Weird Universe Blog — January 26, 2021

Use your children as dumbbells

Harold J. Reilly, owner of a New York gym during the 1930s and 40s, promoted the idea of using children as exercise equipment. Pick them up and swing them around, he urged parents, as one would a dumbbell or kettlebell.

The advantage of using kids as dumbbells, he pointed out, was that as they grow older their weight will increase, thereby naturally helping the parents to develop their strength.

It's an intriguing idea, although a set of dumbbells is a lot cheaper than having children. And won't break if you drop them.

Minneapolis Star - May 31, 1942



"Reilly recommends that parents (or grandparents) work out by swinging their youngsters around from childhood. Says it helps both out."
NY Daily News - May 2, 1948



Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph - Aug 3, 1941



Text from the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph - Aug 3, 1941:

Some years ago Mr. Reilly was thumbing through a volume of Greek mythology when he read how Hercules, as a boy, started lifting a small calf every day. As the calf grew, so did Hercules' strength so that when it became a full-grown bull Hercules could still lift it.

Mr. Reilly thought that the story could be given a modern twist and proceeded to do so. He became "Hercules" and his infant son and daughter the small "calves."...

For years he carried out this theory conscientiously with his own children and it worked so well that it prompted him to write a recent book about physical culture in which he advocates that both fathers and children will benefit greatly if the former raise the latter as dumb-bells.

"I'm not suggesting that you bring a bull calf into the house and go to work on it. After all you're not Hercules," Mr. Reilly points out in "The Secret of Better Health," published by Carlyle House, "But you can work out the same idea by starting to exercise with your pride and joy when he's only a year old, and keeping it up until he's ten, 15 or even 20. The child will benefit, and so will you...

"You may start when your child is an infant," says Mr. Reilly. "But as babies are delicate, don't begin by wrestling with him. Just manipulate the baby's arms and legs. Wiggle them around, being careful not to twist harshly... Then as the child begins to walk, you can swing him by the arms."...

"From three to six, you can become a little more strenuous. Pick the child up and swing him around, holding him by the arms. Let him lie on his back and take his two hands in one of yours and his ankles in the other and swing him around that way, back and forth, sideways and between your legs as though he were a medicine ball...

Mr. Reilly says that the swinging-around game should be kept up during the six-to-nine period of the child's age. In addition he should be picked up by the ankles and walked around, wheelbarrow fashion...

"From nine to 15 keep up the same exercises, if you can, and begin to box and wrestle with him," says Mr. Reilly. "It is just as easy with a daughter, for a little girl is a natural tomboy. She doesn't begin to be a female until around 12 years when adolescence sets in. Then a certain amount of care is necessary. But until then, treat your daughter the same as your son."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 26, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Babies | Exercise and Fitness | Babies and Toddlers | Children | 1940s

The Singing Ringing Tree

A snippet, then the whole film.

The Wikipedia page, where we learn:

The TV series, partly due to its foreignness as both fairy tale and for the unfamiliarity of its German production, was 'indelibly carved on the psyches'[7] as 'one of the most frightening things ever shown on [UK] children's television'.






Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 26, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Anthropomorphism | Cult Figures and Artifacts | Horror | Movies | Children | Foreign Customs | 1950s

January 25, 2021

Essay on Silence

Essay on Silence, authored by Fra Elbertus (pen name of Elbert Hubbard) was published by the Roycroft Press in 1905. It consisted of 40 blank pages, bound in leather with a spine printed in gilt. As such it belongs to the genre of empty books.

image source: Specific Object



Wikipedia notes that most empty books are published as political satires. For example, one of the earliest examples of the genre was The Political Achievements of the Earl of Dalkeith, consisting of 32 bound, blank pages. Hubbard's book seems to be the earliest, non-political example of the genre.

A 1905 first edition of the Essay on Silence will cost you $125. But there were various reprints published over the years, which are cheaper. Some of the reprints included a four-page, blank text insert titled, "The Essay on Silence Revised Edition with Corrections and Emendations to Date."

Incidentally, Elbert Hubbard is rumored to be the uncle of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. At least, L. Ron Hubbard claimed this to be so. But Elbert Hubbard's followers disagree, arguing that "L. Ron Hubbard was known to elaborate on his background, and it is said he used the popularity of Elbert’s name to promote his own causes."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 25, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Books | 1900s

The Philco Overnighter

Those gals! Can't even listen to music without touching up their lipstick!



Ad source.



Photo source.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 25, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Cosmetics | Radio | Stereotypes and Cliches | 1950s | Women

January 24, 2021

The Newbury Coat

1811: Sir John Throckmorton bet one thousand guineas that a woolen coat could be made in its entirety, starting with the shearing of the sheep, between sunrise and sunset. He believed that the wool could be "A Sheep's Coat at Sunrise, A Man's Coat at Sunset." The experiment took place on June 25, 1811, in the town of Newbury, England, and Throckmorton won his bet.

The 'Newbury Coat' maintained the record for the fastest coat ever made until Sep 21, 1991, when an identical coat was made, in the same manner, but an hour faster.

More details: Berkshire History

Liverpool Mercury - July 26, 1811



Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 24, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion | World Records | Industry, Factories and Manufacturing | Nineteenth Century

January 23, 2021

Operation Decoy - the song

In August 1962, New York City cops patrolled the streets while dressed as women in order to trap muggers. They called this Operation Decoy.

I didn't realize, when I posted about Operation Decoy two years ago, that it had inspired a song.

More info: Discogs




Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 23, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Music | Police and Other Law Enforcement | 1960s

The Magic Land of Allakazam:  Mark Wilson, RIP

The Wikipedia page.

Alas, Mark Wilson is no more.

To Our Magical Friends...
Dad always said, “The best kind of legend to be is a Living Legend”. But sadly, as of Tuesday, January 19th at 4:40pm, Husband of Nani, Father of Mike & Greg, Legendary Magician, Author, Producer, and so much more… James Mark Wilson transitioned from our earthly existence to the ethereal.
Wishing to be with his family, he shared his love, bright outlook, and ambitions for the future, then he passed quietly, without pain, or a single complaint, comfortably at his home with Nani and his boys by his side.
Mark Wilson, the name by which he is best known, was born in Manhattan, New York on April 11th, 1929, in the loving arms of his mother Francis (Teta) Wilson and father James (Jimmy) Wilson. His parents raised him during the Great Depression and through WWII. By example, they taught him to preserver through difficult times and overcome obstacles with determination. His mother, Teta, often said, “Don’t worry honey, it will be alright.” Mark developed a “never give up” attitude, and learned that kindness, compassion, and love were the most important things in life.
He spent his over 91 years on Earth, sharing his passion for making people happy through the art of magic by blazing new paths to reach audiences around the world.
Mark’s trademark phrase, “Happy Magic” was his and Nani’s sign-off words for countless live and television performances… “Happy Magic” is how he signed autographs… and “Happy Magic” was his own unique friendly and approachable style of performing.
Mark’s creativity, originality, and leadership were based on respect and honor for others. Mark finished on “the right side of magic history” morally and ethically. With his loving wife Nani Darnell at his side, he achieved a longer list of “Historic Firsts” than many dream of in multiple lifetimes.
MAGIC Magazine named Mark Wilson, “One of the Ten Most Influential American Magicians of the 20th Century.”
Mark’s influence is still evident today, as he was so thankful to hear “Mark Wilson” and the Magic Land of Allakazam referenced in the newly released feature film, One Night in Miami.
Whether you know him from his TV appearances, his Live productions, the Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic book, or one of his many in-person Magic University classes at the Magic Castle, or through one of his many other achievements… Mom and Mike and I are so proud that he brought “Happy Magic” into not only your life, but the lives of more people around the world than he could possibly meet.
"A lifetime of magic has taken Nani and me around the world and helped us make friends everywhere." 
 - Mark Wilson
He is already dearly missed,
Greg Wilson, on behalf of the Wilson Family
Wilson@AllakazamArchives.com












Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 23, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand | Television | 1960s

January 22, 2021

Eating Mrs. Grote’s Sandwich

Rev. Jensen evidently thought Mrs. Grote's sandwich tasted pretty good. His wife, however, was not amused.

Mrs. Jennie Jensen, in her court action, charged her husband with "taking several bites from Mrs. Grote's sandwich at a picnic party while refusing to take even one from hers."

Los Angeles Evening Post-Record - Jul 28, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 22, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Food | Divorce | Marriage | 1920s

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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