"...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, November 20, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

via Newspapers.com

An ancient cross which puts a curse on anyone who dares to meddle with it. No, it's not the plot of an M.R. James story, but rather a news item in the Saskatoon "Star Phoenix," March 28, 1969:
Copplestone, England.--Residents in this Devon village fear the consequences of an ancient Saxon curse when municipal workmen move the massive stone cross which has stood here for 1,000 years.

Legend has it that anyone tampering with the 20-ton granite monument will suffer a life of misfortune and eternal damnation.

Thirty years ago the council decided the cross was a traffic hazard and planned moving it, but workmen refused to do the job. Last year the scheme was revived and this time objections came from local citizens, led by 75-year-old Madge Pope, who petitioned officials to heed the warnings.

No action was taken for six months, but now workmen have begun the long task of digging up the stone from its 10th century foundations and re-erecting it on a new site.

We are not worried about the curse, said a spokesman for the county highway department. And a workman commented, "if there is a curse, it will only fall on the boss. He gave the order to move it. My mate and I are just doing as we are told."

Meanwhile, Miss Pope is apprehensive.

"They are all very foolish to interfere with it," she says.

"The curse does work. Nobody in the village would dream of touching it--we all know what happened to others who tried to interfere with it."

"Well," I thought. "This is getting good."  I eagerly searched the archives for the sequel, wondering what was the final body count from this act of desecration.

And then I came upon this story from the (Victoria, British Columbia) "Times-Colonist" from September 6 of the same year.

Copplestone. Eng.--Saxon curses may have lost their potency after 1.000 years. At any rate, no dire consequences appear to have followed the shifting of an ancient stone cross in this Devon village in the interest of highway safety.

The cross, a Saxon monument which has stood at the village crossroads since the 10th century, was supposed to bring a lifetime of misfortune and eternal damnation to anyone tampering with it. In modern times it has proved a traffic hazard, impeding the view of motorists approaching the crossroads. But when the council first proposed moving it 30 years ago, workmen refused on account of the curse and the scheme was dropped.

Earlier this year when the idea was revived, some villagers headed by 75-year-old Madge Pope pleaded with the council to heed the ancient warnings. The council compromised, agreeing to move the cross only a few yards from its original site and to keep it on the crossroads.

The job was done about two months ago. apparently without supernatural retribution.
Bummer. Curses just aren't what they used to be in the good old days.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Calas Mystery

In 1761, a young Frenchman died violently. This tragedy would lead to what is still one of that country's most famous cases of judicial injustice.

Assuming, of course, that it truly was an injustice at all.

The grim chain of events began on October 13, when the body of 28-year-old Marc Antoine Calas was found dead in his family home in Toulouse. The Calas family initially stated that he had undoubtedly died of "an apoplexy." However, the doctor who examined the corpse found rope marks around his neck and bruising behind the ears, leading him to conclude Marc Antoine had died of strangulation.

When confronted with this evidence, the family changed their story. His father, Jean, told authorities that they had found Marc Antoine hanging from a rope balanced between two open doors in a storehouse on the family property, quite dead. Anxious to avoid the scandal of a family suicide, they cut the body down, hoping the untimely death could be attributed to natural causes.

The young man had wished to become a Roman Catholic--a move that went against the grain of his strongly Protestant family. Marc Antoine was known to be a moody, depressed sort--a state of mind that was strongly exacerbated by his recent spiritual conflicts, not to mention a pile of gambling debts he had accumulated. All in all, it did not seem unlikely that he had resorted to killing himself.

Most of France believed otherwise. Onlookers interpreted this evidence as pointing to murder, not suicide. France was still a strongly Catholic country, which led them to look upon the Huguenot Calas family with deep suspicion, and regard the dead would-be convert as a martyr. In short, popular opinion had it that Marc Antoine's father murdered him over their religious conflicts, with his family's approbation. (It was conveniently ignored that another son, Louis, had turned Catholic while still remaining in his family's good graces.)

Jean Calas was arrested and subjected to a trial that was clearly, unabashedly, set against him. To the surprise of no one, he was convicted and sentenced to a particularly hideous fate, which was seen as fitting for the particularly hideous crime of filicide: He was broken on the wheel, and then strangled. To the end, he insisted that he was innocent. The punitive measures did not end there. The Calas daughters were forced into a convent, and the mother and surviving sons exiled. Marc Antoine's death destroyed the entire family.

Despite the verdict, the case was still enigmatic enough to attract the attention of Voltaire. After a bit of amateur detective work, he concluded that Marc Antoine had indeed committed suicide. He learned that the young man had, on the day of his death, lost a lot of money playing cards, and that he greatly feared facing his father with the news. Voltaire also pointed out that Marc Antoine had been the biggest man in his family, towering over his 62-year-old father. He found it highly unlikely that Jean Calas, even with the help of the rest of his family, could have overpowered his son sufficiently to hang him. He believed the family had been unjustly persecuted because of their unpopular religious beliefs.

Contemporary image of Voltaire promising to help the Calas family

Voltaire used his reputation as one of Europe's greatest intellectuals, his contacts in high places, and his brilliant powers of oratory to launch a rehabilitation campaign--albeit one rather late in the day--for Jean Calas. He published "A Treatise on Tolerance," pleading with his countrymen to "not hate one another, let us not destroy one another in the midst of peace."

His campaign worked. In March of 1764, a royal council met to study the matter. A panel of judges was appointed to rehear the case. The upshot was that a year later, they ruled that there had been a terrible miscarriage of justice. Although they could do nothing for poor old Jean, his family was allowed to return from exile, and their property was restored. Voltaire did a bit of pardonable self-congratulation by proclaiming that France had seen "the finest fifth act the theatre can give us."

Was this a "finest" ending, or merely a bitterly ironic twist? In 1929, an author named Marc Chassaigne published "L'Affaire Calas," which contained the fruits of his own investigation of the case. He offered the theory that Marc Antoine's death was not due either to suicide or filicide. He suggested that the young man was attacked and strangled from someone who had followed him into his house--possibly someone from his gaming club. The murderer then slipped out of the house. Chassaigne noted that servants in the household had overheard a man's cries of "Murder!" not long before the body was discovered. Experiments proved to his satisfaction that it was virtually impossible for anyone to hang himself in the way described by the Calas family. Although he acknowledged the brilliance of Voltaire's defense, Chassaigne believed the great philosopher was motivated largely by his anti-Catholic sentiments rather than an objective desire for justice. (Even in the midst of his campaign to clear Jean Calas' name, Voltaire had privately admitted that the case was a puzzling mystery.) Chassaigne proposed that the Calas family was guilty of ineptly stage-managing the discovery of the body, although it is hard to explain why they would cover up their son's murder, especially when they wound up paying such a dear price for their silence. In the end, Chassaigne clearly left open the possibility that the family truly was responsible for the murder, after all.

So, how did Marc Antoine Calas die?

We'll never know for sure.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Weekend Link Dump

Renoir, "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

It's time for yet another Link Dump!

Everybody dance!

Loie Fuller's serpentine dance.

Communal coffins and burial clubs.

The face of a female Viking.

This week in Russian Weird looks at a Napoleon expert's gruesome Waterloo.  Not to mention the flying cat understudy.

The kind of thing that happened when you got on Queen Christina's bad side.

The rocket scientist of the Hollywood Park backstretch.

Family scandal and a disputed will.

When smoking could kill you...a lot faster than you might think.

The Habsburg Imperial Crypt.

The last days of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

The enduring weirdness of Charles Fort.

An equestrian ghost.

How Bridgeport avoided being buried alive.

This is why you shouldn't take pigeons up in a hot air balloon.

Finland's Day of the Dead, and other theatrical links.

The Stone of Cashel.

Tragedy at the South Pole.

WWII and the Official Secrets Act.  (Part two here.)

A legendary Chinese banquet.

Domestic violence turns to murder.

Fighter pilots and a Southern California UFO.

Are we the aliens?

An Armistice Day parade turned lynching.

A New Zealand UFO.

A newly-discovered Bronze Age stone circle.

A newly-discovered 8,000 year old village.

The last person to die of smallpox.

Edward Leyden, human calculator.

A girl's baffling illness.

The busy life of journalist Nellie Bly.

An Anglo-Saxon colony in Crimea.

And that's all for this week! See you on Monday, when we'll look at a young Frenchman's mysterious death. In the meantime, here's some late-period Linda. This is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

Today's news item is a helpful reminder of the sort of thing that happens when you mess with fairies. The "Boston Globe," April 5, 1926:
Dublin, April 4. People of the Irish Free State who were rejoicing recently at the reported return of the traditional fairies around about Milltown, a pastoral village district in County Monaghan, now are beginning to worry because the fairy bush used by the little folk for their nightly revels, has been hewn down by some person as yet unknown.

County Monaghan borders on Ulster, and the residents went to bed to the tunes of strange, sweet music. They rejoiced and slept happily, because the fairies were back, and Irish fairy tales took on a look of a productive industry once more. Plenty of citizens almost forgave the Government in their enthusiasm, and William Butler Yeats, who had long been looking melancholy, began to smile. The Abbey Theatre, which floated into existence on folklore and fairies, began to feel its national destiny was going to be fulfilled.

When hearts were beating high and the farmer who owned the site of the fairy revels was hoping the government would lower his taxes because he was supporting a national institution, the bush was destroyed. Some person went out and cut down the fairy bush, leaving nothing but the stump to welcome the revelers.

Since then, the nights around Milltown have been filled with lonely wailings and heart-rendering cries of the bereft fairies are heard over mountain and valley. Where, before all was peaceful and happy, now is alarm and fear, because it is well-known that angry fairies are desperate enemies. Their favorite vengeance is the kidnapping of infants from cradles, replacing their captives with puny and delicate fairy children known as changelings. The mothers of the neighborhood now keep a large shovel near their babies' cradles, because it is well-known that a hot shovel used as a seat for the changelings will exorcise the impostor and bring back the child held captive.

There is evidence that the fairies already are starting a vendetta. The other day a farmers horse was found in the river that runs by the fairy field, and two men who sat out during the night listening to the fairies wailing tell how, in the moonlight, the horse galloped past them in the direction of the river and on its back was what they described as a wee man dressed in red.

The people hope that some means will be found to placate the wrathful fairy folk and again bring their sweet music to the fairy fields of Ireland. All are agreed that if the Government is really efficient it will save Ireland's oldest Industry.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Menace of Magenta Street

Via Newspapers.com

Insulting, foul-mouthed parrots are always welcome at this blog, and the following example is a real pip. Our saga begins with this story from the "Brooklyn Eagle," June 17, 1913:
It is circus day every day at 108 Magenta street, and today a regular performance was held at the New Jersey avenue court for the benefit of Magistrate Alexander H. Geismar, who was repeatedly told in the plainest words possible to seek an even hotter climate than this by a parrot that was accused of being one of the noisiest performers in an East New York back yard.

"This parrot wakes up at the first peep of dawn," testified Mrs. Ormsby Jandro, of 110 Magenta street, who had summoned Mrs. Johanna Vogt, owner of the animals, to the magistrate's court, to explain.

"And as soon as the parrot gets one eye open she begins with 'Polly wants a cracker,' 'Go to_____, go to_____,' 'Polly wants a cracker,' 'Go to_____,' until the young roosters in rear yards begin to crow and the cat to meow, and the dog to bark, and the canary bird to sing. Now my husband works late and wants to sleep in the morning, and that is impossible as long as Mrs. Vogt keeps all those animals next door."

"Are you sure the parrot says 'Go to _____," asked Magistrate Gelsmar with austere dignity.

"Go to____," screamed the parrot, from Mrs. Vogt's seat in the rear of the courtroom, and the decorum of the court was lost so irretrievably that the presiding magistrate could not restore it even with the aid of his gavel and the new robes that have recently been introduced in the police courts of Brooklyn.

The parrot repeated the instructions to the court a number of times, and it was impossible for Mrs. Jandro to continue her testimony.

Mrs. Vogt, the owner of the parrot and the dog and the cat and the chickens and the canary bird, that were accused of having disturbed the occupants of the apartment house next door, was then called to the stand.

"The court is shocked at the language of your parrot, Madam," said Magistrate Gelsmar, sternly. "How do you account for him learning such expressions."

"Your Honor, I live in a small wooden house at 108 Magenta street," said Mrs. Vogt. "I make my living from the chickens and the rest of the animals are my pets. Now my parrot was very refined in its language, but this Mrs. Jandro, who has made a complaint against me, lives in an apartment house next door, and the janitor of that house has a parrot, and from that bird my parrot has learned all its bad words. I suppose the janitor's parrot has learned to swear from the tenants of that apartment house."

At this turn of the case Mrs. Jandro, who was accompanied by several of her co-tenants in the apartment house at 110 Magenta street, took the stand to deny Mrs. Vogt's testimony. She said that she had never noticed the janitor had a parrot, at any rate, she had never heard the bird swear aloud.

"But you ought to hear it when it is left out on the fire escape opposite my windows." broke in Mrs. Vogt. "This is how my polly learned all its bad language."

"In view of the conflict in the testimony," said Magistrate Gelsmar gravely, "the court will be unable to reach a decision in this case today. I, therefore, will adjourn the case until next week, and in the meantime Probation Officer Frank Cooley will make an investigation of the real facts in the case for the benefit of the court. At present I'm inclined to place Mrs. Vogt's parrot on probation for contempt of court, and using profane language in the courtroom."
So. Further gory details appeared in the "Camden Courier-Post" the following day:
Brooklyn, N.Y., June 18. When Armando, the parrot of Mrs. Johanna Vogt of 108 Magenta street, became a witness in his own behalf yesterday before Magistrate Geismar, in the New Jersey Avenue Court, when an effort was made to prove that he was an upright bird of decent speech, Armando certainly spilled the beans.

"Why, Judge," said Mrs. Ormsby Jandro, of 110 Magenta street, "this parrot is a loafer and a rowdy. There's no living in the same block with him. Just the first minute it gets to be morning he begins to scream and chatter, and such language." Mrs. Jandro clucked her tongue several times to indicate the unspeakable character of Armando's soliloquies.

"That's bad enough, but his yelling starts all Mrs. Vogt's menagerie," she went on. "The cat begins to meow to be let in, the dog begins to howl, the roosters crow, her canary sings and oh, dear me!" Mrs. Jandro stuck her fingers in her ears, wagged her head and rolled her eyes to indicate that a boiler factory would be a rest cure compared with the Vogts' neighborhood.

Armando had been placed on the Magistrate's desk in a cage. He winked at Mrs. Jandro with cynical, sneering eyes as she talked.

"And you say he used bad language?"

"He started right in the first thing. 'Go to hell! Go to hell Brrrrrrrrripp! Hell!'"

"And he keeps it up?"

"If you shout 'Shut up!' he answers right back, 'Go to hell! Go to hell! Brrripp! To hell!' "

"Are you sure he says 'Go to hell'?"' asked the Court.

Just as Mrs. Jandro was about to answer, Armando ruffled his feathers, cocked his head to one side, blinked at the Magistrate and said shrilly and clearly: "Go to hell! Go to hell! Brrrrrrrrripp! Hell!"

"That's all," cried counsel for Mrs. Jandro, triumphantly. Mrs. Vogt burst into tears. Armando fluffed his feathers defiantly and began anew: "Go to..."

"Officer, take that bird out of here!" broke in His Honor. The door of the corridor closed on a smothered "Hell!"

"Oh, Your Honor," wailed the hopeless Mrs. Vogt, "it isn't that my bird is bad. As for the other noises, I make my living raising chickens and I like pets. And Armando was just as refined as could be till he got to know the parrot of the janitor in the house where Mrs. Jandro lives. I'm sure if that other parrot could be put away somewhere Armando..."

"The janitor's parrot is a dear." Mrs. Jandro broke in. "I never heard him say anything worse than 'Oh crumpets!'"

The Magistrate thought long and deeply. Then he said, "Armando shall not be convicted to death or exile until a full investigation of the case has been made. Since you, Mrs. Vogt, declare him to be the victim of an evil association the matter clearly rests with Probation Officer Cooley. Mr. Cooley will talk with both parrots and see which is the leader and instigator of these profanity debauches. Meanwhile Armando shall remain in custody with a towel wrapped around his cell to keep him from corrupting other prisoners."

Faintly from the hallway the voice of Armando arose. He was still intent on bidding everybody to go to the place he seemed sure he could recommend.

Still more on Armando's evil doings came from the "Brooklyn Chat" on June 21. The parrot was apparently not only fond of impure language, he was the neighborhood gossip.
When Mrs. Ormsby Grambo [sic], of 110 Magenta street, summoned her neighbor, Johanna Vogt of 108 Magenta street, to the New Jersey avenue police court Tuesday morning, charging her with maintaining a nuisance, there came the story of a big green parrot which has the whole City Line section a tumult of excitement.

"Such language as that bird has--you never heard the like of it outside of a saloon or aboard a tugboat," said Mrs. Grambo to Magistrate Gelsmar.

"He's the most knowing bird you ever saw and if he has the gift of seeing things and folks as they really are and isn't afraid to hand 'em the truth about themselves, why blame him?" said Mrs. Vogt.

According to Mrs. Grambo, the parrot is only one of an interesting collection which makes up Mrs. Vogt's menagerie at 108 Magenta street. Mrs. Vogt is proud of the collection, but Mrs. Grambo said that the menagerie in concert at 5 am with dogs barking, roosters crowing, hens cackling, pigeons cooing and meowing, is something fierce. She asked Magistrate Gelsmar to put a stop to it. At that Mrs. Grambo would be content to put up with the rest of the collection if only Magistrate Gelsmar would choke off the parrot.

His honor ordered the parrot to court for examination. Mrs. Grambo doesn't know where the parrot came from or who owned it before fell into the hands of Mrs. Vogt, but suspects its history is a cagey one. The parrot hangs outside the window in a big brass cage and every morning sunrise hears him shouting, "Get up, get up, go to ____" . After cocking his head one side and waiting a few minutes results and getting none, the parrot again arouses the neighborhood with, 'Turn out, and up with your hammocks; what the 'ell. Bill; goin' to sleep all day?"

There is then no further use in trying to get sleep, says Mrs. Grambo; Morpheus refuses to be wooed under any such circumstances, especially with the parrot screaming, "Time to scrub yer decks, my covies; get up and do it and be ______ to the lot of you!"

As Mrs. Vogt is always up at this hour "scrubbing her decks," naturally she has no sympathy with those who have to be admonished. She says her parrot is a wise bird. Few persons in Magenta street agree with her. Even the Liberty avenue cop who stands on the corner is shocked at Mrs. Vogt's parrot. Sometimes he is a fat cop and sometimes a lean one; sometimes a married cop and sometime single. Last week it was a married cop, but even a seasoned cop, when he is married, will feel painful blushes rising when within the hearing of a whole street he is greeted with, "Well. Bill, how're the chickens, any new ones lately?" And even a bachelor cop may not relish having, "In My Harem'" shrilled at top note whenever he puts in an appearance.

Just why Mrs. Vogt's parrot should make him the object of all its confidences, the cop on the corner does not know. It is most embarrassing, says he, when a skirt of latest fashion goes by to have Mrs. Vogt's parrot yell, "Hi, Bill, get next, get next." or "Hi, Bill, pike it off, pike it off." While Bill may be a willing spirit in private, he does not relish these things in public, and so Magenta street fears it will lose its police protection unless someone puts a quietus on Mrs. Vogt's parrot.

Mrs. Grambo, for Magenta street, says it is impossible to go to the store for milk any more. As soon as he sees the pitcher, Mrs. Vogt's parrot greets it with, "There goes the duck; we haven't got the rent, but the duck is rushing." A small paper parcel carried tightly under the arm causes the parrot to scream, "What'll ye take for a chaser?" Magenta street, made up mostly of church goers, resents the insinuation.

"That bird is an instrument of the evil one," says the street.

"That bird ain't no fool," says Mrs. Vogt.

If there is any one day in the week when Mrs. Vogt's parrot comes out strong, that day is Sunday. "Then his talk is something frightful," says Mrs. Grambo.

A neighboring deacon on his way piously to church goes down the block to the tune of "All night long he calls her snookey ookums," while a belated husband, wending homeward unsteadily, is encouraged with "Soak her if she says a word." Invitations to "Have one on me," "a four-hand game at cents a corner," or "Lets go down the line and look the chickens over," may not be all right at times, but bawled out on Sunday morning when a fellow is leading his wife to church, they are pernicious, say masculine Magenta street. They have been known to cause heated family discussions. You can't convince certain Magenta street women that Mrs. Vogt's parrot doesn't know more than it will tell.

Mrs. Vogt told Magistrate Gelsmar that her parrot had learned all of its bad language from the parrot belonging to the janitor of the house in which Mrs. Grambo lives.

"I live in a small frame house next to the flat building, and I make my living on the chickens," said she; "the bird and dogs are pets. I used to hang my parrot out on the fire escape, and there it struck up a friendship with the parrot belonging to the janitor next door. You can't blame the janitor's parrot if it knew a thing or two. Such tenants in that house, and the talk they used! Maybe my parrot does talk about 'chasing the duck,' and tight skirts, and no rent, but remember, Judge, he got it all from the janitor's parrot and the janitor's parrot got it all first hand from the fellow that knew about it, the janitor himself."

Magistrate Gelsmar turned the case over to Probation Officer Frank Cooley, instructing him to find out what he could in the matter. Cooley will have to see the janitor and the cop on the corner, also, Cooley will have to see masculine Magenta street and the ladies who affect the latest fashions. And Mrs. Vogt will have to bring the parrot to court. She says she is not afraid to do so; "he a nice polite bird if he's among the right people," says she.

Tuesday night when Mrs. Vogt gave the parrot an extra cracker and told him he would have to go to court Magenta street heard him bawling, "I should worry and get wrinkles. Me go to court? Go to ____! Go to ____!"

Sadly, the police investigation did not go well for Armando. On June 20, the "Brooklyn Times Union" reported on his sentencing:
The twenty-three tenants of the apartment home at 110 Magenta street, East New York, are rejoicing today because Mrs. Johanna Vogt, the next door neighbor, has been compelled to get rid of her parrot.

Witnesses told Magistrate Gelsmar in the New Jersey Avenue Police Court on Tuesday that the parrot had scandalized the neighborhood for a year. On that day Mrs Vogt was summoned to court on complaint of Mrs. Ormsby Jambro, who headed a delegation of tenants. They declared the bird called them vile names constantly.

Magistrate Gelsmar ordered Probation Officer Cooley to investigate if vile names were used by the parrot. Tooley reported to the Magistrate this morning that the bird told him to "Go to hell." At this, he said, he made Mrs. Vogt get rid of the parrot.
Mrs. Vogt established that she had sold her offending bird, and Armando faded from history. Personally, I would have enjoyed living next door to him; he was clearly a parrot who had a way with words and a gift for dissecting human nature. He would have been splendid company.

I hope both he and Mrs. Vogt went on to have good lives. And Mrs. Ormsby Jandro can go visit Armando's favorite destination.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Weekend Link Dump

Renoir, "Luncheon of the Boating Party"

This week's Link Dump is being hosted by the security detail here at Strange Company HQ.

Watch out for those cursed trumpets!

An executed man who just doesn't know when to leave.

The two lives of Dr. James Barry.

America's first state police department.

The execution of an actress, and other theatrical links.

A sculptor who created...Strange Company, indeed.

The supernatural side of WWI.

The Case of the Disappearing Boulder.

The man who is rewriting human history.

A senator meets a yowie.

A Neolithic temple has just been uncovered.

One of Napoleon's generals has just been uncovered.

The weird life and death of Joanna Southcott.

This week in Russian Weird brings us weaponized cats.

A boisterous night in Tewkesbury.

A look at the horrors of Lenin-era Russia.  This one is not for the squeamish.

A look at interstellar space.

An all-too-typical witch trial.

Matchmaking and the East India Company.

The London Fireworks Brigade.

A forgotten way to contact the dead.

The Great Sheep Panic.

A newly-discovered ancient Egyptian book.

A newly-discovered ancient necklace.

Britain's "first city."

Another look at a famed UFO abduction story.

Hitler goes to Antarctica.

A mastodon and the Founding Fathers.

Unwed mothers during the Regency era.

The India Office is sent to the salt mines.

Mark Twain and the bloody kitten man.

Some synonyms for being drunk.  Illustrated!

An eyewitness to history.

The last man hanged in Cambridgeshire.

A brief history of Jack o'lanterns.

A brief history of Cremorne Gardens.

A brief history of telephone technology.

A brief history of trolley hearses.

The mortuary ship for the Titanic.

A famed heart surgeon and the Nazis.

A poltergeist in Chechnya.

A UFO in Scotland.

That closes things for this week! See you on Monday, when we'll meet the parrot who terrorized an entire neighborhood. In the meantime, here's a bit of Bach:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

The "Charlotte News," August 18, 1902:
Vincennes, Ind.,. Aug. 17. George Flowers, a young farmer, bought a strip of land at Sand Ridge, near this place, on which was located the oldest cemetery in this section.

The cemetery was surrounded by a grove and contained 300 headstones. Flowers removed the headstones, throwing some of them into the Embarrass river and with the others built a foundation for his house. He plowed the cemetery and planted it with melons and potatoes.

Although similar crops on the rest of the farm grew in abundance the cemetery crop has been eaten up by a strange bug.

Flowers' house seems to be haunted. For several nights past, it is alleged, the building has shaken violently. Flowers, his wife and two children are distracted with fear, and have fled from the place.

People having relatives buried threaten to prosecute Flowers for obliterating the graves without giving them notice. His brother and sister and two children lie buried in the devastated cemetery.

Flowers secured the money from his father, Frank Flowers, in Colorado Springs, to buy the farm. Today lightning struck; the barn on Flowers' place and burned stock and building.
Everyone who is surprised by that turn of events, raise your hands.