Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

On the Web Since 1994

Podcasting Since January 2008

The Flip Side of History by Steve Silverman

The Flip Side of History

Strange News, Hard-to-Believe Headlines, and Other Curious Stories From History

by Steve Silverman

Stories in The Flip Side of History

  • The Green Parrot Murder (1942) – One of my favorite true crime stories of all time. It’s a case in which no one was talking except for the green parrot.
  • Tender Young Alice, They Say (1949) – A sad, yet unusual, human interest story which caught the attention of newspaper readers all across the United States.
  • A Date with Death (1938) – Just what happens when person A attempts to kill person B who unknowingly gets person C to kill person D instead?
  • Kidnapper Rides on Car Hood in Nightgown (1964) – A woman in a nightgown is observed clinging to the front of an automobile as it is being driven down the road. Your first thought would be that the woman’s life was in great danger and that the car must be stopped. Well, you would be wrong.
  • The Flying Bandits (1957) – The unusual story of two high-flying aviators who attempted to pull off the perfect crime.
  • She Dared to Wear Slacks (1938) – Today, we take for granted the fact that women can wear slacks any day and everywhere. Helen Hulick was one of those women who fought for the right to do so.
  • The Wheelbarrow Man (1878) – In the 1870s, newspapers were the blogs of the day. Nearly daily, they would report on the Wheelbarrow Man as he made his way along his journey.
  • A King Without A Country (1893) – Just what would you do if you found a remote island that no person lived on and belonged to no country? When James Harden-Hickey stumbled across the uninhabited Atlantic island of Trinidad, he claimed it for his own.
  • The Los Angeles Perfume Bombing (1948) – Some people will do anything to promote their product, even if that means bombing the city of Los Angeles with perfume.
  • Smokin’ Bananas (1967) – There are some stories that simply make me smile whenever I think about them. This story about people who were smoking banana peels in the 1960s is one of them. It simply borders on the ridiculous.
  • Love for Lease (1965) – The crazy true story of how an elderly millionaire attempted to rent a beautiful, young woman from her husband for a one-year period.
  • Hee-Haw (1954) – Every Christmas there is that one popular toy that every child must-have. Always in short supply, such a gift is so desired by children that parents are willing to pay top dollar to get their hands on one. This is the story of a popular Christmas gift that couldn’t fit under the tree. If anything, this unusual gift was more likely to eat the tree.
  • The Shoe Bandit (1956) – Just what would make someone want to steal another person’s shoes?
  • The Womanless Library (1930) – During the Great Depression, Le Mars would be front-page news for three seemingly unrelated stories, all tied together by a misogynistic bequest made by one of its prominent attorneys.
  • The Search for Lucinda Trow (1938) – Maybelle Knox was the center of perhaps the greatest mystery ever to occur in Le Mars, Iowa. A story so fantastic that it would capture the attention of an entire nation.
  • The Salem Trade School Football Team (1929) – Perhaps the worst high school football team to have ever played was located in the region surrounding Salem, Massachusetts. There was a very good reason why they performed so poorly and it had nothing to do with the quality of the team’s players.
  • The Strange Case of the Jitterbug Coal (1944) – You’ve certainly heard about Mexican jumping beans, but have you ever witnessed jumping coal? Such a strange phenomenon was observed at a schoolhouse. At first, no one could explain why the coal was acting so strangely. Was it alive? Could the school have been haunted?
  • Two Weeks on Venus (1956) – In 1953, Harold Jesse Berney, head of a Washington, DC television antenna manufacturing operation, was chosen by the United States government to be its main contact with Uccelles, a prince visiting our planet from Venus.
  • The Crayola Caper (1973) – The Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, New York was once the largest resort in the Catskill Mountains. Few people remember today, but it was once central to one of the most bizarre extortion schemes ever.
  • The Rescue of Charles Nalle (1860) – The amazing story of the only person to have been rescued from slavery in the United States four times.
  • Beached Steel (1868) – Nothing on earth is permanent. As sure as there are forces that push mountains upward, there are opposing forces that will eventually bring them all back down. And, no matter how hard humans may try, nature always wins in the end. 
  • The Last Man Standing (1885) – Nearly everyone wishes for a long, healthy and happy life. But a long life will most likely make you outlive everyone you know, which begs the question: is living a long life worth it?
  • The Average Man (1927) – How would you describe the average man? Clearly, there is far more to him than physical characteristics like height and weight. In 1927, a search was begun for the man who best typified the average male.
  • Ferryboat O’Brien (1952) – The strange, true story of Michael Patrick O’Brien. He belonged to no country and it seemed as if he would be stuck sailing the same back-and-forth trip every single day for the rest of his life.
  • New York’s Romeo and Juliet (1939) – A story about two lovers who wished to marry over parental objections.
  • Mary Jane (2004) – A personal story.
  • Short Story: Sues for Canary’s Lost Love (1917)
  • Short Story: An Unusual Chicken Thief (1925)
  • Short Story: Arrested for Eating Soup Loudly (1923)
  • Short Story: Woman Bites Dog (1941)
  • Short Story: Fed a Yak at Midnight (1935)
  • Short Story: Husband’s Life Is Saved by Wife’s Thigh (1939)
  • Short Story: Jerry the Mule Facing Execution (1936)
  • Short Story: Uneducated Women Are Unfit as Wives (1904)
  • Short Story: Man Inherits Fortune from Women He Never Met (1912)
  • Short Story: It Doesn’t Always Pay to Be A Hero (1957)
  • Short Story: Falling Girl Saved by Spike (1911)
  • Short Story: Can’t Take It Anymore (1936)
  • Short Story: One-a-Day Triplets (1950)
  • Short Story: Invented the Other Teddy Bear (1940)
  • Short Story: Sixty-Seven-Year-Old Has His First Birthday Party (1920)

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