Category:
Eccentrics

High Spirits

A unique defense.

Source: Daily News (New York, New York) 08 Mar 1943, Mon Page 219

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, Police and Other Law Enforcement, Religion, Mental Health and Insanity

Crook, the Unkissed

Algie R. Crook (or "Alja" Crook, as his name was sometimes spelled) was a professor of mineralogy at Chicago's Northwestern University. His great claim to fame, however, had nothing to do with science. Instead, it was that in April, 1901 he allegedly told his undergraduate class that he had never kissed a woman. More specifically, he reportedly said, "I have never uttered a profane word, never have smoked or chewed tobacco, drank intoxicants, nor hugged or kissed a woman."

Given that he was thirty-seven years old at the time, this was considered a remarkable admission. So remarkable that when word of it leaked to the press it became international news.

Great Falls Tribune - May 15, 1901


The media started referring to him as "Crook, The Unkissed." Acquaintances of Crook (or people who claimed to be his acquaintances) readily confirmed the tale, attributing his lack of kisses to his embrace of "austere science." One said, "the scientific atmosphere is inimical to the love germ."

Offers of marriage flooded in, from women hoping to be the one to thaw the professor's icy reserve.

Philadelphia Times - Apr 28, 1901


The French were particularly taken with the story. As reported in the Leavenworth Times (May 8, 1901):

Leading [French] novelists and scientists have been interviewed. Some pronounce the Chicago instructor an "idiot" and a "monster," but a powerful clan uphold his theory that love for woman, even love of the ideal type, seriously impedes a man who would be great and learned.

Supposedly the news even reached as far as China where the dowager empress expressed a desire to see him.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Apr 27, 1901


Crook, for his part, was said to be "abashed and humiliated over the gossip the affair has provoked," and also furious at the "tattling undergraduates."

He issued a denial of the allegation, stating, "I have never told any one that I have refrained from hugging or kissing women, for the reason that I consider it nobody's business but my own."

He recalled having advised a student to do as he did — never to kiss, hug, swear, and so forth. And he figured that's how the story must have started. But he insisted that he hadn't said that he had never done these things at all.

However, it was too late. The story was out there and couldn't be taken back. His denial got buried in the back pages of newspapers, if it was printed at all.

In other interviews, Crook asserted that he had kissed female family members, which didn't help his case much since it implied that he had indeed never romantically kissed a woman. Also, a former student recalled that Crook had made similar claims before, noting, "He is a consistent Methodist, and his convictions sometimes cause him some trouble." So I kind of suspect that Crook really did make the no-kissing claim to his class, but denied it later out of embarrassment.

Whatever the case may have been, the tale continued to haunt him. The following year (1902) a group of students at Northwestern formed an "Anti-osculation Society," claiming that they were "following the teachings of Professor Algie R. Crook, the man who never was kissed." They elected him an honorary member.

In 1904 Crook got married, and inevitably this triggered a renewal of the no-kissing story. "Unkissed Man To Wed," reported the papers.

The Hutchinson News - Dec 28, 1904


Crook and his wife eventually had five children together. He died in 1930, at the age of sixty-six, and the kissing story resurfaced in his Chicago Tribune obituary (June 1, 1930). It was, after all, the achievement he was most famous for:

In 1901 he won fame by being credited with having declared he was never kissed. He denied he had made the assertion after it roused world wide comment.

However, the memorial of him in the Journal of the Mineralogical Society of America omitted the kissing story. Nor is it mentioned on the wikipedia page about him.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 08, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Eccentrics, Science, 1900s, Love & Romance

The Attack-Trained Iguanas of Irenee du Pont

Irénée du Pont was president of the Du Pont Company from 1919 to 1925, and remained on its board of directors until 1958.

He built a mansion named Xanadu down in Cuba, where he trained iguanas to attack and kill on his command. Details from Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain by Gerard Colby:

the most bizarre of Irénée's pastimes was his large collection of iguanas. Irénée spent thousands of dollars to breed, feed, and keep these crocodile-like lizards in specially constructed pens. Some of these tough, vicious lizards grew to 3 feet in length under Irénée's loving care, and more than once the old industrialist was seen marching about with one of these ugly beasts crawling next to him on a leash. Irénée derived a peculiar kind of pleasure from these lizards. By barking a command, he could make them all come out of their pens and surround him, standing at attention. He had trained them, on another command, to attack a target to kill. It was an appalling example to the Cubans of the degeneracy of the idle rich. In a moment of the bizarre captured for history, a Life photographer in 1957 recorded old Irénée feeding his iguanas papaya from a jar at a time when most of the Cuban population was suffering from malnutrition.

"Irénée du Pont, 80, bends to pat an iguana on his Cuban estate where many of these lizards wander. He feeds them papaya from jar he holds"
Life - Aug 19, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 08, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Eccentrics

The Odd Downfall of Mary Carolyn Davies



From pulp writer and poet to Skid Row: writing has never been an easy career.

Read the whole arc of her life here.

Read some of her fiction at the Internet Archive.

Newspaper clip from The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) 08 Feb 1940, Thu Page 20





Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 29, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, Literature, Money, Twentieth Century

Dannie Druehyld, Only Official Witch of Denmark, Has Passed



Some interesting videos, not in English, at the obituary.

Dannie Druehyld knew every single plant and stone in Rold Skov, after calling the forest [her] home for more than 30 years. Now Denmark has lost its only officially registered witch. Dannie Druehyld died on Monday, aged 74. She leaves behind a daughter and a granddaughter.

According to Dannie Druehyld, she was a witch before she was born, and in Rold Skov she has over the years taught children and adults about the forest's magic, folk beliefs and ancient wisdom through her workshop in the Rebild Center. She has also published several books, including "The Witch's Handbook", which tells about witch life all year round.


Posted By: Paul - Wed May 05, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, New Age, Religion, Rituals and Superstitions, Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, Europe

Goliath Messiah, the backward-running mystic

1938: Bronx-resident Goliath Messiah celebrated his 72nd birthday by running backwards for three miles. This was an annual birthday tradition for him. He attributed his good health to a diet of "tree bark, fruit, green vegetables and a pint of wine daily." Also, he claimed to be a descendant of Xerxes.

Later he moved to Death Valley where, he predicted, his daily five-mile hikes would allow him to live to be 150. I haven't been able to find out what age he actually was when he died. I suspect Goliath Messiah wasn't the name the government knew him by, which makes it difficult to get info about him.



Los Angeles Times - Apr 25, 1938



San Bernardino County Sun - July 22, 1941

Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 17, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, 1930s

The Umbrellaship



The creator's website.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 15, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Eccentrics, Outsider Art, Transportation

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