Weird Universe


Wrong Date

Leroy Irwin, a 92-year-old farmer living in Allegan, Michigan, decided to have the dates of his life carved on his gravestone before he died, because (having no children) he wasn't sure who would pay to do it after he died.

He carved the dates 1856-1950, but it turned out he was a little too optimistic. He died in November 1949, seven weeks shy of reaching 1950.

The Escanaba Daily Press - Apr 25, 1949

The Escanaba Daily Press - Nov 14, 1949

Update: To answer Patty's question (in the comments), the incorrect date wasn't changed. Leroy Irwin's grave (with the wrong date) remains standing in Hudson Corners Cemetery.

Image via

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Oct 03, 2015 | Comments (13)
Category: Death, 1940's

Where the heck am I?

1949: Street sweeper Joseph Pistolese, age 74, just keep sweeping until suddenly he looked up and realized he had no idea where he was.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle - July 27, 1949

After coming across the news clipping about Pistolese, I then noticed the birthday card below on sale at the supermarket. Since it reminded me of him, I had my wife snap a photo of it with her iPhone.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Sep 28, 2015 | Comments (15)
Category: Elderly and Seniors, 1940's

Bond Clothing Sign, NYC



The Wikipedia entry tells us:

Between 1948 and 1954, Bond Clothes operated a massive sign on the east side block of Broadway between 44th and 45th streets in New York's Times Square. The sign had nearly 2 miles of neon and included two 7-story-tall nude figures, a man and a woman, as bookends. Between the nude figures, there was a 27-foot-high (8.2 m) and 132-foot-wide (40 m) waterfall with 50,000 gallons of recirculated water. Beneath the waterfall was a 278-foot-long (85 m) zipper sign with scrolling messages. The Bond zipper was made up of more than 20,000 light bulbs. Above the waterfall was a digital clock with the wording "Every Hour 3,490 People Buy at Bond."[7] Some of the sign remained in place to advertise the Bond Stores location until the stores closure in 1977.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Sep 28, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Signage, Giant People in Ads, 1940's, 1950's

The Life Cycle of the Pin Mould

"If a ripe head is squeezed, an enormous number of little things fastened together in a sticky mess are jerked out."

They teach this filth in our schools!?!

MacLevy Leg Massager

Image source: Time magazine - April 19, 1948

Displayed at a Beauty Shop trade convention in Manhattan's Grand Central Palace, April 1948.

The machine (the MacLevy Leg Massager) was marketed to beauty shop owners. The introduction of home permanent wave kits in the mid-1940s had caused a steep decline in business for beauty shops, so the inventors of machines such as the leg massager were promising the shop owners that they could lure customers back by installing gadgets such as this, which would allow them to offer new services without having to hire trained masseuses.

The leg massager was invented by Monte MacLevy, who filed a patent application for it in July 1939. From the patent:

[It is] the contemplation of my invention to provide mechanical means for massaging a persons legs and thighs in a manner that has heretofore been possible only by a well-executed manual massage. And in this aspect of my invention it is a further objective to effect a simultaneous massage of the calf and thigh so as to produce most efiective results in a minimum of time. It is also within the contemplation of my invention to enable the massaging operation to be effectuated while the legs are relieved of practically all strain, an objective that I attain by providing such supporting means for the subject as to enable him to recline in a position where the legs and thighs are conveniently supported in natural angular relation with respect to each other so that they may be completely relaxed during the massaging operation. And in this aspect of my invention it is a further object to provide mechanical massaging implements simultaneously and operably movable in different directions so as to be engageable with various portions of both legs and thighs.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Sep 21, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Inventions, 1940's

When the Circus Comes to Town

I have no idea of the provenance of this half-hour compilation. Shown at cinemas before the main feature? Whatever the case, it has everything. Cornball music, girly cheesecake, animated cartoon, stop-motion cartoon, narration by a chimp. Also, the highly disturbing image reproduced below. Somehow I feel it relates to the "horse fondling" theme of yesterday.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Sep 16, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Clowns, Dreams and Nightmares, Music, Sex Symbols, Cartoons, Stop-motion Animation, 1940's


Auroratone was a "process for translating music into color" invented circa 1940 by Englishman Cecil Stokes. The music vibrated an emulsion of crystallizing chemicals, and this was then photographed by a color movie camera, producing a kind of psychedelic movie of shifting colors synchronized with music (but this was the 1940s, before the concept of psychedelics was known in popular culture).

The hope was that these auroratone films could be used to treat psychiatric patients, and they were experimentally shown to soldiers in an army hospital suffering from psychotic depressions. Conclusion: "Observation revealed that these patients were intensely absorbed in the films, that their span of attention to the films was appreciably lengthened after exposure to the films. Weeping and sobbing was observed in some patients. Many patients became more accessible to individual and group psychotherapy immediately folllowing exposure to these films."

Their effect was also tested on juvenile delinquents. One kid told the experimenter, "I think God must have painted those pictures."

A company was formed to commercialize Auroratones and guide their development. Investors in this company included the Crosby Brothers (Larry and his famous brother Bing). Bing sang the music for many of the auroratones.

Treating psychiatric patients wasn't very profitable, so there was hope to find more lucrative applications of the auroratone process. One idea was to transfer auroratone color patterns onto textiles and ceramics. Some silk scarfs printed with visualizations of Bing Crosby singing "Home on the Range" were apparently manufactured, but never sold.

Not many auroratones still survive, but an example of one can be viewed on YouTube:

The auroratone process reminds me of the Clavilux (or Color Organ) invented by Thomas Wilfred in 1919 (previously posted about here).

More info about auroratones: Wikipedia and Milwaukee Journal, Dec 6, 1948.

Also see: Rubin, HE & Katz, E. (Oct 1946). "Auroratone films for the treatment of psychotic depressions in an army general hospital," Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2(4): 333-340.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Sep 03, 2015 | Comments (9)
Category: Movies, Photography and Photographers, Psychology, 1940's

Is your railroad invested in atomic research?

An ad placed in Time magazine (April 26, 1948) by the "Federation for Railway Progress" boasted about their investment in atomic research, and urged railroads to join the federation to benefit from all the great advances that atomic research would soon bring to the transportation industry:

Will your railroad have a place at the atomic research table?
No industry stands to benefit more from atomic "vitamins" in its diet than the undernourished railroads...
A new, lighter and stronger metal—which could be applied to the construction of light-weight freight and passenger cars—may well come out of atomic research.
There is also the promise of new and more efficient lighting and heating systems, and other possibilities which only properly directed research could uncover.

Almost 70 years later, is it possible to say if U.S. railroads actually did benefit in any way from atomic research? I've never thought of railroads and atomic research as being in any way related.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Aug 26, 2015 | Comments (9)
Category: Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Trains and Other Vehicles on Rails, 1940's

Mystery Illustration 8


Why is this woman placing her bare foot atop a crocodile's head?

The answer is here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Aug 26, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, 1940's, Women
Page 1 of 33 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »
Custom Search

weird universe thumbnail

This page has been viewed 34175613 times.
All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.