The Clavilux was a device that displayed a psychedelic light show on a screen. It was invented by Thomas Wilfred in 1919, who hoped that it would become so popular that one day every home would have one. That didn't quite work out. Though one of these sitting in your living room definitely would be a conversation piece. More info.
One of the oddest parcel post packages ever sent was "mailed" from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho on February 19, 1914. The 48 1/2 pound package was just short of the 50 pound limit. The name of the package was May Pierstorff, three months short of six years old.
May's parents decided to send their daughter for a visit with her grandparents, but were reluctant to pay the train fare. Noticing that there were no provisions in the parcel post regulations specifically concerning sending a person through the mails, they decided to "mail" their daughter. The postage, 53-cents in parcel post stamps, was attached to May's coat. This little girl traveled the entire distance to Lewiston in the train's mail compartment and was delivered to her grandmother's home by the mail clerk on duty, Leonard Mochel.
Another "human package" discussed here on WU was Johann Beck, who in 1901 shipped himself across the Atlantic in a box.
This short, silent comedy is a bit of classic weirdness from 1916. Apparently it's quite well known, even considered a cult classic. But I hadn't heard of it before, so perhaps it'll be new to you too. Wikipedia offers this description:
In this unusually broad comedy for [Douglas] Fairbanks, the acrobatic leading man plays "Coke Ennyday," a cocaine-shooting detective parody of Sherlock Holmes, given to injecting himself from a bandolier of syringes worn across his chest, and liberally helping himself to the contents of a hatbox-sized round container of white powder labeled "COCAINE" on his desk.
Fairbanks's character otherwise lampoons Sherlock Holmes with checkered detective hat, clothes and even car, along with the aforementioned propensity for injecting cocaine whenever he feels momentarily down, then laughing with delight. A device used for observing visitors, which is referred to in the title cards as his "scientific periscope", bears a close resemblance to a modern closed-circuit television. What is apparently a clock face has "EATS, DRINKS, SLEEPS, and DOPE" instead of numbers.
The film displays a lighthearted and comic attitude toward Coke Ennyday's use of cocaine and laudanum, while he catches a gang of drug smugglers, he does so after consuming most of their opium. One of the actresses appearing, Alma Rubens, later became addicted to morphine and died young.
Back in 1911, Imogene Rechtin led a campaign against kissing, as leader of the World's Health Organization (which, to clarify, had nothing to do with the UN's World Health Organization, founded in 1948). Her followers wore buttons that read, "Kiss Not." One newspaper at the time remarked, "Judging by the facial features of the presidentess of the cult appearing in the public prints, she is immune without wearing the button."
Cincinnati, Feb. 18 — The World's Health Organization is waging a bitter war against kissing, arguing that the practice is a menace to health. The president of the organization, Mrs. Imogene Rechtin, says that, for instance, the germs of consumption are spread by kissing. The organization has had buttons with the words "Kiss not" imprinted therein, which signify that the wearer is a member of the organization and absolutely refuses to impress his lips against another's. Mrs. Rechtin says: "The work of the World's Health Organization is to show the people that the health of our nation demands that we protect ourselves. Do not kiss sick people. In the case of smallpox the disease shows quickly after infection has taken place, but in consumption it does not, therefore do not kiss any one. You are not sure by looking at a person whether he has consumption or not. He may not know it himself. Sometimes he is able to attend to his regular duties till the last. If with the expenditure of $30,000,000, as was spent last year to conquer consumption, to say nothing of the heartaches for the loved ones gone forever, we could say we are now rid of the disease then the crusade against it would die a natural death, but with all this expenditure we are still in the midst of it. We must be more active, more earnest, go to the source of the supply and stop passing the disease from one to another with our mouths." The pledge of the organization reads as follows: "In order to encourage good health and lessen the spread of consumption I desire to join the World's Health Organization and hereby pledge myself to discourage the custom of kissing on the lips whenever it is in my power."
A great moment in the history of 'oops': Back in 1911, a lawyer accidentally tripped and smashed the phonograph record on which Hodson Burton had recorded his final will, revealing where he had hidden his fortune. (If this lawyer was true to form, I'd guess he still made sure to submit a bill for his services.)
I wonder if Hodson Burton's fortune has ever been found.