standing behind a hugely smiling Park Service Ranger, who asked when I had worked at the park.

The second time was when I was pointing out things about different aircraft at the Aerospace Museum of California to my son and wife. My wife pointed out that I had a following of Boy Scouts, who were scribbling notes as I spoke.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2012 2:05 p.m. PST

I was at Gettysburg once and heard a Boy Scout leader describe the monument to the 44th NY as something the troops built during the battle to defend themselves.


My friend whispered to me: "Yeah, but I bet they didn't have enough time to get the alligators into the moat!"

14Bore14 Jan 2012 3:09 p.m. PST

Always wondered why at Valley Forge the Colonial Army stayed in log huts when there was plenty of high rise hotels in the area :)

dicemanrick Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 3:26 p.m. PST

On a trip to Edinburgh's Scottish United Services Museum
a few years back I was telling my wife about Waterloo and Sjt Ewart capture of the French Eagle. This went on for 15 minutes or so and she poked me in the ribs and said look behind you. I turned and there were 15 or so people listening, and I said "I'm not a tour guide" and one of the vistors (in a nice accent) said "well, yuir doin a guid job of it!" and we all had a good laugh.

GR C1714 Jan 2012 4:24 p.m. PST

I was a National Park Ranger for 10 years, at the White House (last two years of Bush thru Clinton). We got several questions all the time, "who lives in the White House", "are there bathrooms in the White House", "when do we meet the President", and after a time "have you meet Monica".

The one that stuck myself and another Ranger dumb, was the paid tour guide who confidently told his group as they passed the security entrance on the East side house, that the small glass and steel building was in fact the Kennedy family mausoleum!

There is a great story from Pearl Harbour, which may or may not be true. Seems an eldery Japanese man stopped and asked a Marine guard somewhere "Where is the Arizona?". The legendary answer…"Right where you left it, Sir."

Athelwulf Inactive Member14 Jan 2012 4:30 p.m. PST

here's your signs

John Michael Priest Inactive Member15 Jan 2012 5:22 a.m. PST

The monuments do not have bullet holes in them because loaded firearms are not allowed on park property.

donlowry15 Jan 2012 3:44 p.m. PST

A ranger friend told me he overheard a mother telling her kids that the Germans attacked up this hill with their Tiger tanks.

Silly mom! She should have known that Union soldiers called ALL German tanks Tigers; they were probably just Pz IVs.

Fred Ehlers Inactive Member17 Jan 2012 7:03 a.m. PST

I usually ask the ranger at NPs what is the dumbest question that they have gotten. At Mammoth Cave the ranger told me it was "How much of the cave is underground?"

Omemin Inactive Member17 Jan 2012 11:49 a.m. PST

Not at a national park, but worth mentioning.

Many years ago, my dad and his dad "pulled traps" (i.e., fished for lobsters) in Belfast Bay here in Maine. Being near the Bay of Fundy, we have some of the highest tides in the US, although we don't come near what New Brunswick and Nova Scotia get.

Their method of getting from the shore to the moored fishing boat was via a rope and pulley system attached to a dinghy. As my grandfather was pulling the dinghy ashore after a day's fishing, a tourist walked up and asked what the rope and pulley were for. My grandfather thought it was rather obvious, so he said it was to pull the tide in and out.

The tourist replied, "Oh! I wondered how that worked!"

donlowry17 Jan 2012 5:12 p.m. PST

There are no dumb questions, only dumb questioners.

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 9:25 a.m. PST

Years of living history/reenacting has provided dozens of examples:
"Is that fire real?" (resist urge to tell them to check it by touch)
"Is that baby real"--"No, it's a reproduction" (well, it came from the reproductive system, didn't it?)
Seeing food being prepared on the campfire: "Are you going to eat that?" "No, the food is all high-temperature acrylics: we rinse it off when we're done."

Not a question but overheard by my wife of a spectator informing his children at a "Marching In" by reenactors at Valley Forge: "No, George Washington wasn't doing very well against the Nazis at the time the battle of Valley Forge was fought, but things got better when Gen. Grant took over the Continental Army"

Kill me now, please.

bgbboogie18 Jan 2012 10:16 a.m. PST

The worst I heard of I was told yesterday, a tourist who thought that the film Braveheart was true….!!!!

Apparently a few Scottish kids also think its true???? HOW

The power of fiction and films.


Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 12:53 p.m. PST

Some years ago on the tonight show with Jay leno he was doing his "Jay walking" segement -- this is where he walks aroind the streets of Los Angeles and asks people questions -- sometimes about history,
On this particular show it was during the Rose Bowl and he was approaching College students -- YES -- college students with this question …..
"What two countries fought in THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES" ??

answers such as England, Japan, Germany --even when prodded with --"the war between the STATES"?? -- Still none could come up with even a close answer.
Even more frighting was another question that night .. "what major country is on the northern border of the United States" ?? Answers such as Ireland, Mexico, France were common !!!!
I found it funny but even more terrifying !!!!
Russ Dunaway

The Shadow18 Jan 2012 9:37 p.m. PST

>>I found it funny but even more terrifying !!!!<<

What *I* find terrifying is that they get to vote!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 10:07 p.m. PST

There is not Geography and History school subjects at the hight school in USA?.
If the answer is yes, what they teach basically?
I'm curious to know.
Maybe that subjects are alternatives ones? Not obligatory ones?


Bottom Dollar Inactive Member19 Jan 2012 12:47 p.m. PST

Neither are needed anymore.

XV Brigada Inactive Member19 Jan 2012 2:21 p.m. PST

The real worry is that cretins like these have a vote in our liberal democracies


Mind you, this was Liverpool.

Clays Russians30 Jan 2012 2:55 p.m. PST

1. sweat rolling off your noggin', its 91 degrees and your wearing blue wool w/ 35 pounds of kit and a musket, and here it comes
"are you hot?"
2. just spent 49 minutes carving up onions, potatoes and something that resembles animal protein and Im tryin' to fry it in a skillet the size of a salad dish, here it comes
"are you gonna eat dat?"
3. just spent 115 minutes firing, running, marching, falling walking etc, musket is fouled ,stinks to high heaven and im trying to clean it by pouring tepid water down the barrel as black putrid ooz comes out, here it comes
"is that gun real?"
raise you hand pards, raise your hands!

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop31 Jan 2012 10:19 a.m. PST

"The worst I heard of I was told yesterday, a tourist who thought that the film Braveheart was true….!!!!"

You mean not all English people are sadistic, baby-eating deviants? They must have watched a few Gibson films I guess…

TigerJon31 Jan 2012 10:37 a.m. PST

The Shadow has it spot-on…these sorry bastards get to vote. I think everyone should have to pass a 20 question quiz on American history (if you intend to vote in the U.S. of course) every two years in order to stay registered. And you MUST come with a picture ID.

BTW, please stop posting these stories my ribs are starting to hurt.

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