Today marks the tragic death anniversary of eccentric, eighteenth century German inventor, Klaus Heinrich Fretzer, from the village of Buxtehude.
I suppose the right trivia night question would be, “Who invented the Ümlaut? To which, the answer and punch line, would be–It wasn’t Klaus Fretzer.”
Fretzer is widely thought to have invented a precursor to the aglet. Plastic hadn’t yet been invented. Herr Fretzer dipped cotton lacing ends in latex rubber to keep them from fraying–christened his invention, the “baumwolle gummi bindenhalten.”
Other inventions were less successful–namely, the “regen dampfen schild klampfen,” mechanized, spring-loaded, pop-up umbrella, attached to the body with leather straps, and a bizarre furry pretzel called the “Fretzel.” During a dark period of reclusive madness, he later claimed to have invented the Ümlaut.
Because of these, and other outlandish claims–one of which, was the final straw–the “nebelgefahren-klarensehen,” that supposedly enabled the user to see through fog. Soon after–he became the laughingstock of the scientific community.
He died in a sanitarium, insane and penniless–or, more properly, pfenningless. Villagers celebrate Klaus Fretzer Day every year, by presenting, outlandish re-inventions of common objects, to throngs of jeering merrymakers.
While you’re downing a big bowl of “Fruity Pebbles,” or some other breakfast fare, consider Klaus Heinrich Fretzer; peace escaped him–in both, life and death. If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps today, cheer up–it could always be worse,
Nigel Phensworth, “Not Real News,” 1-23-2015©