Who buried all those acorns around New York's Grand Central Terminal?
This time, you can't blame (or credit) some street-smart squirrel. Try the 18th century American shipping and railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt wasn't looking to cache away nutritious foods for the winter when he worked the acorn and oak leaf motif into the stonework of the Manhattan rail station's main concourse: The Vanderbilt patriarch was creating a family crest for his emerging dynasty - the very visual signature it lacked, even as its fortunes grew over the years.
What better symbol than the acorn, known for hundreds, if not millions of years, to squirrels as the repository of a bountiful, leafy and sturdy future? It simply took humans a little longer to catch on to the idea.
The Vanderbilt-Acorn connection continues to this day, as the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at his eponymous university in Nashville, Tenn., is known to publish a magazine known as the Acorn Chronicle. You can just bet the campus squirrels couldn't be happier.
It remains to be seen whether Vanderbilt was a secret sciurophile, or just had a fancy for the same things preferred by our bushytailed pals. Nonetheless, to have a member of the nation's elite class share a sweetness for the same things as squirrels is a wonderful thing indeed. It's downright egalitarian.
Cornelius - or is that ACORN-elius?? - we thank you.