The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri) - Apr 7, 1952
Brief Encounter. In Cambridge, Mass., Theodore Murphy complained to police that a man he did not know appeared at his apartment door, punched him in the face twice, departed saying: "You know who I am."
1951: Miss Evelyn Marshall learns a lesson, the hard way.
The Courier-Journal - Dec 24, 1951
Woman 'Cured' By 5-Story Dive; Won't Jump Again
Denver, Dec. 23 (UP) — Miss Evelyn Marshall, 26-year-old Denver waitress, had a sudden impulse to dive through the window of her hotel room today.
She did, and landed five floors below in a parking lot, after bouncing off a ventilator shaft on the second floor.
She was released from Denver General Hospital after astonished doctors found her suffering only a few facial bruises, a lost tooth, and an "aching tummy."
She said she took the dive on a sudden impulse while drinking beer in her room with two companions.
"This has taught me a lesson," Miss Marshall told officers. "I'll never jump through the window again."
This reminded me of the urban legend of the "killer in the backseat." Except, in this case, it would be the lazy hitchhiker sitting in the backseat.
The Vernon Daily Record - Jan 11, 1951
Woman Qualifies for Laziest Hitchhiker Title
Syracuse, N.Y. Jan. 10 (AP) — A woman qualified today for the title of laziest hitchhiker.
Syracuse police found the woman sitting in a parked car. They said she told them:
"I often sit in parked cars hoping the owners will come back and give me a ride downtown. You see, I hate buses."
January 1958: "If I had a gun, I'd kill myself," unemployed Robert Ponton told police officer Walter Ryan. So Ryan handed him his gun, and Ponton shot himself. Ryan, who was later charged with abetting a suicide, said he was "dumbfounded and petrified" by what Ponton had done.
Godfried Bueren of Germany declared that there were areas on the sun cool enough to support human life. He offered 25,000 marks to anyone who could prove him wrong. So the Hamburg Astronomical Society sent him a list of reasons why he was wrong. When Bueren refused to pay, the society took him to court. In 1953, the court ordered him to pay up.
Palm Beach Post - Mar 22, 1953
More info in Time - Feb 23, 1953:
Through years of spare-time dabbling in such occult sciences as prophecy and mental telepathy, Godfried Bueren, 70, a West German patent attorney, never lost his amateur enthusiasm for astronomy. Finally, he announced, he had learned something that professional astronomers don't know. The sun, asserted Herr Bueren is a hot, hollow sphere, a million miles in diameter; inside its fiery shell floats a cool core, 600,000 miles thick and lush with vegetation. What's more, he had 25,000 marks ($5,945) that said he was correct about the sun.
When Herr Bueren announced his startling theory, most scientists shrugged it off. But the German Astronomical Society accepted the challenge. Said Hamburg Observatory Director Otto Heckmann: the society would like to keep such "silly ideas" from attracting too much attention. Besides, the society needed the money.
Like schoolmasters marking a poor student's test paper Dr. Heckmann and a couple of scientists sharpened their pencils and set to work on Herr Bueren's theory. The sun's corona does blaze at approximately 1,000,000° C., they conceded, but who can believe that the enormous heat is caused, as Herr Bueren also insisted, by cosmic particles striking the sun's outer atmosphere? Why shouldn't the same particles bombard the earth and set it glowing? And did Herr Bueren really believe that sunspots are gaping holes in the sun's shell, opening on to a cool black core where plant life changes heat into chemical energy, thus lowering the temperature? Pure nonsense, said the scientists. As for heat-reducing plants: Dr. Heckmann & Co. pointed out that science knows of no plants that use up all the energy available to them.
A Bueren-picked jury of West German scientists studied the astronomical society's arguments and solemnly announced the the Bueren solar theory had been demolished. His bald pate flushed with anger, the sun-gazing patent attorney refused to pay. "People who want to cash in on the money," he cried, "do not even pay attention to what I have to say."
But Dr. Heckmann and colleagues, having paid attention to the prize offer, sued Bueren in the Osnabruck court. "Science cannot always say what is correct." they argued, "but we have advanced so far as to be able to say what is wrong."
Last week, despite Herr Bueren's dark mutterings that his professorial jury had been intimidated, the court found the sun's core legally hot, ordered him to hand over the 25,000 marks plus a year's interest at 4% and court costs.
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.
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