Weird Universe Blog — August 3, 2021

The Santa Claus Statue in Santa Claus, Indiana

I thought that in the midst of summer heat (for some of us) we could use a little wintertime.

Here is the town's official page for the statue.

But Roadside America has a much more interesting tale. More details at the link.

It was purposely built on the highest hill in Santa Claus by businessman Carl Barrett, who wanted to antagonize his arch-rival Milton Harris, who was building his own attraction a hundred yards down the road. It was dedicated on Christmas Day 1935, less than a week after Harris had opened Santa's Candy Castle.

Barrett felt that Harris was commercializing Christmas. In contrast, Barrett claimed that the Santa statue had been built with the pennies of American schoolchildren. That may have been true, but he also claimed that the statue was built on the spot where a meteor had crashed (he hinted that this was a sign of divine guidance), and that it was made of solid granite. In fact there was no meteor, and the statue was later found to be made of concrete.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 03, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Cult Figures and Artifacts | Holidays | Regionalism | Rivalries, Feuds and Grudges | 1930s

August 2, 2021

Servant carried in trunk

"Goodness knows the trunk is big enough. It's big enough for two."

Red Deer Advocate - Mar 31, 1969

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 02, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: 1960s | Africa | Cars

The Seattle Seafair Queen

It's too bad that the raucous early years, with roving pirates, did not last into our era.

Article here.

More pictures of queens here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 02, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Parades and Festivals | Regionalism | 1950s

August 1, 2021

The Lung Ashtray

Invented by Dr. Wayman R. Spence of Utah. It went on sale in 1969. The primary buyers, I imagine, were non-smokers giving them as annoyance gifts to smokers.

Some details from The Waco Citizen (Aug 19, 1971):

[Spence's] one-man campaign began about two years ago at a party in Salt Lake City.

"A woman lit up a cigarette and I, being my usual obnoxious self said, 'Somebody should give you an ashtray shaped like a pair of lungs so you can see what smoking is doing to you'" he said.

Soon thereafter he designed the lung ashtray which has been distributed throughout the nation, including one to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives. On top of the ashtray are a pair of clear plastic lungs that demonstrate what smoke does to the human lungs. The smoke curls up through one of the "lungs" and, in a short time, there is a deposit of tar and nicotine. The other lung remains clear for contrast.

The Missoulian - Jan 19, 1969

Salt Lake Tribune - May 11, 1969

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 01, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco | 1960s

Twin Suicide by Starvation

One hardly knows where to begin to calculate the weirdness quotient in this small article.

Source: Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) 23 Jun 1925, Tue Page 1

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 01, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Family | Human Marvels | Suicide | 1920s

July 31, 2021

The Penile Plethysmograph

I had to post this item today, to accompany Alex's "pot-sex" post, only because how often does one get to use the great word "plethysmograph?"

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Medicine | Science | Sexuality | Technology | Genitals

The Marijuana Sex Experiment

1975: There was a public hoo-ha when details of Dr. Harris Rubin's planned "marijuana sex study" leaked to the press. As described in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Dec 7, 1975):

Harris Rubin, a university psychologist, has proposed a $121,000, two-year, federally financed investigation. He plans to pay adult male volunteers $20 a session to smoke Government-supplied marijuana and watch erotic films while an electronic device attached to their genitals monitors physical reactions. Rubin hopes to learn whether the drug enhances or inhibits sexual activity.

The New Scientist noted that, despite the moral outrage, the purpose of the study was actually to generate anti-marijuana propaganda by demonstrating that marijuana inhibits sexual response. At least, that was the anticipated result. But the experiment was never conducted.

Dr. Harris Rubin of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine at Carbondale

Morton Hunt gives more details in his 1999 book The New Know-Nothings:

Both the subject and the methodology of Rubin's study were catnip to the media. Rubin and his colleagues planned to encircle the penis of each volunteer with a strain gauge transducer and then show him erotic pictures; any resultant engorgement of the member would be accurately measured and recorded. By conducting the experiment with two groups, one given either alcohol or marijuana and the other nothing, Rubin would be able to determine whether either drug increased or decreased sexual arousal, and to what extent.

On July 18, the Bloomington, Illinois, Daily Pantagraph, which had somehow become aware of the study, ran an article about it, and from then on Rubin's project was in trouble. Newspapers in Illinois, St. Louis, Washington, Chicago, and many other cities ran stories about what quickly became known as the "sex-pot study" or "pot-sex study," a topic so interesting that they ran follow-up stories about it for many months. Displaying suitable outrage, the Christian Citizens Lobby, Illinois governor Daniel Walker, a federal prosecutor, and various Illinois state officials all denounced the study, calling it "disgusing," "pornography," "obscene," and "garbage," and threatening to take action against Rubin.

This was mere growling and snapping, but Congress had the teeth wherewith to bite. Senators William Proxmire and Thomas Eagleton, Democrats but sexual conservatives, attacked it, as did Representative Robert Michel, the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations subcommittee. Although the secretary of HEW and the president's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse defended and supported the project, Michel sought to prevent NIDA from funding the Rubin study by tucking an amendment to that effect in the $12.7 billion-dollar 1976 Supplemental Appropriations Bill for HEW, and Senators Proxmire and Warren Magnuson inserted a similar provision into the Senate's version of the bill. The funding of HEW was so crucial to the national well-being that both houses passed the bill with the anti-Rubin provision intact. President Ford signed it into law on May 31, 1976, keeping the vast Social Security system, NIH, and other essential endeavors going—and cutting off Rubin's minuscule funding and putting an end to his research. Rubin had already gathered the alcohol data and he eventually published his results, but the marijuana study died a-borning.

The Sedalia Democrat - Feb 4, 1976

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 31, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Drugs | Smoking and Tobacco | Experiments | 1970s | Moral Panics and Public Hysteria

July 30, 2021

So easy a four-year-old can do it

From Newsweek - Jan 2, 1950:

The Phillips-Jones Corp. was sure last week it had found the answer to the declining market for men's dress and business shirts in its Van Heusen Century. The Century's collar, the company says, cannot wrinkle, curl, or wilt. Dec. 21, as Phillips-Jones salesmen gathered in a New York hotel for a sales convention, the company proceeded to show how easy it was to iron the shirt by having a young miss of 4, Pamela Gaughan, take the stage and wield the iron.

Pamela doesn't look like she's having fun.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Publicity Stunts | Children | 1950s

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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.

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