In 1933, Donald Campbell, a truck driver, fell from his truck and hit his head. A year later he developed a bizarre condition. He started talking incessantly, non-stop. His talking was so compulsive that he couldn't even sleep. His talking was perfectly rational. He answered questions clearly. But he couldn't stop.
Doctors attributed his condition to encephalitis, or brain swelling. After about a month his non-stop talking subsided, and doctors thought he had recovered. But within four months he was dead. Strangely, the cause of his death was cancer and seemed to be unrelated to his non-stop talking.
Pottsville Evening Herald - Aug 17, 1934
Pittsburgh Press - Sep 5, 1934
Cincinnati Enquirer - Jan 6, 1935
Update — A newspaper recorded an example of some of Campbell's rambling monologue:
Cigarets should never be taxed in Ohio. When I was a boy, Joe and I used to go swimming in Willow Creek together. Now he thinks cigarets should be taxed. Sometimes I believe that Joe doesn't realize how hard it is to be a truck driver in Columbus. But I am not getting any better. The radio seemed nice last night although truck driving wasn't mentioned. We will take the whole thing up when we get home, but I'm not getting any better, do you think?
According to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, when hospital workers in Southern California used a handheld Doppler device to check the pulse of a 65-year-old man who had recently had both hips replaced, they heard music. Other Doppler devices also picked up music seeming to come from inside the man. However, they didn't hear music from any other patients. The doctors concluded that the man's prosthetic hips were picking up a radio station.
LiveScience.com has identified the song his hips were playing as "Gracias Por Tu Amor" by Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizarraga.
In 1952, in response to growing concerns about the safety of cigarettes, the Lorillard Tobacco Company introduced Kent cigarettes, boasting that they contained a "Micronite filter" developed by "researchers in atomic energy plants".
Turned out that the key ingredient in the Micronite filter was asbestos. From wikipedia:
Kent widely touted its "famous micronite filter" and promised consumers the "greatest health protection in history". Sales of Kent skyrocketed, and it has been estimated that in Kent's first four years on the market, Lorillard sold some 13 billion Kent cigarettes. From March 1952 until at least May 1956, however, the Micronite filter in Kent cigarettes contained compressed carcinogenic blue asbestos within the crimped crepe paper. It has been suspected that many cases of mesothelioma have been caused specifically by smoking the original Kent cigarettes.
The use of chlorine gas to cure the common cold was suggested by observations that men who worked in chlorine plants to manufacture the noxious gas during the war were remarkably free of colds and flu. The same was true of soldiers on the front lines exposed to the pungent, biting fumes of chlorine, compared with those in the rear. A hundred years earlier, physicians had noted that people who worked and lived in the vicinity of bleaching establishments had fewer respiratory infections than others.
Chlorine was thought to act as a kind of thorn-in-the-flesh therapy. Vedder (dubbed "the chemical warrior" by Time magazine) proposed that "the irritant action of chlorine stimulates the flow of secretion and cleanses the mucous surfaces," resulting in "productive coughing and blowing of the nose." Through its oxidizing action, the gas was also thought to rid the body of toxins and fuel the activity of white blood cells useful in the attack against offending microbes.
Practically overnight, chlorine therapy became a popular treatment for victims of colds, bronchitis, and whooping cough... For the general public, there was Chlorine Respirine, 50 treatments for $0.50 in a handy collapsible tube, each dose purported to "knock a cold in three hours."
Controlled experiments eventually debunked the idea that chlorine gas had any curative value. Though I'm not sure how to explain why people exposed to chlorine didn't seem to catch colds as often. Perhaps it was just mistaken, anecdotal evidence. Or perhaps the chlorine gas was sterilizing surfaces, helping to prevent the transmission of germs.
The theme of this 1920's ad campaign was that if your kid didn't eat Ralston Purina breakfast cereal, then he/she was going to die.
A child's life is a fight! Danger Days are always ahead. Danger Days — the days when little lives hang in the balance — may come next year, next month, or perhaps — tomorrow. Your children must meet these Danger Days. Are they ready? Will they win?
An Australian woman had been suffering from headaches for seven years. Doctors suspected a brain tumor. The good news was that, after operating, they found she was tumor free. The bad news was that she had a cyst full of tapeworm larvae in her brain.
Oliver Halsted was granted a patent for an "exercising machine" in 1844. It was later marketed as the Health Jolting Chair. AKA the "wake-up chair." By pulling the levers on the side, it would bounce up and down. It was said to be a panacea for "dyspepsia, liver complaint, low spirits, general debility, constipation, 'so-called malaria,' jaundice, melancholia, and anemia."
The COVID pandemic has certainly made thermometers part of everyday discourse. Once upon a time, the mercury-filled instrument was the only home-friendly device available. I was not even sure you could buy one these days, but Amazon sells several "liquid-filled" devices. Here is some info from the vendor at the Amazon link.
A dubious medical cure-all from the early 1960s: bottles of briny water marketed as 'concentrated ocean water'.
The sellers claimed it could prolong life, cure arthritis, cancer, Parkinson's disease, hardening of the arteries, etc.
The FDA, which shut down the companies selling it, called it "the great sea salt swindle."
I couldn't find anyone selling concentrated ocean water today. Though there are plenty of present-day products that are similar in spirit — such as those cans of Swiss Mountain Air I posted about recently.
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.