Weird Universe Archive

October 2021

October 21, 2021

Alfred Schmitz’s Casket with Internal Body Supports

A casket designed for upright burial. From Schmitz's 1975 patent:

This invention relates to a casket, and more particularly to a casket having support means therein for supporting the body against shifting longitudinally of the casket.

In the past, caskets and vaults have been buried in a substantially horizontal position. Burial space, especially in urban areas, is becoming more scarce. A solution to such a problem may be found in burying caskets in a substantially vertical position. With such burial techniques, the amount of space required for each burial is substantially reduced.

While previously known caskets could be buried vertically, rather than horizontally, it should be realized that their use might be found distasteful by those who have been close to the party to be buried. An objection to the use of prior caskets may be found in the fact that in prior caskets generally there is nothing to support the body against shifting toward the foot end of the casket when buried in an upright position. Thus, if a conventional casket is tipped upright the body would slump to the foot end of the casket.

Related post: Upright Burial

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 21, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Death, Inventions, 1970s

Kentucky Roast Beef

Here's a neat article about this failed venture by Colonel Sanders.

You won't find the image below at that page.


Posted By: Paul - Thu Oct 21, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Food, Success & Failure, 1960s

October 20, 2021

Haruo Shimada, Child Artist

As a young boy of five living in Tokyo, Haruo Shimada was hailed as an artistic prodigy. Articles about him appeared in American papers as well as in Life magazine. It was noted that his preferred subject was 'impressionistic nudes'.



Life - Jan 23, 1950



With news stories like this there's usually no follow-up, which I always find frustrating. So you never find out what happened to these people later in life. But that's not the case with Shimada thanks to his personal website on which he tells the story (in English) of his subsequent career.

Shimada explains that he gave up painting while still young, after his instructor, Kenzo Akada, moved to the United States. In college he studied economics, and eventually he became a professor of economics at Keio University and MIT. But late in life, at around the age of 60, he decided to take up painting again and ended up having an exhibition of his work at Chanel's flagship store in the Ginza district of Tokyo.

He's posted a gallery on his site of some of his later works. I don't see any nudes. Instead, his preferred subjects now seem to be landscapes and abstract patterns.

Chicago Tribune - May 14, 1950


Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 20, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Children, 1950s

October 19, 2021

American Tentative Society

The officers of the American Tentative Society insisted that, despite the odd name, the society wasn't a joke. Its purpose, they explained, was to promote the idea that scientific knowledge should always be regarded as tentative — subject to growth, revision, and change.

The three founders of the society were science journalists Alton Blakeslee, Rennie Taylor, and Pat McGrady. They came up with the concept in the mid-1960s, but it remained nothing more than a crazy idea until 1974, when Taylor died. In his will he bequeathed $300,000 to making the society a reality. This left the other two stuck with the problem of how to spend the money. So they solicited ideas from the public.

As far as I can tell, they ended up using some of the money to give awards to scientists (such as Stephen Jay Gould) whom they viewed as embracing the tentative nature of scientific knowledge. The rest of it was eventually given to the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing to endow a fellowship awarded annually to students accepted for enrollment in graduate-level programs in science writing.

Science - May 24, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 19, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Clubs, Fraternities and Other Self-selecting Organizations, Science, 1970s

October 18, 2021

Richard Nixon, Cottage Cheese, and Ketchup

Richard Nixon's favorite snack was reportedly cottage cheese topped with ketchup.

A 1960 article in the LA Times treated this as noncontroversial personal information about the then-presidential candidate, noting that he had acquired a taste for this unusual delicacy from his Quaker grandmother.

Los Angeles Times - Mar 14, 1960



However, by the 1970s Nixon's team was downplaying his fondness for this snack. Helen Smith, the first lady's press secretary, dismissed it as overblown rumor.

Casper Star Tribune - June 5, 1973



Similarly, White House chef Henry Haller, in his book The White House Family Cookbook, denied he had ever seen Nixon eat such a concoction: "If the President ever doused his cottage cheese with catsup, I never saw him, and doubt he ever did."

I suspect the truth is that Nixon enjoyed this snack when he was younger, but didn't continue eating it when he was President. Regardless, the combination of cottage cheese and ketchup was definitely associated with Nixon in the public mind, and it inspired one odd work of art.

In 1973, on the eve of Nixon's second inauguration, the sculptor Carl Andre dumped 500 pounds of cottage cheese on the floor of the Max Protetch gallery in Washington, DC. He then topped this with 10 gallons of ketchup. He called the work 'American Decay'. However, it smelled so bad that it all had to be removed the next day.

More info: Interview Magazine

'American Decay'. Image source: bonhams

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 18, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Food, Politics, 1970s

Polygamy Porter

Yet another banned beer, to go alone with Alex's batrachian brew. Article here.



The brewer's site, where you can purchase their t-shirt

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 18, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No’s, Fashion, Marriage, Alcohol

October 17, 2021

Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs Murphy’s Ovaltine?

Hit song of the 1940s. Explanation from YouTube:

Harry (the Hipster) Gibson blends jive & barrelhouse as he pounds out his boogie woogie like Jerry Lee Lewis pounding out rock n roll. A hipster poet precursor to the Beats & even the hippies, his daring lyrics occasionally got him into trouble. "Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine?" is an updating of an old Irish folk song "Who Put The Overalls In Mrs. Murphy's Chowder?" that ended up getting Harry "The Hipster" Gibson blacklisted from radio play, and put his career on a downward slope it wouldn't recover from until the seventies.




Petoskey News Review - Dec 8, 1947



The folk song it was parodying:

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 17, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Drugs, Music, 1940s

High Spirits

A unique defense.

Source: Daily News (New York, New York) 08 Mar 1943, Mon Page 219

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, Police and Other Law Enforcement, Religion, Mental Health and Insanity

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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