It wasn't the subject of this book that made it weird, but instead when it was published: in 1968, at the height of the war in Vietnam. Not a time when a lot of people were going to Vietnam for bird-watching.
The British author, Philip Wildash, didn't even mention the war, except to obliquely refer to it in the first sentence by saying, "Vietnamese ornithology has long been rather neglected."
Dave Fougner is six-foot-two, plays tennis, raises horses and shows them, teaches fifth and sixth grades at Steele Lane School, has real estate and air plane pilot licenses, is married and has a family. His hobby? Knitting!... Dave, a big, genial, friendly man of 28 says, "I like to knit in bed watching television."
Jennifer, his blonde wife, and Christa, their three-year-old, sat in on the interview at the Fougner (pronounced foe-gner) home on Loch Haven Drive. Jennifer laughed and added, "I don't knit."
On a marble table near me (the couple also collects antique furniture, refinishing it when they have some free time) lay a copy of Dave's book, "The Manly Art of Knitting," a picture of him astride Jennifer's beautiful registered Palomino quarter horse, Fore's Dandy, on the cover. You have to look twice before you realize that he's knitting atop the horse...
"One reason I wrote the book was to encourage men to try knitting. There's a doctor in town who knits. It's amazing how many men do but are afraid to admit it..."
And knitting was primarily a man's job before the Industrial Revolution, he said. "Knitting was an art. An apprentice knitter served six years."
Back in 1975, eleven-year-old Mark Harman of England made headlines by becoming a practitioner of the art of lying on a bed of nails. He was reported to have been taught by an "expert" and practiced by lying on the bed for half an hour each day.
I guess it's definitely not a typical hobby for a boy his age. I can't find any follow-up stories about him, so don't know if he continued the hobby later in life.
Butch Baker of Four Oaks, North Carolina began making a paper chain in 1979. The chain is now 23-miles long, weighs 2300 pounds, and takes up much of his living room. And he’s still working on it. (He knows it's length because he's been measuring it as he makes it.)
The problem is, Butch is 78 and doesn't know what will happen to the chain when he dies.
The Extra Miler Club is a group of people whose goal is to visit every county (and equivalent jurisdiction) in every state of the United States. That's 3,143 counties. Indian reservations don't count, although some visit them anyway. Parishes do count, as do independent cities.
Auto mechanic Frank Russell of Biggleswade, England spent two years building a submarine in his backyard. He did it, he said, so that he could find the "lost city" of Atlantis. He described the construction of the sub in an article distributed by International News Service (Dec 1949):
My job is that of a motor mechanic and these craft that I build are purely a spare time hobby. Thus I have to get on with their construction as I can afford it; a few shillings or a pound or so at a time. Believe me, this method is exasperating and heartbreaking.
Practically all the parts have been cut, filed and even some of the holes drilled with ordinary hand tools, though I did manage on several occasions to borrow an oxy-acetylene cutter and an electric drill.
I have built this craft entirely by myself except for some of the more tricky points of welding on the hull. This was done by a friend, who is a highly skilled factory welder.
This submarine has been built entirely out of second-hand steel plates and scrap from local yards. Oxygen cylinders, motors, batteries, and the like are all from government surplus sales. The only new items are the glass observation ports and some rivets and bolts.
The launch date for his sub was November 4, 1950. Unfortunately, I can't find any reports about the launch, but I'm assuming he didn't find Atlantis.
And I'm guessing he may have been pulling everyone's leg about wanting to search for Atlantis, because eight years later he was back in the news as the perpetrator of an elaborate UFO hoax involving a "do-it-yourself space ship made of wire, silver paper, clockwork and a couple of flashlights." So it seems that he was a bit of a practical joker.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
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.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.