Weird News of the 1960s
January 1960: Inspired by an "icicle-creating craze" sweeping college campuses, students at MIT created a giant, four-story tricolored icicle hanging down the side of a campus dormitory. They declared it to be the largest man-made icicle ever created. The icicle remained on the side of the building for a few days before it was destroyed by campus authorities, citing safety concerns.
May 1960: The monthly magazine of the Police Relief Association reported that the coffee shop in San Diego's police headquarters had reported its most successful month ever, thanks to its "honor system" of paying for doughnuts and rolls, which had posted a record low loss of only $15.64.
September 1960: When testifying to a Cincinnati judge about why she was seeking a divorce, Rita Adams explained that her husband never talked to her and did "odd things like squeezing a tomato in my face." The divorce was granted.
January 1961: Bertha Wolfe, a maid in the Jones's household, complained that she had suffered extensive injuries and mental anguish after 3-year-old Eddie Jones rode into her on his tricycle, prompting Bertha's husband to file a $50,000 damage suit against Eddie's father. The petition alleged, "Little Eddie, who was on his tricycle, gathered a full head of steam and without a warning yell of any nature propelled his tricycle with great force into the body of Bertha Wolfe while her back was turned." Furthermore, the complaint continued, the senior Jones knew that his son "was a reckless and incompetent operator of the tricycle."
August 1962: In order to catch would-be muggers, New York City policemen began patrolling the streets at night while dressed as women. The idea was that they would serve as bait, while a team of detectives trailing them would apprehend any suspects. It was never explained why men in lipstick and heels were used as decoys rather than simply using policewomen.
January 1963: While driving from Sydney to Melbourne with her two sons, a woman took a wrong turn off the main road, ended up on a mountain road, and drove into a coal mine that she mistook for a tunnel. Half a mile into the mine, she ran into a wooden post. The coal mine employees had to tow her car out.
June 1963: Ralph Farrar of Texas revealed that the reason he was able to grow such beautiful roses was because he fertilized them with his own blood. Farrar suffered from hemochromatosis, which meant that his blood accumulated too much iron. The treatment was to have a pint of blood taken from him regularly. This blood couldn't be used for other patients. So Farrar had begun using it on his roses.
April 1964: During a press conference on the White House lawn, President Lyndon Johnson decided to give members of the media an impromptu demonstration of how he could lift his two pet beagles by their ears, making them yowl. When questioned why he had done that, Johnson responded that it was "good for" the dogs. Experts on handling dogs later commented that Johnson must have been misinformed about the benefits for beagles of being lifted by their ears.
May 1964: Students in Wakefield College, England attempted to set a record for the most people piled in one bed. Hoping to make it to 50 in a bed, they almost made it. But when they reached 47, a student at the bottom of the pile passed out, blood gushing from his nose. Members of the audience intervened to save the young man who later said, "I thought I was being killed. Never again, thank you."
August 1964: At the International Congress of Psychiatrists in London, Dr. Milton Berger presented a paper in which he suggested that a baby's burps might be predictive of its personality and future success in life. A baby with "strong and clear" burps, he said, was likely to grow up to become a leader. However, a baby with soft "dithering" burps would be a nobody.
August 1965: New York-based Treo Company introduced the Stars 'n Stripes panty girdle, advertising it as the "wildest, craziest interpretation of pop art ever." But when members of the Daughters of the American Revolution complained that the girdle was a "shocking caricature" of the American flag, the company promptly withdrew it from the market. When asked what they were going to do with all the unsold girdles, a company representative said, "We will burn the damn things or send them to some foreign country where our flag isn't involved."
Nov 1965: Braniff Airlines debuted a space-age fashion accessory for its stewardesses — the "bubble bonnet," designed by Emilio Pucci. The airline explained that the purpose of the bonnet was to protect the hair of the stewardesses from wind and rain as they crossed the tarmac. Stewardesses, however, complained that it was hard to hear anyone while wearing it.
June 1966: Twelve-year-old Beatles superfan Carol Dryden came up with a scheme to meet the Fab Four by mailing herself to them. She packaged herself inside a box and arranged to have a friend ship it, addressed "to the Beatles, care their fan club, London." But Carol only got as far as the railway station, where a clerk noticed the box she was in wobbling back and forth. Inside of it, Carol, overheated and running out of air because she hadn't made any holes in the box, was trying to take off her sweater. Rescued from her confinement, Carol confessed she had given no thought to providing herself fresh air or food.
June 1966: After being buried alive for a week outside of a drive-in theater in Denison, Texas, Lottie Howard married "Country" Bill White. Both of them were "buried alive" practitioners. After she was disinterred, the two left on their honeymoon. However, the marriage didn't last long. Two years later, she filed for divorce, while Country Bill was buried alive in Austin, Texas. A sheriff's deputy dropped the divorce papers down the six-inch pipe Bill was using for air and food.
August 1966: Management at the International Paper plant in Gardiner, Oregon suspended 35-year-old Pat Morris on account of her jeans being too tight, claiming that her appearance distracted male workers. When Morris complained that other female workers also wore tight jeans, they responded that she was simply "too stacked" and sent her home. The 315 (mostly male) union members at the plant promptly went on strike in protest, even though Morris wasn't part of the union, until she was allowed back to her job.
December 1966: While visiting residents of East Moss Point, Mississippi to invite them to his church, Rev. Dennis McDonald encountered Mrs. Pendergrass sunbathing nude in her yard and subsequently reported her to the police, who fined her $50. However, Mrs. Pendergrass appealed the fine, and the court ruled in her favor, noting that she was on her own property, not visible to the public. The judges also questioned why, if the minister was so disturbed by Mrs. Pendergrass's state of undress, he nevertheless remained at her house for 45 minutes.
February 1967: Sick and tired of the noise of military aircraft constantly flying low over his house, Munich resident Helmut G. Winter built a catapult and started launching Bavarian potato dumplings at the planes. In one week he launched 120 dumplings. Although he never managed to score a direct hit, eventually both the West German Luftwaffe and American pilots conceded defeat and agreed to a flight path that avoided his house.
March 1967: Faced with slow sales of its sandals, the Haband mail-order company of New Jersey advertised them as “captured” Vietcong slipper sandals, claiming they were the "First big style find of the war!” Only the fine print explained that it was the design that had been 'captured,' not the sandals themselves. And even so, not really, because they had been selling the same sandals for years. The re-branded sandals reportedly sold "like mad."
June 1967: During a juvenile court hearing, a 15-year-old Florida boy revealed that he and his friends had tried smoking periwinkle leaves. He said that it "made their skin tingle as though ants were crawling over it." Subsequent media reports fanned fears of a widespread periwinkle-smoking craze, leading health officers to warn that smoking periwinkle might lead to serious medical problems such as loss of hair and withering of muscle tissue.
February 1968: In Eatontown, New Jersey, the chance to see bikini-clad model Pam Craig be "entombed" inside a 5000-pound block of ice for 48 hours drew a massive crowd, mostly of high school boys. In fact, the crowd turned out to be far larger than anticipated, and when the event was temporarily delayed, young men surged forward shouting "Fraud" and "We want to see the broad." The police had to intervene to disperse them. The entombment did eventually commence, and 48 hours later Craig re-emerged, seemingly none the worse for her icy ordeal.
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