Friedrich Schringenrudder's Foppish Neckwear

Dec 11, 2006

RAY: This puzzler was sent in almost six years ago, by someone named Patrick Mooney. But, it took me six years to mess around and sufficiently obfuscate it to get it to the point where it was usable.

Somewhere around 1912 or 1913, aviation began to really catch on in Europe. It didn't become popular earlier... because there were no planes. But, it was fortunate that it did catch on when it did because they were going to need all those planes and pilots for World War I. Now, the legend goes that it was around that time that the soon-to-be-famous pilot Friedrich Schringenrudder started wearing a very long silk scarf that the lovely Fraulein Blücher had made for him. Now, Friedrich had long been know for his foppish flying duds and was a popular figure at the local gasthaus.

But as stylish as it was, that long scarf was not worn for fashion reasons. So the question is, why did Friedrich wear that scarf and why was it so long?
RAY: Back then, all those engines that were on those early planes were two cycle engines. Just like your big weed whacker or your chain saw, they had to mix the gasoline and the oil, and the oil of choice then was castor oil.

Of course, the pilot sat right behind the engine, and the exhaust fumes laden with that castor oil would blow in his face.

When you landed the plane, you'd have to make a mad dash to the outhouse, because castor oil as we know is a pretty good laxative. So, the scarf was extra long so that as he flew and it got saturated, you'd pull on the short end and keep exposing a new section. It would act as a filter.

TOM: Gee, that's what I need for my MG.

RAY: You need more than the scarf. Do we have a winner?

TOM: We certainly do. Our winner this week is Paul Goode from Walla Walla, Washington, and for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Paul is going to get a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which he can get this season's biggest seller, our new CD called, Once Upon a Car Fire: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

RAY: Geez, you know, I've been meaning to ask you, I mean, isn't that title a little haughty? I mean, 'The Greatest Stories Ever Told'? Ever, I mean --

TOM: Well we did think about that, we actually considered sort of qualifying it, you know, like Once Upon a Car Fire, The Greatest Stories Ever Told, By Us, on National Public Radio, During Car Talk. We haven't yet been sued over it. But that wouldn't fit on the spine of the CD case.

RAY: Paul, the drunken elves in our Shameless Commerce Division wanted me to remind you that you if you order the CD or anything else before Christmas this year, you'll also get a free Car Talk Plaza staff parking sticker for your car's window.

TOM: Which guarantees you free parking at any Car Talk Plaza location across the country.

RAY: That's right, as long as you put money in the meter, anyway.

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