Temporarily Blind

May 1974: Three students at Northeast High School in Philadelphia participated in a medical experiment in which for five days they experienced what it was like to be blind.

I'm guessing this kind of experiment would never be allowed nowadays in a high school.

Source: Temple University digital collections (image one, image two)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 09, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: School, Experiments, 1970s

Paid to teach empty classroom

An early example of the "teacher paid to do nothing" phenomenon. Nowadays we've got the Rubber Room.

Portsmouth Daily Times - Jan 16, 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 13, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: School, 1920s

Divorcee banned from chess club

1971: 16-year-old Soni Romans was banned from all extracurricular activities at at Channelview High School in Houston. This included school choir, chess club, drama, and the National Honor Society. The reason for the ban was that she had been married and divorced and had a child (which she gave up for adoption). Therefore, the school felt that she shouldn't be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities because, during them, she "might discuss sex with other students."

However, if she had simply had the child without getting married and divorced, the same regulation wouldn't have applied. Unwed mothers were free to participate in the extracurriculars. Romans sued the school and won, so the ban was eventually lifted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer - Nov 14, 1971

The Akron Beacon Journal - Feb 17, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: School, Regulations, Divorce, 1970s

School chief shot a moon

October 1978: Cleveland School Board President John E. Gallagher Jr. was charged with a misdemeanor and fined $100. The prosecutor explained the reason for the charge to the press: "He shot a moon — that's what he did." A state trooper had witnessed Gallagher, who was a passenger in a car driving north along I-271, pull his pants down and expose his bare buttocks to his brother, who was driving in a passing car. Gallagher pleaded no contest.

The Akron Beacon Journal - Nov 1, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 27, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: School, 1970s, Pranks

Red Out

The 1948 high school fad of "Red-Out." Certainly one of the stupidest high school fads ever.

What it involved: "Students would kneel, breathe deeply 10 times, close their lips around their thumbs and then blow, without actually exhaling, until they turned red and passed out."

Bonus thrill: students would wake up believing they had been chased by monsters!

Lubbock Evening Journal - Nov 26 - 1948

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 29, 2014 - Comments (6)
Category: Fads, School, 1940s

Buttleopener forces resignation

Mark Gregory invented the Buttleopener, which is a bottle opener shaped like a woman's buttocks. Gregory also served as a member of the Williamson County school board in Tennessee, recently rising to become chairman. But the two aspects of his life (buttleopener inventor and school board chairman) have proven to be incompatible. Gregory recently resigned his position as chairman, bowing to pressure from parents who really, really didn't want him involved with the school board. []

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 05, 2014 - Comments (11)
Category: Education, Inventions, School

Wish you were here!

The story below is from 1939. Would the students have been dealt with as harshly today? My guess, based on all the stories of overreacting school officials that Chuck reports, probably yes.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 15, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: School, 1930s

The College of Swedish Massage

Original ad. (Scroll down.)

I wonder how one went about setting up as a freelance massage therapist in 1949. Did the College of Swedish Massage mail order course culminate with a nice diploma you could display, something along the lines of a "Bra Inspector #23" badge? And exactly how, as a student, did you practice your techniques at home, and on whom?

As the quote below tells us, the College of Swedish Massage eventually was superseded by the more proper Swedish Institute, still teaching massage therapy today. I wonder if you can take their courses online?


Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 12, 2013 - Comments (10)
Category: Body, School, 1940s

The Philadelphia Phonograph School of Languages for Parrots

It came into existence circa 1903. Details from The Strand Magazine:

Philadelphia can boast of a phonograph school for parrots. It is said to be the only institution of its kind in the world. Here parrots are taught to speak by means of the phonograph, and during the brief time that the school has been in existence over one hundred birds have been taught to pronounce all kinds of sentences and phrases for the edification of themselves and the amusement of their owners.

This is the twentieth-century method of teaching a parrot. Hitherto he has been taught by tutors, generally women, and, if the truth must be told, he has not been altogether a satisfactory or exemplary pupil. First of all his teacher has to repeat the phrase or sentence over and over again, hundreds and thousands of times, before "Pretty Polly" is able to pronounce it. This in itself is a tiresome procedure, but it is rendered more fatiguing on account of the fact that the speaker must be hidden from the parrot. She has, therefore, to crouch behind a screen or to cover the cage of the bird with a large hood. The former is regarded as the best method, as no self-respecting parrot likes to be left alone in the dark, but to hide oneself secretly behind a screen and then repeat the words, "Pretty Polly," "Pretty Polly," a thousand times is surely not an enviable task.

By the new mode of teaching, however, no personal inconvenience of this nature is felt, for all the tutor has to do is to obtain a phonograph, secure a few records suitable for birds, and set the phonograph going in the parrot's ear. The bird, too, learns more quickly by this method than in the old way...

The fee for a full term of six months is eight pounds. Parrots are often sent, however, for a briefer period, when the rate charge is ten shillings per week, including, of course, board and lodging. Sometimes, when a pupil has to be taught unusual phrases—French or German sentences, for instance—the tuition rate is a little higher.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 22, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, School, 1900s

Rat-Killing Lessons, 1907

Back in the day, students were taught the important subjects at school, such as how to kill rats. Here's a description of rat-killing lessons at the Farm and Trade School on Thompson's Island, circa 1907. From Rats and Rat Riddance (1914), by Edward Howe Forbrush:

At the Farm and Trade School on Thompson's Island, where the boy pupils are taught to kill rats, as all boys should be, there is a henhouse built with a cement foundation, but it has an earth floor and no foundation wall on the south side; therefore it is not rat-proof. The wooden floor of the main house is raised about three feet above the earth, leaving a space below it for a shelter for geese. Here the rats have burrowed in the earth, and as it was considered unsafe to use carbon bisulphide there on account of the fire danger, water was suggested. Two lines of common garden hose were attached to a near-by hydrant, the ends inserted into rat holes and the water turned on. All rat holes leading from the henpens to the outer world were closed with earth, and several boys were provided with sticks, to the end of each of which a piece of hose two feet long had been attached. A fox terrier was introduced into the henpens, and in about half an hour the rat war began. As the half-drowned rats came out of their holes somewhat dazed they were struck by side swings of the hose sticks, which knocked them off their feet, to be killed by other blows. If one escaped into the henpens, boy or dog killed it. This operation was repeated later from time to time. Four successive battles several weeks apart yielded 152 rats from under and about this henhouse, and no doubt many young rats were drowned in their nests. Where no high-pressure water main is available burrows on the banks of pond, river or ocean might be cleared in this way by means of a powerful sewer pump and hose.

The pictures show the schoolboys showing off their kill, as well as the rats strung up.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 31, 2012 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, School, 1900s

Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 

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, 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.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  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 •