Category:
1940s

Cactus Bikini

It's become a bit of an iconic image — a young woman wearing a cactus bikini. The photo dates back to 1940 when the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club dressed some University of Arizona coeds up in cactus apparel as a publicity stunt. Of course, it wouldn't have been called a 'bikini' back then, since that term wasn't yet coined. It was called a "cactus sun suit." The suits were made out of Saguaro and prickly pear cacti.

The photos then spread far and wide, including into Nazi newspapers, where they were offered as examples of American decadence, "a peak of utter lack of taste."

The model in the top photo is Merri Ciochetti.



Life - Apr 7, 1941



Arizona Daily Star - Feb 27, 1945



Update: One more photo from the photoshoot.

San Bernardino Sun - Mar 27, 1940

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 15, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Fashion, 1940s

Pass That Peace Pipe



"Why can't we all just get along?"

"Pass that peace pipe, bury that tomahawk/Like those Chichamecks, Cherokees,/Chapultepec's do..."

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 17, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Music, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1940s, Native Americans

Safe, Sane and Single

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 07, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Domestic, Music, 1940s, Men, Women

Mystery Illustration 45



Which product is exemplified by this illustration?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 11, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Surrealism, 1940s

Obese, the Freak Fat Mouse

A fat mouse that was bred at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine during the late 1940s/early 1950s. The researchers called him "Obese," or "O.B." for short. As in, that was his name, not just a description of what he was. Fat mice bred from Obese were used in the study of diabetes and obesity.

Newsweek - Apr 2, 1951


Ellen Ruppel Shell tells the story of Obese in her book The Hungry Gene: The Inside Story of the Obesity Industry:

In 1947, a wildfire swept through Mount Desert Island and the laboratory, incinerating all but a scattering of the mice. Little was determined to rebuild, and donations of mice — all of them originally bred at Jackson — poured back to the lab from around the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Among these was a new mutant, the dystrophic mouse that Coleman would use as his model for the study of muscular dystrophy. And two years later, another mutant suddenly appeared in the lab — a mouse with traits that would, some twenty years later, attract and hold Coleman's attention for the rest of his career.

An animal caretaker first spotted the creature huddled in a corner of its cage, grooming itself. It was furrier than most, but what really stood out was the size of the thing — it was hugely fat. The caretaker alerted doctoral candidate Margaret Dickie, who diagnosed the mouse as "pregnant." But there were problems with this theory. For one thing, the mouse never delivered a baby. And on closer inspection, it turned out to be male. The fat mouse ate three times the chow eaten by a normal mouse, pawing for hours at the bar of the food dispenser like an embittered gambler banging away at a recalcitrant slot machine. Between feedings it sat inert. It seemed to have been placed on this earth for no other purpose than to grow fat.

There had been other fat mice. The agouti mouse, named for its mottled yellow fur similar to that of the burrowing South American rodent, is, in its "lethal yellow" mutation, double the weight of the ordinary variety. But the fat agouti was svelte compared to the newcomer. This mouse was outlandish, a joke, a blob of fur splayed out on four dainty paws like a blimp on tricycle wheels. Rather than dart around the cage in mousy abandon, it was docile, phlegmatic, as though resigned to some unspeakable fate. Dickie and her colleagues christened the mouse "obese," later abbreviated to "ob," and pronounced "O.B.," each letter drawn out in its own languid syllable.

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 08, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Science, 1940s, 1950s

Musical Prisoner



In 1949, LIFE told us about Frank Grandstaff, who composed a cantata while jailed, and earned a brief release to hear it performed. But what happened afterwards?

Original story here.



Original article here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Apr 19, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Crime, Music, 1940s, 1950s

Elk Tooth Charm



From the June 1948 issue of--what else?--the ELKS MAGAZINE.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Apr 16, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals, Jewelry, 1940s, Teeth

Armed and Clumsy:  The Ancestors:  1

How far back do the roots of Chuck's "Armed and Clumsy" category extend? The Wikipedia entry on handguns says: "The first handheld firearms that might better be called "pistols" were made as early as the 15th century..." Could we find a report of some soldier of the era accidentally wounding himself? It's a challenge!

In any case, here is an incident from 1949.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Mar 10, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Accidents, Guns, 1940s

Follies of the Madmen #306



Tiny, tiny Cigarette Elf delivers tobacco goodness!

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Mar 08, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Products, Tobacco and Smoking, 1940s

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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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Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.

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