Drank Embalming Fluid

The Lima News - Feb 2, 1919

This 1919 news report of two railroad employees who drank from a barrel of alcohol, not aware that it was being used to preserve two human skeletons enroute to a medical school, sounds a lot like the "corpse in the cask" urban legend.

The legend, which dates back at least to the nineteenth century, played on the fear of accidental cannibalism. As explained by Jan Harold Brunvand in his Encyclopedia of Urban Legends:

In the legend, an English family discovers a barrelful of rum stored in the basement of an old house they recently purchased. Over the course of a year or two they consume the rum in drinks and cooking; then they cut the barrel in half to use it as a planter. Inside they find the body of a man who had been shipped home from the colonies long ago, preserved in spirits.

In one version of the tale, following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 the body of Lord Nelson was preserved in a barrel of brandy, from which sailors sipped as it made its way back to England, inspiring the expression "tapping the admiral."
     Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 04, 2016
     Category: Death | Inebriation and Intoxicants | 1910s

I'd heard the story of Nelson before, but wasn't aware of the part about sailors having a drink on the admiral.
Posted by KDP on 10/04/16 at 10:24 AM
When I was in college in the late 1970s a friend who had a student work-study job in the university hospital told me the drug of choice among the medical students--who presumably had access to all sorts of drugs--was a Vicks inhaler soaked in embalming fluid. All I could think of when I heard this was the strong odor of the embalming fluid used in the fetal pigs we dissected in high school biology. I couldn't imagine trying to get high with that.
Posted by Jim on 10/04/16 at 07:01 PM
Reminiscent of the Dawson, Yukon Territory infamous "Sourtoe Cocktail".

Posted by tadchem on 10/05/16 at 12:36 AM
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