Follies of the Madmen #518


Posted By: Paul - Wed Oct 27, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Business, Advertising, Hygiene, 1930s, Skin and Skin Conditions

The Girl of the Far Future

This dress wouldn't have been out of place at an awards show in the '80s, or even today. So I'll give Ralph Moni credit for an accurate prediction.

New York Daily News - Mar 10, 1939

MISS OF 19??
Ralph Moni, noted dress designer, made this gown for Helen Meyer to show his idea of the girl of the far future at the Midwest Beauty Trades Show. Charles Book then did his stuff. . . he's a New York hairdress expert. . . and capped Helen with the "futuristic" coiffure.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 25, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, 1930s, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Budd-Michelin Rubber-Tire Trains

The Wikipedia page.

Long informative article here (a PDF).

Newspaper source: The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California) 25 May 1932, Wed Page 13

Posted By: Paul - Wed Oct 13, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1930s, Europe, North America, Trains

No dates for speeders

If Aristophanes's Lysistrata was rewritten to be set in Memphis during the 1930s, it could be about all the young women banding together to refuse to date any boys who drove faster than the speed limit.

Pretty Mary Agnes Peeples, 19, is taking an active part in the campaign to make Memphis, Tenn., the safest city in 1939. Mary is wearing a "30" button which means she promises to observe the 30-mile speed limit and will refuse to date boys who violate the speed laws.

Pittsburgh Press - Feb 26, 1939

A better quality picture of Mary Agnes:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 09, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Gender, 1930s, Cars

Trapeze Artist Swallows Watch

"About a week ago Miss Nichols missed her watch. Since she occasionally places valuables in her mouth at night for safe keeping, she feared she might have swallowed the timepiece."

I'm sure Miss Tarzana Nichols really went to the hospital, but I'd be willing to bet that the reason she went was just a stunt to get her name in the papers. Free publicity for her act.

Kansas City Star - Oct 11, 1934

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 07, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Publicity Stunts, 1930s

Underworld Lingo, 1930

Some of these look pretty dubious.


Posted By: Paul - Thu Oct 07, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, Languages, Slang, 1930s

Pine Needle Skiing

Pine needle skiing was introduced in the 1930s in an attempt to make skiing a year-round activity. I don't think it survived long past the 30s. This account of the sport, written by Newton F. Tolman for The Atlantic (Feb 1957 issue), explains why:

Skiers just couldn't wait for next winter to come, and some misguided fanatic had discovered pine needles were slippery. Being in the ski business, we felt obliged to go along with the idea. As I remember it, a couple of us outstripped the field, having cheated by gluing celluloid to our ski bottoms.

All known technique was useless. The only way to turn was to jump. You had to fend off the pine trees with your poles. We ended up not only bleeding and bruised, but completely black. Dives into pine needles encrusted everything but our eyeballs with dirt, pitch, and sweat. It really combined two sports - skiing and tar-and-feathering.

The video shows a pine needle ski jump in New Hampshire, 1935:

The images show people skiing at the Pine Needle Ski Slope which opened in Los Angeles in 1939:

source: LA Public Library

source: Vintage LA

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Sports, 1930s

The Gnathograph

The Gnathograph, or 'dental articulator', was the invention of Los Angeles dental surgeon Beverly McCollum. He was also the founder, in 1926, of the Gnathologic Society.

The name 'Gnathograph' derived from 'gnathology,' this being the study of the jaw and masticatory system, from the greek word 'gnathos' meaning 'jaw'.

"The formidable contraption shown in the mouth of Miss Pearl Nord is a gnathograph, invented by Dr. Beverly B. McCollum of Los Angeles and demonstrated before the chicago Dental Society. It records direction of bite and fit of teeth and accurately guides a dentist in straightening crooked teeth or fitting inlays, crowns, bridges and plates."
image source: Agi Haines

Popular Science - June 1939

The band Femur used the image above from Popular Science as the cover art for their album Red Marks.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 03, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Inventions, 1930s, Teeth

The Tax Centinels

April 1938: Students at Renselaer Polytechnic Institute managed to acquire almost all the pennies in the town of Troy, New York — around 250,000 pennies in total. They did this by first going around store-to-store claiming they needed pennies for a "penny-ante poker game." Then they went to the banks and purchased their entire supply of pennies. Since each bank was unaware that the same thing was occurring at all the other banks, they happily sold the students all the pennies they had.

As a result, the town of Troy suddenly discovered that it was in the grip of a "penny famine." Shopkeepers found themselves unable to make change. And more significantly, they found it difficult to charge the state sales tax.

This had been the point of the stunt. It had been organized by a group of students calling themselves the "Tax Centinels" in order to "focus public attention on the taxes which they claim account for 25 per cent of the cost of all necessities of life."

Having cornered all the pennies, the students went into the town the next day and began making purchases, using pennies to pay for one-quarter of whatever the cost of the item was. It was a bit like the time-honored stunt of paying fines with pennies.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Apr 6, 1938

The movement quickly spread to other colleges, so that other college towns were soon beset by penny famines. New members of the Tax Centinels were required to take the following pledge:

To help fight the growth of taxes which now consume 25 cents out of every dollar spent by the average person, I hereby endorse the policies of this non-partisan, non-political organization knwon as the Tax CENTinels.

It shall be the purpose of this organization to focus public attention on the evils of the practice of keeping concealed taxes and to awaken in the public consciousness a realization that 70 per cent of all taxes now collected by more than 175,000 separate taxing bodies in the United States are obtained through secret levies tacked on to the price of necessities we all must buy daily—food, clothing, shelter, luxuries, and semi-luxuries.

Since the average man does not realize the inroads made upon his purse by these vicious hidden taxes and that he himself pays the major costs of the government instead of the Rockefellers, Morgans and du Ponts, I hereby pledge myself to pay 25% of the price of all purchases in pennies in order to dramatize the situation to the end that it may be remedied.

Wisconsin State Journal - Apr 11, 1938

As far as I can tell, the Tax Centinel movement lasted a month or two before fizzling out. But it seems to have been symptomatic of a widespread popular discontent at the time over the sales tax. See, for instance, our earlier post about the guy who in 1939 took a case all the way to the supreme court over his indigation at having been, in his mind, unfairly charged one-half cent of sales tax.

More info: "Tax Centinels," Star and Lamp (Pi Kappa Phi newsletter) - May 3, 1938. Page 4.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Sep 30, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Money, 1930s, Universities, Colleges, Private Schools and Academia, Pranks

Captain Yancey and His Fabulous Autogyro

Source of clipping: Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 03 Jul 1931, Fri Page 1

Good article here.

The Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro was developed in 1931 and proved to be a reliable, unique aircraft. The rotor at its top was unpowered and it flew more like a fixed wing aircraft than a helicopter, based on the power from its radial engine on the nose. Once at speed, the rotor spun based on aerodynamic forces alone thus generating lift. It was an amazing sight and attracted crowds wherever it flew. By April of 1931, the autogyro had flown across the United States at the hands of John M. Miller, had landed on the White House lawn (by test pilot Jim Ray), and had soared to a new altitude record of 18,415 feet (this being Amelia Earhart’s record).

Seizing upon the press interest in the design, the Champion Spark Plug company purchased one and painted the sides with their logo and named it “Miss Champion”. It was the perfect flying billboard. After hiring Captain Lewis “Lew” Yancey, a former Naval Lieutenant and USCG officer who was a maritime captain, they directed that he fly the nation on an advertising tour. By the end of 1931, Captain Yancey had flown the autogyro 6,500 miles, transiting 21 states and touching down in 38 cities around the nation. Yet the Champion Spark Plugs company still wanted more attention — and thus they asked him to beat Amelia Earhart’s altitude record as well.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Inventions, Publicity Stunts, World Records, Advertising, Air Travel and Airlines, 1930s

Page 1 of 52 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

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, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
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 •