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Category:
1930's

Norris Kellam, the Human Cork

Norris Kellam's great talent in life was floating. For which he earned the name "The Human Cork." In May 1933 he attempted to break the world record for staying afloat by floating in a saltwater pool in Norfolk, Virginia for over 86 hours. Unfortunately he didn't make it. After 71 hours and 19 minutes he was overcome by sharp cramps and sunburn and had to climb out of the pool.

There's more about Kellam at hamptonroads.com. The images are from the Norfolk Public Library.



Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Oct 17, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Human Marvels, Sports, World Records, 1930's

The Art of the Diseuse









Not sure these recorded performances capture whatever unique brilliance these performers were reputed to exhibit.

In the December 21, 1935 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette an entertainment columnist wrote: “The English language does not contain a word which perfectly describes the performance of Ruth Draper, who comes to the Nixon next Thursday for the first time in several years to give a different program at each of her four performances here. “Speaking Portraits” and “Character Sketches” are the two terms most frequently applied to Miss Draper's work; and yet it is something more than that. “Diseuse” is the French word, but that is more readily applicable to an artist like Yvette Guilbert or Raquel Meller. Monologist is wholly inadequate. The word “Diseuse” really means “an artist in talking” so that may be the real term to use in connection with Miss Draper.” Actresses who have been called noted diseuses over the years include Yvette Guilbert, Ruth Draper, Joyce Grenfell, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Lucienne Boyer, Raquel Meller, Odette Dulac, Beatrice Herford, Kitty Cheatham, Marie Dubas, Claire Waldoff, Lina Cavalieri, Françoise Rosay, Molly Picon, Corinna Mura, Lotte Lenya.


Source of quote.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Sep 29, 2014 | Comments (5)
Category: Performance Art, 1930's, 1960's

Chevrolet Leader News



Calling this "news" is highly generous.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Sep 24, 2014 | Comments (4)
Category: Advertising, 1930's, Cars

Corn Husking Championship





I can hardly wait to see who wins this year.



Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Sep 13, 2014 | Comments (5)
Category: Agriculture, Boredom, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, 1930's

No more low flying!

This is what the airlines did for in-flight entertainment, back in the day. From the Los Angeles Times, Sep 8, 1935:

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Sep 02, 2014 | Comments (4)
Category: Air Travel and Airlines, 1930's

Mystery Gadget 22

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Answer is here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Aug 25, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Technology, 1930's

William Skinner’s Gravity Engine





Apparently, some 75 years on, people are still trying to prove the reality of this perpetual motion machine.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Aug 16, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Eccentrics, Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Inventions, 1930's

Mathilda the Bottled Hen

Mathilda, a white leghorn chicken, was pushed into a five-gallon glass jug by her owner, Henry Willis, minutes after she emerged from her shell. She then grew into an adult chicken in the bottle, and became known as Mathilda the Bottled Hen of Denver. This was back in 1936.

Willis said he bottled her as part of an experiment to control her diet, though many scientists said they couldn't see any value in such an experiment. Animal rights activists were outraged and pushed the state bureau of child and animal protection to intervene. But ultimately the state authorities didn't do anything because, according to the DA Earl Wettengil, "this appears to be a scientific investigation which justifies the facts."

So as far as I know, Mathilda remained bottled for her entire life.


Putting hens in bottles must have become a bit of a fad, because I found a picture of a second hen bottled a year after Mathilda.


Carroll Daily Herald (Carroll, Iowa) - Mar 7, 1936.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Aug 08, 2014 | Comments (8)
Category: Animals, 1930's

Husband For Sale

1935: Mary Ann and Fred Cordes weren't doing too well with their marriage. But instead of just getting a divorce, like normal people, they (well, it was mostly Mary Ann's idea) hatched a plan to sell Fred for $1500 to any woman willing to buy him. Mary Ann hoped to use the money to travel to Ireland, her childhood home.

I don't know how their plan turned out. It's one of those stories that never got a follow-up in the press. But I can't imagine women were lining up to pay $1500 to acquire "all the rights" to a 40-year-old unemployed ice-cream maker.


Time - Aug 26, 1935


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Aug 14, 1935
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Aug 06, 2014 | Comments (14)
Category: Divorce, Marriage, 1930's

Andrew “Bossy” Gillis, Two-Fisted Mayor of Newburyport

As intermittent mayor, he ran Newburyport, MA, from his gas station, and when out of office was not averse to punching the current mayor in the face.

There's a good summary of his antics here.

The kind of authentic politician so lacking today. The article from 1937 below gives some of his flavor.

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Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Aug 04, 2014 | Comments (6)
Category: Politics, Curmudgeons and Contrarianism, 1920's, 1930's
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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.