Morbid Fact Du Jour for May 3, 2017

Today’s Grateful Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Among the earliest known accounts of a photographer taking a corpse photograph is James F. Ryder’s 1873 recollection of his days as a daguerreotypist in central New York State in the 1850s. In recounting the attitudes of the townsfolk to his practice, Ryder states:

I was regarded with respect and supposed to be a prosperous young fellow. All were friendly and genial – save one. The blacksmith, a heavy, burly man, the muscular terror of the village disapproved of me. Said I was a lazy dog, too lazy to do honest work and was humbuggin [sic] and swindling the people of their hard earnings. He, for one, was ready to drive me out of the village.

The greater my success the more bitter his spleen, and in the abundance of his candor denounced me to my face as a humbug too lazy to earn an honest living. He said he wouldn’t allow me to take his dog; that I ought to be ashamed of robbing poor people. Other uncomplimentary things, he said, which were hard to bear, but in view of his heavy muscle and my tender years, I did not attempt to resent. 

Well, I left that quiet town and brawny blacksmith one day and moved to another town a few miles distant. A week later I was surprised at a visit from him. He had driven over to the new place to find me. He had a crazed manner which I did not understand and which filled me with terror.

He demanded that I put my machine in his wagon and go with him straight at once. I asked why he desired it and what was the matter. Then the powerful man, with heavy chest, burst into a passion of weeping quite uncontrollable. When he subsided sufficiently to speak he grasped my hands, and through heavy weeping, broken out afresh, told me his little boy has been drowned in the mill race and I must go and take his likeness.

A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind. My sympathy for the poor fellow developed a tenderness for him in his wild bereavement which seemed to bring me closer to him than any friend I had made in the village. To describe his gratitude and kindness to me after is beyond my ability to do. 

Culled from: Culled from Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America


Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

So I recently took up alcohol as a hobby (it had to happen eventually). Each payday I pick a random cocktail from an app and purchase the ingredients for the cocktail (and force myself to drink it, regardless of how repulsive it might be – last Friday I suffered through something called “Bloody Frog Cum”). Anyway, over time I’ve been building up a lovely bar and I’ve also acquired some nifty mid-century barware.  Recently I was looking into getting some fancy large ice cubes to kick my presentation up a notch (even though only my cats will ever lay eyes/paws on my drinks anyway, lonely misbegotten soul that I am). And then I stumbled upon this – and, I thought, what better presentation could there possibly be? 

Giant Skull Ice Cubes!

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