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“Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet.”

“Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet.”

Louis Hauesser was a wealthy German who saw his fortune sink during World War I, before reinventing himself as a “messiah” with a bevy of young followers, many of them attractive females. In that sense, he presaged Krishna VentaCharles Manson and Mel Lyman, among others. He was in constant conflict with authority figures, and spent a fair amount of time as a defendant. A court appearance for a trifling matter in the early ’20s was the basis of an article in the December 23, 1921 New York Times. The story:

Berlin–The Moabit Police Court witnessed a strange scene when an ‘Apostle of Charity,’ one Louis Hauesser, self-styled ‘Prophet of the Latter-Day Christ, World Benefactor, Initiator of the New Era and Proclaimer of the New Healing,’ was called to the bar on a charge of having failed to pay $6.29 to a Berlin paper for an advertisement, the insertion of which is said to have been obtained under false pretenses. Prophet Hauesser, six feet of splendid manhood, had bare legs, sandals, a hair shirt, prophet whiskers and the longest inflowing locks seen in court in many a moon. He was accompanied by a similarly garbed and locked flock of faithful, more than a score of freakish men and women.

For months the German Messiahs have been peripatetically and profitably prophesying all over Germany, making many converts, particularly among women. The South German police, taking cognizance of the prophet’s increasing bare-footed and hair-shirted female following, put him into the psychiatric ward of Tuebingen University for observation, whence he was released owing to lack of a charge, but the professor’s expert findings are of remarkable human interest.

Until the outbreak of the war the hairy prophet was a well-groomed, fashionably dressed spender and husband of a remarkably beautiful woman living in luxury. He owned a champagne factory and also derived a large income from betting bureaus in Switzerland. But he blew in all his own and his wife’s money and went broke early in the war.

Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet. ‘His conspicuous virility exercised influenced a strong influence over a large number, even intellectual persons, particularly women,’ according to the Tuebingen professor.

In the police court Hauesser stubbornly refused to sit on the accused bench but graciously gave the Judge permission to go ahead and sentence him, however he pleased. He got the usual installment of three days in jail for contempt of court.”

From the March 17, 1904 New York Times:

“While in a cage with three lions this afternoon, Alfred J.F. Perrins, the animal trainer, suddenly became insane. Soon after he entered the cage Perrins struck one of the lions a vicious blow and cried, ‘Why don’t you bow to me, I am God’s agent.’

Perrins then left the cage, leaving the door open and saying, ‘They will come out, as God is looking after them.’ He then stood on a box and called on the spectators to come and be healed, saying he could restore sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and heal any disease by a gift just received from God.

The lions started to leave the cage and the spectators fled. The cage door was slammed by a policeman, who arrested Perrins. Physicians announced Perrins hopelessly crazed on religion. He has been in show business thirty years , having been with Robinson, Barnum, and Sells.”

From the July 17, 1898 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

New York Manila News–The European residents here (in Manila) complain of a tendency to scruff, which develops after a short stay in this climate, but they are generally loth to adopt the national preventive. In the forests of Luzon are a great many monkeys, and there is a belief among the natives that stewed monkey is an unfailing cure for all cutaneous diseases. To the stranger in these islands the idea of eating monkey flesh may be very revolting, but, there are few dishes more delicate than the young monkey stuffed and baked, though it does look very much like a small baby.”

From the January 11, 1885 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a story which originally appeared in the Wilson Echo of Kansas:

“A Barton County man has a living chicken without a head. Attempting to cut off a chicken’s head, the axe passed through the head of the chicken immediately in front of the ears, thus leaving a small portion of the brain attached to the neck. The chicken did not take this as an execution of his death warrant and got up and stood on his feet, to the astonishment of this would be executioner, who then contrived a plan to feed him by dropping food and drink into the thorax, which has so far proved a success. The chicken is now doing well.”

“Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence.”

“Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence.”

Trash has always been full of treasure and those who won contracts to remove offal from districts of Brooklyn in the 1800s checked the refuse closely for riches before chucking it, because you never knew what was going to turn up. And it was no different in London. From the July 4, 1886 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“‘You would be surprised,’ sad a well known offal contractor to an Eagle reporter recently, ‘at the large number of valuables found in the city’s dumping grounds. Although the men in charge of the dumps deny that anything of value is ever found, I can vouch that they don’t always tell the truth. Miscellaneous articles, such as silver teaspoons, knives and forks, shoes and clothing, in good and bad condition, are picked up daily, but it frequently happens that gold watches and diamonds are among the valuables found. Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence. In the government grounds ten cents is charged for each load dumped. Articles of an unusual character are only found in the ashes and swill refuse. Ladies washing dishes will drop rings in the swill, and by the time they have missed them the swill will be on its way either to the dumping grounds or the piggeries. Diamonds, from earrings and rings, are lost in the same manner.

In London, the contract for examining ashes and swill is awarded to the highest bidder. The method employed by the contractor to ascertain whether any articles of value are contained in the rubbish is a novel one. The carts are dumped on a screen, which, after having become filled, is elevated into the air. A dozen men dressed in rubber suits, without pockets, are set to work on the screen. These men go over the ashes and the offal carefully, and in case anything valuable is found it is turned over at once to the contractor and superintendent. As the workers wear pocketless clothing they can secure nothing about their persons. After all the ashes have been thoroughly screened they are covered and a new lot examined.”

From the August 1, 1890 New York Times:

Plainfield, N.J. – Mary Goldsmith, who died near Plainfield a day or two ago in consequence, it is supposed, of a too free drinking of milk, was a cook employed on Gen, Schwenck’s large dairy farm, Holly Grove, on the Park Avenue Road. She was a middle-aged woman and had been in Gen. Schwenck’s service for some time.

She became very fond of the fresh milk, and drank it warm as it came from the cows morning and evening. The family cannot say how much she drank a day, but they think she must have consumed three or four gallons. She grew stout, but seemed to be in perfect health till within a day or two of her death. Then she complained of pains around her heart. She finally suffered so much that she was forced to her bed, and died a few hours later.”


“A little thing that looks like a bean, but is really a whole mince pie, is swallowed.”

The only way to explain the following August 28, 1899 article is that either people in Indianapolis were taking their dinner in pill form or editors at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle were taking their lunch in liquid form. More likely the latter. An excerpt:

“Capsule banquets? Well, hardly! The idea of sitting around a table in company, taking pills and bursting into song, quip and jest and eloquence over a pellet! What are the scientists trying to do? Drive all the gayety out of the world? Such is the horrible possibility disclosed by way they dine in Indianapolis. It appears that in that city the public takes its steaks in capsules of concentrated beef–little capsules no bigger than a quinine pill. All that the hotel keeper has to furnish with it is a glass of water and a crumb of salt. Then they take a little powder which used to be a potato and toss that down, and if a regular table d’hote dinner as required a compressed tomato for salad and a little thing that looks like a bean, but is really a whole mince pie, is swallowed, and after that a demitasse follows of about the size of a homeopathic pill.

This kind of thing may do for Indianapolis and other Western cities where people are so busy making money and politics that they would forget to eat if they did not have their dinners in their pockets and have alarm clocks that went off warningly at the time to take them. But we can say to Indianapolis right now that she need not look for any outside endorsements of her persnickety practices. When we eat we do so not merely to sustain life, but because, when the right sort of victuals are afforded, it is fun to eat. We like to eat in company and bandy remarks across the table and up and down the length of it, and we like to wash down every course with colored liquids that look as if they were drawn from the jars and bottles that druggists keep in their windows, but are different. We are especially anxious as to those liquids. If in an emergency we consented to take our steaks in pellets and eat our soup dry in one tiny mouthful, are we supposed to take champagne and other mineral waters in a mustard spoon? Shall we quaff out Chateau Yquem and our Pontet Canet in single drops that would get lost between our tongue tips and our throats?

Why, the mere anxiety of keeping track of the potables in a dinner like that would offset all the possible pleasure to be had out of the banquet. Suppose a waiter were accidentally to stuff a couple of cases of Chablis into his vest pocket while he was gathering a service of fried chicken out of a pill box, and spill all the wine! Where would he then be and where would be the dinner? No sirs. We prefer to believe that stomachs were given to us in order to do work, and we do not thank the scientists who are trying to persuade us that all of our waking hours should be diverted from dinner and refreshments and devoted to labor and Lofty Thought. If this is all that science intends to do for us, down with science! Meantime, let us keep putting down pudding and cocktails and a lot of other joys.”

From the January 12, 1902 New York Times:

Phoenix, Ariz.–’Padre,’ a big medicine man of the Yuma Indians, who lives on a reservation near Yuma, Ariz., has been offered as a sacrifice to the spirit in accordance with the custom of his tribe and has expiated the sins of the tribe, which are held responsible for an epidemic of smallpox.

The medicine man learned several days ago of the intention of the Indians to sacrifice him, and fled to the mountains. Being half starved he returned to the Indian village and pleaded for mercy. He was bound hand and foot and conveyed by a squad of Indians to Mexico, where he was bound to a tree and tortured to death.

‘Padre’ had a warm place in the hearts of his tribesmen, but their customs required them to make a heavy sacrifice.”

"The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from."

“The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from.”

Before every infant was required by law to be accounted for by public authorities, “baby farms,” unlicensed businesses where newborns, often the unwanted offspring of prostitutes, exchanged hands for a profit via shadowy doorstep adoptions, were prevalent. These babies were not often cared for well as they awaited “purchase,” and the ones who perished were usually buried surreptitiously on the grounds of the farms. It was a dark practice that led to numerous shocking scandals. One such adoption story which had an odd twist was covered in perplexingly upbeat fashion in the February 18, 1891 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. An excerpt:

“What is known as the ‘baby farm’ is not an entirely modern institution. Nor has it escaped its share of criticism; but it serves one excellent purpose in supplying babies at small cost to lonely couples which Providence has not blessed with children. The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from and it is just as easy to obtain a bouncing little girl, with the customary blue eyes and golden hair, as it is to acquire title to a rosy, roaring and frolicsome boy. It is with keen appreciation of these advantages that Mrs. Huber of Lorimer street, this city, negotiated for a baby warranted to give satisfaction and, having taken it home, succeeded in convincing her husband that the visitor was his son and heir. Mr. Huber appears to be one of those gentle, confiding creatures who are quite willing to believe that the moon is made of green cheese, and it is absolutely certain that he would still be celebrating his newly acquired dignity as a ‘parent’ had not an unlooked for incident disturbed the serenity of his repose.

angrybabyA few days after the appearance of the crowing youngster at the Lorimer street domicile, Mr. Huber was surprised to find his quarters invaded by strangers. There was a hack in front of the door, and upstairs, in his wife’s room, was a dashing young woman who, strange to say, made claim to Mr. Huber’s baby, and announced her intention to take it away with her, kindly promising, however, to leave another infant in its place. It is, of course, unnecessary to submit that Mr. Huber did not immediately recognize the young woman as the mother of his child, and after settling this point to his own satisfaction, came to the conclusion that he was harboring a lunatic. It was in vain that he appealed to Mrs. Huber. That estimable person, instead of becoming highly indignant at the unexpected turn of affairs, was disposed to accept the situation in a philosophical mood, and sat on the edge of the sofa closely studying the pattern of the carpet. Finally the truth was told, and Mr. Huber then had the pleasure of ascertaining that while Mrs. Watson Schermerhorn had changed her mind and wanted her baby back, Mrs. Kate Burke, polite and obliging as she was, was willing to let her baby be exchanged for it.

We do not believe that people will be disposed severely to blame the wife for the deception of which she was guilty, because her desire to be proud possessor of a prattling baby was really pathetic. It was the consuming passion of her life, for, as she innocently puts it, ‘there can be no happiness when there is no baby.’ But would it not have been advisable to consult the husband before surreptitiously introducing the stranger into the household?”

From the December 9, 1883 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Mobeetie (Texas) Panhandle–Jim Kelly, cow puncher, of Greer County, has been here for a few days. He is funning himself up a lot, and his contorting smile is frequent.”

"“In school I soon learned to unjoint my head.”

“In school I soon learned to unjoint my head.”

A performer of sorts blessed with extreme double-jointedness was the subject of a profile in the May 11, 1890 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in which he discussed a business arrangement that would not be completed until after his back had cracked for the final time. An excerpt:

“A freak in Barnum’s side show, who is in no sense of the word a fake, is Charles E. Hilliard. He dislocates his joints and replaces them at will to the great astonishment of the many visitors. The most eminent physicians in this and other countries have tried to solve the man’s peculiar gift, but all have failed and it remains as great a puzzle, to himself as well as others, as when he first discovered he could loosen himself, so to speak, without doing any harm or causing any pain. Mr. Hilliard is of medium height, lithe and graceful, and is possessed of his share of manly beauty. An Eagle reporter interviewed this stumbling block to science yesterday and drew from him a life history which is full on incident and novelty.

‘I was born at Martinsburg, W. Va.,’ he began, ‘on August 16, 1857. I grew up to a schooling age the same as any other child. One day–I remember it well–I climbed into an orchard from which little boys were supposed to be excluded, and catching sight of a dog, quickly jumped the fence into the roadway, turning my ankle when I struck the ground. It didn’t hurt any, so I kicked against the fence and snap it back into place again. I went home and scared my parents almost into hysterics by repeating my snap act, and they sent post haste for a doctor. He twisted me and hammered me, and found a lot of new places that could be broken without pain, finally giving up the puzzle with the consoling theory that there was a screw loose somewhere. In school I soon learned to unjoint my head and could write on the blackboard and look squarely at the school at the same time. I always cracked my ankles instead of snapping my fingers to attract the teacher’s attention, and if I found I was being beaten in a foot race I always managed to have a broken leg or twisted foot for ten, or fifteen, minutes as an excuse for having lost. When a bucket of coal was needed my wrist was always dislocated; during harvest time a dislocated knee came in very handy. I couldn’t carry water with a dislocated shoulder nor weed a garden with three broken fingers on each hand, so I managed to have things pretty easy during my childhood. As I grew older I found there were few joints in my body that I could not dislocate and it gradually got to worrying me. I consulted one doctor after another and one word, enigma, gives the result of all their investigations.

‘I now began to get used to being an exhibition through having so many doctors experimenting with me and resolved to accept one of the many offers that kept pouring in upon me to visit medical colleges, throughout this country and England, and after exhibiting for a time before surgeons and students at home, I took an engagement in the Royal College, in London, where they kept me for seven years and yet could tell no more when I left than when I entered. College work pays me the best, I get $150 a week at a college, but I have worked for $75 in a museum just because I wanted a change so much.

“He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

“He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

‘By the way I suppose you read in the newspapers a few years ago how I sold my bones. I had received various offers from half a dozen cranks scattered over the country from $1,000 to $4,000 for my body after death, but I paid no attention to them. Finally, one day while I was exhibiting at the Bellevue Hospital, Philadelphia, Dr. Doremus came up to me with a pleasant smile and the equally pleasant greeting of, ‘Well, Hilliard, how much for your bones to-day?’ ‘They’re $6,000 to-day,’ said I, laughing. ‘It’s a go,’ he answered, and the next day he sent me a check for that amount, and I signed a contract giving him my skeleton after death, but reserving the right to use it myself until death occurs.’

Mr. Hilliard has never known what it was to be ill, and is in perfect physical condition. He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

From the January 21, 1891 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Decatur, Ill. – A surgeon of this city has just completed a novel surgical operation. He removed part of four ribs of a cat and inserted them in the nose of a young lady, forming a perfect bridge for the nose. The bones of the nose had decayed and were removed. This is said to be the first operation of the kind known in the annals of surgery.”

“Who shall say into what these automatic salesmen will develop?”

Arkady Joseph “A.J.” Sack was decades ahead of his time in scheme if not execution. The Russian-born businessperson (and historian), who had an ardor for animatronics, announced in the late 1920s that he would open a chain of automated department stores, the first to be located in Manhattan, which would feature talking robots rather than salespeople. One human would oversee the entire operation, with the machines communicating information to customers about the 150 products offered, accepting payments and thanking shoppers for their business, giving carbon-based workers the day off every day. The shops never opened.

In the March 10, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Marcia Nardi wrote an article about Sack and his helpful hardware, though the story focuses more on the robots and their sociological effects (skipping merrily past the specter of mass unemployment), rather than going into detail about the stores. (You can learn more specifics about the proposed shops here and here.) Two excerpts from the long article.


“Before this winter is out, America will have been invaded by a whole army of salesmen-robots which have been called ‘almost human automatons,’ and of which the Associated Press says: ‘They will do everything but slap the customer on the back and ask him how his family is.’

In other words now that the infant penny-in-the-slot machine, not unfamiliar to commuting subwayites, has reached maturity and adult robustness, the salesman-robot is about to take his place along with the radio and airplane as one of the marvels of the Twentieth Century.

The salesmen-robots have been devised by the Consolidated Automatic Merchandising Corporation and A.J. Sack, the chairman of the firm, looks forward to their debut into the business world with all the assurance of the Creator when he commanded Eve to spring forth from Adam’s Rib.

‘In America today,’ says Mr. Sack, ‘we look over the merchandise in our homes, through the advertising pages of newspapers and magazines. Even in our travels and pleasure excursions, we actually shop through the medium of posters and billboards. National advertising, grown to the dimensions of a billion dollar industry, sells us on hundreds of articles in advance of our seeing them.

‘Having been sold on an article because it is standardized and advertised, it is hardly logical or economical to have a human being perform the simple, mechanical operation of exchanging this article for money. An Automatic Merchandising Machine can perform this work at less expense and more promptly.'”


“With the inquiries and orders on hand, there will probably be a million and a half robots at work before long–mechanical men that will not only give the public what it wants in the way of service but will also add a little human touch to their purely mechanical function by saying ‘Thank you’ and by repeating the slogan connected with the merchandise they offer.

These robots will not have human forms like the robots of Captain Roberts and Captain Richards and will bear less resemblance outwardly to their English brother and sister than to their sires, the weighing and postage stamp and bar of chocolate machines, and will have much in common with the restaurants where you don’t require the smile of a pretty waitress in order to get your lunch.

But even as the automobile and airplane must smile incredulously as they contemplate their own tintypes of 1908, who shall say into what these automatic salesmen will develop?

Inventors of the future will probably perfect these machines so that they will be able to do everything a man does, but most likely they will never be able to make robots think. That is where the robots fall down, but that is also where their success lies.

We no longer need the personality of glib-tongued salesmen to influence our choice in buying small commodities. He might just as well be a mechanical man of iron and steel with electricity in his veins instead of blood for all the need the customer now has of salesmanship abilities. In the same way people in many other industries and trades have been similarly reduced to mere automatons, and perhaps some day other robots beside the salesman type will be the means of releasing that horde of countless workers whose tedious machinelike jobs in our factories and offices and telephone exchanges often leave their minds too dull and inert for any real enjoyment of their free hours. 

‘Yes, these robots have an importance beyond their economic one,’ says Mr. Sack, ‘It is true, of course, that the discord between modern production and the old-fashioned methods of distribution originally prompted their invention and is responsible for their growing popularity. But it is an established fact that every step in the development of our machinery age means also, in the long run, a forward step in the development of our civilization and culture. The energy released through the application of machinery in production is already responsible for our higher standards of living, and for the development and appreciation of art, music and literature among broad masses of people. The substitution of mechanical slaves for human slaves will inevitably result in further development of cultural progress among those who will gradually be freed from the deadening monotony of a mechanical job.'”

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From the May 31, 1811 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

St. Claireville, O.–During a thunderstorm at Harrisville, Ada Morgan, a high school girl, while talking over the telephone was knocked unconscious when lightning came in on the wire. The hair was burned from the left side of the head, and one ear was badly burned and a strip of skin an inch wide was burned on the girl’s body from the head to the foot, where the shoe was torn off. She will recover.”


From the May 9, 1911 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Stockton, Cal.– While Margaret Martinez, a 19-year-old Spanish girl, of whom he was insanely jealous, was playing the piano yesterday for his entertainment, Paul Miller, a miner, aged 43 years, fired two shots into her back, killing the girl. Rushing into an adjoining room, Miller threw himself on a bed, placed a stick of dynamite in his mouth, lit the attached fuse, and blew his head into fragments.”

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Cocaine was once something dentists applied and schoolchildren used, but its harsh effects led to new laws and squads of police assigned especially to curtail its sale. Dealers adjusted accordingly, including one Parisian purveyor who made good use of his confederate’s artificial limb. The opening of an article in the July 30, 1922 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Paris–A walking cocaine storehouse in the shape of a man with a hollow wooden leg is the latest to come under the eye of the Paris drug squad. The one-legged man was not the cocaine merchant; he was merely the warehouse. The merchant was another man with two good legs, who carried the money, but none of the drug. He went about Montmartre, followed by the cripple. He sought the clients, and when he found them, the customer, the wooden-legged man and the merchant adjourned to the back room of a cafe or a dark hallway to make the transfer.

The merchant had the only key to the receptacle in the wooden leg. The man who owned the leg, on the other hand, had no access to the drug he carried. The merchant unlocked the wooden leg, measured out the powder he had sold, locked the leg up again and told his walking storehouse to be on his way.

Severe as are the penalties for dealing in cocaine, the high profits, small equipment and ease of concealment with which the trade is carried on have caused a great increase in its volume.”


From the February 10, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Bartlesville, Okla.–‘My stepmother was my tempter to such an extent that I thought I loved her, and so I killed my father with an ax when she ordered me to.’ Peter Brown on trial here charged with murdering his father, made this admission on the witness stand yesterday.”


“Pillsbury has for a long time been insane, becoming violent at times through blindfold chess playing.”

A great light of the nineteenth-century chess world who burned briefly, Harry Nelson Pillsbury was a brilliant player as well as an accomplished mnemonist capable of quickly absorbing and regurgitating seemingly endless strings of facts. Pillsbury never had the opportunity to become world champion because his mental health deteriorated, the result of syphilis which he contracted in his twenties. An article in the April 9, 1906 Brooklyn Daily Eagle assigned his decline to more genteel origins. The text:

“Harry Nelson Pillsbury, the greatest chess player since the days of Paul Morphy, is to be taken from the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he is at present, to a sanitarium at Atlantic City, N.J. Pillsbury has for a long time been insane, becoming violent at times through blindfold chess playing. The fact became known through a letter from William Penn Shipley, of the Pennsylvania Chess Association, to a friend at the Brooklyn Chess Club.

The game of blindfold chess requires intense concentration of the mind, and, according to the physicians who have been working on Pillsbury’s case, ultimately destroys the memory cells of the brain, if carried on to excess. A player is placed in a room by himself and plays the game, entirely from memory, while his opponent moves for him at the table.

One instance of Pillsbury’s remarkable skill was shown when he payed for thirteen hours, sitting all alone in the little anteroom which leads into the main rooms of the Brooklyn Chess Club. He did not stop even to eat, and bore in mind twenty-four games during that time. Blackburn and Morphy kept no more than fifteen games in their mind at once. Physicians state that the gift to play blindfold is a gift and cannot be acquired.

While Pillsbury’s case is considered practically hopeless, every effort that can be brought to bear to bring the former champion into the knowledge of the world again will be made.”



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From the July 26, 1933 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Philadelphia--A clap of thunder during a severe electrical storm here last night caused a well-dressed young man of about 26 to lose his memory. He was taken to a hospital.”


Guglielmo Marconi may or may not have been the very first to create the wireless, as he’s often credited, but he was certainly a passionate supporter of Benito Mussolini, who was a real Fascist, and that wasn’t the inventor’s only strange idea. The text of the announcement of Marconi’s death from the July 20, 1937 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Rome–The Marquis Guglielmo Marconi, who invented wireless when he was only 21, died suddenly at 3:45 a.m. today (10:45 p.m. Monday, E.D.T.) at the ancient palace in downtown Rome where he lived and worked.

The 63-year-old conqueror of the ether died of heart paralysis. His widow, the Countess Cristina Bezzi-Scali, was at his bedside. She had been called back from the seaside resort of Viareggio when he began to feel ill yesterday.

Their daughter, Elettra Elena, whose godmother is Queen Elena, remained at the resort and will not return to Rome until time for the state funeral. Today is her eighth birthday.

Duce Pays Respects

Premier Mussolini, whose ardent supporter Marconi had been, was notified of the death immediately. He dispatched a telegram of condolences and later went to Marconi’s home in the Via Condotti and paid his respects beside the body.”


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From the February 15, 1902 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Chicago–Firemen who groped their way through the fire and smoke and dragged six bodies into the street from Bennett Hospital, at Ada and Fulton Streets, late last night, carried on their heroic labor in the belief that they were rescuing persons who had been asphyxiated, and not until the flames had been subdued did they learn that they had been in the dissection room of Bennett Medical College and that the bodies were from the dissecting table of the school. Several of the cadavers were clothed, having been brought into the school in that condition.”

From the August 26, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Chicago–C.A. Comiskey’s recently installed lights received their first real tryout at the American League grounds last night, when the Illinois Athletic Club and Calumet Lacrosse teams battled for over two hours in a fast match in the glare of over one million candle power of light, which constitutes a portion of the light plant that will give Chicago night baseball in the near future. The plant proved itself equal to the occasion for the test held up to what was expected. The Illinois A.C. won the game 11 to 10, but this fact was lost to view in the confusion resulting from the pronounced success of the light plant–and at that the ground lights were curtailed and only half the power was in use. At no time during the eighty minutes of play did the players find it hard to follow the ball, but the game proved as fast and interesting as if it had been played in broad daylight. No complaint was heard from the players and with the roof lights uncovered the contestants were in no way bothered by the force of the lamps.”


Muammar Gaddafi got exactly what he deserved, but most don’t. Case in point: Wernher von Braun, complete Nazi and celebrated American hero, who was rescued from cosmic justice at the end of WWII by an accident of geopolitics. Hitler’s rocketeer knew as much about blasting off without blowing up as anybody at just the moment when the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union both wanted to rule the air, the Space Race on the horizon. He was deemed necessary and his slate wiped clean. The text of an article by John B. McDermott in the September 6, 1951 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which laid out von Braun’s plans for a nuclear-powered mission to Mars:

London–Wernher von Braun, German rocket expert, outlined a plan today to land 50 explorers on Mars for a 13-month visit.

His proposal was the latest scheme for interplanetary travel laid before the international Congress on Astronautics.

Von Braun, designer of the mighty V-2 rocker bomb that plastered London late in 1944, submitted a paper to the conference detailing his proposal. He is in the United States.

Fifty men could reach Mars, he suggested, by traveling on space ships and rockets. They would stop over for refuelling at artificial moons fixed in space between the earth and Mars.

Would Take 260 Days

The journey to Mars, Von Braun said, would take 260 days. Ten space ships with 70 men aboard would take off from earth and stop at the first artificial moon for supplies. They would then travel to another man-made orbit closer to Mars.

From there, he said, 50 men would be selected to land on Mars in three 300-ton rockets.

Von Braun said the trip would be possible as soon as the artificial moons were built.

L.R. Shepherd, British atomic scientist, told the gathering later suspended moons were no longer ‘a remote possibility.’

Instead of just talking or writing about them, he said, the idea ‘should now be actively pursued in laboratory tests and on the proving range.’

If given vigorous development, the gap should be bridged in 10 to 20 years, Shepherd said.

225,000 MPH Speed Seen

Professor Lyman Spitzer of Princeton University told the conference space ships could eventually travel at 225,000 miles per hour. They would be propelled, he said, by uranium or plutonium converted into electrical energy.

While a voyage of many hundred million miles in space could readily be achieved by this ship, ascent of the first few hundred miles to a circular orbit (artificial moon) would definitely require a booster of some sort,’ he said.

‘In fact, the design and construction of a large launching rocket might well be more difficult than that of a long-range space ship.'”


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From the May 11, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Ann Arbor, Mich.–So realistic were the pictures of birds flying in one of the moving picture shows here yesterday that a small lad, with an air rifle, got excited, took aim and fired. The youngster ‘pinked’ the bird’s breast just as it was seemingly flying across the stage, but it kept on flying, the bullet passing through screen.”

The “Fox” in Fox News is taken from the surname of pioneering film producer William Fox, whether he would be happy with the contemporary association or not. One of Fox’s great innovations was the launching, in 1929, of the Embassy Newsreel Theatre in Manhattan, as a showcase of continuous non-fiction fare, presaging around-the-clock cable by many decades. Newsreels–or “film newspapers“–had been popular since the beginning of cinema, but until Fox they were secondary to the main attraction in the United States. He redefined them as the attraction. By 1930, the proprietor had lost control of his film company and theaters, having been knocked out by a near-fatal automobile crash and the stock-market collapse. This reversal was followed by legal problems, a commission of perjury and a prison stint. Fox died in 1952, largely forgotten by the media he helped define. The text of a brief, understated article from the November 4, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, unwittingly announcing the moment when news in America–or something resembling it–became an infinite loop:

“If you are a newsreel fan (and the chances are that you are) the revised policy at the little Embassy Theater holds out promise of many fascinating hours through the dreary winter days to come. On Saturday the Embassy was dedicated to the showing of sound news reels and nothing else, becoming the first theater to be devoted to that purpose.

Hearst Monotone and Fox Movietone news pictures will make up its programs from now on, and the newsreel fan will have the rare pleasure of watching the parade of world events uninterrupted by feature photoplays and stage advertisements. It is a marvelous idea. One wonders why it hasn’t been tried before.”


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