Tag Archives: Unusual

Lois DeFee Bouncer At The Dizzy Club, New York City 1936

Don’t Mess With The Lady

woman bouncer Lois DeFee 1936 photo AcmeLois DeFee started her working life at the age of 18 in an unusual occupation – as a bouncer. A couple of years later she would achieve fame of another sort.

“Little Miss Bouncer”

Gentlemen guests at the Dizzy Club, New York night spot; are polite, especially to Miss Lois DeFee, (shown above), with a waiter of average size. Miss DeFee who stands six feet two inches, without high heels, is the official bouncer at the night club, and has acted in that capacity for seven weeks to the satisfaction of the management. Women drunks give her the most trouble, says Miss DeFee. She has been married twice; one of her husbands was a jockey who was only five feet tall. Yes– she enjoys her work, and Broadway night life in general. Credit Line: (ACME 5/15/36)

Lois DeFee was soon hired away from The Dizzy Club on 52nd street to go work across the street at the more famous Leon & Eddie’s performing the same duties at their nightclub.

Lois was later discovered by Harold Minsky of Minsky’s burlesque and she became a top burlesque star for many years, billed as a “glamazon.” Because of her great height, columnist Walter Winchell billed her as”The Eiffel Eyeful.” Lois died in Florida in 2012 at the age of 93.

W.C. Fields Will Gave The Bulk Of His Estate To Establish A College For White Orphans

W.C. Fields Died On A Day He Pretended To Despise, Christmas Day 1946. When His Will Was Read, It Had A Peculiar Racial Provision In It

WC Fields full face and portraitsMovie star comedian W.C. Fields is not well remembered by today’s generation, his cerebral brilliance generally going unappreciated or unrecognized. But those who know comedy such as Monty Python’s John Cleese said of Fields, “At a time when political correctness often stifles honesty and impulse to laugh and genuine wit is in such short supply, I think nothing could be healthier than the re-discovery of this most original, perceptive and unrepentant of comedians.”

When Fields died 68 years ago today on December 25, 1946, his will provided small amounts for family members and friends with the $800,000 remainder of his estate being left to establish “The W. C. Fields College for White Orphan Boys and Girls Where No Religion of Any Kind is Ever to be Taught.”

This strange racial provision seemed completely out of character for a man who treated blacks as equals and stood up for racial equality long before it was popular.  It was at W.C. Fields insistence that his Zigfield Follies friend, the great black vaudeville star Bert Williams, be allowed to join Actor’s Equity. Williams was finally admitted to the association. Fields said Williams was, “The funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

So why would Fields put this exclusionary provision in his will? Continue reading

Smoking Cigarettes For A Living

Here Is A Real Chain Smoker

Man tests cigarettes for a living photo Acme 1945This is not part of some government secret test program to see how many cigarettes you need to smoke before you develop cancer. Testing cigarettes was part of Sol C. Korn’s job as the director of various cigarette and cigar company’s from the 1920’s until the 1960’s. In 1945 when this picture was taken he was president of the Fleming-Hall Tobacco Company.

The caption reads:

Sol C. Korn, cigarette authority, puffs prodigiously as he makes the final and severest test of a a cigarette – the smoking. It’s just a job to him. Credit: (Acme 4/20/45)

Even with all that smoking, Mr. Korn lived to the age 70, passing away in 1962.

A Strange Grave Monument

Off With His Head!

Statue Sir Robert Holmes Yarmouth parish

Statue Sir Robert Holmes Yarmouth parish

Sir Robert Holmes (1622-1692) fought under Prince Rupert and was governor of the Island of Wight from 1667-1692. Holmes has an unusual story to the statue that sits atop his grave where he is buried at the parish church in Yarmouth.

During one of England’s many wars with France, Holmes captured a ship on its way to France which contained an unfinished headless statue of King Louis XIV. The sculptor of the statue happened to be on board. Holmes liked the statue and commanded that the sculptor carve the head in Holmes likeness. In return for doing this the sculptor would be granted his freedom.

The sculptor had no choice but to comply. The statue was finished in Yarmouth and Holmes’ head was placed upon it. The head’s carving is not in proportion with the body and of an inferior quality.

When Holmes passed away he instructed that this statue was to be placed on his tomb at St. James Church.

A New Yorker Entertains Her Tourist Friend And Finds Her Missing Brother – 1905

Places A Tourist Should Go in 1905? Bellevue And The Morgue.

1st Ave. 26th Bellevue Hospital postcard circa 1912

Visiting New York City today there are things that most tourists go and see: The Empire State Building, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty and other typical touristy places. A hundred years ago you might be surprised at what sights people would go and visit. In 1905 for one New Yorker, Miss Laura Magner, taking an out-of-town friend to Bellevue and visiting the morgue seemed like an interesting, if not macabre way to spend the day.

They say truth is stranger than fiction, so we’ll let The New York Evening World of September 11, 1905 pick up the rest of this strange story:

SAW PICTURE AT MORGUE OF DEAD BROTHER

Miss Magner, Showing a Friend the Sights, Identifies Photograph.

This isn’t a very big world since the railroad, the telegraph and the telephone annihilated distances, but here is the strange story of what happened at the points of a triangle with sides only a mile long.

On Feb. 26, 1904, the body of a young man was found on the doors of No. 269 Ninth Avenue, dead. No one knew him. At the morgue the body was photographed and a complete description taken. The breast and arms were tattooed with the form of a woman, the emblems of Faith, Hope and Charity and the initials “J.M.”

After a few days the unidentified body was burled In Potter’s Field, where it has lain for nineteen months. Last Saturday Miss Laura Magner, of No. 354 West Forty-sixth Street, who was entertaining a visiting friend from out-of-town, took him to see Bellevue Hospital and the Morgue.

Continue reading

The 11-Year-Old New York Pancake Flipping Champ For 1947

Henry McChesney Wins An Unusual Contest

Pancake flipping champ 1947

Bet you didn’t know there was once a pancake flipping champ in New York? Well there was in 1947.

Note the concentration in young Henry McChesney’s face. The rules and how many other entrants there were in this contest is anyone’s guess. The caption for this Acme news photo reads as follows:

Fancy Flapjack Flipper

New York: When Henry McChesney end-over-ended a flapjack five times, he became champion flapjack flipper of the Madison Square Garden Club. Judging the contest, held August 28th, is Legionnaire John M. Lewis, who awarded the wise old owl emblem to the club, one of the Boys’ Clubs in which the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion is interested. credit: (Acme) 8-28-47

Why Are There Annoying Flies At Jones Beach Field 6?

Is There Anything You Can Do To Keep The Flies Off Of You?

Jones Beach – photo: Newsday

In the summer if you ever go to Jones Beach in Long Island, especially the often filled popular field 6, you will notice one of two things, there are hundreds of flies swarming around and biting you or there are none at all. I have spent an inordinate amount of time swatting and killing flies as they relentlessly bite away.

So why is this?

The answer lies not in the temperature, the food you bring with you, your choice of sunscreen or fly repellant.

The swimming flags hold the key. If the flags are blowing towards the water you will be inundated by flies. If the flags are blowing towards the boardwalk away from the water, you will generally have a pleasant stay, unless annoying people settle near you.

The flies come with the direction of the wind.

Most of the time at Jones Beach the wind blows in from the Atlantic Ocean and there will be no flies.

But occasionally on some days in the mornings, the wind will come from the north and blow the flies from inland towards the beach where they will seek shade and attack your umbrella, chairs, blankets, bags and your exposed human flesh.

By the afternoon the wind will usually shift and be blowing towards the boardwalk, in from the ocean and will blow all the flies away.

So is there anything you can do to avoid the flies?

Not really, except don’t go to Jones Beach in the morning. But then you probably won’t get into field 6 if you show up past 10 A.M.

Man Eats Light Bulbs (And Other Delicacies) – 1939

Harold B. Funston Demonstrates An Unusual Talent For Tolerating Pain

Harold B Funston eats light bulbs 1939

New York City– Harold B. Funston, accounting machine mechanic of Columbus, Ohio brought to New York for an appearance on a radio program, eats glass from a light bulb in a demonstration of his unique hobby — that of emulating the mysteries of the East Indian Fakirs. Credit line (Acme) 2/21/39

The radio program mentioned above was a CBS show, “Dave Elman’s Hobby Lobby.” In rehearsals, Funston amazed Elman, Radio Guide reporter Martin Lewis and the studio audience by chewing up and swallowing six razor blades, which he downed with a glass of water.  He then proceeded to eat some light bulbs.

Funston puts red hot soldering iron on tongue 1939 watermarkedFilm footage exists of Funston eating razor blades; putting fire in his mouth; and laying on a bed of spiked nails as another man sits on him. He also extinguishes a lit cigarette with his tongue.

Here is another image (unfortunately watermarked) of Funston applying a red hot soldering iron to his tongue.

According to a genealogy web site Harold Funston was born in 1900 or 1905 and died in January 1950, not surprisingly, in a magic trick gone wrong. No details are provided.

Free Beer For Life – 1950

Drink Up, While It Lasts

Free Beer For Life 11 18 1950

Free Beer For Life

New York – Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Slamon, 33, of Portland, OR, samples first installment of a lifetime’s supply of beer, which a brewery President awarded him. The beer biggie was watching a television quiz show on which Slamon was co-winner of a $6,350 prize. The sailor said he’d spend his share on “an annuity for life — in beer.” This impressed the beer exec so much that he has arranged for Slamon to get free beer for life. Credit (ACME) 11-18-50

The beer company was the Jacob Ruppert Brewery famous not only for its Knickerbocker and Ruppert beer, but for its longtime owner Jacob Ruppert (1867-1939) who also owned the New York Yankees.

As the news caption notes, Fred Linder, president of the Jacob Ruppert Brewery happened to be watching the program Chief Slamon appeared on and said, “If Chief Slamon wants cold beer so much, then we don’t want his money. He’ll get free beer for the rest of his life.”

The brewery then began sending him a free case of beer every month no matter where he was stationed by the navy.

Unfortunately for Chief Petty Officer Slamon, the Ruppert Brewery closed its doors in 1965 shortchanging his lifetime supply of free beer.

Slamon, a Pearl Harbor survivor and veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, lived another 32 years without his free beer, and passed away August 4, 1997.