Weird Universe Blog — January 23, 2022

45 Jobs in 45 States

In January 1939, Lyra Ferguson of Missouri left her job as a church secretary and took off on a tour of the United States. Her goal was to spend a week working in all 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii weren't yet states, so she didn't have to worry about those. She was equipped with only "a new automobile, a small wardrobe, a little pistol and $200." I'm not sure of her exact age, but news reports said she was "over 40."

She made advance plans to secure a job in a handful of states, but mostly she just arrived and tried to find employment. She also tried to find jobs in industries that seemed representative of each state.

Ultimately she managed to find one-week jobs in 45 states but failed to get work in New York, Nevada, or Arizona.

Her plan had been to write a book about her adventures, but in a later interview she said her attempt at a book was "terrible." So that plan fell through.

However, she did take film footage of her entire journey and later edited this together into a movie which she showed to various groups. Unfortunately I can't find any evidence that this movie still exists.

Below is a list of her jobs in 42 states. I couldn't find any info about her jobs in Arkansas, Colorado, or West Virginia.

  • Alabama: performed at the assembly exercises of the Tuskegee Institute
  • California: worked for an overall company at the San Francisco fair
  • Connecticut: typewriter factory
  • Delaware: tanned kid skins in a tannery
  • Florida: packed oranges
  • Georgia: cafeteria
  • Idaho: dug potatoes
  • Illinois: made wax fruits and flowers
  • Indiana: manufactured refrigerators
  • Iowa: pen factory
  • Kansas: packed dog food
  • Kentucky: ironed shirts in a laundromat
  • Louisiana: packed shrimp
  • Maine: helped out in a lighthouse
  • Maryland: tea packing factory
  • Massachusetts: served as attendant in an insane asylum
  • Michigan: maid on a Great Lakes steamer during tulip festival
  • Minnesota: sewed buttons on suits
  • Mississippi: shucked oysters
  • Missouri: social hostess at a hotel
  • Montana: cooked on a dude ranch
  • Nebraska: booked well-known artists for an agency
  • New Hampshire: paper factory
  • New Jersey: cosmetics factory
  • New Mexico: sewed labels on ties made by Native Americans
  • North Carolina: weaved homespun suiting
  • North Dakota: picked chickens
  • Ohio: worked in the printing room of a newspaper
  • Oklahoma: wiped windshields at a gas station
  • Oregon: packed salmon
  • Pennsylvania: made chocolate candy at Hersheys
  • Rhode Island: baking powder factory
  • South Carolina: textile industry
  • South Dakota: took pictures of the Black Hills for the association of commerce
  • Tennessee: washed turnip greens
  • Texas: delivered packages during the Christmas holidays
  • Utah: wove blankets in a woolen mill
  • Vermont: helped make maple syrup
  • Virginia: weighed peanuts
  • Washington: worked at a general store in a logging camp
  • Wisconsin: milked cows for a dairy
  • Wyoming: worked at Yellowstone

Pittsburgh Press - Dec 24, 1939

Weekly Kansas City Star - May 8, 1940

Sedalia Democrat - Sep 23, 1941

The only follow-up info I can find about her was that in 1956 she had just returned home from a world tour during which she collected souvenirs from the countries she visited. She obviously really liked to travel!

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 23, 2022 - Comments (6)
Category: Jobs and Occupations | Travel | Tourists and Tourism | 1930s

January 22, 2022

Upside-Down Jeans Dress

Turn old jeans upside-down and make them into a dress. I don't see why this idea wouldn't work for any old pair of pants. Though I've never seen anyone wearing a dress like that.


For those who aren't into DIY, used to sell a similar dress (but using two upside-down jeans instead of one) for $445.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 22, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Denim

January 21, 2022

Muir’s Improved Pub

In 1865, temperance advocate William Muir obtained a British patent (No. 1 for 1865) for what he called "Improvements in the construction of public houses." Although whether they were actually improvements depended, I suppose, on one's point of view.

Muir wanted to improve pubs first by constructing their front walls out of plate glass in order to make the interior visible to people passing by. This, he believed, would "to a great extent check drunkenness and the indecent behaviour of the persons obtaining refreshment."

Second, he wanted to make the entrances only two feet wide in order "to prevent, as far as possible, the entrance of females with extensive steel crinolines." Why prevent women wearing crinolines? He didn't elaborate. Was this some kind of code for keeping prostitutes out of the pubs?

I don't think many publicans rushed to adopt his improvements.

More info about William Muir

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 21, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants | Nineteenth Century

January 20, 2022

Join the Dodge Rebellion

I'm not sure what all the near-disasters that Pamela Austin was made to face had to do with a "Dodge rebellion," but apparently this series of ads was very popular in the 1960s.

Info from Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood:

In a series of commercials for the automaker, the game starlet [Pamela Austin] can be seen "falling off cliffs, shooting out of cannons, and cracking up airplanes" a la Pearl White, all to get the audience to "Join the Dodge rebellion!" Austin was an immediate hit and fan clubs sprung up all across college campuses. Her impact was huge. She took advantage of the publicity and starred as the ultimate damsel-in-distress orphan Pauline in the projected TV series The Perils of Pauline opposite Pat Boone as her star-crossed lover. The pilot was reworked three times before being rejected by the network and wound up being re-edited for a theatrical release in 1967.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 20, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising | 1960s | Cars

January 19, 2022

The Case of the Furious Children

In 1954, six young boys who exhibited violent behavior were brought to live on the grounds of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. They were specifically selected because they were deemed the worst of the worst:

The boys were selected on the basis of the consistent ferocity of their behavior, as documented in the records of courts, schools, and social agencies. Though they were only eight to ten years old at the time they became charges of the government, their case histories were long and strikingly similar: classroom difficulties ranging from inability to learn to violent tantrums, truancy, stealing, fire-setting, assaults—often fiendish in their ingenuity—on other children, sexual misbehavior, and so on.

For the next five years, the boys were attended around the clock by a team of specialists.

It was all part of an experiment, which came to be known as the "Case of the Furious Children," designed to find out why these young boys were so violent and whether they could be turned into responsible citizens. Eventually, around $1.5 million (in 1950's dollars) was spent on this effort.

By the end of the experiment, one of the researchers, Dr. Nicholas Long, said that the boys now had a "better than 50-50 chance of living a productive life." So what became of them? Were they reformed, or did they head down the path of crime and prison that they originally seemed to be destined for?

I'd be interesting to know, but I haven't been able to find anything out. I'm guessing the info has never been released because of privacy issues.

More info: Harpers Magazine - Jan 1958

Chicago Daily Tribune - July 19, 1959

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 19, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Antisocial Activities | Experiments | Psychology | Children | 1950s

The Ordinances of Lancaster, South Carolina, 1903

We've all seen those features that dig up "Crazy Laws Still on the Books." But how did such ordinances ever first get established? By big and small towns trying to regulate every human behavior they could think of.

Here are a few choice samples from a randomly chosen place!

Source: The Lancaster News (Lancaster, South Carolina) 16 May 1903

No public marble playing

No annoying churchgoers

No hookers

No tramps, cardsharps or fortune tellers

No dirks or slingshots

No outward-opening gates

Must ring bicycle bell

No piles of public poop

No bad oysters

To their credit, the officials imposed lots of rules on the cops as well. These are just a few.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jan 19, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Government | Police and Other Law Enforcement | Regionalism | 1900s

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