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The Space Race really started quite a bit before the success of Sputnik in 1957, with transistors at Bell Labs ten years earlier and WWII rocketeering before that. An example of technology wedded to space exploration prior to artificial satellites and moon landings can be seen in this brief article from the January 9, 1955 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

From the April 13, 1943 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Pasadena, Cal. — California Institute of Technology today reported successful transfusions of cow and horse blood to human beings.

So far, however, only one transfusion per patient is possible. The second may prove fatal.

Considerable progress is being made, according to Dr. Dan H. Campbell of the department of immunochemistry. Substitution of animal for human blood in transfusions may not be so far off, he said.•


Ninety-one years ago, when some scientists believed there could be life on Mars that was not completely unlike that on Earth, a plethora of plans were hatched to begin a dialogue of sorts between the planets when they were to move a scant 36 million miles from one another. The Navy Lieutenant-Commander Fitzhugh Green, whose work in this area is referenced in the below article from the July 7, 1924 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, was later incarcerated due to his opiate addiction. The three stills above are from Aelita: Queen of Mars, the Soviet sci-film released that same year.


From the May 26, 1904 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Chicago — Miss Eloise Reusse of St. Paul, Minn., who became insane here while undergoing the ordeal of the so called “Sun Worship Feast,” is dead at the state hospital for the insane at Elgin. Dr. Frank S. Whitman, superintendent of the hospital, says death was due to acute mania induced by starvation.

During the fast, which is said to have lasted forty-one days, the deceased is said by the hospital authorities to have been subjected to torture by means of needles and application of lotus oil.•

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From the February 17, 1940 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

New Martinsville, W. Va. — Crying continually, Mrs. Okey Long, 16, a “child bride” four years ago, pleaded today that she didn’t know a shotgun was loaded when she grabbed it in anger and killed her 27-year-old husband. 

Sheriff Frank Berger said that the shooting occurred at a snowbound farm home 23 miles from here as Long returned to find his wife aroused over his long absence to get medicine for a sick cow.•

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From the September 23, 1895 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Dr. Edward W. Burnette, a New York physician, has died from cancer of the face, contracted from a patient whom he had treated.•


Producing an infinite bounty of healthy food and clean energy through “artificial photosynthesis” was the stated near-term goal of a group of University of California scientists featured in an article in the January 27, 1955 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Even the dietary needs of space travelers was given consideration.


From the September 18, 1912 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Olga Martin,18 years old, the daughter of Charles Martin, a wealthy contractor of 469 Crescent Street, was operated on last night at the Lutheran Hospital for the removal of a breastpin which the young woman swallowed more than two years ago.

The operation was performed by the visiting staff of the hospital, including Drs. Harold L. Barnes, John Kepke, F.H. DeCoste and Raymond Westover. The patient was conscious during the entire proceedings an experienced no pain because of the use of cocaine.•

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From the March 17, 1899 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Toronto, Ont. — Four days ago David Custman, aged 21 years, began bleeding at the nose. Remedies were applied without effect, and Custman died this morning. Before death blood oozed from every pore in his body.•


From the January 18, 1907 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Pietro Mastrajani, a 4-year-old boy in the second cabin of the Hamburg-American Line steamship Moltke, which arrived today from Naples, died a horrible death on the steamer on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, and was found dead in his bunk Wednesday morning. As the cause of the lad’s death was not apparent, Dr. Horrmann, the Moltke‘s surgeon, assisted by Dr. Vassalla, and the Royal Italian Commissioner, Dr. Crespi, performed an autopsy and found thirty-seven huge worms in the child’s body. The worms had literally eaten the boy alive, and one of the worms, fourteen inches long, and as thick around as a man’s index finger, was found lodged in the child’s windpipe, where it had presumably crawled after coming up through the boy’s throat. Dr. Crespi said that all thirty-seven worms were between twelve to fourteen inches in length and of unusual thickness. The worms, with the exception of the one in the windpipe, were all still alive.•

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From the November 4, 1867 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A human right hand, lacking a finger, was found by John Davies on Saturday afternoon at the foot of North Sixth Street, among some rubbish. The lost member was taken to the Forty-fifth Precinct Station-house.•


From the October 4, 1938 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

San Antonio, Texas — Authorities were horrified today by a new development in the “murder farm” case which has been horrifying this community for a week. They had found a witness who said Joe Ball dissected the bodies of his victims and fed them to his pet alligators.•


So many Americans use drugs now, though a good portion of that activity is perfectly legal, prescriptions written and pills placed in orange bottles with white caps. The copay is reasonable. While drugs like Oxycodone are dangerous and open addictions, the legalization of marijuana, a far tamer drug whose prohibition has cost the country financially and in many other ways, still lags behind. A little more than 65 years ago, actors Robert Mitchum and Lila Leeds did jail time for pot possession. Her career was ruined by the scandal and she reportedly started using heroin on the inside, but he bounced back quite nicely. The following article about the case was filed in the September 27, 1949 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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From the September 7, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

St. Louis, Mo. — Eugene Dickson, a child, swallowed a fly Tuesday afternoon and died yesterday. He was playing in the kitchen and laughing heartily at some incident which had happened when he swallowed the fly. About an hour afterward he became so ill that it was necessary to call a physician. Notwithstanding the efforts of the medical attendant he grew worse very rapidly and died in terrible agony.•


Speaking of psychedelics enthusiasts, Aldous Huxley, who thought deeply about globalism, consumerism, virtual reality and technocracy before most others did, had a little book of his called A Brave New World reviewed in the February 7, 1932 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It was apparently a ripping good yarn.

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From the September 7, 1944 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Birmingham, Ala. — Arnold Earnest, 24, who lived for three years in a cave to avoid the draft, began serving a five-year Federal Prison sentence today.

The farm boy was minus his bushy mustache, long hair and carefree manner as he was led from the courtroom where he was sentenced. He said it was “powerful hard” to sleep in jail.

Earnest lived in the woods of Fayette County, Ala., during the years he was a fugitive, eating berries and trapped animals. His shelter was a cave. 

When arrested by Federal agents, he had not heard of Pearl Harbor.•


From the December 31, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Phoenix, Ariz. — V.L. Hopkins, one of the oldest residents of Yuma, is lost on the desert on Mesquite. There is no hope of finding him alive.•


I think it’s worth looking past the antiquated, racist language and attitudes to read this article originally published in November 21, 1915 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which profiles a physically disabled African-American man who built his own wireless plant in the Long Island woods and was suspected of communicating secrets to the Germans during WWI (though the political espionage aspect isn’t very likely). The young guy’s name was Robert J. Freeman, and imagine how different his opportunities would have been if his skin color was different. When you think of the talent lost to prejudice, it’s just a heartbreaker.


From the May 22, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Highly sensational stories stating that H.K. Williamson, a business man of Mineola, was horsewhipped in the railroad station by his wife yesterday afternoon and that a young woman with whom he was going away shared in the punishment are without any foundation whatsoever.•

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The Dustbowl was central to his life and work, but Woody Guthrie had some dalliances with the un-Oklahoma of New York City beginning in 1940, which resulted in the two articles below published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The first looks at Guthrie’s involvement in It’s All Yours, an anti-Fascist, anti-Hitler musical drama performed in 1942 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was co-directed by singer-songwriter Earl Robinson as the piece says, but what goes unmentioned is that the other director was Nicholas Ray, who would begin his big-time Hollywood career a half-dozen years later. In the second article, Guthrie brings his dirty boots to the home of etiquette expert (and erstwhile Staten Island Advance reporter) Amy Vanderbilt.


From October 5, 1942:


From April 5, 1943:

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From the July 9, 1897 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A meeting of the employees of Dennett’s Fourteenth Street lunch room, where William C. Keeble, the latest bridge jumper was formerly employed, was held last night to consider means of obtaining possession of the body. Word had been received that W.E. Holmes, the Bowery dime museum proprietor and manager, to whom Keeble had willed his body and all his personal effects before he made the fatal dive into the East River, was contemplating the exhibition of the corpse as a star attraction of his museum. According to the rumor that was unhesitatingly accredited by the employees of Dennett’s. Keeble’s body was to be put in a glass case and placed on exhibition for the usual admittance fee of 10 cents.”•

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From the April 18, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A leg of lamb which exploded when placed on the table before several boarders, resulted in the arraignment of David Kahn, the butcher, who sold it to the boarding house keeper, before Magistrate Hylan, in the New Jersey Avenue police court, this morning. The boarding house keeper, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, of 1467 Broadway, and her star boarder were the principal witnesses.

Mr. Kahn was held on $500 bail by the magistrate, who will hear both sides next Wednesday.

Mrs. Jones claimed that she cooked the leg of lamb and placed it on the table, much to delight of her anticipatory boarders. She cut off a couple of slices and was just preparing to cut another when the leg exploded right before her eyes. She then discovered the meat was bad.•

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I was reading the “Hey Bill” Q&A section of Bill James’ site, and this question was posed:

Hey Bill, I thought it was interesting in 1939 the National Professional Indoor Baseball League was launched with Tris Speaker and franchises managed by guys like Bill Wambsganss, Moose McCormick, and Harry Davis. It went one and done though, disbanded after that season. Do you know how the actual play was set up?

Answered: 1/21/2015

Don’t know that I’ve ever heard of it.•

Indoor baseball, while clearly nowhere near as popular as its outdoor counterpart, was a dogged part of the American sporting scene from the 1890s till the late ’30s. Before the game essentially became softball, it was played on a pro level during the winter months at armories in front of crowds of up to 1,500 fans. Decidedly different than the summer game were the rules (e.g., 35-foot basepaths) and equipment (ball was larger and softer). The most famous iteration of the game was the short-lived 1939 National Professional Indoor Baseball League, which was presided over by the former MLB great Tris Speaker. Below are several pieces from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about various versions of the game.


From May 5, 1912:


From November 20, 1939:







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From the February 23, 1919 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

One little girl in Burford Bridge, England, has made a record of having killed 1,415 butterflies in a butterfly killing contest held in the schools of that district. We wonder what there may be about so beautiful and harmless an insect as a butterfly to warrant engaging school children in such a murderous employment, and we hope there were more than a few children who made a very poor showing in the competition, believing that for the most of them the contest offered little inspiration.•

I’m sure the advent of commercial aviation was met with prejudices about the new-fangled machines, but it took quite a while to perfect automated co-pilots and the navigation of wind shears, so horrifying death was probably also a deterrent. In the article below from the September 22, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (which is sadly chopped off a bit in the beginning), the unnamed author looks at a selected history of technophobia. 


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