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  • Jumping Wild Men June 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Jumping Wild Men

    ***Dedicated to Mike Dash and Theo*** Beach has been having the time of his life looking at nineteenth-century Big Foot reports thanks to a very useful book by Chad Arment, Historical Bigfoot. All page numbers in the next paragraph come from that volume. What Beach loves about the book is that nineteenth-century Big Foot reports […]

    Udder Snakes June 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Udder Snakes

    One of the most curious legends, one that this blogger cannot even begin to account for, is the idea that some animals and particularly snakes and reptiles like to take milk directly from a cow’s udder. Here is a selection of some of these legends. It goes without saying that there is no truth in […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    In Search of the Hodag June 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Hodag

    The Hodag is one of the most interesting mythical creatures from the great American wilderness. It is associated above all with Wisconsin and particularly with a hoax that dates to 1893 when newspapers reported the capture of a Hodag, apparently a small horned lizard. Full points to those who organized this brilliant photograph above, surely […]

    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Hunt June 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Hunt

    Resolution of yesterday’s mystery! When the D., M. & A. Railroad, which will have cars running here next week, began the grading and cutting at what is known as the Cascade, they brought a gang of Italians under the management of an Irish man Pat Durfee by name, who is almost a prodigy of strength. Durfee […]

    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Victims June 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Victims

    This is the best wild man story yet, it reads like a very bad film, but, like many bad films, the story is compulsive. It came from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Many most mysterious and startling events have occurred in this county in the last last three years, and, by a most terrible and sensational discovery […]

    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven June 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven

    Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) has been a long-standing minority pursuit, which very occasionally has been ritualised, memories of a king having sex with a horse in Ireland and hints of a tribal leader marrying a seal. In most societies though bestiality has been punished and punished harshly. None of this is new, but what […]

    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England June 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England

    This image is a twentieth-century reconstruction of three items crucial to love-making in seventeenth-century New England. (The source is David Hackett Fischer’ Albion’s Seed, p.80 a long book that can be read as well by dippings as by hours of earnest reading: the artist was Jennifer Brody.) Now take a moment and puzzle over this collection of […]

    Wild Man Circus Fakery May 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wild Man Circus Fakery

    The wild man was a staple of nineteenth-century circuses and penny shows. This personality was typically black, mostly undressed and the possessor of a cannibal’s grin. He (and it was invariably a male who took on the role) would stomp back and forth in his cage every so often lunging at some unwary child, allowing […]

    Illinois Lion Man April 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Illinois Lion Man

    Imagine that there is a wild man out in the local woods. However, this guy is not your normal naked wimp, dirty with matted hair, who fell on hard times blah blah blah. He wears a lion mask, steals carpets and sports a nifty yellow black mini skirt: and this is 1874. Beach would put […]

    True Bosom Serpents April 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    True Bosom Serpents

    The bosom serpent is the useful term to refer to the folklore notion that animals (particularly reptiles) find a way into the human body and cause illness there. Stories of this kind seem to be practically universal and to date back to the earliest times: we are dealing with a proto-myth or even part of the […]

    Death by Joke March 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Joke

    The historical practical joke tag has now reached almost a dozen posts and Beach thought that he would celebrate with a brief survey of a particularly unusual form of practical joke: jokes that ended in the joker or jokee dying. Beach limited himself to British newspapers from 1 Jan 1880 to Dec 31 1899 and […]

    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead March 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead

    In the last thirty years historians have found a new way to pattern their vast bibliographies. Rather than just include twenty pages in alphabetical order – too easy for the scholarly mind – many have decided, instead, to split the bibliography in two. The first bibliography will be primary sources and the second bibliography will […]

    You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories February 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories

    Qua campis cervos agitabat sacra juventus/ Incumbit fessus nunc baculo senior./ Nos miseri, cur te fugitivum, mundus, amamus? (‘Here the holy young man who chased deer in the fields, now, stands a broken old man with a stick/ O what wretches! Why, world we love, do you flee from us?’) Alcuin O Mea Cella Beach’s […]

    The Eugenics of History? February 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Eugenics of History?

    Eugenics refers of course to the depressing strand of thinking that says that societies (for which read boffins with bow ties employed by the state) should be allowed to decide which of us can and cannot reproduce our genes. Eugenics was briefly fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s then the Nazis came along and, perhaps […]

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