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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Monthly Archives: June 2017

Waiter Drugs Non-Tipper

In late February of 1964, Daniel Price, the manager of the Occidental Restaurant in Washington, DC received several complaints from customers who had become violently ill after eating a meal there.

He investigated and determined that each of the patrons had been served by the same waiter, 23-year-old Herbert A. Talmud.

Around the same time, Talmud approached the restaurant’s assistant bookkeeper John R. Hughlett and said that their office manager Simone Moran’s illness would quickly pass.

That’s when Talmud offered him five packages of a powder that he said he had put in Ms. Moran’s teas for $1.00.

Unbeknownst to Talmud, the manager Price had already contacted the police. They instructed bookkeeper Hughlett to buy the packs, which he d30id.

Analysis of the powder determined that it was an emetic that induced violent vomiting and that an overdose could be fatal. Talmud was arrested and charged with assaulting Simone Moran with a poison.

Not surprisingly, it was discovered that Talmud had been dismissed by the previous two restaurants that he had worked in after they received complaints from customers of being ill.

Talmud underwent a twenty-day psychiatric evaluation and was found to be “of sound mind.” He was sentenced to 90-days in prison or a $200 fine.

Vintage Occidental Restaurant Postcard
Vintage postcard showing the Occidental Restaurant and other Pennsylvania Avenue attractions. Waiter Herbert A. Talmud was accused of poisoning the food of customers of the restaurant while working there.
 

Permitted to Wear Van Dyke Beard

On July 24, 1955, the New York State Labor Department ruled that a man who had been fired from his job as a swimming pool attendant was entitled to receive unemployment compensation.

Why was he fired? He refused to shave off his Van Dyke beard, which he had grown in order to obtain employment as an art class model.

The local labor department refused to allow the unnamed man to receive unemployment benefits, so the pool attendant – slash – artist’s model appealed to the state.

In the ruling, the arbitrator handling the case said that his firing was “An unwarranted infringement upon his privilege as an individual in a free community to present such an appearance as he wished as long as it did not affect his duties adversely and did not injure the employer in his business reputation.”

Anthony van Dyck Self Portrait
The Van Dyke beard is named after 17th-century artist Anthony Van Dyck. He painted this self-portrait in 1633.
 

Pushes Cart 13 Miles Off Course

56-year-old George Kuscinkas had been down on his luck since he emigrated from Lithuania to the United States back in 1915. Fast forward to March 16, 1950 and we find George unemployed and living in a flophouse in the Bowery.

While visiting a poolroom on East Tenth Street that morning, a man asked him if he wanted to make some money. All George needed to do was push a cart and deliver a load of art supplies. He agreed, was handed a slip of paper with the address on it and off he went.

He started out at 11:30 that morning but never arrived at his destination. The shipper, Philip Birn of the S. Rood Company contacted the police to report that both the courier and the goods were missing.

George was finally located by a detective early the next morning. Believe it or not, he was still pushing his cart.

George Kuscinkas pushing his cart loaded with art supplies.
George Kuscinkas pushing his cart loaded with art supplies.

He had zigged and zagged all over the city showing person after person the slip of paper that had the address on it. It was estimated that George had pushed the 630-pound (286-kg) cart approximately 13-miles (21 km) in total.

Confused, he stopped that detective at 3 AM and showed him the slip of paper. It read, “Morilla Co., 328 East 234 St.’ The officer called in and found out that an alarm had been issued locate George. That’s when it was realized that everyone had been misreading the handwritten address. It read as East 234 St, but really said East 23rd Street.

George and the missing supplies were transported back to their intended destination and the whole matter was cleared up. Mr. Birn rewarded George with $25 for his efforts (approximately $250 today) and the press chipped in to give him an additional $5.

He planned to use the money to get a shave, a haircut, and to “sit down for awhile.”

 

Le Mars Trilogy: Part 1 – T.M. Zink’s Library

Useless Information Podcast

The first of a 3-part series on Le Mars, Iowa from the 1930’s. Le Mars was thrust into the national spotlight by the actions of just one man: a successful lawyer named T.M. Zink, who left nearly his entire estate for the establishment of a very unusual library. Was Zink was truly mad or was he simply playing a good practical joke on the world?

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