A few hours ago I was poking around on the wonderful British Pathé site—the one of the Steinlauf family of Chicago and their oddball bicycles is great, as is the one that’s just 200 cars on fire—and an extraordinary collection of old newsreels. Then I got sucked into a research rabbit hole and didn’t stop ’til I figured out where dialectical materialism came from. Then I got some coffee. Anyway, newsreels!
“Loyola Students Vie for Prize Beer Keg in Odd Pushball Game.” This looks really fun and incredibly dangerous.
Other good/bad ideas: In 1932, the planners of the World’s Fair invited the great inventor/balloonist Auguste Piccard (father of Jacques, inspiration for Hergé’s Professor Cuthbert Calculus) to break his high-altitude ballooning record. He sent his brother, who didn’t have a license, so they sent up Lieutenant Thomas G.W. “Tex” Settle and Maj. Chester Fordney instead. The balloon sprung a leak—near the ground, fortunately—and landed in a rail yard. At the end of the fair, they tried again and safely hit 61,236 feet, almost 10,000 feet more than Piccard’s record, a feat that required 750 canisters of hydrogen gas. Flying Magazine has a long account.
Viral videos have always been around, we just have more robust distribution channels. (“Cecil H. Dill, of Traverse Coty, Michigan, an aspiring radio artist demonstrating his ability to render popular melodies by pressing his hands together. Dill modestly tells how he discovered his unusual talent.")
Spike O’Donnell (“the most shot-at gangster in the country") tells a Senate investigation committee how to keep kids from becoming the most shot-at gangster in the country. (From the sound of it, if he’d been set on the straight and narrow, he would have ended up at the U. of C. with all the sociologists. Instead, he got arrested at 17 for ghost payrolling at the Department of Liquor Licensing, and it was a straight shot to the Beer Wars.)
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