Weird Universe Archive

January 2021

January 26, 2021

Use your children as dumbbells

Harold J. Reilly, owner of a New York gym during the 1930s and 40s, promoted the idea of using children as exercise equipment. Pick them up and swing them around, he urged parents, as one would a dumbbell or kettlebell.

The advantage of using kids as dumbbells, he pointed out, was that as they grow older their weight will increase, thereby naturally helping the parents to develop their strength.

It's an intriguing idea, although a set of dumbbells is a lot cheaper than having children. And won't break if you drop them.

Minneapolis Star - May 31, 1942

"Reilly recommends that parents (or grandparents) work out by swinging their youngsters around from childhood. Says it helps both out."
NY Daily News - May 2, 1948

Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph - Aug 3, 1941

Text from the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph - Aug 3, 1941:

Some years ago Mr. Reilly was thumbing through a volume of Greek mythology when he read how Hercules, as a boy, started lifting a small calf every day. As the calf grew, so did Hercules' strength so that when it became a full-grown bull Hercules could still lift it.

Mr. Reilly thought that the story could be given a modern twist and proceeded to do so. He became "Hercules" and his infant son and daughter the small "calves."...

For years he carried out this theory conscientiously with his own children and it worked so well that it prompted him to write a recent book about physical culture in which he advocates that both fathers and children will benefit greatly if the former raise the latter as dumb-bells.

"I'm not suggesting that you bring a bull calf into the house and go to work on it. After all you're not Hercules," Mr. Reilly points out in "The Secret of Better Health," published by Carlyle House, "But you can work out the same idea by starting to exercise with your pride and joy when he's only a year old, and keeping it up until he's ten, 15 or even 20. The child will benefit, and so will you...

"You may start when your child is an infant," says Mr. Reilly. "But as babies are delicate, don't begin by wrestling with him. Just manipulate the baby's arms and legs. Wiggle them around, being careful not to twist harshly... Then as the child begins to walk, you can swing him by the arms."...

"From three to six, you can become a little more strenuous. Pick the child up and swing him around, holding him by the arms. Let him lie on his back and take his two hands in one of yours and his ankles in the other and swing him around that way, back and forth, sideways and between your legs as though he were a medicine ball...

Mr. Reilly says that the swinging-around game should be kept up during the six-to-nine period of the child's age. In addition he should be picked up by the ankles and walked around, wheelbarrow fashion...

"From nine to 15 keep up the same exercises, if you can, and begin to box and wrestle with him," says Mr. Reilly. "It is just as easy with a daughter, for a little girl is a natural tomboy. She doesn't begin to be a female until around 12 years when adolescence sets in. Then a certain amount of care is necessary. But until then, treat your daughter the same as your son."

Update: Found a video of a guy using his kids as weights.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 26, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Babies, Exercise and Fitness, Babies and Toddlers, Children, 1940s

The Singing Ringing Tree

A snippet, then the whole film.

The Wikipedia page, where we learn:

The TV series, partly due to its foreignness as both fairy tale and for the unfamiliarity of its German production, was 'indelibly carved on the psyches'[7] as 'one of the most frightening things ever shown on [UK] children's television'.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 26, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Cult Figures and Artifacts, Horror, Movies, Children, Foreign Customs, 1950s

January 25, 2021

Essay on Silence

Essay on Silence, authored by Fra Elbertus (pen name of Elbert Hubbard) was published by the Roycroft Press in 1905. It consisted of 40 blank pages, bound in leather with a spine printed in gilt. As such it belongs to the genre of empty books.

image source: Specific Object

Wikipedia notes that most empty books are published as political satires. For example, one of the earliest examples of the genre was The Political Achievements of the Earl of Dalkeith, consisting of 32 bound, blank pages. Hubbard's book seems to be the earliest, non-political example of the genre.

A 1905 first edition of the Essay on Silence will cost you $125. But there were various reprints published over the years, which are cheaper. Some of the reprints included a four-page, blank text insert titled, "The Essay on Silence Revised Edition with Corrections and Emendations to Date."

Incidentally, Elbert Hubbard is rumored to be the uncle of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. At least, L. Ron Hubbard claimed this to be so. But Elbert Hubbard's followers disagree, arguing that "L. Ron Hubbard was known to elaborate on his background, and it is said he used the popularity of Elbert’s name to promote his own causes."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 25, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Books, 1900s

The Philco Overnighter

Those gals! Can't even listen to music without touching up their lipstick!

Ad source.

Photo source.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 25, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Cosmetics, Radio, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1950s, Women

January 24, 2021

The Newbury Coat

1811: Sir John Throckmorton bet one thousand guineas that a woolen coat could be made in its entirety, starting with the shearing of the sheep, between sunrise and sunset. He believed that the wool could be "A Sheep's Coat at Sunrise, A Man's Coat at Sunset." The experiment took place on June 25, 1811, in the town of Newbury, England, and Throckmorton won his bet.

The 'Newbury Coat' maintained the record for the fastest coat ever made until Sep 21, 1991, when an identical coat was made, in the same manner, but an hour faster.

More details: Berkshire History

Liverpool Mercury - July 26, 1811

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 24, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion, World Records, Industry, Factories and Manufacturing, Nineteenth Century

January 23, 2021

Operation Decoy - the song

In August 1962, New York City cops patrolled the streets while dressed as women in order to trap muggers. They called this Operation Decoy.

I didn't realize, when I posted about Operation Decoy two years ago, that it had inspired a song.

More info: Discogs

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 23, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Music, Police and Other Law Enforcement, 1960s

The Magic Land of Allakazam:  Mark Wilson, RIP

The Wikipedia page.

Alas, Mark Wilson is no more.

To Our Magical Friends...
Dad always said, “The best kind of legend to be is a Living Legend”. But sadly, as of Tuesday, January 19th at 4:40pm, Husband of Nani, Father of Mike & Greg, Legendary Magician, Author, Producer, and so much more… James Mark Wilson transitioned from our earthly existence to the ethereal.
Wishing to be with his family, he shared his love, bright outlook, and ambitions for the future, then he passed quietly, without pain, or a single complaint, comfortably at his home with Nani and his boys by his side.
Mark Wilson, the name by which he is best known, was born in Manhattan, New York on April 11th, 1929, in the loving arms of his mother Francis (Teta) Wilson and father James (Jimmy) Wilson. His parents raised him during the Great Depression and through WWII. By example, they taught him to preserver through difficult times and overcome obstacles with determination. His mother, Teta, often said, “Don’t worry honey, it will be alright.” Mark developed a “never give up” attitude, and learned that kindness, compassion, and love were the most important things in life.
He spent his over 91 years on Earth, sharing his passion for making people happy through the art of magic by blazing new paths to reach audiences around the world.
Mark’s trademark phrase, “Happy Magic” was his and Nani’s sign-off words for countless live and television performances… “Happy Magic” is how he signed autographs… and “Happy Magic” was his own unique friendly and approachable style of performing.
Mark’s creativity, originality, and leadership were based on respect and honor for others. Mark finished on “the right side of magic history” morally and ethically. With his loving wife Nani Darnell at his side, he achieved a longer list of “Historic Firsts” than many dream of in multiple lifetimes.
MAGIC Magazine named Mark Wilson, “One of the Ten Most Influential American Magicians of the 20th Century.”
Mark’s influence is still evident today, as he was so thankful to hear “Mark Wilson” and the Magic Land of Allakazam referenced in the newly released feature film, One Night in Miami.
Whether you know him from his TV appearances, his Live productions, the Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic book, or one of his many in-person Magic University classes at the Magic Castle, or through one of his many other achievements… Mom and Mike and I are so proud that he brought “Happy Magic” into not only your life, but the lives of more people around the world than he could possibly meet.
"A lifetime of magic has taken Nani and me around the world and helped us make friends everywhere." 
 - Mark Wilson
He is already dearly missed,
Greg Wilson, on behalf of the Wilson Family
[email protected]

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 23, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Television, 1960s

January 22, 2021

Eating Mrs. Grote’s Sandwich

Rev. Jensen evidently thought Mrs. Grote's sandwich tasted pretty good. His wife, however, was not amused.

Mrs. Jennie Jensen, in her court action, charged her husband with "taking several bites from Mrs. Grote's sandwich at a picnic party while refusing to take even one from hers."

Los Angeles Evening Post-Record - Jul 28, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 22, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Food, Divorce, Marriage, 1920s

Page 2 of 7 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›

Get WU Posts by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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 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 Shepherd
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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
February 2024 •  January 2024

December 2023 •  November 2023 •  October 2023 •  September 2023 •  August 2023 •  July 2023 •  June 2023 •  May 2023 •  April 2023 •  March 2023 •  February 2023 •  January 2023

December 2022 •  November 2022 •  October 2022 •  September 2022 •  August 2022 •  July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  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 •