From the August 5, 1911 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
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I can’t say the Russo-French “gland expert” Serge Voronoff was doing God’s work. The surgeon believed grafting monkey testicle tissue onto the testicles of men increased strength and improved appearance. He experimented with numerous other animals, believing, for example, that bull glands might contain the fountain of youth. He was a well-educated and respectable crackpot, lauded as a genius for the majority of the Twenties and Thirties, before being lowered abruptly from his pedestal.
The first two brief articles below from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle report on Voronoff while he was still widely respected, while the third shows him caught up in the sweep of history, forced in 1941 to leave behind his beloved monkey farm in France to flee fascists, who seized the primates.
From July 13, 1924:
From September 23, 1936:
From February 2, 1941:
From the February 5, 1889 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Explorer Percy Fawcett vanished for good in 1925 while searching for a lost ancient city he named “Z,” but his aggrieved wife kept hanging on his every word.
Mrs. Fawcett (née Nina Agnes Paterson) seems to have fallen prey to some hucksters while in an understandably weakened state of mind, because she came to believe her missing husband was talking to her telepathically through several mediums. It’s also possible her beliefs were influenced by a close friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Dole and Lady Doyle, two devotees of such hokum. Regardless of how the situation came to be, the “intel” convinced her to refuse widowhood, convinced the family would soon be reunited. A February 12, 1928 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle recalls the strange footnote.
Tags: Percy Fawcett
From the August 12, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
I still have no idea why “electronic brain” seems to have been the favored term for computers in the pre-1960s U.S. In fact “computer” was often treated like a haughty word to be mocked. Well, by any name, such a machine and its memory helped American Airlines keep track of reservations 64 years ago, according to an article in the July 13, 1952 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
From the November 17, 1901 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Fran Lebowitz once quipped that “genocides are like snowflakes, each one unique, no two alike.” The same can be said of the genocidal.
Benito Mussolini is the autocrat who most reminds of the political ascent of Donald Trump, though there’s no telling how the latter’s governance will play out, whether it will lead to the type of needless, but familiar, suffering that attends kleptocracy and ineptitude or whether something more cruel and unusual will develop.
Il Duce, like his spiritual descendant, was a vulgar cartoon of a man who survived saying outrageous things that would have made other men a feast for crows. His rise to power stunned onlookers who couldn’t believe the people would rally toward a murderous clown, but Mussolini’s mad lunge at the so-called elite resonated with the people.
Even the marriage of his eldest daughter, Edda, was an assault on the crown, as she wedded a non-royal Blackshirt to the delight of rank-and-file members of the Fascist Party. He was Galeazzo Ciano, not exactly a commoner but the son of a WWI military hero. The son-in-law was warmly embraced by Mussolini and became his Foreign Minister in 1936.
Romances, however, don’t always end well. In 1943, Ciano, who’d lost faith in his father-in-law’s governance long before, voted along with other members of the Fascist Grand Council to oust him from leadership. This unfavorable tally led to Mussolini’s dismissal, arrest and imprisonment. With the aid of Hitler, he was freed and restored to at least a semblance of power, though his spell was broken and fate all but sealed.
Before Mussolini was given his just deserts in 1945 and made to hang like bloody meat from the roof of an Esso gas station, he had his once beloved son-in-law executed by firing squad. Edda, who sided with her spouse, broke permanently from her infamous family, no reconciliation ever attempted during her long life.
April 10, 1995
Edda Ciano, 84; Daughter Disavowed Mussolini for Count
ROME, April 9— Countess Edda Mussolini Ciano, the eldest daughter and a close adviser of Italy’s Fascist dictator, whose husband was executed after he opposed her father’s rule, died Saturday in a Rome hospital, doctors said today. She was 84.
Countess Ciano had been ill for some time. The cause of death was cardiac arrest related to lung and kidney failure, the doctors said.
She was a close adviser to Mussolini during the 1930’s and was known for her independence at a time when Italian women had few rights.
Her husband, Count Galeazzo Ciano, was Mussolini’s Foreign Minister from 1936 to 1943. In July 1943, however, he voted against Mussolini at a Cabinet meeting that led to the dictator’s arrest and the fall of Fascism.
Under orders from Hitler, occupying German troops freed Mussolini and installed him as head of a puppet government. It found Count Ciano guilty of treason and ordered him executed. Countess Ciano’s pleas to her father and to Hitler were ignored, and her husband was executed by a firing squad in 1944.
After the execution, she disavowed her father and the family name.
“You are no longer my father for me,” she wrote to him. “I renounce the name Mussolini.” After the war, she lived in Rome, then broke her public silence about wartime events in 1975 with a book, “My Testimony.”
She is said never to have reached a reconciliation with her mother, Rachele, who died 15 years ago. Her mother was said to have blamed Count Ciano for Mussolini’s downfall.
The Cianos had three children — Fabrizio, Raimonda and Marzio. She is survived by Fabrizio and Raimonda.•
Robots seem to have been capable of offering rudimentary salutations to Madison Square Garden conventioneers more than eight decades ago, but a Broadway speech and Q&A in the Roaring Twenties by a robot named Eric may not have been entirely legit. The bucket of bolts could certainly gesture and nod, but his “voice” may have come from an offstage confederate via remote wireless, though no such possibility was entertained in a report about the unusual stage debut in the January 20, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The story:
From the October 12, 1903 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Oswald Mosley, the infamous founding leader of the British Union of Fascists during the 1930s, was the inspiration for “Mr. Oswald” in Elvis Costello’s 1977 “Less Than Zero,” maybe the single most scathing and slanderous song ever recorded. An economist-cum-aspiring-autocrat, Mosley was a vicious anti-Semite and xenophobe who managed to incite violence almost anywhere he went. He was in prison and then house arrest during the latter years of WWII, returning to politics in the ’50s and 60’s as a candidate for Parliament on anti-immigration platforms. Mosley never came close to winning office,and died in France in 1980, three years after the Costello excoriation.
A November 8, 1936 Brooklyn Daily Eagle report profiled Mosley at the height of his madness.
In 1967, David Front interviewed Oswald, who was then in his dotage.
Tags: Oswald Mosley
From the August 22, 1935 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
It almost never ends well for a demagogue, nor for the demagogue’s people. Fascists are merely vulgar clowns until they’re in a position to do grave damage. Then the gloves come off.
Was reading a passage from a 1925 article that ran in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle which begins this way: “Benito Mussolini is a fascinating personality.” The writer wonders why Il Duce’s insane utterings demand rapt attention when others making similar statements would be jeered from the stage. That thought, of course, brings to mind the horrible reality of an Oval Office stuffed with Donald Trump, a deeply wounded man who worked the American living room like Torquemada as a Reality TV host.
Such a sick, authoritarian mind even scribbling in the margins of the Constitution could wreak havoc. The scariest part of the report below is that it argued the Italian dictator was already in steep decline, but just think how much suffering he caused before ultimately meeting the business end of a meat hook.
From the July 20, 1901 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
When he was born in 1830, nobody could have imagined Henry Hale Bliss would be killed 69 years later by a horseless, electric automobile, or that such a thing could even exist. In modern context, it would be similar to someone birthed in 1980 dying in 2050 because their driverless vehicle was hacked by a terrorist with a smartphone. Things change, sometimes with surprising swiftness.
The death of the New Yorker remains notable because he was the first recorded fatality of an American car accident, his head and chest crushed by a Manhattan taxicab as he exited a streetcar. Bliss’ demise was covered in an article in the September 14, 1899 New York Times. The story:
H. H. Bliss, a real estate dealer, with offices at 41 Wall Street, and living at 235 West Seventy-fifth Street, was run over last night at Central Park West and Seventy-fourth Street. He was injured fatally.
Bliss, accompanied by a woman named Lee, was alighting from a south-bound Eighth Avenue trolley car, when he was knocked down and run over by an automobile in charge of Arthur Smith of 151 West Sixty-second Street. He had left the car, and had turned to assist Miss Lee, when the automobile struck him. Bliss was knocked to the pavement, and two wheels of the cab passed over his head and body. His skull and chest were crushed.
Dr. David Orr Edson, son of ex-Mayor Edson, of 38th West Seventy-first Street, was the occupant of the electric cab. As soon as the vehicle was brought to a standstill he sent in a call to Roosevelt Hospital for an ambulance, and until its arrival did all he could to aid the injured man. When he was taken to the hospital Dr. Murray, the house surgeon, said that Bliss was so seriously injured that he could not live.
Smith was arrested and locked up in the West Sixty-eighth Street Station. It is claimed that a large truck occupied the right side of the avenue, making it necessary for Smith to run his vehicle close to the car. Dr. Edson was returning from a sick call in Harlem when the accident happened.
Mr. Bliss boarded at 235 West Seventy-fifth Street. The place where the accident happened is known to the motormen on the trolley line as “Dangerous Stretch,” on account of the many accidents which have occurred there during the past Summer.•
Tubes would eventually bring mail to every home, but they weren’t of the pneumatic variety. In a predictive piece he wrote for the December 30, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, U.S. Postmaster General Charles Emory Smith offered that the type of inter-borough pneumatic tubing system utilized in early-1900s New York City might someday be linked to every individual residence. He was right in the big picture, even if he got the details wrong.
It didn’t begin auspiciously for George and Willie Muse, born black, poor and albino to a sharecropper family in the Jim Crow South. It seemed to get even less promising when they were kidnapped in 1899 from their doting mother in Virginia and forced to appear in itinerant freak shows as “Eko and Iko, sheep-headed, cannibalistic Ambassadors from Mars.”
The siblings were given room, board and mandolin lessons by a parade of handlers but were otherwise kept a safe distance from their earnings. Ultimately, their mother reclaimed them 28 years later through the legal system, liberating her boys who then signed a deal with Ringling Brothers that allowed them to retain complete rights to their merchandising. The two grew quite well-off, selling out Madison Square Garden numerous times and performing for the Queen of England. They were international superstars in an era before mass media. One brother, Willie, lived to 108, dying in 2001, having left a footprint in three centuries.
It’s likely a wilder tale than that of any sideshow act from the twentieth century, more than Chang & Eng or the “Two-Headed Nightingale” or anyone. In Truevine, a book by Beth Macy published last month, the author ponders the troubling question of whether the kidnapping and sideshow existence were ultimately better for the Muses than the privations and prejudices of the South would have been. Perhaps, though clearly neither was ideal. Reports are Paramount is angling to acquire big-screen rights to the book.
Two Brooklyn Daily Eagle articles are embedded below, the first documenting their mother first finding her sons after a nearly three-decade search, and the second revealing the men’s intelligence, which belied how the circus presented them to the public.
From October 20, 1927:
From May 14. 1928:
From the October 23, 1924 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Barnesville, Mass. (By the Associated Press) — Excitement which had prevailed with the first announcement that H.T. Opsahi, science teacher in the Barnesville High School, had been arrested and released on $2000 bonds in connection with charges that he used an “electric chair” to punish insubordinate students, had abated today with parents, members of the school board and Opsahi all apparently content to await the outcome of the preliminary hearing next Saturday. …
The use of the “electric chair,” according to Opsahi, was the outcome of a method to “scare” the students who since the beginning of school would not subject themselves to discipline. It was made from a standard office chair to which a high frequency coil had been attached, Opsahl said, and under the most favorable conditions to the transmission of the current, it “would merely cause a tingling sensation to the student being punished.”•
Tags: H.T. Opsahi
From the May 11, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
From the November 25, 1936 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Before the village became global, husband-and-wife explorers Carveth and Zetta Wells used new media and old-fashioned derring-do to make the world a little smaller.
The microphone- and camera-ready couple were lecturers and media personalities in between jaunts to exotic locales, with Zetta even hosting a weekly NBC show in 1946-47, in which she introduced 16mm home movies of their travels. It was an intoxicating time of visiting boat builders living inside volcanoes, watching fish climb trees and chaperoning Raffles the Mynah bird to an appearance on You Bet Your Life.
Below are two Brooklyn Daily Eagle articles about the peripatetic pair and the aforementioned 1957 video of Groucho Marx getting the business from a boid.
From July 18, 1929.
From August 12, 1945,
At the 6:50 mark.
The “Sacred School of the White Brotherhood” sounds like an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan, but it was actually a 1920s cult–perhaps a “pagan love cult”–dedicated to racial peace, among other things, that had branches in several American cities.
The organization ran afoul of the law when it was said to have endeavored to “breed a Superman” with the help of a Berkeley coed and a 15-year-old boy. The pre-hippie hangout located in Oakland was raided in ’27 on the orders of District Attorney Earl Warren, with officers arriving before a baby could be made.
Of course, a very public scandal ensued, especially since numerous civic and business leaders were said to be among the members. Gertrude Wright, the so-called “High Priestess” whose bungalow doubled as cult headquarters was among those who fled to Mexico to escape a possible jail sentence. An article about the brouhaha appeared in the March 12, 1927 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
From the August 12, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle: