Weird Universe Blog — July 2, 2022

from the wu archive

Bernard Bernard’s Height Increaser For Short People

"The patient lifted himself by the chin which was cradled in a sling attached to ropes looped to an overhead beam."

In 1937, the American Medical Association warned the public that this device, despite being widely advertised, didn't actually work.

The Muncie Star Press - Apr 9, 1937

Update: The inventor of this device was a man named Bernard Bernard who was, himself, only 5 feet 1 inch tall. Details from Hygeia (May 1936):

Another scheme exhibited at the World's Fair was the "Height-Increaser," consisting of a self hanging apparatus with a place for the head and with handles to be gripped with the hands. Fixed to an overhead beam, it was guaranteed to add inches to the growth. The promoter, Bernard Bernard, wrote touching advertisements berating the life of a small man and pointing out that his height-increaser was the road to being a "he-man." He admitted that the apparatus cost him 75 cents, but he sold 3,000 of them for $8.75 each. Bernard, who is only 5 feet, 1 inch tall, explained he had never had the time to increase his own height through his device, although he was then 38 years old.

LA Times - July 31, 1932

LA Times - May 1, 1930

First Posted: May 2017
Reposted By: Alex - Sat Jul 02, 2022 - Comments (8)
Category: Inventions | Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil | 1930s

July 1, 2022

Miss Rat Tail?

Two news stories, published over 20 years apart (1955 and 1976), described beauty contests in the Philippines that were combined with rat-extermination campaigns.

Local residents decided to help the government’s rat extermination campaign by electing as town beauty queen the girl whose admirers deposited the greatest number of rat tails.

The 1976 story makes it sound like the contestants themselves were expected to do the rat-catching. I assume that's a mistake, though it would be interesting to see rat catching included in the talent section of the Miss America competition.

Pasadena Independent - July 27, 1955

Miami News - Feb 18, 1976

Update: Some more digging into the newspaper archive has yielded plenty of other stories on this topic. The practice seems to get reported in western newspapers about once a decade. Apparently using rat tails to vote in beauty contests is a long-established Filipino custom.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 01, 2022 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals | Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests

A Touch of Magic

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 01, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Business | Advertising | Cryptozoology | Surrealism | 1960s | Dance | Cars

June 30, 2022

Unintended consequence of hymn singing

Weird Fact: hymn singing can cause mink to kill and eat their young.

Vancouver Sun - Dec 8, 1959

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 30, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals | Religion | 1950s

Dispatcher:  The Board Game

Just as exciting as it sounds!

More info here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 30, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Boredom | Games | Trains and Other Vehicles on Rails | 1950s

June 29, 2022

Love lost due to “middle-age” skin

What foolishness to grow older!

1938 - NY Times. Via Duke University

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 29, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising | 1930s | Skin and Skin Conditions

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Here is a shot of the ancient fortress city of Sigiriya, followed by pictures of parts of the staircase you must ascend to visit the place. Please let us know if you would be eager and happy to make this climb, or prefer to remain down below.

Videos follow the still shots.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 29, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Statues, Monuments and Memorials | Travel | Danger, Risk, and Peril | Asia

June 28, 2022

Living Greenery Jeans

Part of the Spring 2023 Menswear collection for Loewe.

Details in, with reporting by "Sarah Mower."

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 28, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion | Denim

“Why’d It Have To Be Snakes?”

Source: The Pomona Daily Review (Pomona, California) 10 Jul 1913, Thu Page 4

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 28, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Death | Reptiles, Snakes, Worms and Other Slithery Things | 1910s | Middle East

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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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