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  • Death by Oak January 10, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Oak

    Beach has recently been having nightmares about narrow corridors. This story is a form of reverse therapy. It also taps into other stories told in this place of men and women who get into trees and can’t get out afterwards. It is well known that during the French Revolution, the wood Kusel, near Deux Ponts […]

    Baby Face Günter in Saverne January 8, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Baby Face Günter in Saverne

    A delicate occupied zone with an unfriendly population. Think US Marines patrolling in southern Afghanistan or Israeli troops walking through a Palestinian village. That is challenging enough. But could we make it a little more interesting for, say, an HBO series? Why not, for example, put the occupying troops under the control of a young […]

    Frozen Love Returns at Chamonix December 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Frozen Love Returns at Chamonix

    This story is haunting and involves ice: so December fare. In 1844 young man left a village near Chamouny [Chamonix], on pilgrimage to the Convent St. Bernard, in consequence of a vow made before gaining the belle of the village. After leaving the convent, he went to several places and bought some linen, with the […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Lady Vanishes December 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Lady Vanishes

    This is a well known urban legend, but what is of great interest here is the documented splash it made in the UK and particularly at English dinner parties. We are in 1913 so not really Victorian England, but surely the content justifies its inclusion in the series? The tale, at least this variant of […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Missing Clock December 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Missing Clock

    This story came out in the Pall Mall Gazette, in early January 1885. It has that sharp cordite smell of urban legend and is, truly, as the journalist says, ‘an amusing story’. Massive kudos to anyone who can send in other nineteenth or twentieth century examples: drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com An amusing story reaches us […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: the Lady of the Key November 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: the Lady of the Key

    A woman with a key around her neck haunts the French saloons. What is her story? Beach is always looking for Victorian urban legends (this one is 1870) and particularly sexual ones. Ask yourself this. Would this tale have appeared in a British newspaper if it had been set in London rather than Paris? The […]

    Mermaid Monday: St Valery-sur-Somme Mermaid November 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: St Valery-sur-Somme Mermaid

    In 1834 a British paper ran with this story (1834) in early August: A fisherman at St Valery-sur-Somme (France), a few days since, caught in his net a fish exactly resembling the description given of the Mermaid. The head and breast are of the human form, and, when half the body is out of the […]

    Flight with Wings in France 1858 October 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flight with Wings in France 1858

    Another in our series of early flight stories. This one comes from France and appeared in the Bradford Observer in 1858. We are informed that a shepherd, residing in a village in the neighbourhood of Langres, who, a few years ago, made some attempt at flying, has just tried a fresh experiment, not alone and […]

    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost October 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost

    This is one of the very best ghost stories: partly because of how its written; partly because of how difficult it is to explain away. The author is Shane Leslie, an Irish member of the British establishment in the 1920s and 1930s, a cousin of Churchill and a witty and delightfully gossipy talker. He had […]

    1816 Flight Attempt in Paris September 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    1816 Flight Attempt in Paris

    Prepare to be humiliated. Your name is Guillaume, the years is 1816, and you have convinced yourself that it is possible to fly with wings attached to your puny arms. Yes, this is the age of balloons, but surely man can climb into the sky practically unassisted? Now you are in a great tradition, a […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Trafficking in Human Fat! August 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Trafficking in Human Fat!

    This story came up yesterday after inspired by the werewolf fat story. It is taken from a the Reading Mercury (10 Aug 1831)but was allegedly translated from Annals d’Hygiene Publique. ln the year 1813, a discovery was made in the Schools of Medicine, in Paris, which strongly excited the attention of the professors. The servants […]

    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories? August 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories?

    Beach has been messing around with wolves this week and he ran across this reference in relation to the wolf deaths in Dauphiné in the mid eighteenth century. The priest of Primarette wrote a summary of local attitudes to these killings. Enjoy the following: apart obviously from the fact that three kids had been devoured. […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving July 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving

    A delightful end of month story. Our hero is Gaston Ouvrieu who, in 1917, received a serious injury while serving in the French army. When he woke up in hospital he was alleged to be able to read the minds of other patients, as the doctor took his pulse: Ouvrieu needed this ‘telegraph’ effect for […]

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