Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 25, 2016

Today’s Scalded Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

During the 1930s, four persons died in Yellowstone hot springs, and numerous others were injured.  Little Joy Myrlene Hanny, age three, of Firth, Idaho, was traveling with a group of seventeen persons who stopped at Biscuit Basin on July 13, 1932. At 1:45 p.m., while the group watched Jewel Geyser spouting its beautiful fountain twenty-five feet high, Joy was momentarily unsupervised. When the geyser erupted, Joy and her mother jumped back in surprise. The mother heard her child scream, looked down and saw the little girl immersed all the way up to her neck. She had stepped backwards into a small nearby hot spring, and was scalded “very severely.”

Although party members quickly pulled her out, Joy Hanny died the following night at the Mammoth hospital. The pool was measured at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, not hot enough to cause instant death but hot enough to cause excruciating pain for thirty hours prior to death. The spring into which Joy Hanny fell was described as being three feet long, two feet wide, and about two feet deep. It was located about thirty feet south of Jewel Geyser, and may have been present Shell Spring.

Jewel Geyser: Mesmerizing Indeed!

Culled from: Death In Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park


Real-Time Disaster

Here’s a fascinating real-time animation of the sinking of the Titanic. If you don’t have the patience to wait it out (as I didn’t), you can fast forward towards the end and listen to the screams of the invisible minions plunging to their doom!  (I sound entirely too enthusiastic about it, don’t I?)
Titanic sinks in REAL TIME - 2 HOURS 40 MINUTES
The Slow Farewell

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 23, 2016

Today’s Polished Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Orville Dale Loos was on leave from the U.S. Navy when he and two other sailors went to visit Yosemite on July 9, 1946. Loos, a native of Dayton, Ohio, was hiking along the top edge of Vernal Fall when he saw eleven-year old Keen Freeman being carried down the river towards the lip of the falls. The boy and his father, Dr. Walter Freeman, were visiting the park from Washington, D.C. Keen had fallen into the river while trying to fill his canteen. The sailors jumped the guardrail to try to save the boy from a certain death. Loos got ahead of the other rescuers and was able to grab Freeman just fifteen feet from the brink. Swimming against the powerful current with Freeman under his arm, Loos made it to a finely polished boulder and clung on for a few seconds before the algae-covered rock made him lose his grip, and both Freeman and Loos were swept to their deaths. Freeman’s body was found a week later. Loos was found five days after Freeman, just a hundred yards from the base of the falls.

It’s a long way down…

Culled from: Death In California: The Bizarre, Freakish, and Just Curious Ways People Die in the Golden State


Another Casualty in Chicago

I moved to a neighborhood with high gang activity over the summer and it’s been very strange, and interesting in its way, becoming acclimated to the area. Gun shots have become a regular part of my days and nights and I’m becoming adept at deciphering the gang graffiti that regularly pops up in my alley.  I don’t feel unsafe, however, because, apart from the occasional stray bullet, gang violence is a private targeted affair between one gang and another.  Unless you make a habit of hanging out in front of buildings with gang members, your chance of getting shot is very slim.  As one person said of my neighborhood, “It’s perfectly safe to live in, but you’ll see a lot of crazy shit go down.”

However, if you’re a gang member and you hang out on a sidewalk, you’re making yourself a target.  In the even-more-gang-dominated neighborhood of North Lawndale, just north of me, It always amazes me how many young men hang out in front of liquor stores or on front steps or on corners.  I think to myself, don’t they know how dangerous that is?  I’m sure many of them aren’t gang members… but the possibility of being misidentified is ever-present, as rival gang members circle the neighborhood in their cars looking for someone to shoot.

Which brings me to this livestreamed video – which I somehow missed over the summer.  This shooting happened about a mile and a half from me and it’s such a vivid illustration of how suddenly an attack can come.  This man was standing by a convenience store playing with his phone when his luck ran out.

It’s a long video so if you want to skip to the action start at 5:30.

Man Killed Live on Facebook

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 22, 2016

Today’s Incorrectly Navigated Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The most publicized crash of the first fully-automatic jet airliner, the Airbus A320, happened on January 20, 1992 when an A320 belonging to the French domestic airline Air Inter careered into the Vosges mountains on a domestic flight from Lyon to Strasbourg, killing 82 of its 90 passengers, and five of the six crew.

The bare facts alone are enough to raise the hairs on the back of the neck. The accident happened after the flight crew – hurrying to get in on time – incorrectly entered navigational information into the plane’s computer. The Aviation Safety Network explains: “While trying to program the angle of descent, ‘-3.3’, into the Flight Control Unit, the crew did not notice that it was in HDG/V/S (heading/vertical speed) mode. In vertical speed mode ‘-3.3’ means a descent rate of 3300 feet/min. In TRK/FPA (track/flight path angle) mode [which the crew believed they were in], this would have meant a [correct] ‘3.3 deg descent angle.”

A -3.3 deg descent angle equates to a rate of descent of just 800 feet per minute – so the aircraft was dropping almost four times quicker than the pilots believed. At 7:20 p.m. it was dark – and in any case the peaks were swathed in cloud. Uniquely for major airlines, Air Inter did not equip its aircraft with ground proximity warning systems. Blind and unsuspecting, the crew flew straight into the side of the mountain.

The authorities’ initial reaction to the accident was woeful – astonishingly so, according to a local television journalist, Jean-Pierre Stucki. When he and his crew arrived at the nearest village, they say they saw “hundreds of men in uniforms near the gendarmerie and the fire station not doing anything – just waiting.”

Unable to get any official information, Stucki spoke to the villagers, who confirmed the plane had gone down nearby – they had heard it happen, and the smell of smoke and kerosene was filling the air. The reporter followed his nose to the site of the crash, arriving there after a mere quarter of an hour. There, he found badly-injured survivors calling desperately for help. The first rescuer to arrive – a further 15 minutes later – was a gendarme, whose initial reaction was to tell Stucki and his crew to leave the scene. There was total chaos, according to the journalist. “The first survivor to be taken away from the site was a little girl of 18 months,” he said. “A gendarme took her in his arms to an ambulance on the road and then, little by little, the survivors able to walk were evacuated.”

But it took hours to rescue the more seriously injured, and, in the meantime, at least two people had died who might otherwise have lived. Of 96 people on board, 9 survived.

Photos of the crash site:

Culled from: Black Box: Inside the World’s Worst Plane Crashes

I don’t know… I kinda think that not having the ground warning system might be better in cases like this. I mean, if they had heard the “Pull Up!  Whoop Whoop!  Pull Up!” warning – would they have been able to do anything to avoid the accident anyway?  And at least this way their last few seconds of life weren’t spent in a panic. Oh, BTW, after the crash, they changed the flight system so that you have to enter the two different modes in different numeric formats, to avoid confusion.  Die and learn time, again!


Arcane Excerpts: Polluted Edition

Here’s an illuminating excerpt from What A Young Boy Ought To Know (1897) by Sylvanus Stall. In this “Cylinder” we have the most ridiculous reproductive analogy ever written, and a dire warning to young boys!


The Sexual Member a Part of the Reproductive System—The Reproductive System Defined.—Illustrated By a Watch.—The Different Parts of the Digestive System.—God Gave Us a Reproductive System for the Wisest and Most Beneficent Ends.—By Wrong Thoughts of Them, We Dishonor God.—To Be Held in Purity and Honor.—Our Bodies the Temples of the Holy Ghost.—The Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.—The Wonderful Mystery of Creative Power.—How the Mind, Imagination, and Heart Are Polluted.—What the Bible Says Upon These Subjects.

MY DEAR FRIEND HARRY: Last night I told you how some young boys, and older boys also, pollute and degrade their own bodies by unnecessarily and injuriously handling or scratching and chafing the sexual member. God gave us this member to serve us in the removal of the wasted or worn out fluids of the body, and also made it one of the parts of the human reproductive system. What the reproductive system or organs are to plants I told you on a previous cylinder. They are the organs in the male, and also in the female plant which are engaged in the production of the seeds from which life is to be reproduced.

Something of the nature and office of the reproductive system may be learned by supposing that a watch could be built and given power to keep its own wheels, and all its works in repair, so that it would not have to be taken to the jeweler’s to have any worn parts replaced by new parts. Then suppose that in addition to this renewing power it should also be endowed with a power to reproduce other watches; so that while it was keeping accurate time, renewing its own wear and wasting of the wheels and all the parts, it should also have the power to reproduce other watches; little baby watches, which should also have imparted to them the power to grow and, when they became fully grown and were large watches, then also in turn, from time to time, they also should produce other watches. This new power by which the watch would produce others would be called the reproductive power, and if there were certain parts in the watch which were devoted wholly to the production of these little baby watches, such portions of the watch would together be called the reproductive organs.

Now the sexual member is only one part of the reproductive system: the same, as in our bodies, we have a digestive system composed of several members or parts. The food is taken into the mouth and, after being chewed or masticated, as we say, is passed into the stomach, where it undergoes changes which fit it to be received by the intestines, so that it may be converted into blood, and thus strengthen the body and maintain life. Now the mouth, the passage-way into the stomach, and such portions of the intestines as are engaged in the work of digesting and preparing the food for use in the blood – all these different members together constitute the digestive system. So the sexual member is one portion of the reproductive system, and the other portions in men are partly without the body and partly within the body. So, when taken together, we speak of the sexual organs and their functions as the reproductive system, and this portion of our body has been created by God Himself for the wisest and most beneficent ends. Sometimes boys think of their sexual parts in a very low and degraded way, and thus greatly dishonor God and wrong themselves. Whatever God has created deserves to be held in honor and esteem. God has endowed us with no holier or more sacred duty that that of reproducing our species, and we should receive and accept this high and holy office from the hands of our infinite Creator with reverence, and maintain these members of our body in purity and honor. R. Sperry, a Christian physician, says “The propagation of our species is the highest, the divinest act of our physical life.” And no man, with a pure heart and a thoughtful mind, can come to any other conclusion.

I am glad, my dear friend Harry, that your parents often study the Bible with you, that they may make its truths plain to your mind. It is therefore very proper in talking with you to-night upon this subject of self-pollution, that I should refer you to First Corinthians, sixth chapter, eighteenth and nineteenth verses, where Paul, in writing upon this very subject, says, “Flee fornification… He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” Now the Temple at Jerusalem was one of the most sacred buildings in all the world. The entire structure was sacred, but within the building there was a place called “The Holy Place,” and in the interior of that Holy Place there was a still more sacred inclosure [sic]called “The Holy of Holies.” Here dwelt the unapproachable divine presence, and toward this Holy of Holies the Israelites throughout the entire nation and throughout the world, never turned faces but in devout reverence. So our entire bodies are holy, and are to be held in perpetual honor, but I am sure that no thoughtful person can properly study this subject of the human body without thinking of the reproductive system as the holy of holies in which God dwells within us in the wonderful mystery of reproductive power.

Before saying good-night to you I want to remind you that the body may not only be outwardly polluted by the hands, but the mind, the imagination, and the heart may be polluted by means of the eye when we look upon improper things and upon indecent pictures; and we may also produce the same bad results with the ear, by listening to vile stories, bad words, and evil suggestions. The eye and the ear are gateways into our minds and hearts, and we should guard them with great care. These are some of the avenues by which the sacred temple of our bodies is entered by evil influences, and we should remember that the Bible also says in First Corinthians, third chapter and nineteenth verse, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” I am sure that you do not desire to be banished from the presence of God, and therefore you should also remember what it says in another place (Matthew v. 8): “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

To-morrow night I shall tell you what are the consequences in boys of the misuse of the reproductive organs.

[I know, you can’t wait, can you? – DeSpair]

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 19, 2016

Today’s History-Changing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The great plague of Cyprian began in A.D. 250 and indisputably changed the course of history. It’s nature, however, is unknown. Cyprian, the Christian bishop of Carthage, described the symptoms as violent diarrhea and vomiting, an ulcerated sore throat, burning fever, and putrefaction or gangrene of the hands and feet. Another account tells of a very rapid spread of disease all over the body and of unassuagable thirst. Like the Athenian plague, the place of origin is said to have been Ethiopia, from which it passed to Egypt and the Roman colonies in North Africa.

The Great Plague of Cyprian

The plague took the form of a true pandemic, spreading from Egypt in the south to Scotland in the north. It advanced with appalling speed, not only by contact with infected persons but by means of clothing or any other articles used by the sick. The first, devastating appearance was followed by a remission which ended with a renewed attack of equal virulence in the same district. There was a seasonal incidence, outbreaks starting in the autumn, lasting through winter and spring, and fading out with the coming of hot weather in the summer. Mortality is said to have been higher than in any other pestilence, the deaths of infected persons outnumbering those who survived attack. The plague of Cyprian lasted for no less than sixteen years, during which time something in the nature of a general panic developed. Thousands fled the countryside to overcrowd cities and cause fresh outbreaks; wide areas of farmland throughout Italy reverted to waste; some thought that the human race could not possibly survive. Despite warfare in Mesopotamia, on the eastern frontiers and even in Gaul, the empire managed to survive this catastrophe; but by A.D. 275 the legions had fallen back from Transylvania and the Black Forest to the Danube and the Rhine, and so dangerous did the position seem to have become that Aurelian decided to fortify the city of Rome itself.

Throughout the next three centuries, while Rome itself collapsed under the pressure of Goth and Vandal, there were recurrent outbreaks of a similar plague. Gradually the evidence becomes less exact, degenerating into a generalized story of war, pestilence and famine, as the darkness descended over Rome and her mighty empire disintegrated. The Germanic peoples crowded into Italy, Gaul, across the Pyrenees, into Spain, even into North Africa, where plague so weakened the Vandals in A.D. 480 that they were unable to resist a later invasion by Moors. There are rumors of a great mortality in Rome (467) and around Vienna in 455. Of special interest, because it may have affected the history of the Anglo-Saxons, is a visitation in Britain, apparently part of a general pandemic in 444. According to Bede, mortality was so great in Britain that barely enough healthy men survived to bury the dead, while the plague depleted the forces of the Romano-British chieftain Vortigern to such an extent that he was unable to cope with the incursions of the savage Picts and Scots. Legend relates that, after taking counsel with his chieftains, Vorigern decided to seek help from the Saxons, who in 449 arrived in Britain as mercenaries under their leaders Hengist and Horsa. It may indeed have been plague which so weakened the British that Saxon infiltration was successful.

Culled from: Disease and History

This reads more like a festival line-up to me:

The Savage Picts * Gaul * The Scots * The Saxons


Ghastly! – Discarded Edition

These poor guys look so tossed-aside, don’t they?  As, I suspect, they were.

A total of 222 homicides were recorded in New York City in 1915. The eight-by-ten-inch glass-plate negative used in early police cameras captured precisely every coil, chain, scrap of newspaper, and drop of blood left at crime scenes. Police photographers were required to make images of murder victims from above; the legs of the photographers’ tripos can be seen in this image.

Culled from: Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 18, 2016

Today’s Rebellious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Fenians were a group seeking to bring an end to British rule of Ireland that had been imposed by the 1801 Act of Union. They took their name from third-century followers of rebellious Finn MacCool, whose motto was “Strength in our hands, truth on our lips, and cleanness in our hearts.” Enthusiastic support for the Fenians came from expatriate Irishmen who’d been driven out of their homeland to the United States during the famine years of the 1840s. Forerunners of the twentieth-century’s NORAID (Northern Irish Aid Committee, based in New York, which bankrolls and smuggles arms to the Irish Republican Army in its efforts to drive the English out of Ulster beginning in the 1960s), the 1867 Fenians planned an action for London in December. Unfortunately for the conspirators, two of the plotters, Burke and Casey, were arrested by Inspector Thompson of Scotland Yard and clapped into prison in the North London area of Clerkenwell. Hardly had the cell doors slammed behind them when compatriots began planning to spring them by blasting down the prison walls. A date was set: December 12.

The conspiracy leaked. An anonymous letter tipped off the commissioner. Bits and pieces of what was afoot also came to Mayne at Scotland Yard from other sources. The governor of the prison was notified. Regular police patrols around the area were increased – but only slightly.

As forecast, the plot unfolded. Two men rolled a barrel of gunpowder up to a wall, lit a fuse, and ran. Nothing happened. Mystified, the bombers scooped up the dud and fled – all of this before the eyes of a constable who didn’t bother to report it.

The next afternoon, the bombers returned. This time, the powder ignited. Four people were killed and forty injured. Great damage was done to the surrounding buildings and the prison wall was breached. But, thanks to the prison governor, Burke and Casey had been moved to another part of the lockup where they remained in custody as four of the bombers were rounded up to join them in prison, for trials, convictions, and death by hanging – the last public executions in Britain.

Inspecting the damage at Clerkenwell

The End of the Line

Culled from: Bloody Business: An Anecdotal History of Scotland Yard


Instrument of Destruction Du Jour!

Instrument of Destruction 1993 Scott Lindgren

Shadow of foetal skeleton with cranioclast used for cutting or crushing the foetal head to effect delivery, generally performed to save the life of the mother. Presented to the Museum by Dr. Ludwig Loeb, 1940.

Culled from: Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Morbid Fact Du Jour for October 17, 2016

Today’s Burned-Out Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On the morning of June 9, 1956, a U.S. Navy jet fighter loaded with 1,000 gallons of fuel plowed into a group of houses in South Minneapolis as the pilot tried to make an emergency landing at Wold-Chamberlain Field. The pilot was killed, as were four of the five family members (one child survived) living in a house that took the brunt of the impact. A three-year-old girl in another house was also killed. All told, 15 people were injured, and 11 houses were either destroyed or damaged in the crash, near 58th Street and 46th Avenue South. The crash was, of course, a huge news story, and authorities later estimated that 75,000 people (probably an inflated number) tried to reach the scene, tying up traffic for miles around.

In this photograph, a fireman straddles the covered body of the three-year-old girl who died, possibly in the burned-out house behind him. The girl’s mother managed to escape the house with another child. Later, the sobbing mother told reporters she’d wanted to go back after the girl, “but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t get in. Everything was in flames.”

The crash was the second air disaster of the week in the Twin Cities. Four days earlier, a U.S. Air Force jet had overshot a runway while landing at Wold-Chamberlain and struck a car on a nearby highway. A mother and daughter in the car were killed in that accident.

Culled from: Strange Days, Dangerous Nights: Photos from the Speed Graphic Era


Follow-Up Du Jour!

Oh, remember that creepy “Hi Walter I Got A New Girlfriend” video that went viral when a mother thought that the abducted girl in the video looked an awful lot like her daughter who went missing around the same time the video was uploaded?  As suspected, it’s a fake.  Oh well, death goes on…  (Thanks for the update, Aimee!)

Disturbing Video Investigated In Case of Missing Teen Was Fake

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 16, 2016

Today’s Playful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In August 1923, 18-year-old Taylor Hubbard and 16-year-old Dick Forman tied Hubbard’s brother William, 16, and 11-year-old Charles Spindler to a tree on a vacant lot in Belmar, New Jersey. They told the younger boys they were going to have some fun with them, and piled excelsior (wood shavings then used for packing) at their feet before lighting it on fire. The material caught fire quickly, and then the ground around the tree, saturated with oil from the neighboring gas plant, burst into flames as well.

Forman and the older Hubbard realized the fun had gone too far and ran to a brook for water, but had nothing to carry it in. The two younger boys screamed for help as their clothing was burned off their bodies and they were burned all over, except their heads, protected by their caps. As they lost consciousness, the ropes holding them to the tree burned through and they fell onto the still-flaming grass.

Charles Goff, who lived nearby, heard the screams and saw the flames. He transported the injured boys to a nearby hospital.

William Hubbard and Charles Spindler refused to tell exactly what led to their being burned “at the stake” and Taylor Hubbard and Dick Forman likewise weren’t talking. Forman did suggest that Hubbard “had it in” for the victims. There was talk the group had been “playing Indiana’ or that they were playing “Ku Klux Klan”; the town of Belmar was a KKK stronghold and there had been a Klan rally just the day before.

The two victims died of their injuries later that night, and Hubbard and Forman were under arrest.

Culled from: GenDisasters
Submitted by: Aimee

Unfortunately, I can’t find any info on what charges the two older boys faced or whether those charges stuck. – Aimee


Arcane Excerpts: Kinda-Normal-Sounding-To-Me Edition

The following case study of a deviant with Anaesthesia Sexualis (i.e., absence of sexual feelings) is culled from Psychopathia Sexualis (1931).  As I read it, I thought to myself, he sounds perfectly sane to me; and, also, he would be a great topic for an early Belle & Sebastian song; and, also, he sounds like Morrissey in a previous life. Let’s get to know F. J.

Case 9. F. J., aged nineteen, student; mother was nervous, sister epileptic. At the age of four, acute brain affection, lasting two weeks. As a child he was not affectionate, and was cold towards his parents; as a student, he was peculiar, retiring, preoccupied with self, and given to much reading. Well endowed mentally. Masturbation from fifteenth year. Eccentric after puberty, with continual vacillation between religious enthusiasm and materialism – now studying theology, now natural sciences. At the university his fellow-students took him for a fool. He read Jean Paul almost exclusively, and wasted his time. Absolute absence of sexual feeling toward the opposite sex. Once he indulged in intercourse, experienced no sexual feeling in the act, found coitus absurd, and did not repeat it. Without any emotional cause whatever, he often had a thought of suicide. He made it the subject of a philosophical dissertation, in which he contended that it was, like masturbation, a justifiable act. After repeated experiments which he made on himself with various poisons, he attempted suicide with fifty-seven grains of opium, but he was saved and sent to an asylum.

Patient was destitute of moral and social feelings. His writings disclosed incredible frivolity and vulgarity. His knowledge was of a wide range, but his logic peculiarly distorted. There was no trace of emotionality. He treated everything (even the sublime) with incomparable cynicism and irony. He pleaded for the justification of suicide with false philosophical premises and conclusions, and, as one would speak of the most indifferent affair, he declared that he intended to accomplish it. He regretted that his pen-knife had been taken from him. If he had it, he would open his veins as Seneca did – in the bath. At one time a friend had given him instead of a poison as he supposed, a cathartic. Instead of sending him to the other world, it sent him to the water-closet. Only the Great Operator could eradicate his foolish and fatal idea with the scythe of death, etc.

The patient had a large, rhombic, distorted skull, the left half of the forehead being flatter than the right. The occiput was very straight. Ears far back, widely projecting, and the external meatus formed a narrow slit. Genitals very lax; testicles unusually soft and small.

Now and then the patient suffered with onomatomania. He was compelled to think of the most useless problems and give himself up to interminable, distressing and worrying thoughts, and became so fatigued that he was no longer capable of any rational thinking. After some months the patient was sent home unimproved. There he spent his time in reading and frivolities, and busied himself with the thought of founding a new system of Christianity because Christ had been subject to grand delusions and had deceived the world with miracles (!).  After remaining at home some years the sudden occurrence of a maniacal outbreak brought him back to the asylum. He presented a mixture of primordial delirium of persecution (devil, antichrist, persecution, poisoning, persecuting voices) and delusions of grandeur (Christ, redemption of the world), with impulsive, incoherent actions. After five months there was a remission of this intercurrent acute mental disease, and the patient returned to the level of his original intellectual peculiarity and moral defect.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 14, 2016

Today’s Thunderous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On March 17, 1937, an oilfield worker named George Davidson dreamed of tragedy. History doesn’t record exactly what kind of tragedy he dreamed about, but the dream upset him enough that he told his work friends about it the next morning. Some of them reminded him of the old superstition that one shouldn’t ever tell a dream before breakfast for fear that it will come true.

At just after three P.M. that day, Davidson, along with everyone else in New London, Texas, heard the thunderous roar of an explosion. It was not the sound of an exploding oil tank, which they’d grown accustomed to since the oil boom began. It was the town’s pride and joy, the New London Consolidated School, one of the largest in the world at the time and built five years earlier at a cost of $15.7 million in today’s dollars.

First through fourth grades had already been dismissed, but fifth through twelfth graders were still inside the school, which had recently decided to save money by tapping into the oil company’s natural-gas residue pipe. The oil companies considered natural gas a waste product and so, while the practice of tapping into the residue line was not strictly legal, it was tolerated. The trouble was that the raw, “wet” gas varied in quality throughout the day, and since it was untreated, it was difficult to detect leaks. The students and teachers at the New London school had been noticing headaches in recent days, but no one made the connection between the headaches and the gas line. In fact, the gas line was leaking into the crawlspace under the school, and that afternoon, when the shop teacher, Lemmie Butler, turned on his electric sander in his basement classroom, the spark ignited this gas.

The walls of the school bulged outward, the roof lifted off and then came crashing down, flattening the main part of the school. A two-ton concrete block was thrown clear and crushed a car.

Parents attending a PTA meeting in an adjacent building rushed to the scene, along with oilfield workers and other residents, and began frantically digging through the rubble, many with their bare hands. Police and firefighters from many nearby towns were called in, as well as Texas Rangers, National Guardsmen, and soldiers and airmen from local bases. The area was placed under martial law and every available building was pressed into service as a morgue or a hospital, every available vehicle as a hearse or ambulance.

Even reporters arriving at the site of the disaster were put to work digging bodies out of the ruined school building. A young United Press reporter named Walter Cronkite was one of these men, and though he was go on to cover the action in World War II, the Nuremberg trials and Vietnam, he would always maintain that the New London tragedy was the most heartbreaking story he had ever covered.

No one is sure of the exact number of lives that were lost that day; estimates range from 296 to 319, but it’s likely the toll was even higher, since many of the town’s residents were transient oilfield workers who collected their own dead and took them to their hometowns for burial.

George Davidson, the man who’d dreamed of some tragedy befalling the town, and who’d told of his dream before breakfast, would later stumble into a makeshift morgue and identify his own three children’s bodies: Joe Wheeler Davidson, 15; Helen, 13; and Annie Laurie, 11.

The New London explosion remains the worst school-related disaster in American history, and the third-worst disaster of any kind in Texas, eclipsed only by the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the Texas City harbor explosions in 1947.

Culled from Gen Disasters
Submitted by Aimee

The above link contains actual contemporary news reporting on the accident and I highly recommend it for its feeling of stark immediacy; it’s clear the journalists themselves were completely overcome by what they were seeing unfold before their eyes, and they convey this horror very effectively. – Aimee


Ghastly! – Wide-Eyed Death Edition

September 19, 1935
Photographer: R. Morgan

Mass Murder Executioner: Policeman holds sawed off shotgun with which Charles Geery, whose body is shown lying on the bed, slew three others in suicide pact in Newark early today. The executioner telephoned police and then killed himself.

Culled from: New York Noir: Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 11, 2016

Ernest Hemingway shot himself to escape his inner demons. Deeply depressed, Hemingway had tried electroshock therapy at the Mayo Clinic before he returned to his home and, ignoring his title A Farewell to Arms, used a shotgun to end his life. Family history was to repeat itself when granddaughter Margeaux Hemingway committed suicide many years later. (Her death was less violent – an overdose of pills.)

Ernest Hemingway and His Gun

The Tragically Doomed Margeaux

Culled from: The Big Sleep: True Tales and Twisted Trivia About Death


Creep Du Jour!

Perhaps you’ve heard the story that is all the rage on the World Wide Web today, about a creepy You Tube video entitled “Hi Walter I have a new girlfriend”?  Well, it seems that a girl depicted in this video (which was originally posted in 2009) bears a strong resemblance to a girl who actually disappeared around the same time and the police are now investigating the legitimacy of the video.  Although the original You Tube link was deleted earlier today, you can watch the video at the link below.  So, what do you think?  Real or fake? I vote Fake But Creepy because the guy is such a terrible actor… but then again, maybe he’s just a crazy person? Sometimes there’s a fine line between the two, after all.   Check out the Reddit forums (linked in the article below) too – interesting discussion.

Is This Horrifying You Tube Video Linked to the Disappearance of a Teenage Girl?

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 10, 2016

Today’s Imitative Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In September of 1917, a Mr. and Mrs. Barnett of London, Kentucky were working in their garden. They left their three-month-old son Henry in his cradle in the hall. Presently, little Henry began to fuss, and his twenty-month-old sister tried to comfort him. The little girl had often seen Henry being fed with a bottle, so, imitating her parents, she found a bottle and gave it to her baby brother.

Unfortunately, the bottle she found did not contain milk. It was full of carbolic acid, which burned Henry’s throat and mouth badly and paralyzed his tongue. A doctor was summoned quickly, but nothing could be done and Henry Barnett died the next day.

Culled From:
Submitted by: Aimee

What must it be like to grow up and know that actions taken when you were not much more than a baby yourself resulted in the death of your baby brother? – Aimee

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Thanks to Magnoire for sharing this truly frightening video with us!