How to measure fame

Fame is bestowed on an individual...

Fame is something that can not be bought, although many politicians think otherwise. Fame is bestowed on an individual because of some sacrifice or accomplishment. There are different degrees of fame. The lowest degree lasts for approximately 15 minutes and is eagerly sought by persons with little to offer. The greatest degree of fame an individual can receive is to have a monument, building, or highway named for them. Here in the United States there are many examples. Perhaps, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are two individuals who have been given the greatest acclaim with monuments in our nation’s capitol. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Walter Chrysler have tall buildings named in their honor located in New York City, while Ronald Regan and John Foster Dulles are remembered by international airports named after them.

While visiting the Civil War Battlefield in Manassas, Virginia, I discovered two streets in that town named for one Confederate general. One street name means the general was important in the war, but two streets means the general was truly famous. I couldn’t resist taking the following photograph where the two streets intersect.

The Village of Poland, Ohio, had several famous residents whom the community wished to remember by naming streets in their honor. The names of Botsford, Cover, Hill, Hine, Lee, McKinley, Morse, Nesbitt, and Walker can be found on street signs in the Village. Their tombstones can also be found in Poland’s Riverside Cemetery with the exception of President William McKinley who was buried in Canton, Ohio.

Whether your name is on a monument, building, or street sign, the true measure of fame is determined by the number of inches your obituary measures in the New York Times Newspaper. Former U.S President Richard Nixon has the longest obituary (510”) with Frank Sinatra (236”) coming in second. The longest obituary for a female was that of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (210”) and the longest obituary for a black American was jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald (102”). Baseball player Joe DiMaggio ranked fourth in the overall apex of fame with 209 inches. This and more on famous Americans can be found in a book entitled “Fame at Last” written by John C. Ball and Jill Jones. (ISBN 0-7407-0940-2)