3 Ponce de Leon Never Hunted for the Fountain of Youth
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Everyone knows Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon found Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth, which is hilarious because look at Florida now! It's full of old people! Irony!
What do you expect from a state that looks like a cross between a flaccid dong and an old person's neck flap?
It's also a great example of what a bunch of superstitious dimwits people used to be. People used to risk their lives exploring new territory not for gold or other resources, but magical artifacts that grant eternal life? What a bunch of assholes!
How We Got It Wrong:
The whole Fountain of Youth story was a satire, like the story of Don Quixote chasing windmills or the movie Airplane!
"Jose, do you like movies about conquistadors?"
Ponce de Leon started out as one of the 1,200 explorers, sailors, and volunteers who voyaged on Christopher Columbus' second trip to the New World in 1493. And he must have impressed the right people because within 20 years he was governing provinces in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. According to documents of the time, the guy was neither superstitious nor a moron. He was just really good at violently suppressing indigenous populations, which was pretty much all the Spanish government wanted in a person back then.
There was one problem, however. Or another problem, in addition to the one that had to do with killing native people. Twenty years after Christopher Columbus' initial voyage, Columbus' son Diego thought he had a right to a chunk of the land his dad had stumbled onto. After years of wrestling with the Spanish courts, Diego finally got a ruling in his favor, which gave him the authority to kick Ponce de Leon out of the provinces he was governing. But the Spanish throne was still pretty happy with Ponce, so they threw him a bone: If he kept looking for new lands, he could rule them in Spain's name. So he did. Boom. That's how we got Florida.
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Which sadly is how we got Flo Rida.
So where did the story of the Fountain of Youth come into play? Years after de Leon's death, one of Diego's cronies was asked to write a history of Spain's adventures in the New World. When this historian got to Ponce's chapter, he took the bitter family rivalries to heart and threw in a made-up story about the explorer chasing death-defying magic water like some kind of dipshit. The actual paper trail between de Leon and Spain makes as many mentions of a Fountain of Youth as it makes of a Fountain of Spider-Mans. Soooo, none. The whole thing was intended to make de Leon look like an idiot.
2 Hitler and Jesse Owens Were Not Bitter Enemies
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The 1936 Olympics was supposed to be Adolf Hitler's coming out party, but not in the sense that we think of "coming out" today. In Hitler's twisted mind, the games would be the perfect international showcase of Aryan superiority and fast running skills. So Adolf sure did have egg on his face when African-American Jesse Owens won four medals. In fact, Hitler was so embarrassed that a black man had beat his whiteys that he refused to shake Jesse's hand, something the media was quick to report back home in America. What a racist idiot!
We can't tell if that guy is offensively saluting, or offensively trying to touch Owens' hair.
How We Got It Wrong:
While it's true that Jesse and Adolf never slapped hand skins, the idea of the Fuhrer storming out of the stadium in a dramatic huff is totally made up. No, the guy who orchestrated the greatest racially motivated genocide in history didn't want to shake hands with a black man, obviously. In fact, he didn't want to shake hands with any medalists who weren't German, because he didn't want non-Aryan cooties. So when the International Olympic Committee told him to shake hands with either all of the winners or none of the winners, Hitler chose none. What did you expect? It's not like the world's greatest monster was suddenly going to turn into a gracious sportsman.
The real surprise came when Owens was later asked about his time in Berlin. You have to remember that in 1936 Owens was a second-class citizen in his home country. Like other American blacks, Owens had to ride in the back of the bus and use the back door at restaurants, and once he got home from Berlin, this famous, world-class athlete even had to take the freight elevator at his own reception. But during the Olympics, it was a different story. Owens didn't just train, eat, and travel with his white teammates, he struck up a friendship with one of Germany's superstar athletes, Luz Long. Here's a picture of Jesse and Luz sharing a giggle fit.
So in Jesse's mind, he got more respect during the German games than he ever did before or since in America. It didn't bother him that the Big Nazi in Charge didn't shake his hand; it did bother him that his own president didn't send a congratulatory telegram because he didn't want to offend Southern voters. Especially since, according to Owens, Hitler sent him an inscribed picture of himself when the games were over. Sure, it was a tacky, egomaniacal gesture from a monster, but that was more than Owens got from FDR.
Plus, the stupid inscribed picture wasn't even the only recognition Owens got from Adolf. Jesse said Hitler gave him a wave:
"But before he left I was on my way to a broadcast and passed near his box. He waved at me and I waved back. I think it was bad taste to criticize the 'man of the hour' in another country."
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Some historians think he may have changed his mind and was calling for a high-five, in which case he totally got left hanging.
For all we know, Owens might have inadvertently given Adolf Hitler the Nazi salute and he just didn't know it. Still, you'd expect Hitler to be more of a dick about the whole thing.
And while we're on Hitler ...