Category:
1940s

Mousetrap Cigarette Lighter

Introduced at the 1941 meeting of the Inventors of America society in New York — a combined mousetrap and cigarette lighter.

The caption on the first image is confusing. It says "a lever sets the mouse in motion," but I assume that's a mistake. It should probably read, "The mouse sets a lever in motion."

Another newspaper offered the following explanation of the device's operation: "When mouse springs trap, it sends pinball down ramp. Ball releases spring, and up pops an arm which strikes a match."

When the Inventors of America met again later that year in Los Angeles, one of their members showed off some mice-killing pantyhose stockings. So mouse-themed inventions were evidently all the rage that year.

The San Bernardino County Sun - July 25, 1941



The Pittsburgh Press - July 27, 1941

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 06, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Inventions, 1940s

The Case of the X-Ray Camera

New Year's Eve, 1946 was the occasion of a classic weird crime.

19-year-old Pearl Lusk thought she had been employed to do some detective work by Allen La Rue, whom she had met on the subway. He told her that he was an insurance investigator. Her mission was to track a suspected jewel thief, Olga Trapani, and collect evidence to build a case against her.

Lusk trailed Trapani for a few days, and then La Rue added a new twist to the assignment. He gave her what he described as an "X-ray camera" camouflaged as a gift-wrapped package and instructed her to take a picture of Trapani with it. The resulting photo, he said, would reveal the jewels that Trapani kept pinned inside her dress, around her waist.

Lusk dutifully followed Trapani into the Times Square subway station, pointed the camera at her, and pulled the trigger wire. A shot rang out and Trapani collapsed to the ground.



It turned out that the "X-ray camera" was really a camouflaged sawed-off shotgun. And Trapani was really La Rue's ex-wife, of whom he had grown insanely jealous. La Rue's real name was Alphonse Rocco. He had been stalking his ex-wife for several months.

Lusk was totally clueless about what she had done. As the subway police rushed up after the shooting, she told them, "I just took this woman’s picture and somebody shot her."

Rocco fled to upstate New York, where he died in a shootout with the police several days later.

Trapani survived, but lost her leg. She and Lusk reportedly became friends after the incident.

You can read more about the case at EinsteinsRefrigerator.com, or the New Yorker.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Jan 1, 1947



Washington Court House Record-Herald - Jan 3, 1947

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 31, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, 1940s

Mystery Illustration 35

image

Which famous film star is this drawing intended to represent?

Answer after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Mon Dec 26, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Celebrities, Movies, 1940s

Hurff Canned Goods

image

Once upon a time, a company with the somewhat off-putting name of Hurff was big enough to advertise in a top-of-the-line national magazine like LIFE.

image

Here's the backstory, so far as I can find out.

image

I have found ads from them as late as 1948. Does that mean that store was selling three-year-old cans of food, given the plant-closing date of 1945? Or maybe the plant did not close, but Hurff himself was forced out? We will probably never know...

image

Hurff is a fine forgotten piece of what cartoonist Robert Crumb calls "weird old America."

Posted By: Paul - Fri Dec 16, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Food, Regionalism, Advertising, 1930s, 1940s

Fish Chokes Swimmer

One for the weird death file:

Great Falls Tribune - July 20, 1945



Fish Chokes Swimmer
GUATEMALA CITY, July 19 (U.P.) — A swim in a river near Esquipulas proved fatal today for Lazaro Perez. An expert swimmer, Perez did not drown. A fish swam into his mouth and he died before it could be removed.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 14, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Fish, 1940s

Just Imagine



The uproarious laughter by the human executive at the antics of Tommy Telephone, a plainly impossible vision, proclaims that the fellow is gratefully descending into the dark swamp of insanity due to the high stresses of his job.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 10, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Products, Communications, Delusions, Fantasies and Other Tricks of the Imagination, Technology, Telephones, Cartoons, Stop-motion Animation, 1940s, Brain Damage

Vile and Filthy Morse Code

January 1945: Residents of Halifax complained to the police that people were driving around at night and using their horns to signal "vile and filthy language" in morse code.

So it wasn't the honking, per se, that bothered the residents, but what the honks meant. Guess it was a different time, when a significant number of people actually understood morse.

Ottawa Journal - Jan 18, 1945

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 09, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Languages, 1940s

Owen Smells and Mary Knows

In its July 5, 1943 issue, Time magazine noted the marriage in Pryor, Montana of Owen Smells and Mary Knows.

The marriage only lasted three years, but in that time they had a daughter, Theresa, who eventually married Joseph Rock Above and became Theresa Smells Rock Above.

Findagrave.com lists a grave for Owen Smells which may or may not be the same Owen that married Mary. I'm not sure. But the dates seem about right.

Helena Independent Record - Oct 1, 1946



Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 08, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Odd Names, Marriage, 1940s

Remember Pearl Harbor

December 1941: Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Chicago printer Louis Fortman claimed exclusive right in Illinois to the use of the slogans "Remember Pearl Harbor" and "Avenge Pearl Harbor," insisting that he had originated and printed the slogans on December 8 and had registered them under the state's patent and trademark laws. Anyone wishing to use the slogans would need his permission — and would need to pay him. However, Fortman said he was willing to let them be used, at no charge, for "patriotic purposes and to aid defense activities."

In response to public outrage, Illinois Secretary of State Edward J. Hughes canceled Fortman's registration of the slogans.



Chicago Daily Tribune - Feb 4, 1942



Chicago Daily Tribune - Mar 28, 1942

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 07, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Patriotism, 1940s

The New Look in Hot Water Bottles

From 1948. Dreamed up by the folks at B.F. Goodrich.

And it's still a popular look in S&M gear.



The Akron Beacon Journal - Jan 1, 1948



Palm Beach Post - Jan 5, 1948

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 01, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Inventions, 1940s

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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.

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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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