The strange and curious during the days of yore

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • Mr P.J. Tierney, father of the modern diner, died of indigestion in 1917 after eating at a diner.
  • Hippocrates, considered the "Father of Medicine", once suggested a woman with a flat bustline could enlarge it by singing loudly and often.
  • In the winter of 1724, while on an outing at sea, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia caught sight of a foundering ship, jumped in the water, and helped in the rescue. He caught cold, suffered from high fever and died several weeks later.
  • Ernestine Williams of Florida, an arthritic grandmother, ran a family pickpocket ring from her wheelchair for 10 years. Ernestine taught her children and teenage grandson the tricks of the trade, and took in as much as US$50,000 per day. Following a two-year investigation, they were all arrested in November 2000 on racketeering charges.
  • On his way home to visit his parents, a Harvard student fell between two railroad cars at the station in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was rescued by an actor on his way to visit a sister in Philadelphia. The student was Robert Lincoln, heading for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The actor was Edwin Booth, the brother of the man who a few weeks later would murder the student's father.
  • In 1899, the commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office called for the abolition of his office. His reason: "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
  • The 18th-century politician and playboy John Wilkes was arguing with a fellow politician, Lord Sandwich, who exclaimed: "Sir, you will die either of the pox or on the gallows". To which Wilkes reportedly replied: "Depending on whether I embrace your mistress or your principles".
  • Mormon leader Brigham Young had 57 children with 16 of his 27 wives.
  • Murderer John Horwood was hanged on 13 April 1821. His skin was used to bind a book describing the dissection of his body by surgeon Richard Smith.
  • Sir Thomas Carew, the speaker of the British House of Commons during the 17th century, named his four daughters Patience, Temperance, Silence and Prudence.
  • Victoria Woodhall, the radical feminist who ran for the U.S. presidency in 1872, feared that she would die if she went to bed in her old age. She spent the last four years of her life sitting in a chair. She died at the age of 89 in 1927.
  • Pope Pius IX (1846-78) was reputed to be a "jettatore" or a possessor of the "evil eye", not because it was thought he was malevolent but because it seemed that disasters fell upon the people and places he had blessed.
  • The men who served as guards along the Great Wall of China in the Middle Ages were often born on the wall, grew up there, married there, died there, and were buried within it. Many of these guards never left the wall in their entire lives.
  • Salvador Dali had his wife pose for the face of Christ in his painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper.
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England owned nearly 3,000 gowns.
  • When asked to name his favourite among all his paintings, Pablo Picasso replied "the next one".
  • The Mongol conqueror Timur the Lame (1336-1405), played polo with the skulls of those he had killed in battle. Timur left record of his victories by erecting 30-foot-high pyramids made of the severed heads of his victims.
  • Queen Elizabeth II wore three different crowns on her coronation day in 1953.
  • Queen Elizabeth II has a silver hood ornament of St George (the patron saint of England) slaying the dragon placed on any car in which she is travelling.
  • When Elizabeth I of Russia died in 1762, 15,000 dresses were found in her closets. She would change what she was wearing two, and often three, times an evening.

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