There’s just something about unsung heroes and forgotten landmark events that have always fascinated me. Perhaps it has something to do with my love for trivia contests, or my love for winning said contests! Whatever the reason, I was intrigued last year when I began listening to the podcast Mobituaries. Hosted by Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and frequent panelist on NPR’s quiz show Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, this podcast has provided me with many hours of enjoyment and discovery.
As described on the website (Mobituaries.com) “Mo Rocca’s long love of obituaries has led him to create Mobituaries, an irreverent but deeply researched appreciation of the people (and things) of the past who have long intrigued him—from an unsung Founding Father to the first Chinese-American superstar, from Neanderthals to the station wagon.” My introduction to this podcast was the episode entitled The Forgotten Forerunners. In it, we are introduced to three individuals who broke boundaries of race and gender years before more well-known pioneers. For example, did you know that Rosa Parks was not the first African-American woman to challenge the racist policies of public transportation? Elizabeth Jennings Graham fought for (and won!) the right to use New York City’s available streetcars in 1854!
There are two seasons and 16 more episodes with similarly interesting stories focusing not only on people but also on things like TV sitcom characters or a college football rivalry. No matter the subject matter, the stories are very compelling and thoroughly presented. So it was a wonderful surprise to learn that Mo Rocca was also publishing a Mobituaries book with even more intriguing stories including one on the afterlife of Einstein’s brain. The book was published in November 2019 and is now available through the Davenport Public Library in regular, Large Print, ebook, and CD formats. The podcast can be found on the Mobituaries website, or through your preferred podcast app.