Category:
Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople

Reuben Lindstrom’s Wind Driven Vehicle

In 1940, Reuben Lindstrom was granted a patent for a "wind driven vehicle". It was a toy made out of tin cans. It resembled a model train, and the wind could make it go by itself. In his patent, Lindstrom explained that he deliberately avoided using a sail to propel the toy.

In wind driven vehicles it is desirable to avoid use of elevated wind responsive devices such as sails, windmills and the like and this is particularly true in toy vehicles simulating various types of full-sized vehicles for the reason that it is desired that the toy vehicle resemble as nearly as possible the full sized vehicle which it simulates.

Instead, he had shaped the wheels "to constitute wind responsive impeller blades".



Digging more deeply into the history of this patent, it turns out that Lindstrom was quite a character. For a start, he never cut his hair because, so he said, whenever he did he got heart trouble. In America, in the 1940s, this was unusual enough that it made the news.

Warren Times Mirror - June 28, 1949



He was a regular fixture around Wisconsin Rapids. A 2001 article in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune called him "our most unforgettable character."

In addition to his wind-driven toy train, he had built a kind of motorized bicycle, described as a "weird contraption of bicycle wheel, one cylinder gas motor, pulley, levers, scooter and miscellany." He used this to get around on roads and railroad lines.

He basically lived as a street person/free spirit, always carrying around "a picture of a woman with a large snake wrapped around her neck." Some people referred to him as the "inventor hobo".

One of the quotations attributed to him: "Fashion is the main religion of this world. If you are different, they think you are nuts. Most people stay away from me because they think I'm a religious fanatic. The girls also stay away from me."

Also: "Dirt's natural and it keeps human diseases from penetrating the skin and entering my body."

He died in 1988.

There's some more info about him at randyjack.com.

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune - June 9, 2001

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 11, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Inventions, Toys, 1940s, Trains

Harry Partch’s Zymo-Xyl

We've posted before about "hobo composer" Harry Partch. (Specifically, about his composition 'Barstow' inspired by hitchhiker graffiti he found on the outskirts of Barstow, CA).

Another of his oddities was his zymo xyl — a musical instrument he made out of 17 upside-down liquor bottles, 14 oak blocks, hubcaps from 1952 and '52 Fords, and an aluminum kettle top. It was said to sound a bit like a xylophone. He specified that the liquor bottles should include two Old Heaven Hill bourbon bottles, two Gordon's gin, and two Barclay's whiskeys.

You can hear him play the zymo xyl at the end of the clip below.



Los Angeles Times - June 30, 1996



image source: wiktionary

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 16, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Music

Edmund Love and His Restaurant Quest

In 1964, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST profiled Edmund G. Love, who intended to eat his way through approximately 5000 NYC restaurants.





By 1973, when THE NEW YORK TIMES took notice, his quest had ballooned to 6000.





His 1990 obituary in the NYT says he managed to hit 1750 of them.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Nov 07, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Addictions, Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Eccentrics, Food, Restaurants, World Records, Twentieth Century

Lived in a box

Joseph Porcos of Chicago lived in a box. In hindsight, perhaps he could be seen as a pioneer of the tiny home movement.

The Columbus Republic - Jan 24, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 10, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Buildings and Other Structures, Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, 1950s

Robbed no one but beggars

From The Washington Post - Oct 29, 1905: The Parisian thief Everard thought he had figured out the perfect crime. He only robbed beggars, and only those who were secretly wealthy — knowing they would be reluctant to report the crime since to do so they'd have to reveal their own fraud.

His strategy went wrong when during one of his robberies he ended up killing two men, thereby making himself wanted for murder.

Sounds like it could be the plot for a movie. Though it makes me wonder how many beggars are there really who are secretly wealthy. Beggars who are working scams by faking injuries, disabilities, etc? Definitely. But ones who are squirreling away millions? I always assumed that was a bit of an urban legend. Not that I'm an expert on beggars, however.


Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 13, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, 1900s

Johnson Smith Catalog Item #11

image
[Click to enlarge]

Do you know why jokes and pranks like these don't fly any more? Because nobody gives a damn about playing their proper role these days. I'm not even going to mention the old lady with impossible neck and sadistic habits. But just look at that hobo! His hat has the classic open-can-lid top. He's wearing a Victoria Cross medal, cravat and vest. Note how carefully he cradles his cane on his arm. Note how delicately he takes the fake biscuit, with pinky finger upraised. The magnificent scowl when he bites the rubber biscuit! You'd consider your twelve cents well spent!

Now imagine giving a "surprise biscuit" to the modern incoherent and sloppily dressed drug addict sitting on the sidewalk outside your local liquor store. He'd be too out-of-it to even register the prank. If he did, he'd just grunt and toss the surprise biscuit one side, frustrating your enjoyment of your purchase.

We live in a sad age of decline.

From the 1930s catalogue.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Oct 22, 2011 - Comments (3)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Food, Johnson Smith Catalog, 1930s, Pranks

Outside His Comfort Zone

Carl Hoffman has done a few things that most of us would never dream of doing. He has flown on airlines said to have the worst safety records in the world and ridden in old buses in South America as they crawled along cliff-top dirt roads. He also packed himself into already crowded ferries on the Amazon and trains crossing Africa. Why? To experience travel not as we might while on vacation, but as an ordinary person trying to get from point A to point B as cheaply as possible. Hoffman talks about his adventures here, and in his new book, "The Lunatic Express."

Posted By: Nethie - Fri Apr 23, 2010 - Comments (6)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Eccentrics, Mass Transit, Travel

Carts of Darkness









"In the picture-postcard community of North Vancouver, local bottle pickers have created a thriving subculture of shopping-cart racing. Murray Siple, a former snowboarder and sport film director injured in a serious car accident ten years ago, captures the thrill of a high-speed race of one of the men and compares it to extreme sports."




Posted By: Paul - Mon Feb 01, 2010 - Comments (2)
Category: Bums, Hobos, Tramps, Beggars, Panhandlers and Other Streetpeople, Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers, Human Marvels, Movies, Documentaries, Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers

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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, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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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