Strange History and News of Weird Trivia 1918 to 1934

A collectiong of random facts and strange history from 1918 to 1934 including trivia about human life expectancy, Japanese acrobats, and a major hail storm.


1918 Attempting to dodge German gunfire, a Canadian pilot named Makepiece went into a sharp nose dive. In the process his passenger, Capt. J. H. Sedley, fell out of the plane. When Makepiece leveled off several hundred feet below, the free-falling Sedley miraculously landed on the tail of the airplane, apparently drawn there by the downdraft of the plummeting aircraft. Sedley clung to the tail, then clambered into his seat, unharmed. Ultimately the plane landed safely behind Allied lines.

1919 In neglecting to double-check the veracity of the material sent in by their correspondents, the editors of Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography had left themselves vulnerable to pranksters and incompetents. In 1919 a wary librarian finally did a bit of investigative research and found that 14 of the biographies in the most recent edition were of nonexistent people and that they had been continuously reprinted since 1886. The embarrassing disclosure prompted the Appleton's people to initiate a more exhaustive housecleaning of their own, which turned up an additional 70 counterfeit biographies.

1920 For the first time in recorded history, the average life expectancy of human beings exceeded that of goldfish. Before that year, a newborn infant could expect to live 48.4 years. For many species of wild goldfish, the projected life span was over 50.

1923 The Westman Publishing Company, American publishers of Handel's Messiah, filed a plagiarism suit against the composers of the hit tune "Yes, We Have No Bananas," claiming that it had been stolen from the opening bars of the Hallelujah Chorus. The publishers won.

1930 Hailstones as large as walnuts, kumquats, and even grapefruit have been recorded, but all are pallid fare compared to some man-sized beauties that fell on Germany in 1930. Five glider pilots ran into bad weather high above the mountains and were forced to bail out. But instead of free-falling, they were lifted by a violent updraft to the top of a cloud, where they acquired a thick coating of ice. Then they plunged earthward, the ice layer--alternately melting and refreezing as they passed through successive layers of warm and cold air--growing ever larger. All the chutes opened, and one of the men survived. But the others, frozen to death, hit the ground as human hailstones.

1931 Armed with full catcher's gear and an outsized mitt, Joe Sprinz of the Cleveland Indians caught a baseball dropped 800 ft. from a hovering dirigible. While he handled the ball neatly, the impact created a shock wave through his body that fractured his jaw.

1933 A bus carrying a team of seven Japanese acrobats plunged from a cliff near Tokyo. Death seemed inevitable as the vehicle careened violently down the mountainside, overturning several times. A few hundred feet down, however, the bus's progress was stemmed for a split second when it struck a rock. In that instant, the seven men hurled themselves through open windows and landed in the branches of a tree, bruised and dazed--but alive.

1934 Track star Glenn Cunningham set a world's record for the mile on June 16, with 4:06.8, despite the fact that as a child he had lost all the toes on his left foot in a fire.

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