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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Author Archives: Steve Silverman

Le Mars Trilogy: Part 1 – T.M. Zink’s Library

The first of a 3-part series on Le Mars, Iowa from the 1930’s. Le Mars was thrust into the national spotlight by the actions of just one man: a successful lawyer named T.M. Zink, who left nearly his entire estate for the establishment of a very unusual library. Was Zink was truly mad or was he simply playing a good practical joke on the world?

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Twilight Zone Chooses to Keep Rod Serling

One of my favorite television shows of all time is the Twilight Zone and would be very hard to imagine it without the on-screen presence of its creator, Rod Serling. Yet, few people realize that he did not appear on the show during its entire first season. Serling only did the narration.

At the end of the season, the show’s sponsors – General Foods and Kimberly-Clark – opted not to renew their contracts with the CBS network. Without a sponsor the show would have almost certainly been canceled.

According to a June 7, 1960 New York Times article, CBS concluded that the only way that they could convince sponsors to keep supporting the show would be for them to secure the talents of a big-name celebrity host. Their choice was actor Orson Welles. Luckily for those of us who are big fans of Rod Serling, Welles declined the offer.

It was speculated in the article that General Mills and new sponsor Colgate-Palmolive agreed to advertise on the show because of Welles’ supposed involvement, but that was never confirmed.

Instead, Rod Serling was informed that he would provide both the introduction and closing to the show.

Rod Serling Twilight Zone
It would be hard to imagine The Twilight Zone without its creator Rod Serling.
 

Kids Trapped in a Toolbox

On Sunday March 12, 1950, three Hinsdale, Illinois children – 12-year-old Sharon Drallmeier, her 9-year-old brother Richard, and their 7-year-old neighbor Thomas Hayes – failed to return home after a movie.

Alarmed, the two fathers went to the theater, but the children were not there. Police were contacted and the community began a search for the missing children.

As Mr. Drallmeier began to search a nearby house under construction, he kicked a large toolbox from which he heard the kids shouting. He opened it and all three children were found inside.

It turns out that while the kids were on their way to the movie, Thomas, the neighbor, had fallen into a pond and was soaked. Fearful of going home in such a wet condition, he climbed into the toolbox. The other two climbed in with him when a sudden gust of wind blew the lid shut.

Unable to open the lid, they frantically screamed for help before giving up and going to sleep. The children had climbed into the toolbox between 2:00 and 2:30 in the afternoon. They were rescued at 7:30 that evening.

 

Wife Serves Husband Dog Food

On October 27, 1937, Stanley Ditzel, a switchboard operator at the West Orange, New Jersey Town Hall received a call from a woman asking to be connected to the Board of Health.

The line was busy, so she explained her situation to the operator. It seems that shortly after her husband left for work, she went to feed the dog and realized that it was the chopped meat she had intended to use to make breakfast patties for her husband.

Yes, she made her husband’s breakfast from the meat inside of a can of dog food…

Both the husband and the dog were unharmed. The operator assured the wife that it was perfectly safe. I’m guessing that he didn’t mention to her that most dog food back then was made from horse meat…

1958 ad for Friskies Dog Food with Horse Meat
Note the line in this ad that states "Bulldogs and all dogs love the lean red horse meat in canned Friskies!" From the February 24, 1958 issue of Life Magazine.
 

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman in United States history to have been awarded the Medal of Honor, only to have it rescinded later in her life. Some would argue that she was way ahead of her time, while others see her as a crackpot. Continue Reading

 

1973 Habitrail Advertisement

 

This advertisement for the Habitrail City hamster habitat appeared in the March 9, 1973 issue of the Long Beach Independent. Habitrails were originally manufactured by Metaframe/Living World, which was a division of Mattel Toy.  Mattel eventually sold the business off and Metaframe eventually went bankrupt.  Habitrail was acquired by Rolf C. Hagen and are still manufactured today, although the line has been totally revamped.

Where There’s a Wilby, There’s a Way

Between 1942 and 1943 Ralph Marshall Wilby appeared to pull off what appeared to be the perfect crime. An incredible story which has many of the elements of an international thriller: deception, false identities, international kidnapping, and the drop dead gorgeous woman who brought his capture.

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A Miracle Birth in Mexico

On March 5, 2000, Ines Ramirez Perez went into labor but was unable to get any medical care to help with the delivery. In a panic, Ines concluded that she had no other option than to deliver the baby herself. She used an ordinary kitchen knife to perform a cesarean on herself. Find out what happened afterward and stories of other self-cesareans.

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Eleuterio the Parrot

Back in 1965, an 86-year-old Brazilian woman named Dona Maria Consuelo complained to the police that her neighbor Adam Camara was constantly screaming vulgar and insulting comments at her. An officer investigated and discovered that none of those words were coming from Camara’s lips. Instead, they were coming from his green and yellow talking parrot named Eleuterio.

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