On this day in 1918, in Alton Illinois, in the Land of the More-or-Less Free and the Home of the Easily Frightened, was born a teensy-eensy-weensy little baby whose destiny was to become the World’s Tallest Person. He still holds that record today.
Robert Pershing Wadlow was born weighing only 3.85 kilos. When he was two, something went terribly wrong after he had a double hernia operation (ouch!). His body started doing the beanstalk thing. By the time he was five he was 1.6 metres tall and weighed 47.6 kilos. By the time his eighth birthday rolled around, Robert was a stunning 77 kilos and stood over 1.8 metres.
On June 27, 1940, Mr. Wadlow was measured by Dr. Cyril MacBryde and Dr. C. M. Charles, Associate Professor of Anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. (Picture Harry S. Truman with a stethoscope.*) They recorded Wadlow’s height at 2.72 metres. A week later, Wadlow was fitted with a brace on his right leg. The brace fit poorly and inflamed his ankle, causing cellulitis. Robert Wadlow died from the infection on July 15, 1940. A coffin was made especially for him: it was 3.28 metres long.
According to all accounts, the man who became known as “The Gentle Giant” was a genuinely nice fellow.
* For non-Yanks only: Harry S. Truman was the President of the U. S. of A. after Franklin D. Roosevelt died. He was from Missouri (called the “Show Me” state because you have to work hard to convince a Missourian of anything). His main claim to fame was that he dropped the Big One on Japan – TWICE! He was affectionaltley known to many as “The Hairy S”. He was known for his down-home wit. My favorite Truman quote: “Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.”