Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 28, 2014

Today’s Frozen Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Let’s talk some more about despicable Sigmund Rascher (12 February 1909 – 26 April 1945), a German SS doctor. His deadly experiments on humans, which were carried out in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, were judged inhumane and criminal during the Nuremberg Trials.

To determine the most effective means for treating German pilots who had become severely chilled from ejecting into the ocean, or German soldiers who suffered extreme exposure on the Russian front, Rascher and others conducted freezing experiments at Dachau. For up to five hours at a time, they placed victims into vats of icy water, either in aviator suits or naked; they took others outside in the freezing cold and strapped them down naked. As the victims writhed in pain, foamed at the mouth, and lost consciousness, the doctors measured changes in the patients’ heart rate, body temperature, muscle reflexes, and other factors. When a prisoner’s internal body temperature fell to 79.7°F, the doctors tried rewarming him using hot sleeping bags, scalding baths, even naked women forced to copulate with the victim. Some 80 to 100 patients perished during these experiments.

Culled from: Nova

Rascher, on the right, during one of his freezing experiments:

My Brush With Morbidity by David Baker

“I grew up in Northern Vermont in a river valley that was sparsely populated.   There is a small cemetery a mile or so from my childhood home where a lot of local folks who are unaffiliated with any specific church choose to be buried.   It was adjacent to a small stable where a local man kept an old Morgan horse.  The kids in the neighborhood,  (All 4 of us on a five mile stretch of road.),  would occasionally meet by the old grave marker at the corner of the cemetery, feed the old horse sugar cubes, and plot our days activities.

“One spring morning I arrived early to feed the horse and wait for my friends and discovered a backhoe was parked next to road near the entrance to the cemetery.   I quickly scanned the graves and found an open grave had been dug and prepped for a funeral.  This sounds highly unlikely to anybody who understands liability and the dangers of leaving a six foot hole in the ground, but this was a rural, sparsely populated area, and the fellow from the septic company who owned the backhoe would return later in time for the funeral to wrap up.   It had always been this way.

“Shortly, my friends arrived and we all became entranced by the deep hole in the ground and pondered, in the ways children can anyway, our own mortalities.   As we stood there my friends dog, Max, began sniffing too closely to the edge which gave away enough for him to fall to the bottom.  Being young and constantly disciplined for our juvenile antics, we were keen to get Max out of the hole, and on our way home without anybody knowing.   One of us ran home to get a step ladder.  Meanwhile, Max was becoming increasingly irritated at being stuck in a hole in the ground and was trying to claw his way up the sides of the grave.

“This is how the adjacent casket was knocked loose.  Max, attempting to dig his way up the side of the grave collapsed the rotted side of the casket of “loving husband” who had been in the ground nearby hidden by only a couple inches of clay.   He had been in the ground long enough to cause three young boys and a german shepherd-yellow lab mix sudden heart attacks.   I remember seeing his grey suit, a waxy yellow head shaped object with no hair, a mud covered pillow, and one arm was wearing a silver wrist watch. The upper half of him drifted on it’s back on a mess of filthy water and slurched into the dirt of the open hole.  The bottom half of his body must have been caught on something as he only fell part way into the grave.  At this point one of us grabbed the ankles of the youngest boy who grabbed Max by his collar and nearly strangled him pulling him out.  Soon we were running thru the woods toward the brook gagging at the smell that had seemed to saturate everything.

“We spent the next three days in a terror that we were going to get caught. Not that we had done anything wrong, exactly.   But nothing ever came of it other than Austin’s father wondering ‘What road kill Max had gotten into this time’. The boy who had run for the ladder was convinced we were spooking him, but the stink on the dog was proof enough and prevented him from going back.  I can only guess that the fellow with the backhoe had decided it was an accident on his part and had ‘taken care of it’ somehow before the funeral.  Nothing was ever mentioned in the local paper, sewing circles, or other rumor mills. The three of us who had seen the body only mentioned it to each other in hushed tones in the privacy of late night campfires or sleepovers. Mustering the courage to visit a few years later I noticed that the date of the grave was from the late 1960s, which was odd considering there was no concrete vault for the casket and that it smelled so foul 20 years later in the age of embalming.

“Not that I’m a forensic expert, by any stretch.”

Some kids have all the luck! – DeSpair

Death and the Maiden

Z Constantine recommends a blog entitled “Death and the Maiden” which is all about…  you guessed it!

Death and the Maiden

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 27, 2014

Today’s Low Pressure Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Sigmund Rascher (12 February 1909 – 26 April 1945) was a German SS doctor. His deadly experiments on humans, which were carried out in the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, were judged inhumane and criminal during the Nuremberg Trials.In 1942, Sigmund Rascher and others conducted high-altitude experiments on prisoners at Dachau. Eager to find out how best to save German pilots forced to eject at high altitude, they placed inmates into low-pressure chambers that simulated altitudes as high as 68,000 feet and monitored their physiological response as they succumbed and died. Rascher was said to dissect victims’ brains while they were still alive to show that high-altitude sickness resulted from the formation of tiny air bubbles in the blood vessels of a certain part of the brain. Of 200 people subjected to these experiments, 80 died outright and the remainder were executed.In a typical experiment, detailed in a report by Rascher and his colleagues, a deli clerk was forced to endure an excruciating drop from 47,000 ft. without the aid of oxygen. Diligently, Rascher noted the subject’s behavior:2

  • “spasmodic convultions”
  • “gives the general impression of someone who is completely out of his mind”
  • “does not respond to speech”
  • “grimaces, bites his tongue”
  • “convulses arms and legs”
  • “yells aloud”
  • “clonic conclusions, groaning”
  • “agonal convulsive breathing”

The lurid Nuremberg testimony of Rascher’s prisoner assistant Antòn Pacholegg tells a similar story:3

“I personally saw, through the observation window of the chamber, how a prisoner inside was subjected to a vacuum until his lungs burst. Certain experiments produced such a pressure in the men’s heads that they went mad, tearing their hair out in an effort to relieve it. They lacerated their heads and faces with their nails, mutilating themselves in their frenzy.”

Culled from: Nova and Mad Scientist Blog

Here’s a photograph of Rascher.  Ain’t he sweet?  He wouldn’t even hurt a lil’ baby. Except, it turns out, that baby isn’t even his.  It was kidnapped.  What an evil scientist.

And here are some poor souls subjected to the altitude tests…

And here’s a post-mortem on one of the many victims.  After the war, the United States used Rascher’s data for the benefit of the Air Force. Isn’t it nice to know that it all went to something “useful”?

Morbid Sightseeing!

I’ve been told by someone who lives in Hays, Kansas that my Garden of Eden travelogue is a “hoot”. Perhaps you might concur?  It’s a weird place, that’s for sure…

The Garden of Eden

“My Brush With Morbidity” by Sleeper

“When I was very young I went to a school event where all the people who showed up for the activities crammed into the school’s cafeteria for some shitty pizza.  We were sitting at the cafeteria table, the typical humming of a hundred or so people talking and eating filling the air.”Sitting behind me was an older gentleman, his adult daughter, and I would assume her kids.  I didn’t notice them very well before the “event” partially because I was a very focused child.  Probably the opposite of ADHD, I was very focused on what I was doing or things I had in my hands, so to tear my attention away from something was a great feat indeed.

“The older gentleman moved my chair when he fell to the ground.  I remember looking at him as though he was rude but for the life of me I don’t remember any details of his face.  I was pulled from my chair but managed to grasp onto my bag of popcorn (how ironic) while my parents pulled my sister and I toward the wall of the cafeteria.  Hysteria reigned while his daughter, of about 40 years old, started screaming like a banshee, ‘SOMEBODY SAVE MY DAAAAADDDDYYYYYY!!!’

“Meanwhile I watched volunteer firemen perform CPR on this gentleman while calmly munching some popcorn.  Mommy and Daddy were ever so graceful enough to provide and explanation of what the firemen were doing, and while they were in shock from the experience and had to drive around for a while afterward to forget the events of ‘Fun Day’ I was excessively interested in what had happened and mulled over it.  I’m still mulling over it, years later.”

Do you have a morbid experience to share? Then send it to the Comtesse!

Past Brushes can be viewed at The Asylum Eclectica:
My Brush With Morbidity

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 26, 2014

Today’s Dyn-O-Mite Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

For more than 100 years, the Nobel Prizes have recognized the finest in human achievements, from literature and science to the Nobel Peace Prize, which is given “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” according to the last will and testament of founder Alfred Nobel.  But the origins of the Nobel Prizes, and the life of Alfred Nobel, tell a very different story, one tainted by the deaths of untold thousands of people.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. His father, Immanuel Nobel, was an inventor and engineer who struggled financially for much of his life. Forced to declare bankruptcy, Immanuel left Sweden and began working in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he impressed the czar with one of his inventions — submerged explosive mines that could thwart a naval invasion. Finally achieving a measure of success, Immanuel brought his wife and eight children to St. Petersburg. His sons were given a formal education, and Alfred shined under strict Russian tutelage, mastering several languages as well as chemistry, physics, poetry and natural sciences.

Because the elder Nobel disapproved of Alfred’s interest in poetry, he sent his son abroad to further his training in chemistry and engineering. While studying in Paris, Nobel met Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, who in 1847 invented nitroglycerin, the oily, liquid explosive made by combining glycerin with nitric acid and sulfuric acid. Though nitroglycerine was considered too unsafe to have any practical use, the Nobel family — which now had several profitable enterprises in Russia and Sweden — continued to investigate its potential for commercial and industrial uses.

But their inquiries had tragic results: In 1864, Alfred’s younger brother Emil and several other people were killed in an explosion at one of their factories in Sweden. The disaster encouraged Alfred to try to find a way to make nitroglycerin safe. Success didn’t come easily: Early experiments included the creation of “blasting oil,” a mixture of nitro and gunpowder, which resulted in several deadly explosions and once killed 15 people when it exploded in a storeroom in San Francisco.

Finally, in 1867, Alfred Nobel found that by mixing nitroglycerin with diatomaceous earth (known as kieselguhr in German), the resulting compound was a stable paste that could be shaped into short sticks that mining companies might use to blast through rock. Nobel patented this invention as “dynamite,” from the Greek word dunamis, or “power.”

The invention of dynamite revolutionized the mining, construction and demolition industries. Railroad companies could now safety blast through mountains, opening up vast stretches of the Earth’s surface to exploration and commerce. As a result, Nobel — who eventually garnered 355 patents on his many inventions — grew fantastically wealthy.

Dynamite, of course, had other uses, and it wasn’t long before military authorities began using it in warfare, including dynamite cannons used during the Spanish-American War. Though he’s widely credited with being a pacifist, it’s not known whether Nobel approved of dynamite’s military use or not.

Nonetheless, he found out what others thought of his invention when, in 1888, his brother Ludvig died. Though some journalistic error, Alfred’s obituary was widely printed instead, and he was scorned for being the man who made millions through the deaths of others. Once French newspaper wrote “Le marchand de la mort est mort,” or “the merchant of death is dead.” The obituary went on to describe Nobel as a man “who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”

Nobel was reportedly stunned by what he read, and as a result became determined to do something to improve his legacy. One year before he died in 1896, Nobel signed his last will and testament, which set aside the majority of his vast estate to establish the five Nobel Prizes, including one awarded for the pursuit of peace.

Culled from: LiveScience

I wonder how many of you are old enough to get the Dyn-O-Mite reference?

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

I know you’re jealous of my Edgar Allan Poe bandages, but don’t hate.  You can get your own at Archie McPhee!

(I received mine as a reward based upon my Indiegogo donation to the nEvermore Horror Anthology project… which obviously made its goal!  Yay!)


Martina has sent me a lovely collection of photographs she has taken in Scottish burial grounds.  It makes me want to hop on a plane and head over the ocean immediately!

Scottish Burial Grounds

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 25, 2014

Today’s Deceptive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap, is a deadly poisonous basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Widely distributed across Europe, A. phalloides forms ectomycorrhizas [a symbiotic association between the roots of a fungus and a vascular plant – Botanist DeSpair] with various broadleaved trees. In some cases, the death cap has been introduced to new regions with the cultivation of non-native species of oak, chestnut, and pine. The large fruiting bodies (mushrooms) appear in summer and autumn; the caps are generally greenish in color, with a white stipe and gills.

These toxic mushrooms resemble several edible species (most notably caesar’s mushroom and the straw mushroom) commonly consumed by humans, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning. A. phalloides is one of the most poisonous of all known toadstools. It has been involved in the majority of human deaths from mushroom poisoning, possibly including the deaths of Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 54 and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI in 1740. Pope Clement VII died in 1534 after eating this mushroom. It has been the subject of much research, and many of its biologically active agents have been isolated. The principal toxic constituent is α-amanitin, which damages the liver and kidneys, often fatally.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Generously submitted by: Robert Scott

And it looks so innocent, doesn’t it?

Daddy’s Speeding

Deathsentences of the Polished and Structurally Weak is an album and booklet by Negativland. The band describes the project as “a 6 by 12 inch 64-page full-color book which comes with a 45-minute CD soundtrack.”  I’m not interested in the band Negativland, but I own a copy of this objet d’art macabre because car crashes are fascinating… and this is very similar to a project I wanted to do years ago but never got around to completing (nothing new there).  What they did was go to junkyards and look for notes left behind in the smashed cars and display them together.  Of course. you’re left wondering – did the person who wrote the note or for whom the note was intended live or die? I have no answers…  but speculating can be its own entertainment, and so I present to you the first entry.  What do you think?  Did Daddy survive this one?

Did Daddy survive?


Morbid Sightseeing Update!

I love it when patrons of The Morbid Sightseer write me with additional information concerning the sites. One Chris Reinhold wrote me about my Hinckley Fire Museumtravelogue. Thank you, Chris!
Hi, I saw your page devoted to the Great Hinckley Fire.

I’m the step grandson of Frank Patrick, a renowned survivor of the fire. My family has very strong ties to that town  My grandfather Frank Reinhold was a lawyer and ran the Lamson and Reinhold law firm there. My grandmother Arloine Patrick was an elementary school teacher there, after my grandfather passed away she re-married to Frank Patrick the Hinckley Fire survivor and they spent the rest of their lives together. My father, Frank Reinhold (Jr.) grew up in Hinckley and was a sports star at Hinckley High School before joining the service.

“Pat” was the only grandfather I ever knew.

I found the annonymous contribution in the replies interesting because my grandparent’s house was on the [lot] near where “The Pit” is.

Hinckley is a quiet and peaceful town with great people, I wouldn’t mind moving back there one day.

My step-brothers were adopted by Harold and Margaret Underhill who lived on on Grindstone Lake in Sandstone. Grindstone Lake is where my grandfather and his family were rescued by a Native American woman. The blanket he was rescued in is on display at the Hinckley Fire museum. I guess an artist made a mural of the rescue that hangs on the Hinckley Town Hall. He gave lectures about the fire at the museum and in front of the Hinckley Fire Monument in the cemetery for years. Pat was a great guy, a real character. = )

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 24, 2014

Today’s Undiagnosed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Born on a farm in Ohio, President Warren G. Harding purchased a struggling local newspaper soon after graduating from college and turned it around financially. He then steadily moved up the political ranks, serving as an Ohio state senator for four years, as lieutenant governor for two years and as a U.S. senator for six years. Only a failed campaign for governor in 1910 marred his resume. As luck would have it, the delegates to the 1920 Republican National Convention deadlocked during the presidential nominee balloting and therefore turned to Harding as a compromise candidate. Promising a “return to normalcy,” he went on to win the general election against Democratic opponent James M. Cox in a landslide, garnering about 60 percent of the popular vote and 404 of 531 electoral votes.

As president, Harding signed bills that reduced taxes for both individuals and corporations, set high protective tariffs, created a federal budget system and limited immigration, particularly from southern and eastern Europe. He also hosted a disarmament conference, at which the world’s largest naval powers agreed to reduce their arsenal of warships. It is for wrongdoing, however, that Harding’s administration is best remembered. During his time in office, several prominent officials took bribes, including his interior secretary, who granted favorable leases to oil companies in what became known as the Teapot Dome scandal, and his Veterans Bureau director, who, among other things, sold government hospital supplies at artificially low prices. “I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends … they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights,” Harding reportedly complained to a journalist. Harding himself was never personally implicated in these affairs, but he faced his own allegations of drinking alcohol in the White House during Prohibition and of extramarital affairs. A woman 31 years younger even claimed to be the mother of his only biological child.

In early 1923, just before the first whiff of scandal began hovering, Harding came down with the flu. He also apparently had trouble sleeping. Nonetheless, he decided to go ahead with his so-called Voyage of Understanding, aimed, perhaps with a second term in mind, at explaining his policies and getting a feel for the pulse of the nation. Some observers along the route later claimed that Harding looked tired, and a journalist described him as having swollen lips and puffed eyes. But his personal physician, Dr. Charles E. Sawyer, a close friend of the Hardings who practiced homeopathy, remarked that the president was “feeling fit and in splendid physical trim.”

While in Alaska, Harding toured a number of coastal towns and traveled by train as far north as Fairbanks. He then sailed back down to Vancouver, Canada, where he gave a speech to some 40,000 people at Stanley Park. He also tried to play a round of golf but only had the strength for a few holes. The next day, July 27, the Henderson collided with another ship in a heavy fog. More ominous signs came later that day, when, as he delivered a speech to over 60,000 people at the University of Washington, Harding referred to Alaska as “Nebraska,” dropped his manuscript and grasped the podium to keep his balance. Following an appearance at the Seattle Press Club, he went to bed early complaining of upper abdominal pain.

Dr. Sawyer attributed the illness to bad seafood and began administrating laxatives. But another White House physician, Dr. Joel T. Boone, believed that Harding had an enlarged heart. As a result, Boone helped arrange to have Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, the president of both Stanford University and the American Medical Association, and Dr. Charles Cooper, a leading cardiologist, meet them in San Francisco. When the train arrived there on July 29, Harding declined the offer of a wheelchair and walked to a waiting limo, which whisked him to the Palace Hotel in the city’s Financial District. The next day he had a fever of 102 and was diagnosed with pneumonia, prompting the remainder of his California appearances to be canceled. This was followed, however, by a slight recovery. On August 1, his temperature was back to normal, his lungs were clearing up and he was capable of sitting up in bed, reading and eating solid food.

At around 7:30 p.m. a day later, Harding abruptly died in bed, supposedly as his wife read to him a flattering article about himself. Accounts differ as to who was in the room at the time and the exact sequence of events. Sawyer, still discounting his colleagues’ theories about heart problems, believed the cause of death to be a cerebral hemorrhage. Though the other four doctors on hand signed a joint bulletin with Sawyer, which said the “death was apparently due to some brain evolvement, probably an apoplexy,” they later backed away somewhat from this assessment. Today, nearly all experts place the blame on congestive heart failure. Harding may, in fact, have suffered a series of undiagnosed heart attacks going back months.

The last known photography of Warren G. Harding:

Culled from: History.Com


Sunny recommends you stop and visit Laurel Grove Cemetery the next time you’re in Savannah.  I can’t believe I haven’t been to this one before?

“I highly recommend going to Laurel Grove. It’s awesome, and it’s huge! It would take all day to see the whole thing, but sadly I was only there about an hour before I had to leave.”

Laurel Grove Cemetery

Morbid Sightseeing!

Way back in 2003, I drove to Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia to see some slave graves I had read about.  The grave markers consisted of chains which supposedly represented the life of the slave (one link = born in slavery, lived and died free; two links = born and lived for a time as a slave, but died free; three links = born a slave and died a slave).

Diane wrote me about the travelogue and added her own insights:
“I just spent a short amount of time at the cemetery.  I am particularly interested in the black area of the cemetery.  It was in very poor condition, unlike the lovely white area.  I Noticed that when the grass is cut in the black area, large clumps of dead grass are laying everywhere.  Many of the graves are overgrown with weeds there and the concrete slabs look like they have been run over with lawnmowers, crushing them.  They will not be lasting long with that type of treatment.

“It was very disheartening that the white politicians are still being celebrated.  And all of the slave that broke their backs doing free labor under horrible conditions are still being dismissed.  I am white and I am doing some genealogical research for several black families, many of whom, especially from the South, are ashamed and still  devastated from the aftermath of pain their ancestors had to endure.

“I think these slaves should be acknowledged and celebrated for the heros that they really are.  I plan to do some writing about this to raise awareness in both the white and black communities about this issue.  I know that the older white establishment would be resistant to it.  But the younger people need to be educated.”

If you’d like to read my full travelogue again, here it is at The Morbid Sightseer:
Trudging Up Memory Hill

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 23, 2014

Today’s Imaginative Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Here is another little tale of Christian Martyrdom from the classic of the genre, Fox’s Book of Martyrs (1848).  This act allegedly occurred during the The Seventh Persecution, under Decius A. D. 249:

Julian, a native of Cilicia, as we are informed by St. Chrysostom, was seized upon for being a christian. He was put into a leather bag, together with a number of serpents and scorpions, and in that condition thrown into the sea.

Culled from: Fox’s Book of Martyrs
Generously suggested by: Louise

All I can think of is the poor the office worker of Decius who was told, “Yeah… I’m gonna need you to get me a leather bag big enough to throw Julian in, and also a bunch of poisonous serpents and scorpions.  And I need them in an hour.  Oh, and I am gonna need you to work this weekend too. K.”

Hate Mail Du Jour!

Do you ever forget where you’re at?  That happens to me sometimes online.  I generally avoid Normal People at all costs, but sometimes I forget that I’m among them and I say things that are perfectly acceptable among Weird People but that horribly offend Normal People. And then I get all this abuse rained down upon me. And then I am happy because I can share it with you!

This particular abuse came from some Normal Person named Holly Manson. She didn’t like a comment I made on an article about one of those Duck Dynasty people who had a seizure where I cheered on the seizure. You know, like any kind person would!  Well, this is what she had to say to me:

“You are a disgusting sorry excuse for a human being. Didn’t your mother teach you not to make fun of people with disabilities? Seizures and epilepsy is no joke. You stupid inbred bitch. I hope you have a seizure so you know how horrible it is. Then maybe you’ll stop talking shit. You should be ashamed of your ignorant, ugly self. You are truly a hideous person inside and out!!! Go pile more food down your throat  you ugly fat cunt.”

She proceeded to tell me I look like an “overweight 15-year-old boy” which… granted, I need to lose weight, but hey… 15-year-old boy is pretty much the lesbian beauty standard, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself! Especially considering I’m 48!

It’s tempting to make comments out there in the Normal World more often, but I just don’t have the time…


Here’s a photograph from the wonderful book Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880-1930 by John Harley Warner and James M. Edmonson.  This was taken at Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1900.  Imagine what it smelled like in there?

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 22, 2014

Today’s Officially Deemed Insane Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Thomas Creech (1659–found dead 19 July 1700) was an English translator of classical works, and headmaster of Sherborne School. Creech had long decided on suicide and wrote in the margin of his translation of Lucretius, ‘NB. I must remember to hang myself when I have finished my commentary.’ He did indeed hang himself, but not for another twenty years, during which time he translated the works of Horace. (Voltaire, who believed that one was less likely to commit suicide if one had enough to do, maintained that Creech would have lived longer had he been translating Ovid.) Although he was officially deemed insane, Creech’s death had a profound effect on the way in which suicide came to be regarded by the educated as melancholic.Culled from: Death: A History of Man’s Obsessions and Fears by Robert Wilkins

Vintage Nightmare Teeth!

Bruce Townley sent me this marvelous image of a horrific old dental teaching device.  It would make such a lovely addition to my bookshelf….

Arcane Excerpts!

Here’s an excerpt from another of my beloved crazy old vintage books:  Plain Facts for Young and Old by John Harvey Kellogg (of Corn Flakes fame), 1877.  This book discusses sex and reproduction in a moral manner.  And contains some choice tidbits, like this one in the “Nursing” section:”The lacteal secretion is influenced in a very remarkable manner by the mental conditions of the mother. By sudden emotions of grief or anger, it has been known to undergo such changes as to produce in the child a fit of indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, and even convulsions and death. Any medicine taken by the mother finds its way into the milk, and often affects the delicate system of the infant more than herself. This fact should be a warning to those nursing mothers who use stimulants. Cases are not uncommon in which delicate infants are kept in a state of intoxication for weeks by the use of alcoholic drinks by the mother. The popular notion that lager-beer, ale, wine, or alcohol in any other form, is in any degree necessary or beneficial to a nursing woman is a great error which cannot be too often noticed and condemned. Not only is the mother injured instead of being benefited by such practice, but great injury, sometimes life-long in its consequences, is inflicted upon the babe at her breast who takes the intoxicating poison at second hand, and is influenced in a fourfold degree from its feebleness and great susceptibility.”

So, keep in mind, nursing mothers: your bad mood can KILL!  And… drinking alcohol is a great way to take care of a fussy baby!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 21, 2014

Today’s Barely-Hanging-On Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On December 6, 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a munitions ship (the Mont Blanc) collided with a vessel in the Narrows of the harbor, triggering a catastrophic fire and explosion that destroyed much of the city, killed over 1,600 people and injured over 9,000. Many of the injured had been staring out the window at the burning vessel when it exploded, resulting in horrifying facial injuries from broken glass. Dr. George Cox, a local eye surgeon, operated for more than three straight days. Here is an excerpt about his efforts:

At Camp Hill, Cox was still standing over the operating table. He had been at the hospital for forty-five hours, operating straight for over thirty. He was rationing the chloroform for use on the worst cases. On Saturday afternoon alone he removed twenty-five eyes and threw them into a medical surgical bucket on the floor. By mid-afternoon it was full. The medical student in charge of gathering information, who had served beside Cox since his arrival, gently put down his tags, smiled at Cox, and fainted. Cox leaned over the table and saw the young student lying in a heap on the floor, looking like the patients he had worked on since Thursday night. It seemed like weeks had passed since then. He requested a replacement.

When Jack MacKeen, a soldier, returned to the hospital Saturday morning after sleeping several hours at home, he was summoned to Cox’s side. He made his way to the “busy eye ward,” where he walked between the rows of patients with gauze over their eyes and linen tags pinned to their chests. He had heard the rumors about eyes being removed without anesthetic, which made him apprehensive. At the end of the ward, two soldiers picked up a man on a stretcher and carried him through the makeshift door. MacKeen followed them behind the screen, where he got his first look at Cox, who was standing over a patient on the table. His wavy hair, which he tried so hard to keep neatly combed and parted, had fallen into loose curls. His smooth broad face looked as haggard as soldiers returning from the front. Next to him on a chair was the man who had been carried in on the stretcher. Half of his face was chopped open. A nurse administered chloroform at the end of the table. One of the original five nurses, she also looked exhausted. Cox caught the teenager’s glance at the surgical bucket and asked him to empty it. When MacKeen returned with a clean bucket, Cox ordered him to take charge of the tags, gathering the name and address of the patient, “the type of operations, etc.,” and they continued this way until sometime after supper when the nurse put down the chloroform cone. Her eyes looked heavy, as if she were having trouble making sense of the scene before her.  She could not go on. Cox looked over to MacKeen and told him to take over.

The nurse showed him how to place a metal-framed cone strung with ribbed-cotton gauze over the patient’s nose and mouth and then slowly drip the sweet-smelling chloroform onto the fabric until the patient slipped into unconsciousness. She monitored the patient’s pulse and his eyes carefully. Administering chloroform was no simple matter. Only trained doctors were supposed to administer it, and in America they were already switching to ether which was easier to control. The nurse left the teenage MacKeen and the soldiers lifted the man with a severely lacerated face onto the table. His nose hung upside down over his mouth and chin. Cox looked at him with curiosity. “Remarkable… the face had been cloven down slantwise from the bridge of the nose as if with a hatchet, going through the nasal cavities and antra, and the whole flap hanging forward.” He examined it from every angle, perplexed. What was left of the nose was swollen and inflated. The wound itself was clean. He picked up the flap and fit it perfectly onto the wound, but the man gasped for air. Cox pulled it back, fascinated. He had never seen anything like it, but he had an idea how to fix it.  Cox fed a tube through each nostril into the cavity and sewed the whole nose back onto the face. It was the only thing that he could think would work.  When he checked the patient several days later, he was pleased to find that it was healing.  “As if nothing had happened.” The man could breathe.

Culled from: Curse of the Narrows

I highly recommend this book, by the way. It’s fascinating and ghastly from start to finish!

Fifty Cents Of Death!

Jack sent me some photographs from the “good old days” before we knew that asbestos was bad for us! I’ll let Jack tell the story himself:

Death Before Duct Tape

One cannot watch late night cable TV without seeing the attorneys hocking their services to anyone who has come into contact with asbestos through their work or other activities.

Well, “back in the day” powdered asbestos was a common item at any hardware store. Before we had duct tape, asbestos was used to seal the ducts of home heating systems as well as other pipes that carried heated air.

You simply mixed your raw asbestos dust with a little water to create a paste, applied the paste to the joint you wished to seal and heated the paste until it hardened.

Imagine a mixing bowl of the dust, a large spoon and some water.

Who knew back then?

Note on the label the other toxic goodies this company sold AND the price. Only fifty cents for a whole container of death.

Just add water!

Let me guess that their former factory is now a major EPA clean-up site?

Death for Sale… only fifty cents!

Yay!  Powder to play with!

Joel-Peter Witkin: An Objective Eye

When I featured “The Kiss” by Joel-Peter Witkin the other day, I meant to mention that there is a documentary about Witkin that was released in 2013. I haven’t seen it yet, but plan to do so soon.  I did watch the trailer and it looks like an interesting view into the mind and spirit of one our greatest photographers.

Joel-Peter Witkin: An Objective Eye

Thanks to Katchaya for the reminder!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 20, 2014

So Charlie Manson is getting married…  which leads me to this embarrassing realization:

And it also leads me to reflect on the crimes that got Charlie locked up in the first place.  So let’s look back on the first of those crimes, the murder of Gary Hinman, with…

Today’s Blood-Stained Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On July 27, 1969, Gary Hinman, a 34-year-old music teacher, became the first victim of the Mansion Family.  Three Family members, Bobby Beusoleil, Mary Brunner and Sadie Mae Glutz, had been sent round to his house to collect some money that was owed.  They knew he had it – he ran a very profitable illegal drugs operation and the rumor was that he had just inherited $20,000 and had hidden it in his house on the Old Topanga Canyon Road, Los Angeles.

The three visitors argued with Hinman for two hours. Finally, Bobby Beausoleil lost patience, and pulled a gun – a 9mm Radom pistol. He handed it over to Sadie while he went to search the house. At that moment, Gary tried to escape and began struggling with Sadie. The gun went off, and the bullet ricocheted through the kitchen, embedding itself under the sink. Bobby ran back into the room, grabbed the gun, and hit Gary around the head with it.

They telephoned Charles Manson who came to the house himself, with Bruce Davis. Manson took a sword, which he used to cut Hinman’s ear, leaving a 5 in wound.  [5 inches? I think Charlie assaulted Dumbo! – DeSpair] He told Beausoleil to find out where the money was and then bring Hinman out to the ranch. He instructed the two girls to clean up his wounds.

Bobby, Mary and Sadie Mae tied Gary up and left him on the hearth rug while they ransacked the house. Mary Brunner then stitched up Hinman’s cuts with dental floss, wrapped his wounds in bandages and gave him something to drink. All they got out of him were the pink slips signing his two cars over to them.

At dawn, Gary Hinman ran for the window and began to scream for help., Bobby Beausoleil panicked and, seizing a knife, stabbed Hinman twice through the chest, leaving him to bleed to death. The three wiped away all their fingerprints (except one) and bundled up incriminating blood-stained clothes and bandages. Somebody stuck a finger in Gary Hinman’s blood and scrawled the words “Political Piggy” on the wall above his head, another daubed a crude version of a cat’s paw, the sign of the militant Black Panthers.

They had locked all the doors and were on their way out via the side window when they decided to climb back in and smother Hinman.

Hot-wiring Hinman’s VW minibus, they all drove home to Spahn Ranch, stopping off on the way at the Topanga Kitchen for coffee and cherry cake.

Culled from: Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 3

“Coffee and Cherry Cake.” Working title of “Helter Skelter”.  ;)

Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Well, it sold before I could get my hands on it…  but I couldn’t afford it anyway, so it’s not like it matters.  But still…  wouldn’t it be nifty to own an Original Victorian Era Cased Vampire Defense Set of Dr. W.M. Ramsey, St. John’s College Oxford – Circa 1886?   I think so too!  (Thanks to Woods Monkey for the link.)

International Military Antiques

Morbid Art!

Let’s reflect on the genius of Joel-Peter Witkin for a moment.

“The Kiss” – 1982

Who else would take a severed head, cut it in half, turn it so that it appeared to be kissing itself, photograph it and call it art? Well, I probably would, if I had a severed head handy. But those things aren’t readily available. At least not without getting in “trouble”. And come to think of it… he ruined a perfectly good severed head for art!  And a really creepy one at that. This is a morbid dilemma.  But… hey, cool pic, huh?

Morbid Fact Du Jour for November 19, 2014

Today’s Redeemed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

He was among the most notorious criminals of his time, and certainly one of the most brutal. Henri Pranzini – tall, charming, and charismatic – was a life-long petty thief who took advantage of vulnerable women in nineteenth century France, a vice that eventually destroyed him.On the morning of March 17, 1887, the bodies of Marie Regnault, a prominent Parisian woman, her servant, Annette Gremeret, and the servant’s daughter, Marie, were all found lifeless in an apartment. The New York Times described the terrible scene:

Regnault . . . was found on the floor of her chamber dead, her throat cut and her body terribly mutilated. Lying near the door leading from the chamber to the drawing room was the dead body of Annette, whose throat had also been cut, and in her bed in another apartment was little Marie . . . her head almost severed from her body by the murderer’s knife. It was obvious that Annette had gone to the rescue . . . and had been struck down by the assassin, and that the little girl had been murdered to put out of the way the only other witness of the terrible crime.

The motive was robbery – in this case, lucrative jewelry. When he was caught several days later, Pranzini indignantly protested his innocence, but signs of his guilt were everywhere, and the evidence mounted. In July, a jury took only two hours to convict him of the triple-murder, and he was condemned to die in August.

Shocking as it was, Pranzini’s crime would have likely been forgotten, had it not been for an extraordinary French teenager. Therese Martin – later to become St. Therese of Lisieux, and made a Doctor of the Church – was just 14 at the time, but she felt compelled to intervene. As she recounts in her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, she stormed Heaven for a man many thought beyond redemption:

Everything led to the belief that he would die impenitent. I wanted at all costs to keep him from falling into hell, and to succeed I employed all means imaginable, feeling that of myself I could do nothing. I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord.

As Pranzini’s fate approached, Therese increased her prayers until he was brought before the guillotine on August 31. The next day, Therese read what happened in the paper and recorded how when he was about to put his head into the device, “he turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him, and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance!”

Therese was convinced her prayers had helped save the forsaken Pranzini from damnation. He became for her “mon premier enfant” – “my first child” – and the experience strengthened her conviction to become a Carmelite nun, and intercede for others in desperate need of God’s love.

Culled from: First Things

Anyone else find Therese annoying? These are the bodies of Annette Gremeret (the maid – top) and her daughter Marie (bottom). This is what Henri Pranzini did to them. Does anybody seriously think someone like this deserves “redemption”?

(Photo culled from the book Crime Album Stories.)


Undertaker Humor courtesy Monty Python (and Neil R. who sent me the link).

Monty Python: Undertaker’s Film


If you’re feeling bored and blue with nothing to do, why not head over to Ride Accidents?  At least it will make you feel better that you didn’t get thrown from the Airmaxx 360!  (Thanks to Chris for the link.)
The Dreaded Airmaxx 360: Avoid At All Costs!