In 1914, Collier’s assigned writer Julian Street to write a feature about Denver. Street duly arrived in town, but he didn’t venture far from the red-light district on Myers Avenue, and he spent most of his time there interviewing a Madam Leo, who gave him a story “hot enough to burn the paper on which it is written.”

To get even for the bad press, the town council ordered a new name for the prostitutes’ lane: They called it Julian Street.

Enjoy Your Stay

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Phrases you are likely to need in Borneo, to judge from a phrasebook distributed in 1966 by the Borneo Literature Bureau:

  • Wait while I remove these leeches.
  • I have been bitten by sand flies.
  • There are too many rats.
  • There are a lot of mosquitoes here.
  • The cockroaches have eaten my shirt.
  • Is this poisonous?
  • What made that noise?
  • Is Sibu Laut in a swamp?
  • Is there a taboo on your house?
  • Is the burning finished?
  • Where can I defecate?
  • Is that fish dangerous?
  • This floor is not safe.
  • The roof is leaking.
  • There is no room in this boat.
  • We must keep dry.
  • I can’t come for a time because the monsoon will soon start.
  • She has a bad pain/snakebite/gunshot wound.
  • Tear some clean cloth into strips.
  • Keep him warm.
  • Go quickly for help.
  • This vomiting needs urgent treatment.
  • I do not know what is wrong. You must take her to the clinic.
  • Your eyes need treatment, or you will become blind.

“Ape Owe ‘Em”

When fur stews can this sill leer I’m,
Toot rye tomb ache theme e’en ink Lear,
Youth inked wood butt bee weigh sting thyme;
Use eh, “It’s imp lean on scents shear!”

Gnome attar; Anna lies align!
Nation mice lender verse says knot–
Fork rip tick poet real Ike mine,
How Aaron weal, demesnes allot.

— Deems Taylor

Bitewings of Song

Connecticut dentist Solyman Brown was pretty passionate about his calling — in 1833 he published “Dentologia, a Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth”:

… her lips disclosed to view,
Those ruined arches, veiled in ebon hue,
Where love had thought to feast the ravished sight
On orient gems reflecting snowy light,
Hope, disappointed, silently retired,
Disgust triumphant came, and love expired! …

Whene’er along the ivory disks, are seen,
The filthy footsteps of the dark gangrene;
When caries come, with stealthy pace to throw
Corrosive ink spots on those banks of snow–
Brook no delay, ye trembling, suffering fair,
But fly for refuge to the dentist’s care.

An appendix listed 300 qualified dental practitioners. Portions of the five-canto poem were published in the American Journal of Dental Science, and one reviewer praised “a mind highly cultivated and richly imbued with poetic fancy.” Brown, who co-founded the American Society of Dental Surgeons in 1840, even found time to write a sequel, “Dental Hygeia — A Poem.”


Feats of Canadian strongman Louis Cyr (1863-1912), “the strongest man who ever lived”:

  • In 1881 he lifted a horse weighing at least 1500 pounds.
  • In 1886 he lifted a 218-pound barbell with one hand and raised 2,371 pounds on his back.
  • In 1895 he raised a platform that held 18 men.
  • In 1889 he shouldered a 433-pound barrel of cement with one arm and lifted 552.5 pounds clear of the floor with a single finger.
  • In 1891 he resisted the pull of four draft horses even as grooms drove them apart with whips.

Where did he get these gifts? “The mother of Louis Cyr … could easily shoulder a barrel of flour and carry it up two or three flights of stairs.” (Josephine Beiderhase, American Gymnasia and Athletic Record, 1906)

See also Jack Lalanne.

“Hanged by a Ghost”

An old volume of the Quarterly Review mentions a crime discovered in a most extraordinary way in Australia in the year 1830, of which a public record is preserved, and which figures with full details in the journals of that period. The confidential steward of a wealthy settler near Sydney stated that his master had suddenly been called to England on important business, and that during his absence the whole of his immense property would be in his exclusive care. Some weeks after an acquaintance of the absentee settler riding through his grounds was astonished to perceive him sitting upon a stile. He strode forward to speak, when the figure turned from him with a look of intense sorrow and walked to the edge of a pond, where it mysteriously disappeared. On the morrow he brought a number of men to the water to drag it, and the body of the man supposed to be on his way to England was brought up. The steward was arrested, brought to trial, and, frightened at the story of his master’s ghost, confessed the crime, stating that he did the murder at the very stile on which his master’s ghost had appeared. He was duly executed.

The World of Wonders, 1883

Crocker Land

In 1906, standing on a headland in northern Canada, Robert Peary spied a landmass about 130 miles away in the Arctic Ocean, at about 83°N 100°W.

An expedition eight years later found no sign of it. Peary’s landmass was never seen again.