Young Man Standing on His Head

From the Feb. 9, 1948 issue of Life magazine:

Young Man Stands on Head Before 48 State Capitols
For years sensitive citizens have loudly deplored the antique ugliness of the country's older state capitols. Now a hardheaded young Chicagoan named John G. Nichols, who appears upside down all over these two pages, has discarded words for drastic action. To illustrate his monumental distaste for the architecture of most state capitols he has managed to have his picture taken standing on his head before all 48 of them... He stood on his head in rain, snow, slush and mud and often had a terrible time getting people to take his picture. "They thought I was crazy," he explains modestly.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 06, 2009 - Comments (16)
Category: Architecture, 1940s

The Flying Serpent

You have never experienced the wonders of the cinema until you have seen Vampire Quetzalcoatl in THE FLYING SERPENT. Thanks goodness our radio-star mystery writer is on hand to solve the crime--after allowing several pals to die needlessly in what can only be a bid to boost his show's ratings.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Feb 04, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Movies, 1940s, Fictional Monsters

The Red Flannel Festival

In 2009, all WU readers are commanded to attend Michigan's Red Flannel Festival, where natives parade in public in their longjohns.

Here's the history of the tradition, taken from the Festival's homepage.

It all began in 1936 in the midst of "the worst winter in years." The whole country suffered in the grip of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures. A New York feature writer bemoaned the "fact" that, "Here we are in the midst of an old- fashioned winter and there are no red flannels in the USA to go with it."

The local newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, owned and edited by "The Clipper Gals" Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton answered the writer with a RED HOT editorial stating: "Just because Sak's Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn't follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS' merchants have red flannels!"

The story was picked up by The Associated Press and orders began pouring in from all over the USA.

Seeing the possibility of at least a few years of publicity because of our famous “drop seaters" and lumbering history, a "RED FLANNEL DAY" was planned for the fall of 1939. After the closure of the Red Flannel Factory in 1994, the citizens became concerned as to the fate of their beloved Red Flannels and of the Red Flannel Festival. However, due to the love of their community legacy, volunteers rallied to keep the Red Flannel Festival tradition alive. It has continued to be an annual event, held the last weekend in September and the first weekend in October. The production of Red Flannel garments was reestablished and they are available to purchase in Cedar Springs.

And here are some shots from early on, courtesy of the Life Photo Archive





Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 02, 2009 - Comments (9)
Category: Customs, Holidays, Parades and Festivals, Regionalism, Fetishes, Underwear, 1940s

The Ape Man

Bela Lugosi's 1943 film THE APE MAN is truly stupefying in its inane plot and lack of action. But it's only an hour long, and after a while, it exerts a hypnotic attraction.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 02, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Movies, 1940s, Fictional Monsters

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

Follies of the Mad Men #52


[From Life magazine for March 27 1944. Two scans, top and bottom.]

Yes, natural resources will never run out, power will be "too cheap to meter," the utilities love you, and winged cherubs will attend milady's bath.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 17, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Utilities, Domestic, 1940s, Natural Resources

How much heat can the body withstand?

In 1948 Dr. Craig Taylor at the University of California at Los Angeles created a heat chamber to determine the human tolerance for extreme heat. He experimented on himself. In the picture (from the Life archive) you can see him sitting in his hotbox, heated to a pleasant 220° fahrenheit. The egg on the metal pan in front of him was frying. The highest temperature he ever endured was 262°.

There was a practical point to this. He was trying to determine the maximum heat a fighter pilot could withstand, should the refrigeration system in their plane fail.

For more info about Dr. Taylor's heat experiments, check out the old article from Popular Science posted on the Modern Mechanix blog.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 02, 2008 - Comments (15)
Category: Science, Experiments, 1940s

Follies of the Mad Men #47

[From Life magazine for September 30 1940.]

You know what your problem is? Not enough yeast. I suggest increasing your beer intake.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Nov 21, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Food, Health, 1940s

Follies of the Mad Men #45

[From Life magazine for September 30 1940.]

What kind of kids would a shellfish and a bottle have, and how would they go about reproducing?

Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 19, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Food, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Foreign Customs, 1940s

Ghost Riders in the Sky

I don't think we heard enough of Vaughan Monroe's big hit in yesterday's Forest Service post, so here's the whole thing.

We know here at WU that mortal cows are deadly--so just imagine how evil a ghost cow is!

Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 19, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Music, Paranormal, Regionalism, 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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