Category Archives: Books

More Unusual, Strange and Funny Cemetery Epitaphs

“Here lies the body of Henry Round
Who went to sea and never was found.”

Unusual Cemetery Epitaphs from Great Britain and the United States

We’ve covered unusual epitaphs before and the question that always comes to mind is: did the deceased intend to have these words placed upon their monument or is it more often the work of some comedic relative?

Funny Epitaphs by Arthur Eaton photo: Gil’s Book Loft Binghamton, NY

This collection in book form entitled Funny Epitaphs collected by Arthur Wentworth Eaton, (The Mutual Book Company), Boston, 1902, gathers up epitaphs from around Great Britain and the United States.

These inscriptions are claimed to be on tombstones. Eaton does not disclose how he compiled the epitaphs. Some quick research shows Eaton probably collected the majority of epitaphs from previously published sources. Unfortunately, in many of the examples, Eaton does not give names or more importantly the cemetery or location where the inscription can be found.

Like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, you’ll have to decide for yourself if these epitaphs can really be found in a cemetery.

Some are not so funny, but profound. Here is a selection of some of the better and more unusual epitaphs.



Here lies the body of Johnny Haskell,
A lying, thieving, cheating rascal ;
He always lied, and now he lies,
He has no soul and cannot rise.

Beneath this stone a lump of clay,
Lies Arabella Young ;
Who on the 24th of May,
Began to hold her tongue.

On a tombstone in New Jersey :

Reader, pass on I — don’t waste your time
On bad biography and bitter rhyme ;
For what I ant, this crumbling clay insures.
And what I was, is no affair of yours

At Wolstanton :
Mrs. Ann Jennings

Some have children, some have none ;
Here lies the mother of twenty-one.

Ruth Sprague tombstone Hoosick Falls, NY

There is an epitaph of an eccentric character that
may be seen on a tombstone at the burying-grounds
near Hoosick Falls, New York. It reads :

Ruth Sprague, Daughter of Gibson and Elizabeth Sprague.
Died June 11, 1846, aged 9 years, 4 months, and 3 days.
She was stolen from the grave by Roderick R. Clow, dissected at Dr. P. M. Armstrong’s office, in Hoosick, N. Y., from which place her mutilated remains were obtained and deposited here.

Her body dissected by fiendish man,
Her bones anatomized,
Her soul, we trust, has risen to God,
Where few physicians rise.

Here I lie, and no wonder I am dead,
For the wheel of a wagon went over my head.

Tread softly mortals o’er the bones
Of this world’s wonder, Captain Jones,
Who told his glorious deeds to many
Yet never was believed by any.
Posterity let this suffice
He swore all’s true, yet here he lies.


This is all that remains of poor Ben Hough
He had forty-nine years and that was enough.
Of worldly goods he had his share,
And now he’s gone to the Devil’s snare.

Here lies the body of Henry Round
Who went to sea and never was found. Continue reading

7 Untrue Historical “Facts”

The Mayflower Brought Over The First English Colonists and Six Other Untrue Historical Facts

The first English settlement in 1607 by George Popham, Fort George. (photo from the archive Simancas Spain – courtesy Maine’s First Ship)

On the internet you can absorb a lot of “facts” that are completely inaccurate. A skeptical reader should ask where is the information coming from? What is the source?

Unfortunately many mistaken or untrue beliefs, facts and quotations were originally put down in printed books. Sometimes there was shoddy research involved, other times hearsay was used as evidence and other times outright fabrications were entered as fact. Over time, some false facts have been repeated to the point where they become sources of truth.

That is why if you take the time you can discover some entertaining books out there that delve into history and provide context to factual events. These are books written not to provide revisionist history, but corrected history based upon thorough research end evidence.

Tom Burnham’s The Dictionary of Misinformation (1975) Thomas Y. Crowell Company is just such a book.

Burnham researched hundreds of stories, quotations and facts to compile a “dictionary” of reference, rumination and pure delight based upon “misinformation, misbelief, misconstruction and misquotation.”

Here are seven untrue historical facts that we found interesting:

Henry Ford created and introduced the assembly line in automobile factories
In 1902, Ransom E. Olds of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company produced 2,500 cars using an assembly line method. Wooden platforms on casters passed between lines of workmen who added parts until the car was completed. The previous year Olds built just over 400 cars.

Henry Ford improved upon the idea using a conveyor belt system, which brought various parts to the production line. Ford’s innovation cut the time to produce a Model T down from a day and a half to 93 minutes.

The First English colonists ventured to New England in 1620 aboard the Mayflower- 
In 1607, under the leadership of George Popham, 120 persons established a colony at what is now the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine. The colonists built a fort, houses, a stockade, and a storehouse.

Harsh circumstances abounded: an alliance with local Indians soon fell apart.  An Indian attack on the colonists caused thirteen deaths.  The site of the small settlement was exposed to brutal winter winds and a particularly severe early winter set in, resulting in food supplies giving out.

The colony’s sponsor in England passed away, and George Popham died on February 5, 1608. When a supply ship finally arrived the following June, the remaining colonists abandoned the settlement and returned to England.

Revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale’s dying words were:  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” –
School teacher Nathan Hale was hung by the British in New York City for being a spy on September 22, 1776. American General William Hull claimed to have heard about Hale’s last words from a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Hull’s daughter immortalized Hale’s words in 1848 when she published her father’s memoirs.

But an eyewitness account from British officer Frederick Mackensie, is what we might call on the spot reporting. Mackensie wrote the following in his diary:

“He (Hale) behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.” Continue reading

45 Years Ago President Truman Died – Remembering A Man of Conviction and Courage

Harry Truman Died December 26, 1972 At Age 88.

Some Words About and From President Truman

Here’s how the CBS Evening News covered the death of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. This three minute clip reflects the simplicity of Harry Truman.

Throughout his life Harry Truman spoke his mind and was honest and ethical, highly unusual traits for a politician.

How much of a straight shooter was Harry Truman? The following story clearly illustrates it.

President Nixon tours Truman Library with President Truman March 21 1969 photo: Harry S. Truman Library

When he retired from public life in 1953, President Truman and his wife Bess moved into his mother-in-law’s house in Independence, MO. They had almost no money.

Truman had been offered many jobs, but turned them all down. Truman had not exploited his fame or former power of the high office he had held for monetary gain.

“I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency,” Truman would later write of his refusal to influence-peddle to get by.

No president received a pension until 1958 when Congress established a law giving former presidents a pension of $25,000 per year.

Truman would frequently recite this prayer…and mean it:

“Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth and the Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen—help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings—even as Thou understandest mine! Amen.”

To get a sense of Harry Truman, Continue reading

Red Sox Star Bobby Doerr’s Death At 99 Ends An Era

Hall-Of-Famer Bobby Doerr Who Died On Monday November 13 Was the Last Living Major Leaguer Who Played in the 1930s

Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams – 1963

Shades of 1946- Three stars of the last Red Sox American league championship team of 1946 (L-R)  Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams are working together in the Red Sox 1963 training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona to bring the Red Sox back to the position where they will seriously challenge the Yankees again for the pennant. photo: Sporting News April 1963

When Bobby Doerr passed away at the age of 99 this week, he had been the last ballplayer to have played major league baseball in the 1930s. At the age of 19 Doerr debuted in the major leagues on April 20, 1937.

Think about that for a moment. That was over 80 years ago. Doerr played against Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, Goose Goslin, Ossie Bluege and Mule Haas.

Edde Stanky takes the throw as Bobby Doerr steals second base in the seventh inning of the 1947 All-Star game. Doerr later scored the winning run.

Doerr was a nine time all-star who had to retire prematurely at the age of 33 due to back problems. As great of a player Doerr was, he was an even better human being.

You get that assessment from the many people in and out of baseball who knew the man.

If  you love baseball and have never read David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates (Hyperion) 2003, you should. This will give you a sense of Bobby Doerr, the man.. Continue reading

Actress Ida Lupino’s Spooky Supernatural Experience

Ida Lupino Tells Of A Strange Phone Call

Ida Lupino (left), who makes her debut as a comedy director with ABC-TV’s “The Donna Reed Show” Thursday Dec. 10 (8-8:30 PM EST) goes over the script with Donna Reed and guest star Ann Rutherford (right). 11-20-59 ABC-TV Television Photos

Actress and director Ida Lupino (1918-1995) claimed that when she was a child she had an unnerving supernatural experience.

In Spooks Deluxe: Some Excursions into the Supernatural as Told to and Recounted by Danton Walker (1956, Franklin Watts), Ida Lupino tells a tale that is worthy of being a Twilight Zone story.

After you read Lupino’s story, you might recall two episodes of the famous Rod Serling TV classic which follow a similar story line, Long Distance Call (1961) and Night Call (1964).

I’ve heard similar stories, but none from someone as famous as Lupino.

From Spooks Deluxe:

Ida Lupino’s story, also involving a telephone call, was even more dramatic. “My father belonged to a club in London similar to the Lambs Club in New York,”

Ida wrote me. “He had the title of Treasurer of Secrets, which carries with it Masonic responsibilities. The story involves a fellow member, and one of his closest friends, to whom I shall have to give the fictitious name of Andrew Meyer, for a variety of reasons.

” ‘Uncle Andy,’ as I called him, was a frequent visitor at our home and I was very fond of him, in fact, all of us were.

“At the time, we were living with my grandmother at her home in the outskirts of London, while my parents whom I always called by their first names, Stanley and Connie—were playing an engagement in one of the London variety houses.

“One night, about half past ten, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep again. I had had a disturbing dream about Uncle Andy and decided to go downstairs and tell my grandmother about it. I was nine years old and very impressionable at the time.

“Granny was in the kitchen, preparing supper for my parents, who were due back from the theater where they were working. while I was telling Granny my dream, the phone in the hall rang.

“`Answer it, Ida Granny said. I have my hands full.’ Continue reading

Brooklyn or is it Booklyn? Rare & Collectible Books At The Brooklyn Expo Hall

The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair In Greenpoint

There’s new life in the used and rare book world. That’s the way it seemed to the many dealers who were exhibiting Saturday, September 9 at the Brooklyn Expo Center 79 Franklin Street, Greenpoint. The variety of material for sale here has made this show a go-to destination for bibliophiles seeking a great find.

It has sometimes been a challenge to interest new collectors considering an entire generation has been brought up in the digital age and do all of their reading on a screen.

Yet they they were. Younger people attending a book show and displaying interest in rare and collectible books.

Looking around the crowd it was noticed that there were quite a few people who were of Generation X , Y and even Z in attendance.

Exposing the passion of book collecting to the kids at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

This is a good sign for collectible book dealers that have been trying to reach younger people and share their knowledge and passion for collecting books printed on good old fashioned paper.

Dealer Peter Austern of Brooklyn said he tried to “exhibit things that were unusual and might appeal to the collectors who are very specific in their wants.” He added that the show being in this part of Brooklyn “tends to attract a different, younger sort of crowd.”

Regarding the venue itself, the natural light and high ceilings at the Brooklyn Expo Center are a nice change to the sometimes crowded and poorly lighted places that shows are often held in. Continue reading

What The Dickens! 7 Popular Sayings & How They Originated

You May Think The Saying “What The Dickens” Is Related To Novelist Charles Dickens (It’s Not.)

7 Famous Phrases And How They Came About.

Charles (Not “what the”) Dickens

Almost everyone uses slang or colloquial speech without ever thinking how did the words in the phrase come together?

Monumental arguments have ensued over simple sayings and many times there is no correct answer, merely an educated supposition.

The Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins Volume II by William and Mary Morris (1967) Harper & Row, contains what the authors believe to be the origins of hundreds of sayings. Here are seven of them. The words in italics are from the Morris’s book.

the real McCoy

The real McCoy” is heard a lot in those gangster films of the 30s and 40s. A saying that is still used today, the real McCoy has controversial origins.

The Real McCoy? Charles “Kid” McCoy

Continue reading

Panoramic 360 Degree View of New York In 1892

360° Panoramic View of New York City From The New York World Building in 1892

Stitching together 10 separate photographs from King’s Handbook of New York City (1892) as best I could, this image gives us a 360 degree view of New York City.

Taken from atop Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World Building, you can get a sense of what the entire city looked like before the turn-of-the-century, when the skyscraper emerged and would forever alter the skyline. A golden dome topped Pulitzer’s Building with an observation gallery that gave the visitor the following view.

(click to get the full size view)

Probably the three most prominent points in the panorama are from left to right, the Post Office, City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge.

City Hall & New York World Building c. 1908

At 309 feet, the World Building designed by George B. Post was the tallest office building in the world when completed in 1890.

Think about that for a minute. Just 26 floors. From the building’s foundation to the top of its flagstaff it measured 375½ feet. At the time that height was an outstanding architectural achievement.

The second floor of the beehive, as the interior of the dome of the World Building was known to its employees, also contained Joseph Pulitzer’s office.  Here is how the New York World described the top of its own building just after its completion: Continue reading

10 Things About New York in 1892 That You Didn’t Know

From An 1892 Guidebook – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About New York

14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in 1892 photo: KIng’s Handbook of New York

Some of these facts are pretty interesting:

The New York Post Office handled over 600,000,000 pieces of mail matter annually. That may not be so amazing. What is amazing is that they had an annual profit of $3 million dollars!

Trinity Church is part of Trinity Parish. The Parish was the richest in America. Income from its real estate and other holdings amounted to over $500,000 annually

It was free to walk over the 9-year-old Brooklyn Bridge. Vehicles had to pay a toll of 3 cents each way.

At Centre and Franklin Streets stood the City Prison, better known as The Tombs, because of the architectural resemblance to Egyptian tombs. Before the death by electrocution law went into effect in 1889, all condemned murderers sentenced to death by the New York courts were executed in the Tombs. Continue reading

Covers of 100-Year-Old Souvenir New York View Books

New York City Souvenir View Book Covers From 1911 – 1919

New York of To-Day published by L.H. Nelson 1913

According to NYC & Company over 58 million people visited New York City in 2015. Many of them possibly bought a keepsake to bring back home; a t-shirt, mug or some other knick-knack.

Souvenirs have remained a constant in the world of tourism. Since about 1880, view books have been one of the souvenirs that appealed to visitors of New York City. With everyone now  having a camera to photograph where they were and sights they have seen, view books are pretty much on their way to becoming extinct.

During their heyday from the late 1800s until the 1940s view books were a popular and inexpensive souvenir choice. Most view books generally ranged in price from a quarter to a dollar. They generally contained anywhere from a dozen to 400 photographs of buildings, tourist sights and attractions. Many had plain covers, while others had covers to attract the eye.

Going through my collection, I selected a few view books that date between 1911-1919.

These examples are relatively common for collectors. When they were new I think would have caught the eye of a visitor, because they are still striking today.

Scenes of Modern New York published by L.H Nelson 1911.  A nice cover featuring The Williamsburg Bridge (completed 1902), The Fuller Building aka Flatiron (completed 1902) and The Subway (opened 1904).

New York Illustrated published by C. Souhami 1914. A colorful panorama of lower Manhattan taken from the Brooklyn tower. On the left is the tallest building in the world, The Woolworth Building (completed 1913). To the right is the 40 story Municipal Building (completed 1914). On the waterfront, South Street with its docks and shipping activity was still the hub of maritime New York. Continue reading