Friday, March 27, 2015

Axeman of New Orleans For Freaky Friday...!

This one should fit right in for Freaky Friday. One of those little things left out of the history books, I guess.

The Bizarre Case Of The Axeman Of New Orleans

By Jeff Kelly on Saturday, November 16, 2013


When you think of serial killers, your mind probably jumps to Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, Son of Sam, and the Boston Strangler. But there was another, lesser-known serial killer terrifying the city of New Orleans in 1918 and 1919 who offered people a unique way to guarantee he wouldn’t kill them. He told them he’d spare anyone playing jazz music in their homes. This was the bizarre modus operandus of the man known as the Axeman of New Orleans.
For whatever bizarre reason, we’ve always held a certain gruesome fascination when it comes to serial killers. From Jack the Ripper, to the Zodiac Killer, to the Son of Sam and the Boston Strangler, our morbid curiosity keeps these mass murderers in the forefront of popular culture. That’s why it seems oddly peculiar that so few people seem to have ever heard of the Axeman of New Orleans.
The Axeman operated from May 1918 until he vanished in October 1919, but in that span he terrified the city of New Orleans, who all feared they’d wake up in the middle of the night to find him brandishing his axe at the foot of their beds. The majority of his victims were of Italian descent, which has led to theories ranging from these being a series of hate crimes to possibly having Mafia connections.
What made the case more bizarre was a letter penned by the Axeman and published in the local paper, in which he said that anyone playing jazz music in their homes would be spared. This in turn led to a completely off-the-wall theory that, for whatever reason, the Axeman was simply a jazz enthusiast who was trying to promote his favorite style of music.
In all, the Axeman is believed to have attacked 11 people, including women and children. The case was so brutal and strange that it led one former New Orleans detective to describe it as a real-life version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. To this day, no one is sure who exactly the Axeman was, though there was some suspicion it was a man named Joseph Mumfre, who was shot to death in December 1919. Mumfre was believed to have left the city shortly after the final victim was killed, and the person doing the shooting was the widow of that last victim. In true Hollywood fashion she confronted him dressed all in black, stepping out of the shadows to cap the potential mass murderer.
After Mumfre was killed, the Axeman murders stopped in New Orleans. It could simply be a coincidence, or it could have been the fact that the woman doing her best Charles Bronson impression had in fact chosen the right target. The widow, who had told police she had seen the murderer fleeing the scene of her husband’s grisly demise but could not identify him at the time, spent three years in prison for killing Mumfre, only to vanish upon being released, presumably roaming the country serving up justice by way of hot lead.

Come to think of it...maybe it's better we never heard of him before. All we need is another crazy to occupy our dreams...or nightmares!

Coffee out on the patio today. Rain is gone for now.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Saving The Slinky...!

I think that nearly everyone knows about the invention of the "Slinky". Although the inspiration was an accident, the original Slinky quickly became a big success.

Sometimes, though, folks just don't handle success very well. This bit of history I borrowed from KnowledgeNuts shows that fame and fortune don't guarantee happiness. There is probably a useful message in there somewhere!

How One Woman Rescued The Slinky From A Cult-ish Ending
By Heather Ramsey on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Although Betty James came up with the toy’s name in 1944, her husband, Richard James, is credited with inventing the Slinky, a toy spring that walked down stairs and delighted children. This simple toy became an incredible success, but Richard James didn’t handle it well. He gave away large sums of money to questionable religious charities, then abandoned his wife and six children to join a cult in Bolivia. With the business in shambles and her family nearing bankruptcy, Betty James revived the company and built an empire, all around an inexpensive toy spring that ultimately got her inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

Although Betty James came up with the toy’s name in 1944, her husband, Richard James, is credited with inventing the Slinky, a toy spring that walked down stairs and delighted children. Richard was an engineer in the Navy when he watched a spring fall off a shelf and bounce around doing a version of the Slinky walk we all know so well. That gave him the idea to make a walking toy from a spring. It took him two years to get it right, but the Slinky finally debuted around Christmas in 1945 at a Philadelphia department store.

After demonstrating the new toy to the crowd, the entire stock of 400 Slinky toys sold out in an hour for $1 each. Although Richard and Betty James founded their company, James Industries, with a $500 loan, their simple toy soon became an incredible success. A little over 10 years later, they owned a 12-acre property in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, headed a thriving company, and had six children.

But Richard James couldn’t handle the success or the fame he derived from Slinky. He gave away large sums of money to questionable religious charities, then abandoned his wife and six children to join a cult in Bolivia in 1960.

“The children then were ages 2, 4, 6, 8, 16 and 18,” Betty James recalled in an interview with the New York Times. “So, no, I wasn’t interested in South America. When we first had Slinky, we got a lot of publicity, made a lot of money, and he just didn’t handle it well. He thought he was big time. And these religious people always had their hands out. He had given so much away that I was almost bankrupt. I sold the factory and decided to move from the Philadelphia area back to Altoona, where I grew up, with the business.”

Mrs. James took out a mortgage on her house, traveled to a toy show in New York, and watched orders surge. She also kicked off a television advertising campaign with a memorable jingle that became known nationwide. Ultimately, Betty James revived the company and built an empire, all around an inexpensive toy spring that saw her inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. In 2001, Slinky also became the official state toy of Pennsylvania.

Of course, there were offshoot toys like the Slinky Dog, which also contributed to the company’s success. Slinky has appeared in the movie, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and a revamped Slinky Dog appeared in the Toy Story series. Through it all, Mrs. James was determined to keep the basic Slinky affordable, so that parents could buy them for their kids without breaking the bank.

Mrs. James retired when James Industries was acquired by Poof Products in 1998. Sadly, she passed away in 2008.

Ya know, as far back as I can remember we always seemed to have at least one Slinky around the house somewhere. It was one toy that seemed to facinate children (and adults) of all ages! It still shows up at Christmas from time to time!

Better have our coffee inside this morning. The weather guy says rain is on the way.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fanny Porter For Western Wednesday...!

In keeping with the topic of notable women of the old west, today we learn about Miss Fannie Porter.

She certainly wasn't like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, but still she was quite the character!

Fannie Porter

Painting by William Hogarth

Easily one of the most successful businesswomen of all time, you could say Fannie Porter was a natural entrepreneur. By the age of 20, the young widow was running her own luxury bordello in San Antonio, Texas, and catering to the likes of the Wild Bunch as well as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. For a while, the country’s most famous outlaws visited Fannie’s establishment, hiding from the law and falling in love with her girls. Although she was well-known for her personal ties with outlaws, Fannie did regularly interact with the right side of the law and was even paid a visit by the infamous detective and lawman William Pinkerton.

When brothels could no longer openly operate in Texas, Fannie sold her house and disappeared. No one knows what happened to her, but one thing is for sure: She left the prostitution business a wealthy woman.

Thanks to people like Fannie Porter, the west was a much more interesting place! Thanks to the folks over at Listverse, we all can share the knowledge of these people of interest.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Anyone want some sliced peaches?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wartime Money Bonfires In Hawaii...!

This is a wartime bit of history I didn't know. Probably not many folks in this day and age are even aware of it!

I can certainly understand the reasoning behind this move, but I reckon it did NOT please the people in Hawaii much. If it weren't for the folks over at KnowledgeNuts, I would never have known this tidbit of history. See what you can find if you do a little research?

When The US Burned All Of Its Money In Hawaii
By Larry Jimenez on Saturday, March 21, 2015

At the start of the Pacific War, there was the very real danger of the Japanese invading Hawaii. The possibility of the enemy getting their hands on $200 million circulating in the islands worried authorities. Their extreme solution? Burn all of it.

Wartime emergencies often call for extreme measures. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was placed under martial law. It was an unprecedented and unparallelled experience for the territory’s American citizens. They were subjected to curfews, blackouts, and censorship of news and mail. Residents who were considered dangerous (mostly those of Japanese origin) were arrested and sent to internment camps.

In anticipation of a possible land invasion, the populace began hoarding basic items and cash. It was the latter that worried the military brass. At the time there was about $200 million worth of Uncle Sam’s money circulating in the territory. If the Japanese captured and occupied the islands, they could help themselves to the cash, which couldn’t be differentiated from the rest of the currency stock, and use it anywhere in the world. It would be a supreme irony if they could finance their war courtesy of the US.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Military Governor Delos Carleton Emmons issued an order on January 10, 1942 to recall all US paper money in Hawaii. Individuals were allowed to keep only $200 each and businesses $500 plus a little extra for payroll purposes. To keep the economy going, the restrictions were lifted six months later with the issue of new, overprinted notes on June 25. These were ordinary dollar bills but for the word “HAWAII” stamped across the reverse side and two smaller prints on the sides of the obverse.

The idea behind the overprinted notes was to make Hawaiian currency distinctive so that it would be easy for the government to declare the money worthless should the Japanese seize it. There was no more need for residents to hold onto the non-overprinted notes and these were subsequently recalled. From August 15, only the new notes could be used in Hawaii, Palmyra, and Midway Islands, but GIs also spent it in places like the Philippines.

There remained the problem of what to do with the $200 million of regular notes confiscated by the authorities. It could be shipped back to the mainland, but the military found logistical problems in ferrying the bulky cargo across the sea. They determined that the most sensible option was to burn all of it. The money was sent to a local crematorium where the burning commenced. A fine mesh was placed over the smokestacks to keep unburned scraps from floating out, ensuring complete destruction. But there was so much money that it was taking too long to destroy. Authorities had to requisition the bigger furnaces of the Aiea sugar mill to make double time on the work.

The overprinted notes continued to serve as legal tender until October 1944 and were recalled in April 1946. Today, they are extremely collectible, especially the $5 note, of which only nine million were printed. There are also the even more valuable “star notes,” which are bills with an asterisk after the serial number to indicate that they were replacements for damaged money. So if you ever come across some Hawaiian currency, don’t throw it out. It might be worth something.

I'm glad I didn't have the job of burning all that money. It would have broken my heart! Still, it's an interesting part of history we should know, I think. Don't you?

Let's have our coffee out on the patio this morning. Sound good to you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Classic For Monday Mystery...!

Sometimes you just can't beat the classics. whether it's plays, movies,or books...the classics are hard to beat!

I'd say that this play by Agatha Christie falls into the classic catagory, but it's sa that the inspiration came from a real crime. Here's the story found on Listverse.

The Mouse Trap

The world’s longest-running theatrical play is a murder mystery by Agatha Christie. The Mouse Trap has been running for over 60 years, and its plot is loosely based on a murder that shocked wartime Britain. In 1945, a doctor was called to a remote farm in Shropshire, England to examine a sick child. The doctor declared that the boy had been dead for hours, and a murder investigation began.

Reginald and Esther Gough were foster parents to both the dead 13-year-old Dennis O’Neill and his 11-year-old brother, Terence. Both brothers suffered from malnourishment that bordered on starvation, and both had ulcerated sores and scars that likely came from constant blows. When the coroner determined that Dennis had died from a beating, the Goughs were arrested.

At first, the Goughs’ story was that the boys’ injuries had come from fighting one another and that they were being treated for their ulcerated sores. But at the trial, Esther Gough admitted that Dennis was dead when she called the doctor and that she’d neglected the boys on her husband’s orders. He controlled the household, beating his wife and cruelly starving and beating the O’Neill boys nearly every night.

The jury was only able to give Esther six months for neglect because there was less proof against her. When Reginald was convicted of manslaughter, the public raised an outcry and an appeals court changed the verdict to murder. The public also called for reforms, since Reginald had a violent criminal record before the two boys were even put into his care. The failure to protect Dennis and Terence became a key to the mystery in Agatha Christie’s famous play. More importantly, it resulted in the Children Act of 1948, which established trained officers throughout Britain to ensure the healthy development of foster children and protect them from mistreatment.

It would seem to me that the biggest mystery here is one we still face every day. How can anyone mistreat children in this manner? It seems to me that it often takes the authorities way too long to find out about abuse, mainly because so many folks just don't want to become involved. Shame on those folks that won't speak out!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, alright?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Church Bulletin Funnies For Sunday...!

Instead of the usual 'toons this Sunday, I found some really entertaining material from the folks that do the weekly church bulletins. I hope you get a kick out of them!

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for the church ladies with typewriters. These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced at church services:

The Fasting & Prayer conference includes meals.
Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.'The sermon tonight:'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM .. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

And this one just about sums them all up. The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday:
'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.'

Just a little Sunday humor for ya today! I hope you enjoyed them!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. No rain in the forecast!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Doc Susie" Anderson..!

Not many of us ever gave thought to the women of the medical profession in the past. Maybe because there weren't that many.

Most of the medical women of old were very fondly remembered. That was the case of "Doc Susie." I'd say she made a lasting impression on quite a few folks in her long career.

Susan “Doc Susie” Anderson

Photo via Wikipedia

Few women practiced medicine in the 1800s, and even fewer trekked on foot through the frontier to tend to patients, but that is exactly what Susan “Doc Susie” Anderson did.

Susan’s father encouraged her to become a doctor and paid for her education at the University of Michigan. After earning her medical degree, Susan decided to move back to Cripple Creek, Colorado with her family to begin a medical practice. She quickly earned a reputation as a skilled physician, often helping injured miners.

After numerous personal setbacks, Susan left the roughneck mining town to practice medicine in Denver. Despite her skill, she was unable to establish a steady practice and instead ended up nursing for six years in Greeley, Colorado. Years before, Susan had contracted tuberculosis, and she decided that the high altitudes of Fraser, Colorado would better suit her condition. It was in Fraser that Susan really flourished as a physician and earned the nickname “Doc Susie.” Because her patients were often poor, Susan was usually paid in food or firewood. With little monetary income, Susan was fairly destitute herself until she was named the Grand County Coroner. This medicine woman continued to make house calls until the age of 84

Now this is a case of someone that is very dedicated to their profession and my hat is certainly off to them. I can't even imagine a doctor today making house calls, especially at the age of 84. Sure could use a few like her today!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, I think. 94% chance of rain!