Tents appear outside a town in early 20th century rural United States. It’s not the circus, it’s the circuit chautauqua: teachers, preachers, musicians, and orators, ready to bring education and religion to the masses.
What do you do when a plane cannot land because of heavy fog? In WWII Britain, you set the runway on fire.
The campaign for women’s voting rights was not smooth: by 1913 suffragettes in Britain were setting fire to houses, cricket pavilions, and Westminster Abbey.
Oliver Reed, the famed actor and alcoholic, drank 8 pints of beer, 12 shots of rum, half a bottle of whiskey, and some shots of cognac, arm-wrestled five sailors, and then died of a heart attack.
Dr. Oguntola Sapara suspected skulduggery from the influential priests of Sopona, the Yoruba god of smallpox. He was right.
The corpses of Eva Perón, the first lady of Argentina, and Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, one of the generals who overthrew her husband’s government, became the centrepieces of a bitter dispute more than twenty years after Evita’s death.
In 1899 the President of France died, in his office, alone with his much younger mistress. If rumour is to be believed, he died happy.
The last person to be executed for treason against the United Kingdom was not actually British.
In Mexican wrestling the mask is sacred, and its loss in the ring is the ultimate insult. The first Mexican wrestler to lose his mask was El Murciélago Enmascarado, The Masked Bat, and it all happened eighty years ago.
In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
In 1983 a Boeing 767 with 61 passengers ran out of fuel while twelve thousand metres off the ground. The metric system was to blame.
In 1953 No Kum-Sok defected from North Korea. He brought a MiG-15 Soviet jet fighter with him.
From 1996 onwards vast swathes of peat swamp in Borneo were cleared to make rice paddies. But then the swamp caught on fire.
In the 1950s cigarette companies tried to make their products appear healthier. One of them decided to do this by adding asbestos.
In 1967 the prime minister of Australia walked into the ocean and was never seen again.