Weird News of the 1920s
April 1922: In Meddybemps, Maine, Henry Parish's neighbor bet him $2.50 that he couldn't count a million peas in a month. Parish spent a month counting one million peas, and declared he had won the bet. His neighbor then spent another month counting the peas again to check if his count was accurate.
January 1924: In Cincinnati, Ohio, telephone operator Bertha O'Conner won first prize at a poultry show because her hair was judged to be "an exact match for the plumage of Rhode Island Red chickens." Forty-two other women competed. O'Conner's prize was a gold wrist watch.
January 1925: Alex Barber of Savannah, Georgia declared that terrapins have brains of a human-like quality, offering as proof his pet terrapin Toby, whom he had trained to play a toy piano. Witnesses said that Toby played by "waving his flippers temperamentally over the keys of a tiny music box." Toby could also wink and cry on command.
January 1926: Mrs. Johanna Uller of Wyandotte, Michigan named a horse as co-respondent in the divorce suit she filed against her husband, complaining, "He spends hours fondling the animal and shows no affection for me."
January 1926: A physician in Moultrie, Georgia determined that the cause of 12-year-old Mellzo McCoy's upset stomach was the boy's appetite for the family Bible. By the time this diagnosis was made, Mellzo had already devoured the entire volume, except for the covers and two pages on which the family record was kept. Mellzo's father said he knew his son sometimes ate dirt, but he had no idea about his Bible eating habit.
February 1926: Mrs. F.K. Hosall of England launched a charitable campaign urging women to donate their old silk stockings so that they could be sent to northern Africa where they would be worn by donkeys, mules, and camels. The stockings, Mrs. Hosall explained, would protect the legs of the animals from flea bites.
April 1926: Having lost his leg in an accident, James Tatom, 40, advertised to find someone wiling to sell him one of their good legs. A New York physician, he said, would perform the transplant. Tatom eventually heard from over a dozen people willing to sell him a leg. However, Tatom's wife forbid him from proceeding with the leg purchase after she learned from doctors that such an operation had almost no chance of success.
April 1926: Having recently got religion, and consequently being filled with the fire of faith, Albert Strate, 21, decided that "God would not let him die." He took strychnine to test the theory. Soon afterward, his relatives heard him crying for help. They attempted to force milk down his throat, but to no avail. The coroner pronounced his death a suicide.
April 1929: Explaining why he had disappeared for three days and then attempted suicide with poison, Kansas farmer Walter Cyr said that he could think of no other way to escape the attention of the persistent door-to-door life insurance agent who had been "bothering" him.
August 1929: The Westinghouse Corporation hired Wilhelm Nauer as a "scientific dishwasher" to scrub and wash the same twenty trays all day, every day, for months until the trays wore out. The purpose of this repetitive washing was to test the durability of a new kind of tray made out of hardened resin and paper.

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.