This 1908 news story may have inspired Roald Dahl's short story "The Ratcatcher" (first published in 1953 in Someone Like You). Even if Dahl hadn't seen this exact news piece, he must have heard stories (urban legends) about rat catchers doing this.
A man named Malone, who was fined at Northampton, for breaking hotel windows, was said to earn his living by going from place to place exhibiting freshly-caught rats. These he tethered to a table with string, giving them a certain latitude, and then, with his hands tied tightly behind him, he fought and killed a rat with his teeth. Nine times out of ten he was said to succeed, but frequently the rat bit him severely.
High-test safety glass was developed jointly by five American companies during the 1930s. It had an inner layer of polyvinyl acetal resin. This meant that you could smash a man's face into a pane of the glass, and it would crack but not shatter. As demonstrated by the safety-glass tester below.
Man Gets Self Fired To Collect Week's Pay
LONDON — The voice on the phone said: "Get rid of that man White — he's a homicidal maniac." Norman White, 29, lost the job he started only an hour before.
The same thing had happened four times in three weeks. Each time Norman was fired within two hours of starting a new job, and each time he collected a week's pay.
Today he started another new job. This one — sewing mail bags — will last longer. The voice on the phone, a City Court was told Monday, was White himself posing as a police officer. The court gave him eight months in jail for obtaining money by false pretenses.
I like this guy's way of thinking. Too bad the judge didn't go for it.
Altoona Tribune - Jan 21, 1957
Sues For Back Pay For 'Sleeping Time'
LONDON — Albert English, 70, went to court claiming 2,051 pounds—$5,742—in back pay.
He said he was paid 6 pounds, 7 shillings, sixpense—$17.05—a week for 30 hours work as a restaurant odd job man, but that he should be paid also for the 61 hours weekly he spent "asleep with an ear cocked" in a bedroom behind the restaurant provided free by the management. The judge threw out English's claim.
Ken Gidney made $1.4 million catching ants. He supplied the ants for the Uncle Milton Ant Farm sets. He got the job in 1956 (by being first in line in response to the job ad) and continued at it for over 20 years, getting paid 1 cent per ant.
His technique: "At first I excavated and I would catch 'em on broom straws. Then I found I could dig a narrow hole alongside an ant hill and place a baby food jar next to it." He would blow into the hole using a plastic hose and the ants would scurry out into the jar.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.