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  • Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths June 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback

    killer snowball

    You can’t go far in snowballing history without dealing with the deaths. European and American newspapers (Beach’s source for most of what follows) are full of snowball fatalities in the nineteenth and twentieth century. For those of us who have perhaps played with snow and lovingly lobbed loose white balls in the direction of family members and friends the question arises: how can a snow ball kill you? Well, there seem to be, crudely speaking, five different ways it can happen. None of them pleasant.

    First, the head shot: the most common snowball death, a snowball hits the victim on the head, newspaper reports often refer to  an injury around the eye. E.g. nine year old, Helen Gillanders, 21 Jan 1933, was struck in the eye and died within hours. Sometimes death can be instantaneous, sometimes it can take place several days later and is, rightly or wrongly, connected to a snowball injury. Of course, death by snowball is helped when objects are placed in the snow. For instance, a certain Goodrich was killed in London in 1901 when miscreants placed a steel gobbet in a snowball and hurled it at his head: the steel penetrated poor old Goodrich’s skull: Glous Echo, 9 Jan 1901, 1.

    Second, pure bloody fury: in these deaths someone is attacked by snowballers and becomes so furious that he lashes out, often with a weapon to hand. For example, the Cupar Advertiser, 7 Mar 1862, 6 includes a story where a policeman in South Shields, set upon by Austrian sailors with snowballs (?!?), hit one of the men with a long staff and killed him. There is an 1877 record of a knife being used, and 1882 record of an iron bar stoving a boy’s skull in, and one record from 1893 of a Salvation army man battering a snowballer with a cornet! (Luckily here there was no fatality, but the Salvationer was sent to prison for his exhilaration.)

    Third, running. Here a snowballing victim chases or runs from snowballers and dies. Gloc Cit, 24 Feb 1933 reports a waitress in Hull left this veil of snowy tears after slipping on ice as she tried to escape some assailants. In 1928, one John Cameron of Stockton on Tees had a heart attack while running after some boys who had assaulted him: Derby Daily, 12 Mar, 1928, 6

    Fourth, burning. There has only been and there will, we hope, only ever be one of these in history – a French girl goes to a fancy dress party dressed as a massive cotton wool snowball, and stands in front of the fire to get warm… Gulp. Derry Journal, 20 Feb 1929, 5

    Fifth, bomb explodes. You die when a snowball accidentally detonates a bomb in your pocket…

    For the record deaths from (1) and (2) seem to be about equal in number. Any other snowball deaths gratefully received: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com Thanks to Invisible for help.

    Filip 31 Aug 2016 As far as snowball atrocities are concerned, “Ilustrowany Kuryer Codzienny” (a newspaper from Cracow) reported on a Giuseppe Czitron, a middle-school student from Ceggia (Friuli) being deadly hit by a snowball (are there any Italian digital libraries to cross-check this?). And in 1938, a 10-year-old boy got run over by a car when snowballing (Zduńska Wola, Poland). R.I.P. On a brighter side (?), a snowball was used to gag a female bankteller during a heist in Katowice in 1929.