History consists of a lot of different events, and some of them are so hilarious and weird that they resemble the plot of a movie or a cartoon. For example, in the 15th-19th centuries, Europeans bought mummies to make medicines out of them. 150 years ago, engineers literally raised Chicago together with all of its buildings and streets by a few feet.
GIGGAG was really surprised to know that some historical moments that sound crazy, are actually true.
In the 1880s, in South Africa, a baboon named Jack worked as an assistant together with James, a railroad signalman. James was a double leg amputee, so he taught the baboon to help him operate the railway signals under supervision.
At one time, passengers claimed that the station was operated by a monkey. An official investigation was initiated, but the authorities made sure that the baboon was qualified enough to become an official employee. His salary was 20 cents per day. In 9 years of work, Jack never made a single mistake.
In the 11th century, scientist and doctor Avicenna describes the treatment of some diseases with the help of mumijo. A person who translated his scientific works made a mistake and as a result, the translation said that mummies possessed healing properties. So in the 15th century, Egypt started selling embalmed corpses.
Europeans bought mummies, ground them into a powder and used this as medicine and as a brown dye. This didn’t go out of fashion until the beginning of the 20th century, when European mass media started busting myths about the curse of the pharaohs.
In 2001, at the former St. Burchard Church in Halberstadt, Germany, the organ version of a musical piece As Slow As Possible by John Cage started. The original version lasts for 20 minutes, but the composer’s followers decided to make it last for 639 years. Chords change every few years, and the piece is scheduled to conclude in 2640. ASLSP is considered to be the world’s longest concert in history.
In 1945, Japanese officer Hiroo Onoda who took part in WWII in the Philippine jungle received a message that the war was over. Onoda decided that it was the enemies’ propaganda and continued fighting the USA together with his 3 soldiers.
2 soldiers returned home, one was killed, and Hiroo Onoda stayed in the jungle for almost 30 years. In February 1974, he was found and surrendered to authorities. Though he had killed Philippine soldiers, the circumstances were taken into consideration, and Onoda avoided the death penalty and returned home.
On February 14, 2007, 35-year-old Ewa Wiśnierska was preparing for the paragliding world championship in Australia. During a flight, she was lifted to an altitude of 32,631 ft and found herself inside a cumulonimbus cloud. She fainted because of the extreme cold and lack of oxygen.
After 40 minutes, her paraglider started to descend. She woke up when she was at around 23,000 ft. She managed to get out of the cloud and land safely on a small farm. She survived, though she did have severe frostbite.
American pilot Thomas Fitzpatrick managed to land a plane on the streets of New York City twice. The first time, he did it on September 30, 1956 in a bar where he made a bet that he could travel from New Jersey to New York City in 15 minutes. He stole a plane from the airfield, flew to New York City, and landed not far from the bar. Fitzpatrick was fined $100.
2 years later, a bartender from another bar didn’t believe Thomas’ story so the pilot stole another plane from the same airfield. For his second flight, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison.
In 2007, the Japanese Tobu Zoo bought an 11-year-old Humboldt penguin named Grape-kun and his mate Midori. They’d been living together for 10 years, but then Midori left him for a younger penguin. Grape-kun became really reserved.
But in April 2017, he started paying attention to an anime cutout of Hululu, an anthropomorphic Humboldt penguin from Kemono Friends, that was installed to attract visitors. Grape-kun would spend hours trying to reach it. The penguin became really popular on social media, but later he started experiencing problems with his health and died the same year.
Chicago is located in a low-lying and swampy area, so in the past, it was impossible to walk the streets after it rained. In 1856, local authorities decided to lift the whole city and install a new sewage system.
During the 1860s, engineers, with the help of jackscrews, raised huge blocks of buildings and some sidewalks. Surprisingly, everyday life didn’t stop in the streets or inside the buildings. So, while workers were lifting a shop, the visitors inside continued purchasing goods as if everything was normal.
Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman who used to collect unusual stones while delivering mail. Starting from 1879, for 33 years, he’d built a castle using those stones. When the work was finished in 1912, the postman asked to be buried inside. Because that was illegal in France, he spent 8 more years building a mausoleum for himself in the local cemetery.
This talented man died in 1924, one year after his mausoleum was built. By the way, just before his death, Cheval received recognition from André Breton and Pablo Picasso. Later, both of his masterpieces were recognized as monuments of cultural heritage.
In 1971, an aquarium in Boston adopted a seal raised by Scottie Dunning. The man lived with the seal for a few months and called him Hoover. The seal learned to imitate human speech. Though his vocabulary was rather restricted, Hoover uttered familiar words really well. He could ask a person to approach him and say his name. He also could yell, “Get out of there!”
When Hoover got to the aquarium, he stopped speaking for 5 years. When he became comfortable with his surroundings at the aquarium, he began to utter phrases such as, “Hello, there!” and “Come over here!” Thanks to this, Hoover became famous for being the first mammal that could speak.
David Johnson lives in San Francisco. He’s well-known as Bushman. In 1980, he decided to earn money using an unusual method. He hides behind some eucalyptus branches, waits for unsuspecting people to wander by, and scares them making “oogah-boogah” noises. Bushman’s been entertaining people this way for 40 years. He earns around $60,000 a year. Here’s a video with Bushman.
In Oregon, in an extinct volcano, there’s a place called Crater Lake. There’s also a log that has been floating there for more than 120 years. It’s been “traveling” around the lake since 1896 when it was discovered by geologist Joseph S. Diller. This 30-foot tall log has always been bobbing vertically. It’s even buoyant enough to support a person’s weight.
Most likely, the stump fell into the water after a landslide, and the ice cold water preserved it, not allowing it to crumble. By the way, the carbon dating of the stump has suggested that the tree itself is at least 450 years old.
In 1982, Larry Walters from California decided to fly and created an airship made of an ordinary patio chair and 45 helium-filled weather balloons. He took his CB radio, sandwiches, and a pellet gun (he wanted to land by shooting the balloons.) Larry planned to rise 30 feet high, but Walters’s lawn chair rose rapidly to a height of about 16,000 feet. He was scared to shoot the balloons and spent 14 hours in the air.
After 45 minutes in the sky, Walters shot several balloons. He descended slowly, until the balloons’ dangling cables got caught in a power line. The power line broke, causing an electricity blackout. Fortunately, the man survived. He was fined $1,500 and awarded with the Darwin Award.
In 2011, 5-year-old cat named Dusty from California became famous thanks to his kleptomania. He got his nickname — Klepto Kitty — after he brought home more than 600 items from the neighboring gardens. Dusty had stolen car wash mitts, sponges, dish towels, shoes, socks, gloves, underwear, aprons, toys, safety masks, swimsuits, and so on. As a rule, the cat used to commit his crimes at night. His owners, together with the Animal Planet crew from Must Love Cats, installed a motion-triggered camera and caught Dusty red-handed.
In 1726, 25-year-old Mary Toft from England managed to persuade doctors that she had given birth to rabbits. In fact, Mary was pregnant, but miscarried. After that, she claimed she’d given birth to various animal parts, and John Howard, a local surgeon, was really interested in the case. He started investigating the matter. He delivered several pieces of animal flesh, which, he concluded, belonged to rabbits, and notified other prominent physicians who believed him. When the King heard about this, he sent his best doctors to study this incredible case.
After several studies and investigations, the woman confessed to lying and bribing John Howard. She used to “give birth” to rabbits that her husband bought her.
Which story surprised you the most? Can you remember any other similar events?
Preview photo credit John Laguerre / wikipedia