Weird Universe Blog — May 17, 2018

Sneeze Girl

From Time magazine, Dec 14, 1936:

Because she had been sneezing every few minutes since Oct. 9, Mary Margaret Cleer, 13, daughter of a Fort Myer, Va. gasoline station attendant, last week held the attention of a great many curious laymen and puzzled doctors. No one knew what caused the prolonged sneezing fit which had racked the child to skin & bones and put a constant, haggard sneer on her face.

To see if allergy to some substance caused the sneezing, Washington doctors scratched her skin some 80 times, rubbed into the scratches hay pollen, flower pollen, pulverized cat fur, dog hair, house dust, food extracts, dozens of substances.

Skin tests failed to reveal any specific allergy. A Washington doctor cut out the adolescent's tonsils, with no effect on the sneezing. Other specialists could find nothing unusual in her lungs or nervous system.

Lay cures for sneezing which Mary Cleer was urged to try included wearing a "magnetic" letter pinned to her night dress, looking down the bridge of her nose at pieces of bright silk held close to the tip, clipping an electrified wire to her nose and toes, getting tattooed, taking snuff.

Last week when Mary Cleer went to Johns Hopkins Hospital, the great medical faculty there had never before treated or even seen a girl who sneezed so persistently. Johns Hopkins specialists began a new series of tests. A psychiatrist examined the girl and summoned her parents to analyze their mental and emotional makeups. Mary underwent fluoroscopy, blood testing, other examinations. A gynecologist also took her in charge, for the nasal and genital tissues are histologically related. The mucous membranes of the nose swell during sexual excitement. This well-known phenomenon gives rise to a theory that the noses of many little girls become sensitive as they turn into young womanhood, and that this makes such girls sniff, lisp or pamper their noses in an apparently affected manner, and that this overture to womanhood causes an occasional girl to sneeze uncontrollably. That, a gynecologist might guess, was the trouble with Mary Cleer, 13.

Apparently the sneezing eventually stopped of its own accord. No one ever figured out what the cause was.

Decatur Daily Review - Dec 3, 1936

(left) Alexandria Town Talk - Oct 27, 1936
(right) Daily Clintonian - Dec 8, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 17, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Health | Medicine | 1930s

The Beer Parade

I particularly like the church-keys functioning as skis.

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 17, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Business | Advertising | Stop-motion Animation | 1950s | Alcohol

May 16, 2018

Monsieur Mangetout

Info from wikipedia:

Michel Lotito (June 15, 1950 – June 25, 2007) was a French entertainer, born in Grenoble, famous for deliberately consuming indigestible objects. He came to be known as Monsieur Mangetout ("Mr Eat-All").
His performances involved the consumption of metal, glass, rubber and other materials. He disassembled, cut up, and consumed bicycles, shopping carts, televisions, and a Cessna 150, among other items. The Cessna 150 took roughly two years to be "eaten", from 1978 to 1980...
He was awarded a brass plaque by the Guinness Book to commemorate his abilities. He consumed it as well.

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 16, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Food | Human Marvels

May 15, 2018

Jim Purol, world-record smoker

One of comedian Jim Purol's recurring gags was to stuff record-setting amounts of things in his mouth, especially cigarettes and cigars. For instance, he set a Guinness world record for smoking seven packs of cigarettes simultaneously. Ironically, he was a non-smoker. From the LA Times (July 18, 1987):

His trick of broadening a yawn into a crater crammed with seven packs of gaspers also has given Purol, 35, a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He scored a second mention by smoking 38 pipes at one puffing. He opened wider, gritted his tonsils, and earned a third entry in 1983 by smoking 40 finger-fat stogies at the same time.
Paradoxically, Purol is a nonsmoker. It gets better. His world cigar smoking record was a charity performance benefiting the American Lung Assn.
"I hate smoking," he explained. "I perform the stunts as a statement against smoking. Lookit this picture of me with cigarettes stuffed in my face. This is glamorous? It's disgusting."

Jim Purol (left) and Mike Papa each smoking 135 cigarettes in five minutes - October 1978

Weekly World News - Jan 1, 1985

Philadelphia Daily News - Apr 22, 1983

Back in 1976, he also set the world's duration drumming record by drumming for 320 hours.

Jasper Herald - June 30, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 15, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: World Records | Smoking and Tobacco

Western Electric Design Line Phones

Introduced in 1974, these phones were intended to spice up the boring old device that had been around for decades.

I would have gone for the Chestphone, because then I would have felt like I was a member of U.N.C.L.E. or SMERSH.

Full set of pics and other info here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 15, 2018 - Comments (8)
Category: Business | Advertising | Telephones | 1970s

May 14, 2018

First black Klan member

In 1981, Louis Proctor became the first black member of the KKK. Apparently this was a more liberal, Canadian chapter of the Klan that had announced they would accept black members (to prove they weren't white supremacists). So Proctor took them up on their offer. He explained, "I figure if we can get all the Jews and blacks to join the Klan, we can put a stop to the racial trouble in Canada."

The only follow-up story I can find about Proctor is from 1985, by which time he was in prison and suing the state because he hadn't been protected from being beaten up and losing sight in one eye.

I wonder if he remains the only black Klan member.

Calgary Sun - Aug 14, 1981

Orlando Sentinel - Apr 17, 1985

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 14, 2018 - Comments (4)

Naughty Dallas

Jada the Stripper famous for something other than this film.

Posted By: Paul - Mon May 14, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Movies | Sex Symbols | Historical Figure | 1960s

May 13, 2018

Giant terrorizes mechanic

It's been a while since I've added anything to my occasional series about giant people in ads. But here's an example from 1982 that ran in the New Yorker.

This ad was evidently part of an extended campaign Ford ran in the early 80s featuring giant men in garages. Back in 2012, I posted another example from the same campaign.

Posted By: Alex - Sun May 13, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Giant People in Ads

Fearless Fagan

The reality:

Hollywood version:

Wikipedia article on the film.

The LIFE magazine article.

Posted By: Paul - Sun May 13, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals | Eccentrics | Movies | Pets | 1950s | Armed Forces

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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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