Q: All my life I have loved watching Robin Hood movies and TV shows. I'm still fascinated by him. Was there really a place named Sherwood Forest back in his days? -- H.L., Manchester, N.H.
A: There was and still is a Sherwood Forest, though it's not even close to the same size today as in the days of Robin Hood. At one time, the forest stretched 30 miles north and south and 10 miles east and west. Today, the forest, located in Nottinghamshire, England, is a mere 1.63 square miles. The legendary home of Robin Hood attracts about 500,000 visitors each year.
Sherwood Forest is home to the Major Oak, an oak tree that is between 800 and 1,000 years old, weighs an estimated 23 tons, has a trunk circumference of 33 feet and has branches that span more than 92 feet. According to tradition, the tree was Robin Hood's main hideout.
DID YOU KNOW? Hugh Beaumont, the actor who played Ward Cleaver on "Leave It to Beaver," held a master's degree in theology from the University of Southern California. He was an ordained Methodist minister.
Q: Several years ago, I saw a movie about a star football player, Ollie, who suffers a head injury and goes blind. Through a series of events, he partners with a wheelchair-bound man, and the two combine efforts to enter a white-water rafting race. Do you know what movie this is? -- G.C., Peoria, Ill.
A: The movie is "Good Luck" (1996). It stars Vincent D'Onofrio as Tony "Ole" Olezniak, a former football player, and Gregory Hines as Bernard "Bern" Lemley, a paraplegic former dentist. The movie is about the adventures the two encounter while on their way to Oregon and the rafting event. Along their journey, they make friends, do some gambling and even enjoy some womanizing. The journey is about individual growth and how the men bond. When the two finally arrive in Oregon, they are turned away, but the adventure continues. The movie is available on DVD.
Q: In 1964, I was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington out of Pensacola, Fla. Our mission was simple: We would head to Corpus Christi, Texas, and return at the end of the week. During our time in the Gulf of Mexico, planes with student pilots would practice landing on our deck. At first it was touch-and-go, later they would land and then take off. Pilots moved up from a piston-driven plane to a jet plane. I have two questions: What happened to my old ship? What was the type of piston-engine plane? -- L.D., Lansing, Mich.
A: The USS Lexington, CV-16, is a World War II-era aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1943, it is said to have served the United States longer and set more records than any other carrier in the history of naval aviation. The ship was the oldest working carrier in the Navy when it was decommissioned in 1991.
The ship was originally named the USS Cabot, but before it left the Fore River Shipyard in Massachusetts, the original carrier named USS Lexington, a CV-2, was sunk in the Coral Sea. A move was made to rename the Cabot to Lexington. The new Lexington participated in nearly every major operation in the Pacific Theater and spent 21 months in combat. "The Blue Ghost" was decommissioned on Nov. 26, 1991, and turned into a floating museum. You can visit this national treasure in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The planes on board were T-28 Trojans, which were used as training aircraft by both the Air Force and the Navy.
CORRECTION: I recently answered a question regarding Milton Levine, the creator of Uncle Milton Ant Farm. In my answer, I listed the year of his death as 2002. I heard from his daughter, Ellen, who informed me that Milton Levine died Jan. 16, 2011. Thanks, Ellen!
(Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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