By Chuck Woodbury
I don’t know why, out of the blue, I started thinking about fleas.
It’s odd the way some things just pop into your head totally at random. Sometimes I think about places, mostly when I’m in bed, half asleep: I will recall a scene from somewhere. It might be a street corner, or a building, maybe a bridge or a room in a house.
It’s maddening sometimes trying to remember where I saw such a sight. The other night I saw a country road, lined with trees. It dead ended just ahead. For the next 15 minutes I ran through all the places I had visited where I might have seen that road, a process of elimination. Finally, it came to me. It was in the tiny town of Lille, Belgium. I was there searching for information about my father’s World War II B-24 bomber. He and his crew were returning to England from a mission in Germany, when two of the four engines caught fire and quit. He could barely stay aloft, and was a sitting duck for a German fighter.
His navigator spotted a small airfield in Lille and my father decided that would have to do for a landing. So he set down there. When the plane finally stopped, it was only a few feet from the end of the runway and a big wall. But the crew survived with no harm. The local underground rescued them and hid them for awhile in a church basement. Eventually, the crew escaped back to England to fly again. Sadly for me, nobody I talked to in Lille could recall the landing or what happened to the plane.
ANYWAY, ABOUT FLEAS: here are some things you may not know.
•Their average weight is a millionth of a pound.
•They can pull 160,000 times their own weight. An average sized person with such relative strength, could pull 14 million pounds!
•Fleas can jump 12 inches. The human equivalent would be nearly 1,000 feet. Wow! Would that ever change NBA rules!
•The leap of a flea requires acceleration 50 times that of a Space Shuttle at liftoff!
•A flea can jump 30,000 times before stopping!
•They reverse direction with every jump.
•They get excited by carbon dioxide and are sensitive to darkness.
Pretty interesting, huh?