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January 4, 2003

No trivial matter: Carty put Toledo in the game

From: Toledo Blade, OH - 04 Jan 2003


Carty Finkbeiner once said that Toledo’s national reputation is based largely on the Mud Hens, Tony Packo’s, and Jamie Farr on M*A*S*H running around in a dress."

We can thank Carty for adding a new distinction: He has gotten us in Trivial Pursuit.

In the 20th anniversary edition of the popular board game, players are asked: "Which Ohio city was represented by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who once suggested deaf residents move out to the airport?"

The answer, of course, is Toledo.

"There’s different ways to measure fame in this country," said Mark Morris, public relations director for Hasbro Games, the maker of Trivial Pursuit. "Some people get Nobel prizes; some get Pulitzers.

"But you know you’ve made it in popular culture when you’re a Trivial Pursuit question."

"That idea was never espoused by me, and I’ve been mocked, laughed-at, and ridiculed for it for years," he said. "It’s unfortunate, but it’s been attached to me. The truth is being ignored, but I guess I have to grin and bear it - I’m going down in history for saying deaf people should move to the airport."

Mr. Finkbeiner said the idea was posited by a neighbor, a doctor, who left it with a list of other suggestions in the mayor’s mailbox. He gave the letter to aides, and suddenly "found this idea was being attributed to me. It was never reported accurately, and the people who know the truth continue to perpetuate this as my idea."

The question is one of 3,800 questions in the box, Mr. Morris said. He does not know just how the game editors came to choose that particular question, but it fits all the requirements for inclusion in the special-edition game, which hit the market in September.

"It’s a basic who-what-when-where question, it’s something that happened since 1982, and there were one or two days in 1995 when this event was all over the national news. People in Ohio have a good chance of getting it. But the rest of the country might be saying, ‘I remember that. Was it Toledo? Or was it Columbus?’"

It may memorialize one of Mr. Finkbeiner’s less-than-stellar moments, but it really happened, Mr. Morris said - and most people featured in even the most embarrassing questions are excited to find themselves memorialized on cardboard.

The deaf issue has been fodder before: It earned a mention in Ross and Kathryn Petras’s book The 176 Stupidest Things Ever Done. The collection was published by Doubleday in 1996 and takes aim at some of the world’s goofiest human tricks.

Another local shows up in this year’s deck. Steve Fisher, born in Toledo and raised in Bedford Township, Michigan, bought his first boat in Port Clinton and sailed it from San Francisco to Hawaii. His Trivial Pursuit card details his record-breaking feat of wind-surfing.

In 1997, at age 37, he sailed 2,500 miles from California to Hawaii.

©2003 The Blade