Weird Universe Blog — September 18, 2021

The Alaskan Slot Machine

1990: Customers of a laundromat in Anchorage, Alaska frequently complained that the slot machine in the establishment never paid out any money, even if a winning combination came up, and one of them eventually called the police about it.

The police initially agreed that it seemed like theft to never pay out winnings, so they confiscated the slot machine. But then the owner of the laundromat explained that the machine was deliberately fixed to not pay off, because gambling was illegal in Alaska. Furthermore, a small sign next to the machine said that it was "For Amusement Only". Perhaps, he conceded, the sign was not prominent enough, but it was there nevertheless.

Upon hearing this, the police decided the slot machine was legal and let the owner take it back.

Daily Sitka Sentinel - Jan 4, 1990

Tampa Bay Times - Mar 17, 1996

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 18, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: 1990s | Gambling, Casinos, Lotteries and Other Games of Chance

America Hurrah!

The recent obituary for the playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie brought my attention to his masterwork, America Hurrah. Two caveats:

1) The players in these clips appear to be amateurs.

2) You are encountering the parts out of order and incomplete, and might have missed something important.

Nonetheless, after the first clip, let us know when you bail! But wait! Maybe you'll need the second segment to make up your mind.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Sep 18, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art | Theater and Stage | 1960s

September 17, 2021

A stereo for 299 bananas

I posted a month ago about a case from 1965 in which a car dealer advertised, and then had to sell, a new Pontiac sedan for "1,395 bananas."

Turns out this isn't the only time a merchant has run into trouble using the word 'bananas' as slang for 'dollars.'

In 1986, the discount electronics chain Silo ran a TV ad offering a new stereo system for only "299 bananas." Thirty-five people showed up with the appropriate number of bananas, expecting to get a stereo. The store gave 33 of them stereos, and credited the other two for the cost of the bananas.

Lafayette Journal and Courier - May 1, 1986

For more info, check out this article on the Priceonomics blog. It notes that Silo ended up stuck with around 11,000 bananas that they had to get rid of:

Silo’s Seattle manager donated his cut of the bananas (10,000) to Woodland Park Zoo, but found that the demand there was limited: the zoo only needed 1,000 of them per week for its elephants, monkeys, gorillas, and hippos, and was unable to feed them uncontrolled amounts of any particular food. The vast majority of the fruits were, in turn, passed along to local food banks.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Business | 1980s | Bananas

Isaac Parker, the Hanging Judge

His Wikipedia page tells us:

Parker became known as the "Hanging Judge" of the American Old West, because he sentenced numerous convicts to death.[1] In 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases. In more than 8,500 of these cases, the defendant either pleaded guilty or was convicted at trial.[2] Parker sentenced 160 people to death; 79 were executed.

Read a memoir that appeared two years after his death at this link.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Sep 17, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Death | History | Wild West and US Frontier | Law | Books | Nineteenth Century

September 16, 2021

Banana Label Collecting

Banana-label collecting is not only a thing. It has an active community of collectors.

One of the top collectors is Becky Martz who now has over 22,630 labels. She's archived them at her website, Becky's Gone Bananas.

You can also check out the BananaLabel Catalog of the Produce Real Society. There's not many labels to see on their website, but they sell a master catalog of 31,000 labels going all the way back to 1913.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 16, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Collectors | Bananas

Killer Tomatoes

My partner grafts tomatoes for our garden. Must caution against this!

Source: The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) 31 Oct 1963, Thu Page 14

Posted By: Paul - Thu Sep 16, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Family | Food | Psychedelic | 1960s | Goofs and Screw-ups

September 15, 2021

Gee Geronimo the Snail

I'm not aware of many famous snails. Gee Geronimo, as far as I know, may be the only one. Back in the 1970s, the Guinness Book of Records declared him to be the world's biggest snail. His owner was Christopher Hudson. Gee Geronimo died in 1976.

Christopher Hudson with Gee Geronimo
source: 1978 Guinness Book of Records

Connellsville Daily Courier - Nov 27, 1976

Hudson was apparently more in love with his snails than he was with his wife.

Honolulu Advertiser - Feb 4, 1977

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 15, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals | World Records | Marriage | 1970s

Two Milk Trucks

Posted By: Paul - Wed Sep 15, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Motor Vehicles | Advertising | Twentieth Century

September 14, 2021

Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine

According to the archives of the American Turpentine Farmers Association, the first 'Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine' was crowned in 1940 at the ATFA annual convention.

New Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine continued to be crowned for over half a century. I'm not sure exactly when the contest ended (I'm assuming it has because I can't find any info about recent winners), but it continued at least into the 1990s.

The Georgia Museum of Agriculture reports that it has a traveling exhibit of portraits of the Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine winners dating from 1946 to 1961. They have a brief slideshow on their Facebook page with some of these pictures (they're the color ones below). And I've added photos of a few other winners.

"Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine Winners," Undated
source: American Turpentine Farmers Association

Miss Gum Spirits of 1946
The Columbia Record - Apr 20, 1946

Miss Gum Spirits of 1951
image source: Walter J. Brown Media Archives Blog

Miss Gum Spirits of 1956

Miss Gum Spirits of 1959

Miss Gum Spirits of 1961

Miss Gum Spirits of 1967
The Tampa Tribune - Apr 21, 1967

Miss Gum Spirits of 1976
Tallahassee Democrat - Sep 15, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 14, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests

The Perma-Lift Line of Undergarments

I'm surprised no one has revived this trade name.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Sep 14, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Advertising | Underwear | Twentieth Century

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