goatish gonads

One of our favourite characters here at the Gimcrack is Dr Serge Voronoff who has been mentioned in not one, not two, but three posts before. Serge was responsible for transplanting bits of monkey testes into aging men. John Brinkley went one step further – he became a millionaire during the twenties by transplanting goat glands instead.

Brinkley and wife found here

While working as house doctor at the Swift meatpacking company, he was dazzled by the vigorous mating activities of the goats destined for the slaughterhouse. Later, after Brinkley had gone into private practice, a farmer named Stittsworth came to see him. Stittsworth complained of a sagging libido. Recalling the goats’ frantic antics, the doctor semi-jokingly told his patient that what he needed was some goat glands. Stittsworth quickly responded, “So, Doc, put ’em in. Transplant ’em.”

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Most doctors would have ignored the bizarre request, but Brinkley was not like most doctors. In fact, he wasn’t a doctor at all. Although he had spent three years at Bennet Medical College in Chicago, he’d never graduated. He called himself a doctor on the basis of a $500 diploma he had purchased from the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City.

“Eclectic” found here

Buying a degree from a diploma mill was not out of character for Brinkley. He had worked as a snake-oil salesman in a road show, and then, with fellow con man James Crawford, established Greenville Electro Medical Doctors. Under this name the pair injected people with colored distilled water for $25 a shot. Brinkley, therefore, had all he needed to capitalize on the farmer’s idea of goat-gland transplants: he was unethical, he had a wobbly knowledge of medicine, and he had witnessed the rambunctious behavior of goats.

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Brinkley went to work, implanting a small piece of goat gonad in Stittsworth’s testicle. Soon the farmer was thanking the doctor for giving him back his libido. And when his wife gave birth to a boy, whom they appropriately named Billy, Stittsworth spread the word further. Brinkley’s business was booming and even at $750 per transplant, he couldn’t keep up with demand. All men needed the Brinkley operation, he declared, but the procedure was most suited to the intelligent and least suited to the “stupid type.” This, of course, ensured that few of his patients would admit that they had not benefited from the operation.

Baby Billy Bob found here

Revenue from the surgeries made Brinkley an immensely wealthy man. For $5,000, he would even implant genuine human glands, which he obtained from prisoners on death row. He had mansions, a fleet of Cadillacs, airplanes, and yachts.There were occasional problems like when Brinkley decided to use angora goat testicles instead of those from the more common Toggenberg goat. Recipients of the angora testicles were unhappy—Brinkley himself noted that they reeked like a steamy barn in midsummer. 

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But ultimately Brinkley couldn’t cure himself. The Milford Messiah—as he was sometimes called—the man who had performed over 16,000 goat testicle transplants, the man who appropriately wore a goatee all his life, developed a blood clot, forcing doctors to amputate his leg. Till the very end, Brinkley’s scheming mind remained active. Confined to bed, he decided to study for the ministry and had visions of becoming a big-time preacher but he died before he could complete his degree.

putting his body on the line

Richard Glover is a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, who, last year, wanted to rid himself of warts…..

warthog walking stick found here

A month or so ago, I confessed to having a couple of doozies on my left hand. I’d visited several doctors who tried to defeat them in vain. I was forced to conclude medical science was not up to the job.

medicine man found here

Cue 137 readers who have kindly written about the wart-defeating method used in their household.  I’m now able to present at least 30 different cures and – by statistical analysis – list the Top Three Folk Remedies.

Karen recommends the sap from a poinsettia bush. Trevor, Kathryn, two Davids and a Rowley recommend the sap from the milk thistle weed. Bill recommends breathing on them. Fiona recommends homeopathy; Lyn prefers echinacea; and Georgie says to take two kelp tablets a day for three weeks.

learn to make poinsettia cookies here

Caro then invites me to urinate on my hand first thing in the morning. I decide against including this method in my study, however many votes it receives.

Sandie recommends vitamin E oil. Belinda and others advocate aloe vera. Mick suggests taping a piece of onion over them for a few days. Henry cites the same technique but using a slice of lemon. Jenny substitutes oranges and, in her cure, you eat them. 

purple onion skunk found here

As I open the letters and emails, things are getting weirder. Anne, Alicia and Keith all recommend fetching a snail from the garden and rubbing the mucus over the warts each day. Mary instructs me to spit on them first thing in the morning, then offers the helpful addendum: ‘‘P.S. You cannot use another person’s spit.”

snail graffiti found here

Barbara says she had a wool-classer boyfriend in the 1950s and he, along with the shearers, never suffered from warts because of the lanolin in the wool. I should give that a go, she says – the lanolin, not the shearer boyfriend.

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Lynne says hers disappeared sometime during a 16-hour labour, giving birth to her first son, and suggests I close my eyes and fantasise I’m giving birth.

Tracy was told by her mum to rub the wart with raw meat then take the meat outside and bury it in the garden. Beverly has the same rub-then-bury technique but hers uses a potato. Barnie does the same but using the furry bit inside a broad bean pod.

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In the 1950s, Frank lived in a small country town in which the cure was to ask a local called ”Old George Kearns” to stare at your warts, at which point they would fall off. If Old George wasn’t around, you’d tell his son, who’d ask his father to think about your warts when he arrived home. As soon as he got around to it, the warts would disappear.

Old George found here

And Anne says she’d get an empty washbasin, take it into the backyard at night and wash her hands in moonlight.

What was the cure most often recommended? Banana peel, white side pressed against the wart and then fixed in place with sticking plaster, as suggested by 12 readers.

Each day I strap two bits of peel to my hands. They have an amazing effect, rapidly eating away the warts, somewhat assisted by a bit of action with a pumice stone.

image found here

Nine days into my experiment, the warts are almost gone. I had intended to test the aloe vera cure and the milk thistle cure but I won’t have a chance.

What to do about the rough patch left behind? Thoroughly converted to the world of folk cures, I grab an empty washbasin and head out into the darkened backyard.

It’s nothing washing my hands in moonlight won’t fix.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm  Comments (53)  
Tags: , , ,

death car cutie

A google search for “death car” brings up some strange stories. China made headlines in 2006 with this:

image found here

Zhang Shiqiang, known as the Nine-Fingered Devil, first tasted justice at 13. His father caught him stealing and cut off one of Zhang’s fingers. Twenty-five years later, Zhang met retribution once more, after his conviction for double murder. He was put to death in China’s new fleet of mobile execution chambers that dispense capital punishment from specially equipped “death vans” that shuttle from town to town.

Makers of the vans say the vehicles and injections are a civilized alternative to the firing squad. The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China “promotes human rights,” says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Automobile death van in which “Devil” Zhang took his final ride.

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Along with the death vans, the company also makes bulletproof limousines for the country’s rich and armored trucks for banks.  “I’m most proud of the bed. It’s very humane, like an ambulance,” Kang says. He points to the power-driven metal stretcher that glides out at an incline. “It’s too brutal to haul a person aboard,” he says. “This makes it convenient for the criminal and the guards.”

The next result from Google took me here:

When Mrs. Ruth Warren arrived to claim her stolen car (after Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed in it), Sheriff Henderson Jordan refused to release it claiming that she would have to pay $15,000 to get it back. She had to hire an attorney to represent her before a Federal Judge who threatened to send the sheriff to jail, if he did not return the car to Mrs. Warren.

Bonnie and Clyde found here

The Death Car, recently displayed at “Terrible’s Casino” in Osceola, Iowa in August of 2007 is currently being displayed at Terrible’s St. Jo Frontier Casino in Saint Joseph Missouri. At the time of his death, Clyde Barrow was wearing a light blue western style shirt. It sold at auction for $85,000. A one inch swatch of the dark blue trousers he was wearing, can be purchased by you, and you need not mortgage your home to own this tangible piece of clothing.


image found here (click to enlarge)

And then there’s this article about Buckminster Fuller’s “charming death car”

Obsessed with sustainability, beloved futurist (and architect, designer, inventor, and all-around visionary) Buckminster Fuller spent his career dreaming of a Utopian future. He drafted plans and built prototypes of devices  that would fulfill his dreams, and two of them are on view at an installation going up in the Miami Design District’s pedestrian plaza.

Putting today’s Prius to shame, will be the Dymaxion 4 car, lovingly reconstructed by Norman Foster for a double dose of starchitectural magic. Fuller’s three-wheeler vehicle, which he intended to eventually give flight with jet engines, had a fuel efficiency far ahead of its time at 30 miles per gallon, while its aerodynamically efficient teardrop shape and rear-mounted Ford V-8 engine brought it to 120 miles per hour. With seating for 11, it would have been perfect for family road trips (had the safety precautions been more finely tuned — it unfortunately turned over and killed its driver at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair).

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charging of the sexes

In “The Philosophy of IntercourseDr Edward Bliss Foote explains that, thanks to animal magnetism, the opposite sexes quite literally keep each other charged up. Intercourse was a spinning dynamo generating frictional energy between men and women. *

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He was the author and publisher of his medical theories, the doctor who prescribed his own remedies, and the manufacturer and distributor of those very same medicines. 

The New York Times carried Foote ads trumpeting OLD EYES MADE NEW WITHOUT SPECTACLES and COMFORT FOR THE RUPTURED, and the enticing CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION FOR THE MARRIED. Foote patent medicines like his Magnetic Ointment and Magnetic Anti-Bilious Pills were hawked for impotency and—for your inevitable return visit after that first cure—for syphilitic and gonorrheal sores.

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Foote was also associated with the latest in toilets. In one of those happily juvenile accidents of history, the greatest seller of water closets in Britain was Thomas Crapper. In New York, Foote’s friend Asa Butts was the most successful supplier of the Wakefield Earth Closet. 

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The burnished mahogany Wakefields were handsome and refined. It made the act of toileting rather like relieving oneself on a really nice piano. It featured an array of levers and spring loaded slats to automatically cover everything up for you. In Britain, the Lancaster  Grammar School found them splendid for schoolboys, as their old water closets had kept getting clogged up “by reason of marbles, Latin grammar covers and other properties being thrown down them.”

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Earth closets had healthful advantages too. Any number of Victorian neuroses become understandable when you learn that one previous mass produced water commode was named The Clencher. 

“The Clencher” found here

*The information above was found in Paul Collins’ fascinating book “The Trouble with Tom – The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine”. He had quite a lot to say about Dr E. B Foote. You can read an earlier post about Foote’s amazing little book “Sammy Tubbs, Boy Doctor, and Sponsie, His Troublesome Monkey” here.

pinko wins again

Allan Pinkerton tells us of yet another case he solved

“Captain Sumner was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts with a moderate fortune, and he was a most estimable man. He was about fifty years of age, but well preserved.  I was very favorably impressed by his appearance and much pleased with his frank, manly simplicity.

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“Mr. Pinkerton, when I retired from the sea I thought my cares were over. My father trained me when I was quite a boy,  putting me through a thorough course of seamanship and navigation. My most intimate friend back then was Henry Thayer. Whenever we returned from a voyage, I would bring Henry out to the farm where he became warmly attached to my sister Annie.

Annie Oakley found here

The first voyage in my new ship was a long one, and on my return I found there had been many changes in my absence. Henry and Annie had been married for some time and seemed more devoted to each other than ever. 

When I next arrived in New York after another lengthy absence, I visited Annie. Much to my surprise, I found that she was teaching music in Brooklyn, at a very high salary. I had called in the evening, intending to ask her to accompany me for a walk, but she was surrounded by company, among whom were several gentlemen who were paying her great attention.

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It appeared that Annie had plunged into all the gayety and dissipation of New York fashionable life. I saw some things in her deportment, which were far from proper; she showed a carelessness of appearances not at all becoming a married woman. I felt compelled to ask about Henry.

On hearing Annie relate in an off-hand manner that she had separated from one of the best husbands that ever lived, I was thunderstruck. Henry had loved her passionately, and her conduct must have driven him away in despair. I determined to search for him in the hope of bringing them again together, and effecting a reconciliation.

Henry VIII as a child found here

On my next visit to New York, I hurried over to see Annie. She introduced me to a gentleman friend with whom she was about to go to the opera. He was a man of about forty-five years of age, with easy manners. His eyes were restless and snaky; I noticed that he never looked straight into my face when speaking to me.

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I felt great anxiety about Annie, and I was decided to resign my command immediately, to live on a farm with her, and remove her from the temptations of a gay city. Having settled my affairs, I hurried to fetch her but found she had moved to Greenville, where she was teaching music to Mr. Pattmore’s children.

I went to Greenville where Annie was glad to see me, but confessed that she was enceinte, and that Pattmore was the father of her unborn child.  Mr. Pattmore loved her, and she returned his affection; it was true that they were both married, but she preferred to obey the laws of nature to those of society. I fear she had forgotten her husband Henry, who was liable to return at any moment. After much deliberation she decided to undergo an abortion, return to Springfield with me and never see Pattmore again. She seemed so deeply and truly penitent that I was won over to her wishes, and agreed to stay with her until the operation was performed.

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There was a physician in Chicago who was a noted operator in such cases and he brought Annie through in safety. She was recovering fast, when one day, on entering her room, I found Pattmore there. I besought Annie never again to admit him to her presence. She would make no promises to me and fell back in a swoon.

Pattmore had told her that he was in great hopes of receiving the democratic nomination to Congress. He also said that his wife was in failing health and growing weaker every day. I could see by Annie’s manner that she hoped to be Pattmore’s partner in enjoying the gay life of the National Capital.

National Capital Brewery found here

A day or two after, she received a letter from him saying that his wife was seriously ill, and the physicians considered her life in danger. Our conversation then turned to the subject of wills, and I told her that I had made her my sole legatee, and that she would be in comfortable circumstances when I died. She was very much pleased at this but said she hoped it might be a long time before she should become heiress to my property.

Skipping gaily into the next room she brought out a bottle of ale to reward me for being good. She poured us both a glass and we drank to each other’s health. In about half an hour I became very sick; I vomited and retched terribly, while my bowels seemed to be on fire. I casually glanced at my lucky ring, and was surprised to see that the stone had turned to a creamy white—a sure sign that my life was in danger.

image found here

“Mr. Pinkerton,” he said “I have positive knowledge that Annie has attempted to poison me three times. She put poison in that ale; she afterwards gave me some in a cup of coffee; and, the third time, it was administered so secretly, that I do not know when I took it. The first time, I recovered because the dose was too large, and I vomited up the poison so soon that it had not time to act. The second time, I took only a sip of the coffee, and found that it tasted bitter, so I threw it away, though the little I had taken distressed me exceedingly. The third time, I nearly died, and it was only by the prompt attendance of a physician that I was saved.”

When I recovered, I accused Annie of trying to poison me; she denied it vehemently at first, but I said: “The ring tells me that I have an enemy nearby, and you must be that enemy.” I spoke as if positive of her guilt, and, as she is a firm believer in the ring, she burst into tears and confessed having given me the poison three times.

three poisonous frogs found here

She was so wholly contrite, that I thought she would never undertake such a terrible crime again, and I freely forgave her. Pattmore had encouraged her to put me out of the way. He had told her that he would marry her when his wife was dead; that I was bitterly opposed to him, and would never consent to their marriage; and therefore it would be well for her to poison me before Mrs. Pattmore died.

“Mr. Pinkerton you are the only person who can help me; and so I have come to you to save Mrs. Pattmore and my sister.” I told the captain I needed time for reflection and asked him to leave me alone while I formulated a plan. 

I reflected that his sister was very superstitious, as shown by her belief in the Captain’s ring; it occurred to me that I might take advantage of that trait to draw her secrets out. I should entrust the case to one of my female detectives; she would be told all of Mrs. Thayer’s history; she would be required to learn enough of astrology, clairvoyance and mesmerism to pass for one of the genuine tribe.

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Just as I had concluded my deliberations, the Captain returned, perspiration standing in great beads on his forehead. “Mr. Pinkerton, we are too late! Annie has received a telegram from Mr. Pattmore, saying that his wife is dead.”

“If that is the fact, we must undermine his plot with a deeper one. I will accept a retainer from you, Captain, and we will proceed to work up the case.” I then told the Captain that he ought to have a quarrel with Annie, at the end of which he should burn his will in her presence, which would prevent her from again attempting his life as she would have nothing to gain by his death.

The Captain accepted this. All he desired was to save Annie from Pattmore, and from the ruin which would inevitably result from their further intercourse. He then went home to have his quarrel with his sister.

quarrelling brother and sister found here

I sent a detective named Miller to obtain board at the Pattmore House and to become intimate with the proprietor. He was to say that he wished to start in the lumber business in Greenville, if the prospects were good. The same day I sent for Miss Seaton, a female detective, and ordered her to take board in the same house with Captain Sumner and Mrs. Annie Thayer. Miss Seaton was very sharp, and nothing could escape her piercing black eyeBy pretending to be in poor health, she could obtain Mrs. Thayer’s sympathy, and their progress toward intimacy would be accelerated.  

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That evening Mrs. Thayer left the house shortly after the Captain. Miss Seaton followed her to the post office, where Mrs. Thayer deposited a letter, and received another at the ladies’ window. She tore it open, read it hastily, and crumpled it in her hand. I was anxious to know to whom she had written, and also who had written to her and immediately wrote to Miller to watch Pattmore’s mail to see whether there were any letters from Chicago.

Miller reported that Pattmore had received four such letters. I started for Greenville, to see the coroner about a possible exhumation of Mrs Pattmore’s body.  I also telegraphed for two detectives, Mr. Green and Mr. Knox, to meet me at the Clarendon House in Greenville.

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I instructed them to go into the office of the hotel and begin a conversation about Mrs. Pattmore’s death and to say it was due to poison. My men were soon surrounded by an excited crowd, all of whom were anxious to know the grounds upon which their suspicions were based. They replied in vague terms and insinuations, as if they knew a great deal more than they would tell. The news that Mr. Pattmore was suspected of having poisoned his wife was soon buzzed all round town.

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Sheriff Tomlinson was appealed to by the citizens to require the coroner to investigate the matter. An order was written to have Mrs. Pattmore’s body disinterred and a call for an inquest the following day. The coroner then told Pattmore he was investigating rumors that were circulating at hotels and on the street. Pattmore became very much excited when he heard this, and went immediately to his hotel office.

Mr Knox, playing the part of a confused guest, stumbled into Pattmore’s office where he found him writing a letter. Apologising for his mistaken intrusion he withdrew and reported to me what he saw. 

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“Mr Green,” I said, “go to your hotel, pay your bill, and proceed to the Pattmore House. When you register your name, you must hail the clerk as an old acquaintance. This will be an easy matter, as hotel clerks are known by hundreds of people. Miller, you must be in the office at the same time, and you must both remain there until Pattmore puts his letter in the mailbox. Then, Green must ask the clerk out for a drink, and while he is gone, Miller must get possession of the letter. When you have secured it, meet me at the Globe Hotel.”

mailbox found here

My men followed these instructions perfectly and Miller arrived at the Globe. He gave me the letter; I carefully opened it by a simple process, which did not leave any evidence of tampering. The letter began: “My own dear Annie,” and went on to caution Mrs. Thayer that she must not be alarmed at what he was about to tell her. Some of his enemies had started a report that he had poisoned his late wife. He begged her to excuse the haste and brevity of the note, as he could only dash off a few lines of reassurance. The letter was signed: “Your loving and devoted husband, Alonzo Pattmore.”

I resealed the letter and gave it back to Mr. Miller, with instructions to return to the hotel and keep a general watch on all that went on. As Miller went out Knox came in to report that Pattmore had been driven off in a hack toward the southern part of town. On the hack’s return, he had questioned the driver about Pattmore’s destination.

zebra driven hackney cab found here

He said he supposed that Mr. Pattmore had gone out to pay the grave-digger, since his visit had been made to that individual at the graveyard gate. Knox, Green and I then drove to the graveyard where we came upon three men. Their smoky lantern threw a ghastly light upon their work, it was evident that these grave robbers were professionals, for they had already succeeded in getting the coffin out of the grave.

We approached as quietly as possible then made a general rush forward. The ghouls were too quick however, running away at break-neck speed. After keeping watch for several hours, we returned to the city, convinced that the body-snatchers would not make another attempt to rob the grave now that it was daylight.

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The following day Dr. Forsythe testified he had attended the late Mrs. Pattmore in her illness, and dysentery was the cause of her death. As no other witnesses were called, the jury returned a verdict that Mrs. Pattmore’s death had resulted from natural causes. Her body was returned to the cemetery where I bribed the grave diggers to open the coffin long enough for a different doctor to remove the intestines and place them in a jar of alcohol to await analysis

braised intestines found here

Having completed all arrangements we returned to Chicago where I asked Miss Seaton to ask if she had been able to examine any of Mrs. Thayer’s drawers or trunks. She had succeeded in getting into her drawers, and there found a quantity of Alonzo Pattmore’s letters. 

At this moment, one of my clerks entered and said that Captain Sumner wished to see me. I requested Miss Seaton to step into the next room where, by leaving the door ajar, the conversation between the Captain and myself could be easily heard. We had a friendly chat about his family. I drew out the particulars of Annie’s history and obtained a full account of her, necessary for the next part of my plan.

I then engaged my chief female detective, Kate Warne, to play the role of a fortune teller. The tricks of the trade are easily learned and I gave her a book explaining all the secrets of the profession. It was called ‘The Mysteries of Astrology and the Wonders of Magic by Dr. Roback.’ 

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Next morning I received a telegram from Miller stating that Pattmore had left Greenville for Chicago. I sent word to Miss Seaton to call upon Mrs. Thayer. When Mrs. Thayer opened the door, Miss Seaton saw that she had been crying, and that she was evidently much disturbed. She asked to be excused, for she had company from the East.

As Mrs. Thayer did not come down to dinner, Miss Seaton again visited, and found her about to go out with Pattmore. On their return they went to Mrs. Thayer’s sitting room. At four o’clock, Miss Seaton found the door was locked and she was therefore obliged to withdraw to her own room to watch. It was six o’clock before Pattmore came out, having been nearly three hours in Mrs. Thayer’s room with the door locked.

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Mr. Knox shadowed Pattmore and saw him take the nine o’clock train for Greenville. I immediately notified Mr. Miller by telegraph, directing him to renew his intimacy with Pattmore, and to remain there until further orders. Mr. Miller had not been idle during the time that Pattmore was away and had managed to locate the nurse attending Mrs. Pattmore in her last illness. 

He learned that when she first became sick, Mr. Pattmore showed a tender solicitude for her health. He insisted upon preparing her medicine and giving it to her himself. Mrs. Pattmore did not seem to appreciate his watchful care, she told the nurse that she did not like to take her medicine from her husband; she also asked very particularly whether the medicine was that which the doctor prescribed.

The nurse had not liked the effects of the medicine at all. It came in small yellow papers, and when Mrs. Pattmore took a dose she was taken with violent vomiting and the pain would be so severe as to cause her to scream terribly. Then Mr. Pattmore would give her a dose of another kind of medicine, which would cause her to fall into a deep sleep.

Gaddafi’s nurse found here

In the meantime, Mrs. Warne reported that her Temple of Magic was in complete order and that she was ready to see me. At the appointed hour I called at the rooms, where I was received by a young negro of the blackest typeOn the walls hung several charts and mystic symbols, while the floor was painted with signs of the zodiac. A pair of skeletons stood facing each other and their ghastly appearance added to the unnatural effect.

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While I was examining them, Mrs. Warne slipped into the room and swept toward me. I should hardly have known her, so great was her disguise. “Now, Mrs. Warne, nothing remains to be done but to advertise you thoroughly,” I said, after I had inspected her preparations.

An advertisement for “Madam Lucille” was inserted in the daily newspapers and a number of  handbills were printed for street distribution. At that time fortune-telling was not common, and those engaged in it rarely had the means to advertise themselves extensively; hence Lucille’s half column in the newspapers attracted an unusual amount of attention.

image of Lucille Ball found here

The next morning Miss Seaton saw Mrs. Thayer eagerly reading Lucille’s advertisement. Miss Seaton asked whether she would like to go to Madam Lucille’s on their morning walk. “I have a desire to test her powers” replied Mrs Thayer. They therefore went to the published address and rang the bell.

Mrs. Thayer entered the room but what with the superstitious terror inspired by the strange appearance of the room, she was hardly able to walk to the visitor’s chair. She slowly removed her veil and sat motionless, regarding the fortune-teller as a frightened bird watches a snake. 

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Lucille examined the lines of her hand and commenced speaking: “Your parents are dead, and you have a brother who was a sailor. Your father left you moderately wealthy but you desire more, and you are not too scrupulous as to how you get it. Why, what means this?” she exclaimed, starting back and fixing a piercing glance on the cowering woman before her. “You are in danger! Yes; there is danger all about you. There is a man who claims to love you; and there is a woman who comes between you. Ah! what is she doing!” she cried starting back with a look of horror.

Mrs. Thayer was greatly agitated at this first interview with Lucille and left immediately. In the evening she wrote a long letter, which she asked Miss Seaton to post, being too weak to go out herself. Of course, Miss Seaton immediately brought it to me. It began, “My dear husband,” and went on to give an account of all that Lucille had said. She said she had been much alarmed by the references to the woman who came between them, for the inference was that Lucille meant Mrs. Pattmore. However, she was going to have her full fortune told the following day, and would write all about it in her next letter.

fortune teller found here

Meanwhile I asked my New York correspondent to make a thorough search for Henry Thayer, as I wished to learn definitely whether he was alive or dead. We found that Henry was in command of an English whaler in the South Sea. At the latest advice, he was nearly ready to sail for England,  needing only a few more whales to complete his cargo

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Shortly before ten o’clock the next morning, I took my place behind the curtain. In a few minutes Mrs. Thayer arrived and was admitted to Lucille’s presence. “You live with a relative some years older than yourself. He wears a peculiar ring obtained in the East Indies. He often consults this ring, and it informs him whether he is in danger or the reverse. As for the woman whom I mentioned yesterday; I cannot tell whether she is living or dead. The man you love has been with her; he gave her something in a spoon which she was forced to take. Ah! I see! it was a medicine, a white powder—but now it all fades into obscurity. 

“And here is yet another man” she said; “he, too, is a sailor; he is handsome; he is brave; he is an officer commanding a ship but he is now far away. This other man has come between you.” Then, pausing a moment, she announced: “Madam, you have deceived me! This captain is your real husband!”

Captain Beefheart found here

“That other man is not your husband, and you cannot be happy with him. Something terrible is about to happen to him and you are in danger; there is a strange fatality attending your fate where it comes in contact with that man.

That evening Mrs. Thayer was again not able to go out, and asked Miss Seaton to put a letter in the post for her. It was an account of the second visit to Lucille, and betrayed great fear of discovery. She begged Pattmore to come to Chicago and have his fortune told; to learn the extent of Lucille’s powers and decide what course to pursue.

Next morning Mrs. Thayer proceeded straight to Lucille’s rooms. “This man, whom you so wrongly love, does not return your affection; he loves you only for selfish, sensual purposes; he will fondle you as a plaything and then cast you off for a younger rival, as he has already put away his wife. When he wearies of you, have you any doubt that he will murder you as he has murdered her?”

young Lucille Ball found here

“I see an inquest; a sham investigation where he was cleared by a jury; but other eyes have been regarding the proceedings; keen detectives have been at work, and they now step in and take quiet possession of the corpse; the stomach is removed for analysis, and a chemist of great reputation takes charge of it; poison has been found; proof of your lover’s guilt has been obtained, and he will suffer the penalty of his crime. Only if you tell the truth will you be saved.”

“If you return to your brother and confess all, he will forgive you. If you do as your brother wishes, you will regain your light heart and sweet disposition; your real husband will come back to you, and your future will be one of happiness.” 

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“There is another man near you, whose presence you do not suspect; but he is watching you all the time. He is only of medium height, but he is very well built and powerful; he has a ruddy complexion, brown hair, and gray eyes; with full whiskers all around his face. He is a very determined man, and he never gives up until he has accomplished his object. He can save you from harm; but you must tell him the truth, for he can instantly detect falsehoods and it is dangerous to you try to deceive him.

Seeing that the fortune-teller had dismissed her, Mrs. Thayer drew down her veil and left the room. I walked at a distance behind until she was across the bridge; where I overtook her and said: “Mrs. Thayer, I believe?” Addressed thus by a stranger, whom she at once recognized as the man about whom Lucille had given her a forewarning, she was struck almost speechless with fear.

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I helped Mrs. Thayer into a carriage and told the driver to proceed to my office. She spoke of her early married life, when Henry made several long voyages. While he was away she became acquainted with Pattmore and his wife. Afterward Pattmore frequently came to Brooklyn alone, and he always spent time in her society. She did not realize the danger of his intercourse at first; but, gradually, he began to make love to her and finally, he accomplished her ruin.

dangerous intercourse found here

When she discovered that she was enceinte she was much alarmed, and decided to return to her brother after an abortion had been performed, but Pattmore had a strong control over her still. As soon as she was able to go out Pattmore wrote to her to get a certain prescription from a druggist. She did so, and sent the powders to him. Shortly afterwards he told her that he had arranged to poison his wife. She was much shocked at first, but he said that Mrs. Pattmore could only live about a year anyhow, and that she would suffer a great deal during her rapid decline; he argued that there could be no harm in hastening her death to save her from many weeks of pain.

Then Pattmore told her to poison her brother in order that she might inherit his property. Accordingly she made three attempts but was not successful. After Pattmore returned to Greenville, his wife died. She knew then that he had carried out his plan.

I told her I had received information that Henry was returning from the South Seas. “He may be willing to forgive and forget if you show yourself ready to return his affection. However, we must circumvent Pattmore, and you must lend your assistance. If you attempt to deceive me I shall be obliged to put you in prison.”

read about prison beauty contests here

My lawyer prepared an affidavit for Mrs. Thayer to sign. That evening I took the train to Greenville and read Dr. Stuart’s analysis. He had found enough poison in Mrs. Pattmore’s bowels to make it certain that she had died from that cause, and not from natural disease. Pattmore was charged with murder and I filed Mrs. Thayer’s affidavit in the court. Everything was done quietly, so that he was arrested before anyone except the sheriff and the judge knew that a warrant had been issued. 

The testimony of Mrs. Thayer, the nurse and the grave-diggers made a strong case; but when I clinched the matter with the testimony of Dr. Stuart, there was no longer any doubt as to Pattmore’s guilt. He was indicted for murder in the first degree.

The trial took place soon afterward and the defense team put up a strong fight to clear their client. They were successful to the extent of saving him from execution, and he was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. As for Mr and Mrs Thayer, they were reunited and moved to China where they made a lot of money and raised two lovely and healthy children.

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poor man’s viagra?

We’ve all used a packet of frozen peas when there’s no ice pack in the house haven’t we? Hemorrhoid ointment for eye wrinkles? A dab of toothpaste to dry out a pimple? More old fashioned remedies found here

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“People reach for what they have on hand, which might account for why common household products show up so frequently in strange home remedies. Who knew you could use Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia as an underarm deodorant instead of a laxative?

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Perhaps the most versatile of all is Vicks VapoRub. A foot care nurse told us that some of her colleagues were using Vicks on patients’ fungus-infected toenails. Then we heard from another nurse that smearing Vicks on the soles of the feet could help a child with a cough sleep through the night.

tattooed sole found here

It wasn’t long before the floodgates opened and we began to hear about using Vicks on paper cuts, mosquito bites and seborrheic dermatitis. Others find it useful for softening calluses on their feet or scaly skin on elbows. One woman insisted that Vicks can relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids, but we generally advise against this application. A man who tried it reported that “the menthol, camphor and napalm instantly engulfed my hemorrhoidal locality in spontaneous combustion”

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There is another place one should probably not put Vicks. We recently received this message from a reader: “I was experimenting with Vicks VapoRub to see if it would help my jock itch. I inadvertently got some where I shouldn’t. I believe I have found a poor man’s Viagra.”

A drug that has also earned the name of “poor man’s Viagra” but for a totally different reason is Mectizan

“I’ve trained a lot of surgeons to do this operation,”  said Dr Laurissaint as he sliced open the engorged scrotum of 68-year-old Gesner Nicé, emptied more than a pint of clear liquid, then began trimming away with a cauterizing scalpel. Mr. Nicé, a woodcutter, has lymphatic filariasis, a disease in which clusters of four-inch worms as fine as blond hairs nest in the lymph nodes, the body’s drainage system, stretching them until lymph fluid can only drain downward.

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In cities like Léogâne, Haiti, more than a quarter of the men are tormented by the condition, their scrotum swelling to the size of a softball, or a basketball in severe cases. Treating symptoms can be costly. Hydrocele operations run from $30 to $120 in different countries. But eradication, which is complicated and costlier still, means treating millions of people with deworming drugs every year, drugs that do not cure the disease itself, but prevent its being passed on by killing the baby worms that mosquitoes transmit.

Several drugs — all first developed for cattle and pets — will kill the worms. An alluring aspect is that people like their side effects: they kill other worms too. Within days, mothers see their toddlers pass hookworms and adults see their lice and scabies fall off.

“People feel a lot better,” one doctor said. “Mectizan is sometimes called ‘the poor man’s Viagra.’ People stop itching, they feel great, and — voila! I’ve heard of babies named Mectizan.”

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fearlessness or folly?

John Hunter (February 1728 – October 1793) was a Scottish surgeon regarded as one of the most distinguished scientists and surgeons of his day. He was right about a good many things but sadly mistaken when it came to STDs

Hunterian Museum found here

He thought that gonorrhea and syphilis were caused by a single pathogen. Living in an age when physicians frequently experimented on themselves, he inoculated himself with gonorrhea into incisions he had made in his own penis, using a needle that was unknowingly contaminated with syphilis. When he contracted both syphilis and gonorrhea, he claimed it proved his erroneous theory that there was only one venereal disease. The characteristic nodule of the pox which appeared on his penis was later designated the “Hunterian chancre”.

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To cure his pox Hunter repeatedly swilled his mouth with corrosive sublimate and toxic mercury. These substances give mouth ulcers, loosen the teeth and produce pints of black saliva. Some hospitals had “salivating wards” where one could dribble in private

He included his findings in an illustrated Treatise on the Venereal Disease which was so graphic it even put James Boswell off sex for a week. Because of Hunter’s reputation, knowledge concerning the true nature of gonorrhea and syphilis was retarded, and it was not until 51 years later that his theory was proved to be wrong.

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In 1791, when Joseph Haydn was visiting London for a series of concerts, Hunter offered to perform an operation for the removal of a large nasal polyp which was troubling the great Austrian composer. According to one account, “Haydn, on his visit to London in 1791, wrote folksong arrangements, including The Ash Grove, set to words by Mrs Hunter. Haydn had designs on Mrs Hunter. Her husband … had designs on Haydn’s famous nasal polyp. Both were refused.”

Haydn found here

matrimonial bargains

Mary Blandy was a female murderer in 18th century England. In 1914 William Roughead, who appears to be the Truman Capote of his day wrote of her trial for the killing of her father

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“Mr. Blandy, business-like in all things, wanted full value for his money; as none of Mary’s local conquests appeared to promise him an adequate return, he and his wife and daughter spent a season at Bath, then the great market-place of matrimonial bargains.

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The first suitor to appear with matrimonial intent was a thriving young apothecary, but Mr. Blandy quickly made it plain that Mary and her £10,000 dowry were not to be had by any drug-compounding knave who might make sheep’s eyes at her, and the apothecary returned to his gallipots for healing of his bruised affections.

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Dining with her parents in the summer of 1746, Mary Blandy encountered her fate. Among the guests was one Captain the Hon. William Henry Cranstoun, a soldier and a Scot, whose appearance, according to a diurnal writer, was unprepossessing. “In his person he is remarkably ordinary, his stature is low, his face freckled and pitted with the smallpox, his eyes small and weak, his eyebrows sandy, and his shape no ways genteel; his legs are clumsy, and he has nothing in the least elegant in his manner.” The moral attributes of this ugly little fellow were only less attractive than his physical imperfections. “He has a turn for gallantry, but Nature has denied him the proper gifts.” He was at this time thirty-two years of age, and, as the phrase goes, a man of pleasure.

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Mr Blandy found to his surprise and joy that the little lieutenant, with his courtesy style of captain, was no less a person than the son of a Scots peer. As a very much “younger” son, he probably had little more than his pay and a fine assortment of debts. But for Mr Blandy it was a chance to marry his daughter to a man who called the daughter of an Earl grandmother, and could claim kinship with half the aristocracy of Scotland.

Scottish slippers found here

Cranstoun, formally proposing to the old folks for their daughter’s hand, was well received.  The mother enjoyed for the first time the company and conversation of a man of fashion, and Mary felt amid the Henley meadows paradisiacal experiences with her beau. But her happiness received an unexpected check when her father was told the amazing news that his daughter’s lover already had a wife and child living in Scotland.

The old attorney was justly incensed at the unworthy trick of which he had been the victim. In all the majesty of outraged fatherhood, he sought an interview with his treacherous guest. That gentleman, whose acquaintance with “tight corners” was extensive and peculiar, rose gallantly to the occasion.

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Mr. Blandy, accepting his guest’s denial, allowed the engagement to continue in the meantime, until the result of legal proceedings should be known. He was as loath to forego the chance of such an aristocratic connection as was his wife to part from so “genteel” a friend; while Mary Blandy–well, the damsels of her day were not morbidly nice in such matters, more than once had the nuptial cup eluded her expectant lips, she was nearing her thirtieth year: such an opportunity might not occur again.

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We hear nothing further of their doings until Thursday, 28th September 1749, when Mrs. Blandy became seriously ill. The complaint of which Mrs. Blandy died was, as appears, intestinal inflammation, but, as we shall see later, her daughter was popularly believed to have poisoned her. 

Francis Blandy was much affected by the loss of his wife. At first he seems to have raised no objection to Cranstoun’s constant presence in the house, but soon Mary had to complain of the “unkind things” which her father said both to her lover and herself. 

Miss Blandy states that, apropos to her father’s unpropitious attitude, her lover acquainted her of the great skill of the famous Mrs. Morgan, a cunning woman in Scotland, from whom he had received a certain love powder. Mary said she had no faith in such things, but Cranstoun assured her of its efficacy, having once taken some himself, and immediately forgiven a friend to whom he had intended never to speak again. “If I had any of these powders,” said he, “I would put them into something Mr. Blandy should drink.” Such is Mary’s account of the inception of the design upon her father’s love–or life.

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One morning, Mary states, Cranstoun put some of the magic powder in the old gentleman’s tea. Mr. Blandy, who at breakfast had been very cross, appeared at dinner in the best of humours, and continued so all the time Mr. Cranstoun stayed with him. After this, who could doubt the beneficent efficacy of the wise woman’s drug?

A day or two afterwards, when Cranstoun was out, Mary, so far anticipating her wifely duties, entered his room in order to collect his things for the wash. She found more “dirty linen” than she expected. In an unlocked trunk was a letter of recent date, addressed to the gallant captain by a lady then enjoying his protection in town. Even Miss Blandy’s robust affection was not, for the moment, able to overlook a treachery so base. A disgusting scene ensued. For two hours the wretched little captain wept and raved, imploring her forgiveness. On his knees, clinging to the skirts of her gown, he swore he would not live unless she pardoned his offence. Mary foolishly yielded.

Begging monkeys found here

From about that date Francis Blandy’s health began to fail. He was in the sixty-second year of his age, and he suffered the combined assault of gout, gravel, and heartburn. He ordered Mary to write to Cranstoun telling him on no account to show his face until his matrimonial difficulties were “quite decided.”

But if Miss Blandy were to secure a husband and Cranstoun lay hands upon her £10,000, some step must be taken. Both knew that while his wife lived Cranstoun could never marry Mary. At any moment her father might learn the truth and alter the disposition of his fortune. That they openly agreed to remove by murder the obstacle to their mutual desires is unlikely. Cranstoun, as appears from all the circumstances, was the instigator of the plot; probably nothing more definite was said between them than that the “love powder” would counteract the old man’s opposition; but from her subsequent conduct, it is unlikely that Mary acted in ignorance of the true purpose of the prescription.

In April, she received from her lover a letter informing her that he had seen his old friend Mrs. Morgan, who was to oblige him with a fresh supply of her proprietary article, which he would send along with some “Scotch pebbles” for his betrothed’s acceptance. “Ornaments of Scotch pebbles,” says Lady Russell, “were the extreme of fashion in the year 1750.” Mary consented to give the love philtre a fair trial.

Scotch pebble cross found here

Miss Blandy was seen by the maids at mid-day stirring gruel with a spoon in the pantry. On Tuesday Mr. Blandy had become seriously ill in the night, with symptoms of violent pain, vomiting, and purging. The strange circumstances attending this gruel aroused the maids’ suspicions. They examined the contents of the pan and found a white, gritty “settlement” at the bottom. They prudently put the pan in a locked closet overnight. Next day Susan sent for Mr. Norton, the apothecary, who removed it for examination.

apothecary shower curtain found here

Dr. Addington arrived at midnight. From the condition of the patient, coupled with what he learned from him and Mr. Norton, there was no doubt Mr. Blandy was suffering from the effects of poison. Mary was that evening confined to her chamber and a guard was placed outside.

The person charged with the duty of warding Mary in her chamber was Edward Herne, parish clerk of Henley. Next morning, Ned Herne leaving his fair charge unguarded, went off to dig a grave for her now dead father. As soon as the coast was clear, Mary, with “nothing on but a half-sack and petticoat without a hoop,” ran out into the street and over Henley bridge, in a last wild attempt to cheat her fate.

Henley Bridge found here

She was quickly recaptured and removed to Oxford Castle. At first, we are told, “her imprisonment was indeed rather like a retirement from the world than the confinement of a criminal.” She had her maid to attend her, the best apartments in the keeper’s house were placed at her disposal, she drank tea twice a day, walked at her pleasure in the keeper’s garden, and of an evening enjoyed her game of cards.

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Then a rumour reached the authorities in London that a scheme was afoot to effect her rescue. The Sheriff of the county was instructed “to take more particular care of her,” the felon’s fetters were riveted upon her slender ankles; and there was an end to the daily walks amid the pleasant alleys of the keeper’s garden.

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Mary Blandy’s trial lasted thirteen hours. The Crown case clearly established the fact that arsenic was the cause of Mr. Blandy’s death. Mary was found guilty and condemned to hang.

As she was climbing the fatal ladder, covered, for the occasion, with black cloth, she stopped, and addressing the celebrants of that grim ritual, “Gentlemen,” said she, “do not hang me high, for the sake of decency.” 

The reader may care to know what became of Cranstoun. That “unspeakable Scot,” it has regretfully to be recorded, was never made amenable to earthly justice. He was, indeed, the subject of at least four biographies, but human retribution followed him no further.

a milkman, an artist and a winkle boiler

During the second world war, conscientious objectors  were allowed to choose non combative roles such as ambulance drivers and orderlies. Some also opted to be “human guinea pigs” in medical trials.

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“In early 1941, a dozen male volunteers arrived, suitcases in hand, at the Sorby Institute, a research facility in Sheffield, Yorkshire. They included a milkman, an artist, a maths teacher, a ladies’ hairdresser and a winkle boiler. They were destined to spend the war years allowing themselves to be infected with scabies, undergoing lengthy periods of vitamin deprivation, and taking part in potentially dangerous investigations into how long the body could cope without water.

milko found here

Scabies infestation, or ‘the itch’, then affected about two million Britons. At the time there was no effective cure. In a flash of inspiration, Major Kenneth Mellanby CBE, saw a well of available ‘volunteers’ on whom non-life-threatening experiments could be carried out, fitting in with their pacifism.

He shipped in army bedding previously used by those with scabies, and the volunteers slept naked between the sheets. Others were given unwashed underpants that they wore for a week at a time. Nothing happened.

At a lecture to military officers, Mellanby stated that scabies was contracted by picking up a young adult female which caused the audience to erupt with laughter. He meant a female mite, but the gaffe made him wonder if infected women could be hired to sleep with the volunteers. Would experimental adultery look good in the scientific report?

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Fortunately, before any women were enlisted two volunteers became infected; the combination of close contact and infected underwear had done the trick.

The volunteers had to remain infested for nine months, which must have been a relentless ordeal. Some wandered the corridors naked in the cold air to mollify the itch, probably wondering if life under fire in the Western Desert would not have been easier.

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Treatment started with scalding baths and vigorous scrubbing, followed by a coating of sulphur ointment. The most effective treatment proved to be painting the entire body, except the head, with benzyl benzoate. 

To keep up morale, pacifist meetings were held and allotments maintained. A mock coat of arms was devised depicting a sarcoptes mite atop the motto ‘Itch Dien’.

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Dietary experiments were also carried out, and the effects of vitamin A deprivation were logged. This task required participants to deliver every bowel movement to the lab. In 1943 one final, even more controversial, experiment was undertaken. Aimed at establishing the life expectancy of shipwrecked sailors, it required volunteers to go without water for up to five days. Only lifeboat rations, such as chocolate and dried meat, were allowed.

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The Sorby Institute closed its doors in 1946. Many of the recruits remained until the end, enjoying a kind of macabre bond. A jokey newsletter was produced to help people remain in contact and recount tales of the bizarre years they spent together. Some of the recruits also wrote this poem:

Recondite research on a mite

Has revealed that infections begin

On leave with your wife and your children

Or when you are living in sin.

Except in the case of the clergy,

Who accomplish remarkable feats,

And catch scabies and crabs

From door handles and cabs,

And from blankets and lavatory seats.

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August and everything after

August Karl Gustav Bier (November 1861 – March 1949) was a German surgeon who pioneered the “Bier Block”.

August Bier found here

In 1898 he invented spinal anaesthesia, which involved a small dose of cocaine being injected into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. That was a great improvement on existing methods of general anaesthesia, but how effective was it?

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To find out, Bier decided to be anaesthetised himself. But things didn’t go as planned for Bier – or for his hapless assistant, Augustus Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt was supposed to administer the cocaine but, thanks to a mix-up with the equipment, Bier was left with a hole in his neck from which cerebrospinal fluid began to flow.

Rather than abandon the effort, however, the two men switched places. Once Hildebrandt had been anaesthetized, Bier stabbed, hammered and burned his assistant, pulled out his pubic hairs and – presumably eager to leave no stone unturned in testing the new method’s efficiency – squashed his testicles.

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Once the cocaine had worn off, the pair went out for a boozy dinner, despite their injuries. Both suffered terribly in subsequent days but, while Bier took it easy as he recovered, Hildebrandt had to stand in for his boss at work.

Bier went down in medical history while Hildebrandt is mainly remembered as the man whose testicles he tugged.