"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Newspaper Clipping of the April Fool's Day

Via Newspapers.com

I heartily dislike most practical jokes--they generally are nothing more than dressed-up sadism--so April Fool’s Day generally ranks with me somewhere between root canals and dropping an anvil on my foot. This little sermon from the March 31, 1901 “Chicago Tribune” is equally sympathetic to this most perverse of holidays:
Because some time before the beginning of the Christian era there was a Celtic festival--the nature or scope of which is not clear to historians--humankind has set aside one day in the year for Idle Jesting. When the clock strikes 12 tonight, beware. You may not only be an April fool, but a dead or dying fool as well. Of all the days when men celebrate, patriotic holidays alone excepted, All Fools' day is the day of danger.

The other man may fail to see the joke. Should he resent your jesting his anger may take on no more serious form than a display of fists. That would be your good fortune, for the records of crime show many cases where the April fool has risen in his wrath and dealt death to the Jester.

Walter Johnson was one of these. There was a revival service in a country church just outside of Lima. O. Among the devout were Johnson, his brother, and John Williams. It was the evening of April 1, but Johnson, in his religious fervor, had forgotten the day.

As the meeting was dismissed Johnson and some friends gathered in the middle of the church to discuss the conversion of the neighborhood sinner who had a few moments before proclaimed his repentance. Johnson's brother slipped up behind him and pinned a scrap of paper on his back. Unmindful of the placard he was bearing, Johnson turned to go. Half a dozen girls tittered. The man tore the paper from his coat and turned to Williams.

“You did this," he cried, his face flushing, and his hand reaching for his pocket. “You have tried to make me ridiculous."

" You are wrong." retorted Williams. "I did not do it." The brother who had pinned the paper on Johnson's back was hugely enjoying the joke that was about to become a tragedy.

As he was trying to smother his laughter Johnson drew his hand from his pocket. It held an open knife. Before anyone could interfere the frenzied man had plunged the blade into Williams' body and he fell to the floor, mortally wounded. While the church was In an uproar Johnson stalked out the door. An hour later an April fool gave himself up to the Sheriff and was locked in jail.

Frank Kyler was another man who failed to see the joke. Just outside of Holidaysburg, Pa. lived Adam Acker, a prosperous farmer, whose daughter was the belle of the neighborhood. Kyler had long since been devoted to the girl and called on the evening of April 1 to ask her to become his wife. The two were sitting in front of the old-fashioned fireplace, trading in small talk, when the girl turned and stared at the window. Kyler's gaze followed. Against the window pane was pressed the face of a man.

Kyler sprang to his feet. In the dim light the features of the man at the window were not discernible. Kyler drew a revolver and fired just as William Butler opened his lips to shout "April fool."

Two bodies fell. Butler was dead. Miss Acker only fainting.

“You have killed Will Butler," screamed the girl, and then she lapsed into unconsciousness. Butler was an old friend of the Acker family. His April fool joke had cost him his life." Kyler, weighed down with grief for his rash act. walked to Holidaysburg and gave himself up.

The grim humor of a Chicago man prompted him to invite his friends to visit him for April 1. They found him dead, a suicide. The man was Herman Heneman, a tailor, who lived at 479 North Hermitage avenue. Heneman often told his wife that life was not worth the living and that he intended to shuffle off by the agency of his own hand.

As the days went by the woman began to think the threat was idly made. It so happened that April 1 was Heneman's birthday. Going to his wife he said: "Invite all our relatives to visit us tomorrow. Tell them to come an see an April fool." She invited them, thinking it was a joke. They came, and found him dead.

Joseph Dial of Birmingham, Ala., was at an All Fools' day picnic. He had bought a new revolver that morning and chuckled as he thought of the consternation he could cause by pretending he was about to kill himself. "See," he remarked, as he approached a crowd of girls. " I am going to take my life. Good-by, all of you, good-by."

Then, as the girls screamed, Dial placed the weapon in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell on an empty chamber of the cylinder and there was no explosion. Dial removed the barrel of the revolver from between his teeth and exclaimed:

"April fool!"

Three times did Dial repeat the experiment without harm to himself. On one of these times a girl fainted and it seemed immensely funny to the youth.

The fifth time Dial tried the trick the hammer fell on a cartridge. The bullet bored its way to Dial's brain and he fell dead. The April fool did not know it was loaded.

Five years ago a woman who mistook a reality for an April fool joke was in consultation with an insurance adjuster next day. She was Mrs. Thomas Eldredge. 21 Ellery street, Cambridge, Mass.

"Fire!" shouted a small boy who stood on the pavement in front of the fine Eldredge house. The woman heard the cry, but she had resolved to pass the day without being fooled.

"Fire!" again shouted the boy. Mrs. Eldredge only smiled.

“Your house is burning!" fairly screamed the boy as he ran up the steps and pounded on the front door. Mrs. Eldredge paid no heed to the warning, but went to the telephone to ask her husband In Boston when he would be home to dinner. While she was standing at the instrument a cloud of smoke pervaded the room. An instant later an April fool was rushing from the house to keep from being burned to death.

The loss to the Eldredge house was $7,000. Neighbors were sympathetic, but the small boy who had sounded the alarm only said, “I told you so.”
I will say this for April 1. It provides me with plenty of blog material.

Today, do not be the sort of person who provides me with blog material.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Thing That Went Clawing in the Night

Accounts of haunted dwellings tend to be pretty bog-standard stuff. Spectral figures drifting over the lawn, mysterious rappings at night. Murder victims unable to find peace, or villains with guilty consciences that won’t allow them to rest. To be honest, when you’ve read enough of them, real-life ghost stories can get pretty dull. For that reason, when you come across one that combines unusually disturbing features with an utterly inexplicable cause, one has to sit up and take notice.

In early 1975, two young nursing students, Shirley Brown and Gail Bruce, became roommates in a flat in an old tenement in Dundee, Scotland. It was a modest place: tiny living room, a bedroom, a small bathroom, and a postage-stamp sized kitchenette. Still, it suited their needs, and as the two women were friends who were enjoying the training for their chosen professions, life seemed pretty good.

For ten months, neither woman saw anything unusual about their residence. Then, in January 1976, things began getting very weird indeed. One morning, Shirley had the afternoon shift, so she stayed in bed while Gail got ready to leave for work. Before Gail left, she noticed that Shirley was sitting up and staring at her in a very peculiar way. When she asked if anything was wrong, Shirley just turned over in bed silently.

Later, as the two had lunch together, Gail told her friend that something very odd had happened the previous night. For whatever reason, she found it impossible to sleep. At about 3:30, the hall light came on, followed by the sound of someone slowly moving around in their bathroom. Naturally, her first thought was of burglars...except she was certain the front door was locked. After a moment, the footsteps stopped and the light went out.

Then Gail saw something even more disturbing. There was an old woman in a blue nightgown standing next to Shirley’s bed. Gail felt an intense aura of evil around her. The intruder and Shirley were talking together intently, but the conversation was too whispered and muttered for her to make out what was being said. Gail closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them. The old woman was gone. The next day, Shirley claimed to have no memory of any of this, but she was just as terrified as Gail. Not knowing what else to do, the women agreed that neither would ever be alone in the flat again.

One night about a week later, Shirley lay in bed reading while Gail was getting ready for bed in the bathroom. Then she heard footsteps in the kitchenette, which was adjacent to the bedroom. Nervously, she rapped on the wall between the two rooms, hoping against hope it was just Gail in there. In response, there was the menacing sound of what she later described as “giant talons” violently clawing at the wall. Shirley screamed, which brought Gail running in from the bathroom. When she entered the room, the frightening sounds stopped. As the two women--now understandably scared for their lives--huddled together on the bed, the uproar began again, with even greater intensity. For some fifteen minutes, they heard the sound of wild tearing and scratching, as if some demonic beast was determined to claw down the wall and tear the frantic women to pieces. The pair quickly threw some clothes on so they could escape, but then they realized their keys were on the kitchen table. In order to retrieve them, they would have to confront whatever clawed nightmare thing had taken over their flat.

Staying where they were, however, seemed even more terrifying. With the courage that can come from desperation, the women flung open the bedroom door and switched on the light. With a blinding flash, the bulb fused. Simultaneously, the hideous clawing noises stopped. The pair raced across the room, grabbed their keys, and ran, not slowing down until they reached the safety of a friend’s apartment.

The following morning, Gail and Shirley only returned to their flat long enough to pack their belongings. Despite the uproar of the previous night, nothing was out of place, and the kitchen wall was unmarked.

The two never entered the tenement again. They briefly considered looking into the flat’s history, to see if it provided any clues regarding the horror they had experienced. However, on second thought, they decided it might be best not to know.

Paranormal researcher Peter Moss, who interviewed Gail and Shirley as part of his book “Ghosts Over Britain,” believed they were entirely truthful. Unfortunately, he could not provide any more explanation for this sudden, brief, and extremely disturbing experience than the women could.

There are just some things that defy anyone’s explanation.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Weekend Link Dump

"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

This week's Link Dump features skilled musical accompaniment!

Who the hell is (was?) the Long Island serial killer?

Famous left-handers from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Imagine winning a game show and finding out your prize is a date with a serial killer.

The lawyer who helped build the modern entertainment world. Does he deserve thanks, or a bit of spitting on his grave?  Discuss.

Ruined castles are being digitally reconstructed.

Those fishy Neanderthals.

A Danish West Indies governor comes to a bad end.

Remembering the Battle of Cheriton.

Haunted Melrose Abbey.

Witchcraft trials in British India.

A banished unwed mother finally returns home.

The last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade.

The bigamous Arthur Wicks.

The Victorian fondness for romanticizing female suicide.

The weirdness of German puppetry, and other theatrical links.

Hey, God, where's a good lightning strike when you need one?

A history of hand washing.

Black Charley of Norwich.

The 18th century fondness for eye portraits.

A General with strong opinions.

That time a Brazilian island was attacked by aliens.

Ancient history and a bronze cat.

The murder of a champion racehorse.

Tudor political intrigue and the Pearl of York.

How a pauper got a proper funeral.

Einstein in Bohemia.

In praise of marginalia.

Reexamining Alexander von Humboldt.

The plagues of Old London.

A murder is finally solved, albeit a bit too late.

I'll see your English Stonehenge and raise you one Scottish crannog.

The difference between Canadian and American whiskey.

Some timely reading from the 18th century.

The Spitalfields Nippers.

Vanity and the grave-robbing vampire occultist.

The Arian Vandals; or why early Christianity was a hot mess.

The Romanovs and the Windsors go on holiday.

Restoring Notre Dame.

How Tibetan yogis upgrade their brains.

The curious case of Typhoid Mary.

The massacre of the Knight family.

The real "Sound of Music."

Red Cross, the kitten of Bellevue.

Photos of 19th century Constantinople.

Did plague doctors really wear those bird masks?

The magical Davenport Brothers.

Equinox and the Sphinx.

A teenage murderess.

The Mississippi Company and the birth of the millionaire.

The notorious Rugeley poisoner.

Celebrating Lady Day.

An archaeology student just found a 5,000 year old sword.

The Cat Lady of Bedford Street.

The fight over Alexander the Great's tomb.

The Victorian language of flowers.

The serial killer who disappeared.

That's all for this week!  See you on Monday, when we'll look at a particularly weird ghost story.  In the meantime, be safe, everyone.  Strange times, indeed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

You wouldn’t normally expect to see “Anne Bronte” and “haunted staircase” in the same newspaper article, but that’s just the sort of wacky little blog I’m running here. This installment of Norton Mockridge’s syndicated column appeared in the (Helena, Montana) “Independent Record,” September 4, 1966:
New York--Everybody knows, of course, that if you've got a very old house, or a falling-down castle, you might very well have a ghost in it. But what if you've got a relatively new house and you have a ghost in it? And what if that ghost is only on the stairs?

Well, that's what Mrs. Gladys Topping has at "Sanderling," her home on Beach lane, Quogue, Long Island. Honest!

Now let me explain. There's nothing kooky about Mrs. Topping. She's the widow of Allen S. Topping, a gentleman who built a large and prosperous industrial hardware firm, Topping Brothers, in Manhattan. And it's Gladys herself who now runs the business. She's also a real estate broker on Long Island, and in her spare time she judges horse shows.

But she definitely has a ghost in her house. And this ghost is a lady who goes up and down the beautiful Queen Anne staircase that Gladys had installed in her new house. The ghost doesn't seem to go anywhere else in the house, and Gladys believes she acquired it with the staircase when she bought it in England.

Here's the story: In 1958, Gladys and her husband were in London to attend the Kensington Antiques Fair. They were looking for mantel pieces, corner cupboards, chandeliers and such to put in their house, which had been built in 1954.

"You know," said one dealer, "you really ought to buy my Queen Anne staircase and have it put in your home. It's hand-carved and made entirely of burled yew which, as you know, is very rare. The staircast has quite a history."

So the Toppings drove 50 miles to the dealer's warehouse, fell in love with the staircase and bought it. It had come from a stately Eighteenth Century mansion called Blake Hall, in Mirfield, which had been dismantled in 1954, with everything in it put up for auction.

It was in Mirfield, which is on the road from Dewsbury to Huddersfield, Yorkshire, that the three Bronte sisters once lived and went to school. And Anne Bronte served as a governess for three years at Blake Hall, where she wrote hymns and composed much of her story of Agnes Grey.

Well, the Toppings had the staircase shipped to their house on Long Island and had it put in place of the old staircase in the main hall, leading to the second floor. I saw it the other day, and it's a beautiful thing.

Nothing happened for four years.

"But," Gladys told me, "on the third of September, 1962, about sunset, I was sitting in my second-floor bedroom in an hour of meditation. My husband, who had passed away the previous April, had given me a Doberman pinscher puppy who was my constant shadow and who now, 9 months old, lay peacefully sleeping at my feet.

"No one else was in the house, and only the late call of a quail on the grounds, or the cry of a waterfowl from the nearby marshland, broke the stillness of the day's closing. Suddenly I heard light footsteps which seemed to be on the stairs. The Doberman, Mister Wyk, was instantly on his feet and he hastened to the landing. I followed, to find him with hackles up and looking uneasily toward the first floor.

"To my astonishment, I saw the figure of a young woman ascending the stairs. She was dressed in a long, full skirt which she lifted above her ankles. A tri-cornered shawl was about her shoulders, and her hair was held in a bun on the back of her neck. In her right hand she carried a chamber stick. Her expression was pensive, as though she were locked deep in her own pleasant thoughts.

"As the silent figure approached the head of the stairs, Mister Wyk became agitated and backed to the end of the hallway. I spoke gently to him and, in that moment, the figure vanished.

"Mentally, I asked: 'Who?' and the instant impression I received was 'Anne Bronte.' It was an hour before Mister Wyk became completely quiet. I had, of course, read and studied about the Bronte sisters and had been touched by the exceeding pathos of their short lives. And, when in England, I had visited the lonely moors where they often had walked. Perhaps it was this bond that caused the spirit of Anne to pay me the visit and again climb that stair.

"Since then, I have not seen her again. But often I feel her presence. I hear footsteps and, occasionally, rappings and other noises. Mister Wyk hears them, too, and his ears go up, and he trots to the stairs. But Anne if, indeed, it is Anne, apparently does not wish to reveal herself any more. She seems content just going up and down the stairs."

Gladys has never heard of anyone else inheriting a ghost with a staircase, or with any other household furnishings, and neither have I. But if anyone knows of anything like this, she and I would be glad to hear about it.

The Topping home--complete with staircase--is still standing. No word on any further sightings of ghosts, unfortunately.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Elopement or Abduction? The Confusing Disappearance of Luella Mabbitt

"Lafayette Journal and Courier," January 6, 1980, via Newspapers.com

All families have their ups and downs. However, when you find a clan where an infanticide trial is arguably the least worst thing to happen to them, it’s safe to say you’ve found one very special household.

The Mabbitts--described by one newspaper as from “good old farmer stock”--lived just outside of Delphi, Indiana. They seemed like an ideal family. The father, Peter Mabbitt, was both wealthy and respectable. The children were all attractive, intelligent, and popular. The belle of the family was 23-year-old Luella, who, naturally, had many suitors. Her favored beau was a man ten years her senior named Amer Green, but--for what may well have been very good reasons--her father disapproved of him. So strong was Mr. Mabbitt’s dislike for Green that he was able to persuade Luella to write her lover a “Dear John” letter.

Unfortunately, Green did not take his dismissal well. On August 6, 1886, William Walker, the swain of Luella’s twin sister Ella, rode to the Mabbitt house and called Ella out for a chat. As the two were talking, Green appeared, demanding that Luella come out as well. When Ella told him her sister was asleep, Green lost his temper, snapping that if he didn’t get to see Luella, he would “tear the house apart.”

Luella--whether reluctantly or not is not recorded--went out to see Green. The two talked quietly for a few minutes, and then they walked off together. After a moment, Walker drove off, and Ella went back to the house, little guessing that this would be the last time she would ever see her sister.

When Luella failed to return that night, her family was naturally alarmed. Equally inevitably, their first thought was to hunt down Amer Green. The local police questioned both Walker and Green, but neither of them claimed to have any idea what had happened to Luella. A massive search was made of the area, without finding any trace of the missing young woman. Peter Mabbitt hired a private detective, and offered a substantial reward for any information about his daughter, but no clues emerged. It was as if Luella had simply evaporated into the air.

When Amer Green quietly slipped out of town, that only hardened local certainty that he knew exactly what had become of Luella. On August 12, a mob of the lynching variety was soon assembled around the Green home. They dragged Amer’s mother out, placed a noose around her neck, and demanded that she tell them where her son had gone. She either couldn’t or wouldn’t say. Eventually, the frustrated crowd let her go and left. As the prime suspect in the disappearance was unable to be found, police did the next best thing. They arrested Mrs. Green. William Walker was tossed into jail as well, apparently only because he had the bad luck to be on the scene the night Luella vanished.

As it turned out, Amer wasn’t the only member of his family with an alleged penchant for murder. His brother William had been accused of killing one Enos Brumbaught, and he too had fled justice. Pinkerton detectives eventually managed to track the pair down in Texas. They were arrested in July 1887 and brought back to Indiana.

In the meantime, the mystery of the whereabouts of Luella Mabbitt had finally been solved...maybe. In February 1887, a body was discovered in the Wabash River. It was so badly decomposed as to be unrecognizable, but Ella Mabbitt and her mother believed that these were Luella’s remains--largely, apparently, on the grounds that the corpse’s teeth resembled Ella’s. Peter Mabbitt, on the other hand, was unconvinced. A physician who examined the body believed the teeth were of someone much older than Luella, and, furthermore, the corpse was that of a man! The uncertainty about these remains only ensured that the Mabbitt Mystery was even more muddled than before.

Meanwhile, Amer Green, from his cell in the Carroll County jail, continued to insist that Luella was alive and well and living in Texas with a man named Samuel Payne. He refused to say any more than this, intimating that all would eventually be made clear.

If Green truly did have evidence that Luella was still among the living, he was soon to regret keeping it to himself. Locals were convinced he was a murderer, but lacking a verified body or any other hard evidence that Green--or anybody else--had murdered Luella, it was looking increasingly unlikely that he would ever be convicted. The men of Delphi began to say that if the law could not punish Amer Green, well, they would have to do so themselves.

On the night of October 21, 1887, some two hundred men quietly marched through the streets, surrounding the county jail. They broke their way in and confronted the sheriff, demanding the keys to the prison. When he refused, some of the mob overpowered him, and the others used sledgehammers to break the locks leading to the cells. They went straight to the cell containing Amer Green. At gunpoint, he was seized and tied up. He was led outside and forced into a covered wagon. It drove off, with the bulk of the crowd following.

The wagon drove to the woods of Walnut Grove, about eight miles away. It was soon joined by a large caravan of carriages, wagons, and men on horseback. Green was taken out of the wagon and ordered to confess his guilt.

Green maintained the stolid calm of a man who knows he’s doomed. He quietly maintained that Luella was in Fort Worth. When asked why, if this was the case, she didn’t come home and resolve the mystery, he replied, “She would if I had the time to send for her.” He claimed that Luella had been desperate to leave her home for some time, and on the night she vanished, he had merely assisted in her desire to run away.

Among the crowd was Peter Mabbitt. He stepped forward and begged Green to tell the truth. What had he done with Luella?

“I loved her better than my own life,” Green retorted. “That is the reason I went away with her. I loved her better than you did and all the times she has been away I have cared for her.”

His words were not enough to convince a mob bent on murder. A rope was tied around a branch of a walnut tree and the other end wrapped around Green’s neck as he stood in the wagon seat. The wagon lurched forward, leaving the condemned man dangling in the air.

When it was clear that Green was dead, the crowd soon dispersed, leaving the body hanging in the tree. Before the coroner took charge of it the next day, thousands of people came to gawk at the grotesque sight. Someone took a photograph of the hanging corpse, which was--I kid you not--turned into a postcard. (Copies can be found online, but I strongly urge you not to try to find them.) The men responsible for Green’s lynching were never punished. To this day, Green’s ghost is said to haunt the grove where he died.

"Jackson County Banner," October 27, 1887, via Newspapers.com

Green’s death was not the end of the mystery. Detectives went to Fort Worth in an effort to track down this elusive “Samuel Payne.” Somewhat to their surprise, they found a Mrs. Orr, who claimed to have lived next door to Payne and a woman who said she was his wife. “Mrs. Payne” was a pretty woman in her early twenties, who told Mrs. Orr that she was originally from Indiana. Unfortunately, the couple had since left town for parts unknown. If this was, as Amer Green insisted with literally his dying breath, Luella Mabbitt, she was never heard from again.

This was not the end of the Mabbitt family tragedies. In 1890, Luella’s 17 year old sister Minnie became pregnant. Upon hearing of the news, the baby’s father, one Charles Spilter, promptly washed his hands of her. Not knowing where else to turn, Minnie sought the help of her brothers, Oris and Mont. They helped her check into an Indianapolis hotel under the name of “Mrs. Minnie Jones,” where she gave birth to a daughter she named “Merle.”

Soon after this, the body of a baby girl was discovered in Eagle Creek. A coroner determined that she had died of strangulation soon after birth. Two women from the hotel where Minnie had stayed identified the baby as Merle. A buggy weight that had been used to weigh down the tiny corpse was determined to have come from the livery stable where Mont Mabbitt worked. It was also learned that on the night Minnie checked out of her hotel, Mont took out one of the stable’s buggies. Minnie, Mont, and Oris were all arrested.

Minnie soon confessed all. She stated that she had believed her brothers would place her baby in an orphanage. She last saw the child when her brothers drove her in the direction of Eagle Creek. Mont took Merle from her and left their carriage. Oris and Minnie drove off for a while, and when they returned, Mont was waiting for them...alone. The three then returned to the city. “No one told me the baby was dead,” said Minnie. “But I knew it was.”

During her trial, the beautiful young Minnie won everyone’s sympathy. It was universally believed that she was but a helpless child, completely under the control of her brothers. She was acquitted of murder, much to the approval of those in the courtroom. Eventually, Oris and Mont--who both argued that they had never intended to murder the baby--were also set free.

In the legal sense, this was the end of the Mabbitt saga. The lingering question of just what, exactly, became of Luella Mabbitt was never resolved. For many years after that fateful night in August 1886, there were periodic “sightings” of the supposedly murdered woman. In February 1916, her sister Ella told a reporter, “For all I know, my sister may have not been murdered and may be living today.”

If such was the case, Amer Green must rank as one of the unluckiest men in Indiana history.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Weekend Link Dump

"The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan Mandijn

This week's Link Dump is proud to be hosted by...uh...

This guy.

What the hell was the Killhill Light?

The Goffle Road murders.

What it was like to be a Customs Officer in the Georgian era.

A haunted city hall.

Marilyn's deadly diary.

The travails of a Victorian female barber.

Solving--perhaps--a disappearance in Joshua Tree National Park.

Quarantine in the 19th century.

In which a 16th century lady tells a schoolmaster to go to hell.

The story of Puss in Boots.

A "poysoner's" dreadful punishment.

19th century beard sculpting.

Murder in high society.

Rambling through 17th century Ireland.

The corpse and the barber.

King Lear in quarantine, and other theatrical links.

Lonely Old London.

A "brutal and fiendish" crime.

Let's talk animated horse hairs.

Charles Lennox, Noble Radical.

Influenza and the Sun.

Fashion during a pandemic.

A walk along the River Lea.

Medicines for melancholy.

The North Pole could be called literally timeless.

This week in Russian Weird looks at a structure made of mammoth bones.

Remembering Thomas Coryate and his shoes.  (You might remember this post about him.)

The war that killed off a kettle.

Laudanum, a Victorian's best friend.

The rotten Mrs. Cotton.  Her best friend was arsenic.

The mysterious murder of William Robinson.

The creepy legend of the "Dog Boy" ghost.

A murder victim’s long-delayed burial.

A socialite turns to murder.

Censoring Anne Frank.

A Scottish stegosaur.

The cult of Breatharianism.

Some vintage Cat Ladies.

Well, this is embarrassing.

An extremely weird and gruesome murder.

And we're done for this week! Join me on Monday, when we'll look at a young woman's enigmatic fate. In the meantime, here's Van the Man.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

This particularly odd UFO report comes from the (Racine, Wisconsin) “Journal Times,” July 4, 1965:
VALENSOLE, France. Gendarmes in this mountain village said Saturday they are investigating a report by a farmer who said he saw a mysterious aircraft take off from his field.

Dozens of people came to see tracks left behind by the "flying saucer." Maurice Masse, 41, told the gendarmes he spotted the craft Thursday morning at dawn. He said it looked like a big rugby ball and had four metal legs. With the craft, he reported, was a small human form, about the size of an 8- year-old child.

"Suddenly," Masse said, "the craft took off and disappeared in the sky. I couldn't believe my eyes.”

Masse said he went to the spot and found tracks left by the legs and that the ground was packed hard as concrete.

A gendarmerie officer said strange tracks had been seen and that the ground was hard- packed.

Masse, who has a reputation as a calm and solid citizen, was worried about the lavender plants in his field being trampled by the crowds, who continued to arrive today.

"We don't think it was a gag," one gendarme said.

Weirdness was popping out all over around this same time. The “Fort Lauderdale News,” July 8, 1965:
The flying saucer season has opened.

So has the Loch Ness monster season. Within the last few days, strange objects have been reported from France, Argentina and Warminster in England's County Wiltshire.

The Loch Ness Monster, reportedly seen by two Scottish brothers, is so familiar to residents around Loch Ness that it’s affectionately known as Nessie.

At least five persons saw the thing in Warminster. They agreed it was a “fiery object” glowing in the southern sky after a heavy rain.

Last night Harold Horlock and his wife Dora spotted the thing.

"It was very frightening,” said Mrs. Horlock. It sharpened into focus high up and looked just like two red hot pokers--one on top of the other.”

“It was as plain and as bright as could be," said her husband. "It stopped still in the sky for at least 10 minutes.”

Colin Hampton, 18, and his friend Michael Fraser, 20, also said they saw the thing. Others reported hearing loud high-pitched noises overhead.

From Argentina yesterday came a report of a mysterious flying object seen in the Antarctic during the weekend.

[This was followed by a repeat of the Masse story.]