World’s Largest Hypodermic Needle, c. 1958
What is it about big things? Perhaps they appeal because many of us feel so existentially small that we find comfort in worshiping the humongous, whether it be of spiritual or physical origin — or both.
Consider the awe of my parents in 1989, during a road trip to Keystone, South Dakota, as they parked their Buick Lesabre in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, the monolithic George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln gazing down like enormous granite deities. There was but one conclusion to draw: God does exist, because only He could have imbued Gutzon Borglum and his son with the ability to sculpt this wonder.
Wonders of the world, in fact, have inspired reverence throughout the ages. Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484 to 425 BC) had his own Top Seven mind-blowers:
It took a couple of decades and some 2.3 million limestone blocks to build the Pyramid of Giza, the final resting place for Pharaoh Khufu and, at the time, the tallest man-made structure in the world — a feat unsurpassed for 3,800 years.
In modern times, there are not enough block-toting Egyptians around to produce similar marvels, although, in the United States, there have been plenty of hammer-toting lunatics willing to erect “world’s largest” attractions along the highways and byways of our great, if not demented, country. I currently live near the World’s Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail, for God’s sake, and I used to live near the World’s Largest Hercules Beetle. Random internet Googling turned up thought-provoking equivalents such as the World’s Largest Can of Spinach, the World’s Largest Bottle of Hair Tonic, and, in Lucas, Kansas, the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.
It’s fair to say that the World’s Largest Anything … I’m seduced like a bum to a sandwich. Avid readers of this blog may recall an earlier post highlighting my World’s Largest Pair of Lee Riders, but I also own the World’s Largest Teeth Brushing Demonstration Aid, the World’s Largest Toy Gun Holster, the World’s Largest G. M. Skinner Fishing Lure, the World’s Largest Model of a DC-3 Airplane, and the World’s Largest Hypodermic Needle (see photo above), which was developed in the 1950s by the U.S. Navy Training Device Center, enabling military instructors to facilitate how-to’s in front of large classrooms.
Extensive research turned up only a few like examples, all of which reside in the collection of artifacts at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. Someday I’d like to see that exhibit and, time permitting, pay homage to the area’s other roadside immensities. High on the list? The World’s Largest Pack of Cigarettes.
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