Category:
1930s

Height Increaser For Short People

"The patient lifted himself by the chin which was cradled in a sling attached to ropes looped to an overhead beam."

In 1937, the American Medical Association warned the public that this device, despite being widely advertised, didn't actually work.

The Muncie Star Press - Apr 9, 1937

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 11, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Inventions, 1930s

The Drivometer

A device for simulating driving, and measuring the skill of drivers, which was developed at Iowa State's Driving Research Laboratory in the 1930s.



A description of what it felt like to operate the thing. It sounds like it would have made a good arcade game. From The Dalles Chronicle - Aug 21, 1936:

Dr. Alvan R. Lauer of Iowa State college sent here today a shiny red instrument of torture, designed apparently to give the ordinary, garden-variety motorist the everlasting willies. This device, which Dr. Lauer invented and christened the drivometer, insidiously reverses the usual laws of nature and turns them wrong side forward. The drivometer consists essentially of an automobile which doesn’t move, and a landscape which does, at 50 miles an hour. Imagine that, if you can! We couldn’t either, until the American Automobile association persuaded us to sit behind the wheel. The road twisted like a hula dancer – and we were supposed to steer down it, paying close attention to stop lights, warning signals, WPA men working, and hot dog stands. Never before have we had such a ride. We knocked a truck off the road. We ran down a farmer’s daughter and we wrecked his house. We whanged into a freight train, jumped across a mountain range, drove through a lake and smashed an ice cream shoppe into tutti-frutti. We tried to stop the thing, but everything we pressed made it go faster. We shifted into reverse and raced to the rear, bumping barns, beats and bicycles. Sadly shaking his head, Earl Allgaier, the AAA safety expert, turned off the current. He said we didn’t seem to be very well coordinated, somehow, but that he’d test us on his other machinery. This, together with the drivometer, will be taken on a nationwide tour beginning next week to prove to the average motorist that he’s got a lot to learn.


Update: I think the top picture shows the 2nd version of the Driveometer, developed in the 1950s. The original version, from the 1930s, is below.

Wausau Daily Herald - Oct 26, 1937


Posted By: Alex - Tue May 09, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Science, 1930s

Groucho & Chico Go To Jail





I cannot find any subsequent info on this case, which I had never heard of before. Did the Marx Bros. win on appeal? I certainly don't think they ever went to jail.

Original article here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri May 05, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Crime, Humor, Comedians, 1930s

Glass Block Building:  Chicago 1934



What architectural feature of this building is not visible in this picture?

Answer after the jump.


A description of the building here.


More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 28, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Architecture, 1930s

The Dimple Maker

Invented by Mrs. E. Isabella Gilbert in 1936 (although I think similar gadgets had been on the market before). They came with these instructions: "Wear dimplers five minutes at a time, two or three times a day, while dressing, resting, reading or writing. Look into the mirror and laugh. There will be a semblance of a line where you should always place the dimplers until your dimples are made."

According to History By Zim: "The American Medical Association argued that the 'Dimple Maker' would not make dimples or even enlarge original dimples. They also stated that prolonged use of the devise may actually cause cancer."

Louisville Courier-Journal - June 19, 1937



Battle Creek Enquirer - June 19, 1937



Detroit Free Press - Aug 9, 1936



Medford Mail Tribune - Nov 22, 1936





Update: I was curious to know when exactly the American Medical Association denounced the Dimple Maker, since the History by Zim blog didn't mention a date. I tracked it down to 1947, when the AMA put together a collection of quack medical products that it displayed on a nationwide tour of museums.

The Philadelphia Inquirer - Jan 11, 1948

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 23, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Inventions, 1930s

Artwork Khrushchev Probably Would Not Have Liked 3

Continuing our survey of "Early Twentieth-Century Art That Might Have Irked A Soviet Premier, Based On His Explicit Disdain For Such Experimental Creations."



"In the Beginning" by Lawrence Atkinson.

Atkinson's Wikipedia entry.

An essay on Atkinson.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Apr 22, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Art, Avant Garde, 1930s

Longest Sermon Ever

Back in 1937, Rev. A. Earl Lee set a record for preaching the longest sermon ever, preaching continuously for 21 hours. "He ate regular meals, preaching between bites, changed his clothes, and even took a bath while continuing the sermon by talking into a portable microphone."

Bradford Evening Star - June 29, 1937



However, it seems that world's longest sermon has been a hotly contested record. Today the record is up to 53 hours and 11 minutes. That record was set in 2014 by Florida pastor Zach Zehnder. Although it seems that he took some brief breaks for power naps. Is that allowed? Apparently so. In the video below you can watch the last 11 minutes of his sermon — and most of the rest of it is on YouTube if, for some reason, you want to sit through it.


Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 21, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: World Records, 1930s

Follies of the Madmen #310



Mocking the ignorance of your desired customer: always a good move!

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 09, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Hygiene, 1930s

Tooth Extraction and Marital Status

1930: Dr. C.F. B. Stowell, speaking to fellow dentists at the annual meeting of the American Dental Association, advised that if a young woman was unwed it would be better not to pull all her "devitalized teeth," because she "must be as beautiful as possible to secure a husband." But if the woman was married -- go ahead and pull those teeth!

Life - Feb 14, 1930



Lurking behind this statement, I believe, was the idea of "Focal infection theory." According to this theory, which was widely held by dentists in the 1920s and 30s, infected teeth were responsible for a variety of diseases including arthritis, cancer, and mental illness. So if there was any suspicion that a tooth was infected, it was better to pull it. In fact, it was often better to pull all a patient's teeth, whether or not they showed any signs of problems, just to be safe.

From wikipedia:

Unsuspected periapical disease was first revealed by dental X-ray in 1911, the year that Frank Billings lectured on focal infection to the Chicago Medical Society. Introduced by C Edmund Kells, the technology became used to feed the "mania of extracting devitalized teeth"... Many dentists were "100 percenters", extracting every tooth exhibiting either necrotic pulp or endodontic treatment, and extracted apparently healthy teeth, too, as suspected foci, leaving many persons toothless. A 1926 report published by several authors in Dental Cosmos—a dentistry journal where Willoughby Miller had published in the 1890s—advocated extraction of known healthy teeth to prevent focal infection. Endodontics nearly vanished from American dental education. Some dentists held that root canal therapy should be criminalized and penalized with six months of hard labor.


Lincoln Evening Journal - Jan 16, 1930

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 06, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: 1930s, Teeth

“Iron Mask” Wristwatch



I can't find any evidence for the widespread distribution of this watch outside this advertisement. Evidently, it did not catch on. Even Ebay does not seem to feature any as collectibles.

Of course, offering a watch that cost $17.50 (2017 equivalent: $307.40) during the Depression might have had something to do with their failure.

Original advertisement here. (Scroll down.)

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 02, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, 1930s

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