December 1969: ex-RAF pilot Guy Harris put a toilet seat up for auction that he claimed to have removed from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. He said he had found it in the private apartment used by Hitler and Eva Braun.
According to Harris, he and other British soldiers had been allowed in the bunker by the Russians, who had already removed everything they believed to be of value. But they evidently hadn't thought Hitler's toilet seat was of any value. So Harris took it.
When he got back to England, he first installed it in his 90-foot yacht on the Thames. Later he moved it to his home in Twickenham, before finally deciding to sell it.
There's no record, however, of whether he did manage sell it. At least, none that I can find.
Albany Democrat Herald - Dec 18, 1969
Los Angeles Times - Dec 17, 1969
As it turns out, Harris wasn't the only soldier to have nabbed a Hitler toilet seat. There are two more floating around out there. One was taken from Hitler's mountain retreat, the Berghof. The other from Hitler's private yacht, the Aviso Grille. This latter one is currently located in an auto repair shop in New Jeresy. More info: Anchorage News
In 2003, the UK children's charity Barnardo's came out with the ad below. It promptly triggered numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Barnardo's argued that it "caused distress for good reason, but the ASA banned the ad anyway, saying it could "cause serious or widespread offense."
The ad was subsequently voted one of the top 10 ads of 2003 by Campaign magazine.
Of course, the charity must have known it was likely the ad would get banned, but evidently figured the controversy would attract more attention to their message than something more subdued.
The idea behind this coffin, created and sold by Tibbetts Woodworking of Windsor Massachusetts during the early 1990s, was that you would buy it while you were still alive and healthy — use it as a bookshelf, wine rack, or display case — and then get buried in it. It cost $365 for knotty eastern white pine, or $505 for oak or cherry. Below is text from the brochure:
What is a Life Coffin?
It is a simple, honest, rectangular wooden coffin, custom-made to your dimensions in a small woodworking shop in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.
Until your funeral, your coffin can be used as a bookcase (by ordering a number of adjustable shelves), or for wine storage (by ordering twelve-bottle storage units), or for a combination of books and important objects in your life.
The coffin lid hangs on the back of the coffin while it is being used as a bookcase. When you're ready for burial, the lid is attached with maple dowel pins. No liner is included.
Why Would Anyone Buy a Life Coffin?
Death is an inevitable part of your life. Buying a coffin now can help begin a process of education and acceptance. By seeing your coffin every day, you will be reminded of the preciousness of your physical life. This perspective on your daily hassles can bring you to celebrate the miracle of your life.
A Life Coffin will act as a catalyst for discussion with your family and friends, helping you to open up to difficult feelings concerning your death and funeral. And when all is said and done, you can rest peacefully, knowing that you are enclosed in a coffin to which you have added personal meaning.
Lord Aberdeen (1847-1934) was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1886, and again from 1905 to 1915. He held the office of Governor General of Canada from 1893 to 1898. He also fancied himself something of a wit and allowed some of his jokes to be collected together in a volume titled Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen, published in 1929 by Valentine Press.
In reality, the jokes aren't all that bad. However, they are liberally sprinkled with Scottish dialect, which can make them hard to understand. Also, their subject matter is often quite dated.
But judge them for yourself. I've collected together some examples below.
A young man had occasion to move from where he had hitherto lived, to another district. He had been associated with Presbyterians in his former abode, but it occurred to the clergyman of the Episcopal Church in the neighbourhood that the young man might suitably be invited to become a member of that Church. This was accomplished; but not long afterwards it transpired that he was about to join the Roman Catholics. On hearing this a friend of the Rector, who, like himself, was a keen curler, remarked, "Man, you've souppit him through the Hoose."
You probably failed to get that joke. I certainly had no clue what the punchline meant. Here's an explanation by John Finnemore (who wrote the intro to the 2013 edition):
in curling, you want to sweep the ice enough to get your team's stone to the target, or 'House', but not so much that it overshoots. Meanwhile, the Presbyterians are an extremely low church denomination of Christianity; Catholicism is of course a very high church; the Episcopalians are somewhere between the two. By encouraging the new arrival to join his church, only to lose him to the Catholics, the Rector has metaphorically swept him through the House … or souppit him through the Hoose!
More jokes (easier to understand):
A lady remarked to a former Bishop of London on one occasion 'Oh! Bishop, I want to tell you something very remarkable. An aunt of mine had arranged to make a voyage in a certain steamer, but at the last moment she had to give up the trip; and that steamer was wrecked; wasn't it a mercy she did not go in it?'
'Well, but,' replied the bishop, 'I don't know your aunt.'
A certain Scot was not very well, and the doctor was called in. On making enquiries the doctor found that the man was mainly depending on farinaceous food, living, as his wife admitted, on "porridge and milk and whiles brose and tatties," so he said: "I think your husband should take some animal food; it will brace him up."
The wife seemed rather dubious, but replied, "Well, I suppose he micht try."
"All right" said the doctor, "I had better call again in a few days to see how he does."
And sure enough, in due course, the doctor arrived and on asking the wife how the new diet was suiting her husband, received the following reply:
"Weel, he manages middlin' well wi' the neeps; and whiles the linseed cake, but oh! doctor, he canna thole the strae!"
('he canna thole the strae' = he cannot stand the straw)
In the Scottish Presbyterian Churches there is a plan whereby a minister who, through advancing years, finds the burden of his charge too heavy, can be partly relieved by the appointment of what is known as an "assistant and successor."
In this way an element of permanence is secured for the assistant or colleague, since, humanly speaking, it is only a matter of time when he will have full charge, and the full stipend, such as it may be.
I remember that the late Dr. Marshall Lang, who was a Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and latterly Principal of the University of Aberdeen, when speaking on a subject which included the above arrangement, said that he had heard of an elderly minister who once said to his "assistant and successor:" "I suppose, my young friend, you are 'thinking long' for my dying?"
"Ah, no, sir," replied the younger man, "you must not put it so; for it is your living that I desire."
Dauvid: "I didna see ye, Sandy, at the Kirk on Sabbath."
Sandy: "I noticed that, when I was takin' up the collection."
A young man arrived unexpectedly at the house of some friends in the country. Could they put him up for the night? Well, they were about full—but, yes, there was one room still vacant, so he could use that. In due course the visitor was conducted to his room, the hostess remarking — "After we had taken the lease of this house we found that one of the rooms was supposed to be haunted; but I daresay you are not superstitious about that sort of thing." "Oh, well, no," said the visitor, "I don't trouble about such tales." When alone, he surveyed the room. It seemed to him to be rather a gaunt sort of place and somewhat chilly. He began to ruminate as to why such a rumour as he heard should have existed, and he decided that in case there should be any humbug of any sort he would place a small pistol, which he always carried in his dressing-case, by the bedside. Soon he fell asleep; but in the dim, grey light of early morning he awoke, feeling far from comfortable, and soon espied at the foot of the bed the appearance of a hand, in upright position. This seemed uncanny, and after a few moments he reached for his pistol, and then said very deliberately, "Now, I am no coward; but if that hand is not removed when I have counted three, I shall fire-One, two, three—Bang!—Oh!!" And ever since that morning one of the toes of that man's right foot has been missing.
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.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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