Mystery Illustration 37


What horrors are causing the eyes of this Bride-of-Frankenstein lookalike to bug out?

Answer after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 22, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Horror, Advertising, 1940s, Eyes and Vision, Face and Facial Expressions

Non-Terrifying Gas Mask

1941: Charles Leguillon, a manager at the B.F. Goodrich Co., invented a "non-terrifying gas mask" that a pretty girl could wear "and remain a pretty girl and not become a gargoyle."

The media proclaimed that for this he deserved "female thanks," because of course all women want to continue looking their best, even during chemical warfare.

But was the new gas mask actually non-terrifying? I'll let you be the judge.

American Legion Magazine - Aug 1941

The Akron Beacon Journal - June 11, 1941

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 09, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Costumes and Masks, Military, 1940s

Irv Pollock, Auto Dealer


According to this verbal portrait of the era,, the Toledo, Ohio, car-dealership scene of the 40s, 50s and 60s was a vibrant, competitive time. Certainly a dealer would want to come up with wild ads to stand out. Irv Pollock must have felt that way anyhow!

Note: you might have to scroll left or right at the links to see the original ad.


Original ad here.


Original ad here.


Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 07, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Advertising, Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, Regionalism, 1940s, 1950s, Cars

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, 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


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


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.


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


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...


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

Page 3 of 42 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›

Get WU Posts by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
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.

Chuck Shepherd
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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •