Strange History and News of Weird Trivia 1959 to 1967

A collectiong of random facts and strange history from 1959 to 1967 including trivia about Robert Ripley of Believe or Not fame, sunburns, and the worst driver.


1959 When his wife, Carmelina, died in 1959, Dr. Karsuaburo Miyamoto of Japan embalmed the body and then slept next to it in their conjugal bed for 10 years. When police discovered that he had covered up his wife's death, the good doctor was fined $3,000, which he paid by selling his house.

1961 Bob Considine brought out a biography, Ripley: The Modern Marco Polo, which recounted some of Robert Ripley's favorite believe-it-or nots, including the following: (1) Beneath a drawing of the Panama Canal, Ripley's caption read, "A postage stamp built the Panama Canal." In 1878 the French had acquired rights to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. For numerous reasons, the project failed. However, a young French engineer, Philippe Jean Bunau-Varilla, still believed that a canal could be built in Panama. Unable to get any action on the project in France, Bunau-Varilla went to Washington, D.C., to see if he could interest any congressmen in the venture. There he found that a bill was pending to build a canal through Nicaragua, not Panama, especially since the existence of Lake Nicaragua would cut the costs of construction. "Bunau-Varilla promptly became a one-man lobby. He obtained several hundred Nicaraguan postage stamps, which showed a picture of one of the country's small volcanoes in full eruption. Bunau-Varilla wrote a brief letter to each congressman, asking, in effect, if it was really wise to build a canal--at great cost to the American taxpayers--through a country which was filled with active volcanoes. With each letter went one of the Nicaraguan stamps. The congressmen read the letter, looked at the stamp, and decided not to vote funds for a canal through Nicaragua." Two years later, in 1904, Congress approved the canal project for Panama. So, indeed, as Ripley put it, "A postage stamp built the Panama Canal." (2) Ripley claimed that during the Mexican Revolution of 1913 "a certain Senor Lascurain had served for 37 minutes as president of Mexico" before being impeached. (3) According to Considine, another Ripley favorite was this one: "Neils Paulsen, of Uppsala, Sweden, died in 1907 at the age of 160 and left two sons--one nine years old and the other 103 years of age."

1963 Esquire magazine reported that Mrs. Agnes Matlock of New Hyde Park, N.Y. had charged in a lawsuit that her house had burned to the ground while the two fire departments that had answered her call argued over which one had jurisdiction to put out the blaze.

1966 A team of California researchers concluded that aside from humans, pigs are the only mammals capable of getting sunburned.

1966 According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the world's worst driver was a 75-year-old man who received 10 traffic summonses because he "drove on the wrong side of the road four times, committed four hit-and-run offenses, and caused six accidents, all within 20 minutes, in McKinney, Tex., on Oct. 15, 1966."

1967 Teenager James Law and six friends rode every inch of New York City's 227-mi. subway system in a record 22 hours, 11 1/2 minutes.

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