From the March 18, 1895 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
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Go mummy-hunting in the Aleutian Islands, you say? But I’m not finished tweeting yet!
Harold McCracken, arctic explorer and big-game hunter and magazine editor and inaugural director of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, was forever risking his hide on rugged fact-finding missions, hoping to recover one shard or another of the past. On the occasion of a spelunking expedition he was to make to search for preserved prehistoric corpses, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran an article about the dangerous sojourn in its April 22, 1928 edition. The opening of the piece follows.
Sir Hubert Wilkins, polar explorer, was familiar with investigating uncharted swatches of the globe by air, but in 1931 his aim was lower, as he commanded the Nautilus expedition whose goal was be the first to explore the North Pole by submarine. The voyage, which began in New York Harbor, was a grueling, troubled one, and after casualty and numerous engine failures, his benefactor, William Randolph Hearst, begged the adventurer, via wireless, to end the mission. Eventually Wilkins acquiesced, but not before proving a submarine could operate underneath the polar ice cap. Prior to the journey, Wilkins was thought to be batty for even trying, being seriously doubted in an article in the May 2, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Below the piece is Wilkins’ 1958 What’s My Line? appearance.
“It was thought to be fantasy”:
Tags: Hubert Wilkins
From the April 11, 1928 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
The occasion of French astronomer and author Camille Flammarion’s second marriage in 1920 gave opportunity to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to publish his thoughts on a machine Thomas Edison announced he was working on, which would purportedly allow the living to communicate with the dead. Talk about a long-distance call.
Flammarion, who believed a personality of sorts survived after life had ended, was understandably excited about the deceased being conjured via allegedly scientific means in Menlo Park. In addition to the serious astronomical work he published, Flammarion wrote sci-fi and speculative narratives and is credited with birthing the idea of an alien race superior to Earthlings, which he believed in actuality and utilized as a plot device in his fiction.
From the December 30, 1946 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
This very melodramatic postmortem of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the March 9, 1917 Brooklyn Daily Eagle asserts that the dirigible builder passed away a broken man because his airships were deemed no longer worthy of bombing missions meant to reduce humans to piles of limbs. Interesting to note Zeppelin was a young German military officer when he encountered his first transport balloons while traveling in America during the Civil War, meeting aeronauts Thaddeus Lowe and John Steiner. (In the top photo, taken in 1863, the German visitor is the second from the right, an embed with a Union unit.) It wasn’t until he was past 50 that Zeppelin was able to completely devote himself to his long-deferred dream of popularizing dirigibles, and his successes with the ships, among many failures, helped make mass air travel seem like destiny.
1912: “Zeppelin’s first cruise over Germany.”
Tags: Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Russian zoologist Elie Metchnikoff, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1908, is generally credited as the father of gerontology, the first to think of death as a “disease” to be treated and cured. A century ago, he felt people should make it to 150 or so. While the doctor never made it nearly that far himself, as you can see in the below excerpt from his July 16, 1916 Brooklyn Daily Eagle obituary, a lot of his tips for encouraging longevity were sound.
Tags: Elie Metchnikoff
From the March 12, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
We were aware, more than seven decades ago, that the moon could be a landing pad, a rocket launcher and a nonpareil space observatory. Our failure to execute in this area is one of will, not knowledge. An article follows about the moon and its uses (including being an airport of sorts) from the December 29, 1940 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
From the January 22, 1882 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
From the June 13, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
For some reason, people long for their cars to fly. In the 1930s it was believed that Spanish aviator Juan de la Cierva had made the dream come true, although he coincidentally died in an air accident in Amsterdam just as his roadable flying machine was proving a success in Washington D.C.
In 1920, the man from Murcia invented the Autogiro, a single-rotor-type aircraft which led several years later to his creation of an articulated rotor that made possible the world’s first flight of a stable rotary-wing aircraft. The American government licensed the technology and eventually turned out a working prototype of a flying car, hoping that suburbanites would soon soar to work from their backyards directly to helipads atop city office buildings. If they needed to nose down and drive on a highway, that would be possible.
The test was deemed a success on road and in sky (even though the machine was clearly more plane than automobile). Sadly, almost simultaneous to the triumphant run, Cierva was killed while a passenger aboard a standard Dutch airliner that crashed in England.
The aerobile was clearly never made available for public consumption, probably owing to safety and cost concerns. One enterprising hotel in Miami, however, purchased a roadable Autogiro and used it to fly guests to the beach, further enticing them by employing celebrity pilot Jim Ray, who had handled the D.C. test run.
An excerpt from an article about the test and tragedy overlapping, published in the December 13, 1936 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
From the February 11, 1888 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
“They destroyed Ambersons, and it destroyed me,” Orson Welles said, lamenting RKO’s decision to chop up his 1942 adaptation of the Booth Tarkington novel The Magnificent Ambersons. The studio cut significant footage from the movie and changed the ending, and though some hold out hope that an original print was secreted to South America and survives today, no film cans have ever surfaced.
In an April 12, 1942 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article published three months before the company released the mutilated version, Welles told a story about the lengths he’d gone to make a work as great as Citizen Kane. He claimed that in order to get a shot no one had been able to previously master, he hired a circus strongman named Badajoz as a freelance cameraman.
From the February 1, 1937 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Coney Island was chiefly an amusement and often a raffish one, but there was a serious side to some of the sights. For instance, Topsy the elephant was electrocuted in 1903 in what may have been a scheme to make Nikola Tesla’s AC system seem dangerous, giving Thomas Edison’s DC method positive publicity during the War of the Currents. The baby incubators were likewise a suspect attraction, though it would seem much good came of the spectator-sponsored medical innovation, which, if its proprietor, Dr. Martin A. Couney, is to be believed, successfully graduated 6,000 babies by 1928, the infants nursed on low-pressure oxygen, breast milk and a daily drop of whiskey. An article about the incubators from the August 4, 1928 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
As difficult as it was to believe that Roald Amundsen had survived his many explorations, at the end it was just as tough to accept that he’d perished.
The early twentieth-century Norwegian explorer was so secretive about his missions that credit for discovering the South Pole in 1912 at first went to his British rival Capt. Robert Scott, until the truth prevailed. So when the ultra-resourceful Amundsen and his party went missing in 1928 when flying to the Arctic to attempt a rescue of crew members of the crashed airship Italia, some in the American media believed, or wanted to believe, that he had only lost contact for the moment. Sadly, the disappearance was permanent; not even wreckage was ever recovered. An article from the June 20 Brooklyn Daily Eagle of that year, which hoped against hope.•
A brief note from the January 29, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle: