Category:
1930s

Handies

"Handies" was one of those bizarre fads that periodically sweep the country. It reached the high point of its popularity in the summer of 1936. After that, its descent was steep and fast. No one could figure out where the fad came from. From Time magazine:

To play "Handies" a person attempts by manual manipulation to portray a familiar phrase, title, personage or situation. The more extravagantly far-fetched the conception, the better the "Handy." Observers are not expected to be able to identify the improvisation but to be ready to return an even more fantastic one.

So it was like a static version of charades. The image shows the Handy for "Indian riding in a V8." It's the only image of a Handy I could find. Not hard to see why the fad died out.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 23, 2009 - Comments (11)
Category: Fads, 1930s

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

Besides having a great porn-movie title, this film starring Edward G. Robinson is just all over the map. Part comedy, part high-society drama, part courtroom drama, part gangster film, it features the loony premise of a medical doctor who becomes a crook for research purposes. Toss in Claire Trevor's weird lisp, and it's a surefire WU candidate!

Posted By: Paul - Sat Feb 14, 2009 - Comments (14)
Category: Medicine, Movies, Stupid Criminals, 1930s

Catapulted Dummy Tests Driver’s Skill

This would be a useful addition in ALL driver's ed courses, especially if the driver was given no warning. From Popular Science, Aug 1935:

So that the driver of a radio car will know what to do if someone darts across a street in front of his speeding machine, instructors of a police school at Hendon, England have devised an ingenious training method. The student is required to drive along a test course, and at some unannounced point a concealed catapult hurls a stuffed dummy in front of the car. Observers rate the driver on his ability to stop or swerve in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian. The catapult is operated by a spring, and a jerk on a rope releases its trigger. All drivers of London's police cars receive this training.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 12, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Cops, Motor Vehicles, Cars, 1930s

The Dionne Quintuplets

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Everyone knows we're in the midst of a new Great Depression. But isn't it a little spooky that so many things from the 1930's are repeating themselves? Such as: a nation, mired in bad economic times, is distracted by a case of multiple births.

Today, we have the "Octo-mom."




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But some seventy years ago, it was the Dionne Quintuplets.




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Somehow I doubt we as a nation will be still following these 2009 kids six years from their birth.




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Nor will there be a mass rush to merchandise the unnatural octuplets.




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And of course, the ever-prophetic The Simpsons nailed it all ten years ago, with the episode entitled EIGHT MISBEHAVIN'.


Posted By: Paul - Sat Feb 07, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Babies, Body Modifications, Celebrities, Drugs, Fads, Family, Human Marvels, Obsessions, Pop Culture, Technology, 1930s

The Korn Kobblers

Once upon a time, this was considered amusing.
[The second video comes courtesy of Deborah Newton.]



Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 31, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Humor, Music, Regionalism, Reader Recommendation, 1930s, 1940s

High-Speed Bus

How would you like to look in your rear-view mirror and see this thing coming up behind you fast? Since America can't seem to get its act together to build high-speed trains, maybe we could have high-speed buses instead. From Popular Science, October 1930:

85-Mile-An-Hour Bus Streamlined
Porthole-shaped windows will give passengers a view of the roadside they are scudding past at eighty-five miles an hour, in a remarkable bus just completed at Paris, France. This juggernaut of the road seats 100 passengers, besides its two drivers. Every part is streamlined for speed, even to the curved emergency door in the rear. The machine is designed for express cross-country travel.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 22, 2009 - Comments (5)
Category: Travel, 1930s

Alexeieff’s NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN

The animation you are about to see was created entirely with pushpins in a board, by Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker.

Let's let my pal, author and art expert Luis Ortiz, explain:

During the 1930s animators Alexander Alexeieff and wife Claire Parker invented a push-screen frame, basically a board with thousands of pins embedded into it. The pins were pushed into the board at various heights, using specially shaped tools, and lighted from different angles to create shadow pictures that could be filmed one frame at a time. I saw their version of Night on Bald Mountain, which preceded Disney's, back in the 1980s at film historian Cecile Starr's home (she owned a 16mm copy) and I remember being very impressed. But this unique method was too labor intensive (even by film animation standards), and for most of their later work the Alexeieffs used object animation.



Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 17, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, Cartoons, 1930s

Dr. Dove’s Unicorn Bull

In 1933 Dr. W.F. Dove, a biologist at the University of Maine, conducted an experiment to find out if he could create a "unicorn bull." He removed the two knots of tissue on the side of the bull's head that would normally have developed into horns and transplanted them to the center of the forehead. The experiment was a success. A single, massive horn grew there.

The unicorn horn made the bull the unchallenged leader of its herd. But Dr. Dove observed that the unicorn bull was actually an extremely docile creature. He wrote:

Although he is an animal with the hereditary potentiality for two horns, he recognizes the power of a single horn which he uses as a prow to pass under fences and barriers in his path, or as a forward thrusting bayonet in his attacks. And, to invert the beatitude, his ability to inherit the earth gives him the virtues of meekness. Consciousness of power makes him docile.

Link: Unicorn Garden

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 17, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Science, Experiments, 1930s

Peace on Earth

Mankind replaced by squirrels? See it all in this famous cartoon.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 13, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Armageddon and Apocalypses, Destruction, War, Cartoons, 1930s

The Comedian Harmonists

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The Comedian Harmonists were a German vocal group of the 1920s and 1930s. The vast majority of their songs were performed in their native language. But in the clip below, they tackle an English-language song phonetically, producing a language that does not resemble any on Earth.



Posted By: Paul - Tue Dec 09, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Music, Foreign Customs, 1920s, 1930s, Europe

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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.

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