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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Tag Archives: 1959

Burglars Stole the Paper, Too

 

It was reported on August 11, 1959 that Fred Ernst, owner of the California Copy Corp. in Los Angeles, California, had three photocopy machine stolen two weeks prior. 

Ernst told police, “They can’t use the machines because no one else in Los Angeles has photocopy paper for those units.” 

He may have thought that he had gotten the last laugh, but in the end, the thieves did. They once again broke into his business and this time they stole $1000 (nearly $9,000 today) worth of that specially sized photocopy paper.

Classified advertisement for the California Copy Corp. that appeared on page 64 of the April 6, 1959 publication of the Los Angeles Times.

Woman Swallows a Live Mouse

 

Is was reported on August 11, 1959 that a 67-year-old widow named Florence Hill of Denver, Colorado was awoken by the sound of her dog Boots growling. Here’s how she described what had happened:

“I woke up from a nap the other night and there he was, this little mouse, on the sewing machine right beside my bed.

“I opened my mouth to yell and he jumped right in: I clinched my teeth right away and caught him by the tail. He was crawling and scratching to get away and he was going right down my throat. I just couldn’t keep hold of him.


Florence Hill swallowed a live mouse.
Florence Hill swallowed a live mouse. Image appeared on page 18 of the Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review.

“I could feel him crawling all the way down.

Yes, you heard it correctly: she swallowed the live mouse.

She continued, “It was the most horrible night I’ve ever spent…

“I went to Denver General Hospital yesterday. They X-rayed me and didn’t find a thing wrong. They kept me there for six hours, then told me to eat and drink plenty and sent me home.

“I feel pretty good now.”

Syndicated sketch of  Florence Hill swallowing a mouse.
This syndicated sketch of Florence Hill swallowing the mouse appeared on page 8 of the December 6, 1959 issue of the Mexia Daily News.

Twins Hitchhiking Around the World

 

Between January and February of 1959, newspapers across the nation ran stories detailing how 21-year-old twins Ben and Glenn Powell were hitchhiking around the world. In just twelve-weeks the two had made it all the way from Chicago to Buenos Aires.

Glenn said, “We’ve always liked to travel even though we never had much money. So we decided to see the world as cheaply as possible by hitch-hiking,”

Ben added, “We traveled with the people and lived with people all through South America.” He continued, “Everywhere we tried to go quietly and give a good impression. We found that Latin Americans seem to think all Americans have a brand-new car and are rich. Now they have met two that aren’t rich and obviously don’t have a car.”

The two first thumbed their way to Dallas before crossing into Mexico. Lacking any knowledge of the Spanish language, they tried their best with the help of a Spanish phrasebook. As they traveled, their command of the language improved greatly. Somehow, they hooked up with a Texan who was transporting buses to Guatemala. Since his drivers couldn’t speak English and he couldn’t speak Spanish, the twins were able to step in and act as interpreters. Even if they didn’t speak perfect Spanish, it did get the two to Guatemala.

Occasionally they did have to pay for transportation, such as the time that they paid $2.15 each to fly from San Jose in Costa Rica to Panama. From Panama they hopped a banana boat that nearly sank as they made their way to Colombia. Then it was on to Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.

If you are wondering where they slept and how they obtained food, that was fairly simple. As Methodists, they were able to check in with local pastors wherever they went. In exchange for helping Methodist missionaries, the two were provided with meals and lodging.

Two guys hitchhiking.
Did these two guys ever get where they wanted to go? They should have talked to Ben and Glenn Powell who had great success in their effort to hitchhike around the world. (Wikimedia image.)

More Intelligent People Have Gout

 

On June 30, 1959, a UPI article discussed how two US government scientists, Dewitt Stetten, Jr. and John Z. Hearon, were studying the relationship between gout and intelligence.

Gout is caused by the accumulation of crystals of uric acid in bone joints. A theory was put forward in 1955 that the uric acid also stimulated the brain. You can see where this is going: Those with gout should be smarter.

So, Stetten and Hearon decided to test out this theory. They went to the Army Recruitment Center in Fort Dix, NJ and measured the uric acid levels in 817 men. Next, they compared the results of these tests to the “Army Classification Battery,” a group of psychological tests given to test for intelligence and other abilities.

The two found that there was a slight correlation between uric acid levels and high intelligence. The two didn’t make any definite conclusions, but did recommend that further studies be done. The press was quick to point out that nineteen times as many men have gout than women, so that would naturally mean that there are nineteen intelligent men for every intelligent woman. I can tell you, just from my years of teaching, that is definitely not true. No scientific study needed prove that.

The Gout by James Gillray
1799 caricature "The Gout" by James Gillray. From Wikipedia.

Moons of Mars Made by Martians

 

On May 1, 1959, it was reported that Soviet scientist Iosif Shklovsky had found evidence that the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, may be artificial. In other words, they may have been placed in orbit by Martians.

Shklovsky had studied data that had been collected by others and concluded that Phobos, in particular, was most likely hollow inside with what could be something like a thin sheet metal exterior. Its behavior could not be explained by comparing it to any known natural satellite in our solar system. Instead, it behaved much like the artificial satellites that man had placed in orbit around Earth. The logical conclusion was that Martians had placed the two moons into orbit some two or three million years prior.

Further study later determined that the data that Shklovsky used to make these predictions, which he did not collect himself, had systematic errors. It’s not that Shklovsky did bad science – the whole Martian idea excluded – it’s just that he had really bad data to work with.

A number of space probes have since been sent to study these two moons. Today we are certain that they are solid, naturally made, and very similar to many of the asteroids out there.

Color image of Phobos
Color image of Phobos taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on March 23, 2008. NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona image.

Vote Cacareco

 

In October of 1959, it was reported that a female rhinoceros named Cacareco had won the San Paolo municipal council election in a landslide, having received in excess of 100,000 write-in votes. She was immediately disqualified on the grounds that she had been on loan to the Sao Paolo zoo from the Rio de Janeiro zoo and was therefore not a resident of Sao Paolo.

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He Liked to Hear the Glass Tinkle

 

On the evening of June 2nd of 1959, New Orleans police received a call from a man who claimed to have smashed a window on Bourbon Street.  Five minutes later the police received another call that he had smashed another window at a nearby music store.  Both times, the police responded quickly, but the man was already gone.  

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Lookout Falls from Tree

 

On Sunday, August 30th of 1959 four men decided to crack the safe at the Bellevue Cooperative Bank in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. 33-year-old John J. Storis was chosen to be the lookout while the other three men worked on the safe inside the bank.  Then, Storis saw a police cruiser and panicked. Perched in a tree, he fell to the ground and then ran to his car to signal the others with its headlights.

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Sweater Found

 

Back in 1918, Mrs. Marguerite Todd Beveridge, who was sixteen at the time, knitted a sweater for the troops serving in World War I.  She turned it over to the Red Cross for shipment overseas and that was the last she had ever seen of it.

That was until 1954 when the sweater ended up in the hands of an Amman, Jordan tailor named Tanas Badra, who had obtained it from a Protestant missionary.  Mr. Badra noticed the tag that Mrs. Beveridge had sewn into the sweater, which included her name and New Rochelle, NY address.  

He decided to write to her and told of his dream to come to the United States.  He would prove to be too old to make the voyage, but the Beveridges were able to arrange for Mr. Badras’ son Ibrahim, his wife, and three children to come.  

They arrived in New York City on February 10, 1959 aboard the Giulio Cesare. 

As for the sweater, it had become tattered and worn and was discarded.

Sixth Set of Twins

 

The Guinness Book of World Records claims that Barbara Zulu of Barberton, South Africa holds the world record for giving birth to the greatest number of twins. Between 1967 and 1973, she bore three sets of girls and three mixed sets.

A story from December 25, 1959 proves that she was not the first. On this date, it was announced that Mrs. Ernest Kittelberger of Rochester, NY had also given birth to her sixth set of twins.

The article stated that the odds of this happening were 433,626,201,009 to 1 – clearly an everyday occurrence.

Sadly three sets of the Kittelberger twins died shortly after birth. The surviving pairs were Fred & Pamela, Gary & Barry, and Gerald & Darryl.