Tag Archives: Unusual

Charles Lindbergh Was Not The First Flier To Cross The Atlantic – And Other Unusual Things You Didn’t Know

Lindbergh Didn’t Cross The Atlantic First

7 Strange and Unusual Historical Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

When I was a kid I remember reading a copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not and coming across the “fact” that Charles Lindbergh was “merely the 67th person” to fly across the Atlantic.

Albert C Read's seaplane that crossed the Atlantic in 1919

Albert C Read’s seaplane that crossed the Atlantic in 1919

Technically Ripley was correct. The first person to cross the Atlantic was Lieutenant Commander Albert C. Read. On May 16-27, 1919 Read flew in a seaplane, the NC-4, from Newfoundland to the Azores and on to Lisbon Portugal. it was not a non-stop flight like Lindbergh was to accomplish eight years later, but even so I never learned that in school.

Lindbergh was not even the first to make a non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Captain John Alcock and Arthur W. Brown flew non-stop in a British biplane from Newfoundland to Ireland in a little over 16 hours on June 14, 1919.

So with that nugget of history, here are six more unusual facts that you probably didn’t know.

Why We Shake Hands With Our Right Hands
The custom of shaking hands has come down to us from the time when almost everyone carried a sword or knife. In those days when one met a stranger, it was customary as a matter of friendly intention, to hold out the right hand to show it did not hold a sword or knife.

It Was Predicted Skyscrapers Would Not Be Economically Practical Over Time
In 1939 It was estimated by the National Association of Real Estate Boards that “it is unlikely that the period of economic usefulness of a skyscraper can be much longer than forty years.”

In The Early 20th Century There Was A Proposal To Go To A 13 Month Calendar
Moses B. Cotsworth’s idea was to replace the 12 month Gregorian calendar,with a 13 month calendar. Cotsworth’s calendar would apply uniformity to the number of days in each month – thirteen months each comprising 28 days. Continue reading

A Schlitz Beer Ad You Won’t Believe

When There Was Absolutely No Truth In Advertising

Why Drink Water, When You Can Drink Schlitz?

Schlitz Beer Puck Magazine 1904“Doctors Say Drink More Schlitz”

Which doctors? Doctor Al K. Holic?

Today would the Federal Trade Commission have a problem with this Schlitz beer ad? Probably, but this ad is from a 1904 Puck Magazine. And the creation of the FTC to oversee truth in advertising was another 10 years off.

That’s what I love about 1904. You could say almost any ridiculous thing in print and get away with it.  Continue reading

In South Korea People Believe Electric Fans Cause Death

Many South Koreans Believe That Household Electric Fans Cause Death By Asphyxiation and Hypothermia

ge electric fanYou may have heard of people losing fingers by sticking their hands into spinning fan blades, but have you ever heard of an electric fan sucking all the air out of a room and killing you through asphyxiation?

Of course not, unless you were brought up in South Korea.

You see, in the 1970’s to conserve electricity use, the South Korean government spread a rumor that electric fans could cause death by hypothermia or asphyxiation.

Well that would certainly cut down on your fan use!

As illogical and unscientific as this situation sounds, many people in South Korea believe it to be true.

Below is an excerpt from May 24 New York Times about the situation: Continue reading

He Never Hires Blondes or Women Under Thirty

A Businessman Gives His 6 Rules For Hiring Women In This 1920 Article.

women office workersThis sidebar article from the August 1920 American Magazine describes some rather unscientific and capricious decision making when it comes to hiring decisions.

The businessman who penned the article never factors into his six rules for hiring women any relevant facts such as previous work experience or skills.

According to the anonymous author, older, plainly dressed, short brunettes with non-drooping mouths, make better employees. It is amazing the author did not need to consult an astrological chart or crystal ball to finalize his decisions.

There are probably still some hiring managers who today use at least one of these criteria for their hiring decisions without admitting it to anyone.

Why I Never Hire Women Under Thirty

The Experiences of a Business Executive

My Six Rules For Hiring Women

1 I never hire any woman under thirty years of age. Business for men is not “a part of life,” it is life. In our company we want women who will regard it the same way.

2 I choose short compact women rather than tall ones. Generally speaking, short or middle-sized people, men and women both, have more vitality than big people. Many say I am wrong about this. Continue reading

Incredible, Strange Silly Laws

It’s No April Fools’, These 12 Incredible, Strange Silly Laws Are Real

There Ought To Be a Law dustjacketAmericans are under the impression that there are too many laws. Maybe so. There are many laws that seem unjust, unnecessary and in some cases foolish.

Compared to the past however, there are fewer silly laws on the books. Look back at American history and you might be surprised how many strange laws there once were.

William Seagle’s There Ought To Be A Law (Macauley), 1933, scoured state law books and compiled a couple of hundred laws in effect in 1933, many of them bizarre, others just confounding or silly.

Seagle writes that archaic laws remained on the books due to the passage of time and with no enforcement, legislators forgot that these laws were still statutes. Occasionally laws would be reexamined and states would rid themselves of the stranger ones. The following laws were repealed in the early part of the 20th century:

In Florida: “An Act to Prevent the Indiscriminate Digging of Holes in the Woods”

In South Carolina: A law that made it criminal to draw a check for less than one dollar.

In Massachusetts: A law prohibiting  the showing  of any movie lasting longer than twenty minutes.

Some laws that Seagle found strange, don’t sound so strange today.

For instance this law in Wisconsin doesn’t seem out of place with all the revisionist history happening now: A law forbids the use in the public schools of any history textbook “which falsifies the facts regarding the war of independence, or the war of 1812, or which defames our nation’s founders, or which misrepresents the ideals and causes for which they struggled and sacrificed.”

Seagle questions the intelligence of politicians and lawmakers. What event transpired that brought some legislator to write each one of these bills to enact the law?

How many of these laws are still in effect today? I would imagine most of them have been repealed. But you never know.

1 – Delaware: It is a misdemeanor to “pretend to exercise the art of witchcraft.”

2 – North Dakota: A law regulating carnivals expressly prohibits the dancing of the “hoochie -koochie.”

3 – Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota: It is a criminal offense to dance to the music of The Star Spangled Banner. Continue reading

The Most Unbelievable Ad You Ever Saw

This Unbelievable Ad Appeared in 1920

Get Rich Quick fake Ad American magazine 1920GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO GET RICH QUICK
Invest in
THE CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY
Now being organized to start a cat ranch in California.

We are starting a cat ranch in California with 100,000 cats. Each cat will average twelve kittens a year. The cat skins will sell for 30 cents each. One hundred men can skin 5,000 cats a day. We figure a daily net profit of over $10,000.

NOW WHAT SHALL WE FEED THE CATS?
We will start a rat ranch next door with 1,000,000 rats.  The rats will breed twelve times faster than the cats. So, we’ll have four rats to feed each day to each cat. Now what shall we feed the rats? We will feed the rats the carcasses of the cats after they have been skinned.

NOW GET THIS
We feed the rats to the cats, and the cats to the rats, and get the cat
skins for nothing. Shares are selling at 5 cents each, but the price will go up soon.

INVEST WHILE OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AT YOUR DOOR
CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY

So what’s the story here? This can’t be a real enterprise can it? The following story appeared in The American Magazine in 1920 explaining the ad.

The Savings & Trust Co. of Cleveland wanted to warn people about bad investments. Continue reading

Early 20th Century Solution For The Disabled and Unfit – Kill Them.

In The First Two Decades Of The 20th Century, Some People Believed The Best Way To Deal  With The Lame, Degenerate, and the Developmentally Disabled Was To Kill Them – Preferably Soon After They Were Born

Eugenic Beliefs of a College President; a Doctor; Politicians and a Supreme Court Justice

atos disabled posterEugenics can mean many things, but in its most simple form the main purpose is control, selection and “improvement” of human population.

Its not the sort of idea that curries favor today, especially after Nazi Germany put the concept into practice eliminating undesirables; Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the retarded, the infirm, lame and many other “unfit” groups in their quest for racial purity.

From 1979 until 2015 China’s government practiced a form of eugenics with their one child policy that was meant to control population. Today population control remains a touchy subject. Who gets to decide who should or shouldn’t reproduce?

For the first few decades of the 20th century eugenics or Spartansim was a popular and controversial science or as some have called it, a pseudoscience. If there are people today who would like to see the revival of a eugenics movement, few will say so publicly.

In this fascinating article published 102 years ago The Commonwealth a weekly socialist newspaper based in Everett, WA, an attack was published on the rise of Spartanism and used the words of its proponents to point out the dangers of the Spartan / eugenics movement. The article has been edited here for brevity while maintaining the overall tone of the story.

Highlights from The Commonwealth Thursday January 8, 1914 (Everett WA): Continue reading

That Dog Is Smoking

Definitely NOT The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, "Koko" the poodle pauses for a cigarette Jan 18 1952 photo Murray Garber Journal AmericanKoko Takes a Break

New York – Taking a break from soliciting support for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, “Koko” the poodle pauses for a cigarette. January 17, 1952 photo: Maurey Garber / New York Journal American

The Westminster Kennel Club just had its dog show in New York and smoking was not one of the activities that the dogs were judged upon.

Well times certainly change. How and where exactly the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation used Koko to raise awareness of arthritis is not explained in this news photograph, beyond the simple caption attached to the photo. I couldn’t help being drawn to the unnamed dowager lighting up for Koko. Continue reading

Possible Oscar Boycott Ignores Other Underrepresented Actors

Time To Put A Stop To Hollywood’s Casting Bias – Microcephalics Insultingly called “Pinheads” Get The Shaft in Oscar Process

microphely 1

Everyone is now aware that for the 2016 Academy Awards no African-Americans were nominated for Academy Awards in the major acting categories. This has led to some people calling out the racist members of the Academy saying they will boycott the Oscars and things “have to change.”

microphely 2 zipBut there are so many groups not represented with nominations. If we’re going to go through with this diversity campaign let’s go full tilt.

In this country where we strive for equality the question arises – is it fair to single out the omission of only African Americans?

There is one group of entertainers that has been far more glaringly ignored in the Oscar process since the Academy’s  founding, and yet no one is standing up for them.

Microcephalic actors have not been recognized by the Academy – ever. Disparagingly called “pinheads” by sideshow aficionados, these people have been thoroughly neglected by the Hollywood elite and the Academy.

Schlitzie in Tod Browning's Freaks

Schlitzie in Tod Browning’s Freaks

Director Tod Browning was the only filmmaker brave enough to break the stigma of using people with microcephaly prominently in a film with his 1932 classic Freaks.

Since then, I know of no film that has featured a microcephalic actor with any prominent role. Therefore there have been no microcephalic actors nominated for an Academy Award.

True, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin starred in 1993’s The Coneheads, but they were only actors who looked like people with microcephaly and they were not nominated for anything either.

How can we let this obvious oversight and discrimination continue? When will we see a fair representation of this unrecognized group of people?

Beetlejuice - An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Beetlejuice – An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Besides Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show and Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants, where are microcephalics being represented in entertainment? Continue reading

The Average Woman – 1908

The Average American Woman Is…Ungainly, Has An Appalling Lack of Symmetry, Is Inactive and Badly In Need Of Exercise

Ungainly FigureCharles Merriles penned a three part article for Physical Culture Magazine entitled The Average Woman which ran from the July – September 1908 issues. He offers a scathing indictment against the average woman as being generally disproportioned, out of shape and defective.

Today an article like the one Charles Merriles wrote would be savagely attacked and he would probably be apologizing on social media. But this was 1908 and it was a very much a man’s world.

Physical Culture Magazine described itself as “devoted to health, strength, vitality, muscular development, and care of the body”

The publisher of Physical Culture, Bernarr MacFadden, was a man driven by perfection, physical fitness and fame. His belief of natural cures and strength training was forward looking. but his many detractors considered him to be an obscene, health-nut.

Later in the 1920s MacFadden founded the New York Graphic newspaper which was ahead of its time for its use of composite photographs called composographs featuring “photoshopped” scenes that did not exist. The New York Graphic also presaged the National Enquirer and other publications of that ilk by its use of lurid and sleazy stories thus earning the nickname “the New York Pornographic.”

Merriles’ article was one of the surefire ways MacFadden’s Physical Culture liked to attract readers with scantily dressed women. To illustrate his article, Merriles advertised for regular looking women that he could photograph in athletic garb that would display their figure.

The photo captions alone are cringe worthy. To say Merriles was critical in his assessment of his models and the state of womanhood would be an understatement.

Chest Too FlatHere are some excerpts and photographs from Merriles’ article:

The average woman of today has nothing to boast of from the standpoint of mere physical attraction. When stripped of her furbelows and fancy frills we usually find a startling contrast. In but few cases has she anything to be proud of under such instances. Between the corset, false hips, busts, padding here and there to fill out, even the leanest woman is at times able to make what might be termed a fair appearance. And a woman who is suffering from too much avoirdupois can pull in the waist line to an extraordinary degree and thus add to her attractions, so she thinks.

The body to be beautiful must be strong. No unsightly angles should be apparent, all its outlines should be made up of curves. For instance, from the neck to the shoulder, there should be a gradual sloping away until one part merges into the other. There should be an appearance of symmetry, harmony, one part with another, which is the one necessary
characteristic of a beautifully formed body. There should be no large, prominent muscles, there should be no bulging bust, or large, massive hips.

Figure Fair Hips too largeThey are so ugly that they might almost be called vulgar. Then again, there is an entirely false conception of the form of women that has been produced largely by the habit of corset wearing. 

Though every woman cannot possess features that might be termed beautiful, I believe that my opinion is borne out by the facts when I state that practically every woman can have a finely-developed body. This means, in conventional parlance, a superb form.

Entire Body Too Thin Continue reading