Saturday, March 27, 2010


William Lynwood Montell, Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009), pp. 53-4.


Here's a story I like to tell. We had this man laid out at the funeral home. His widow wanted a two-night visitation, but on the second day there wasn't anybody there except the body and the widow and me.

I was sitting in the lounge area and the widow came in. She was chewing her gum just as hard as she could. She said to me, "Mr. Dowell, have you got a Kotex?"

She was probably in her late seventies, so I thought as to why in the world did she want a Kotex.

Well, that was before the days of enlightenment, when you didn't talk about those things. So, I could just feel my face getting hot and red. I said, "No ma'am, I don't have a Kotex."

She was really chewing that gum and said, "Well, [I] wonder where I could get one."

The man that worked for us lived upstairs, and his wife was pregnant and didn't figure she had any need for one. I said, "Well, one of them women over there at the flower shop might have one."

She said, "Well, I was just wondering. I was wanting some pictures made."

I didn't have the heart to tell her she wanted a Kodak camera!

Billy Dowell, Mt. Vernon, August 27, 2007

Peter V. MacDonald, From the Cop Shop (Toronto: Stoddart, 1996), p. 194.

When I spoke to the former Sydney [Nova Scotia] police chief in late 1994, I was delighted to receive official confirmation of one of [Hugh MacDonald's] most famous utterances. Alex Goldie, who was in his thirties at the time, said he was standing about three feet behind the much older Sergeant MacDonald when the latter unleashed the line that caused generations of fun-loving folks to giggle and guffaw. The story goes like this:

One day in the late-1940s, Hughie R. arrested a woman for being drunk and disorderly in a public place. Seconds after he put her in the slammer, she sang out, "Oh, Officer, I'll need Kotex in the morning," and Hughie R. snarled, "Aw, shut up, you'll have Corn Flakes like the rest of them!"

William Montell, Tales from Kentucky Lawyers (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003), p. 105.


A well-known Harlan County prostitute was being incarcerated in the Harlan County jail. In the process of being locked up, she protested and said, "I can't go in there."

The jailer replied, "Susie, there is a warrant out on you, and I've got to put you in. Go on in there."

Susie then protested with these words, "If I am going to go in there, you'll have to get me a box of Kotex."

The jailer replied to her and said, "Hell no, Susie, you'll eat Post Toasties like all the rest."

Eugene Goss, Harlan, May 22, 2002

Immigrants Eating Swans (Peterborough, UK)

The Evening Telegraph [Peterborough, UK]
22 March 2010

Fury as swans brutally killed

By Adam Uren

POACHERS using bread attached to fishing lines are snaring and butchering legally-protected swans from the River Nene in Peterborough. [...]
Daily Mail [UK]
24 March 2010
Swans killed and fish vanish as 'migrants pillage river for food'
By Andrew Levy
Daily Mail [UK]
26 March 2010
Slaughter of the swans: As carcasses pile up and migrant camps are built on river banks, Peterborough residents are too frightened to visit the park
By Andrew Malone

Holocaust Soap for Sale in Montreal

CBC [Canada]
26 March 2010

Shop owner defends sale of 'Holocaust' soap
Montreal shop owner's wares draw ire from Jewish groups

The owner of a Montreal collectibles shop is defending his decision to sell a bar of soap he advertises as being made of the fat of Holocaust victims. [...]

The Gazette [Montreal]
27 March 2010

Montreal shop claims soap made from Holocaust victims
St. Laurent Blvd. soap-peddler incites rage, ridicule

By Irwin Block, Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL – A vendor’s claim that soap for sale in his Montreal trinket shop is made from the corpses of Second World War victims was greeted Friday with both outrage and ridicule. [...]

In spite of rumours to the contrary, there is no evidence the Germans ever made soap out of human flesh most Holocaust experts today agree. [...]

The Gazette [Montreal]
8 April 2010

Swastika-branded soap undergoes test
Seized by police; Made from corpses, merchant claimed

Montreal police have asked for an in-house chemical analysis of a bar of soap with a swastika stamped on it to see whether it was made from the corpses of Second World War victims, as the vendor claimed last week. [...]

CBC [Canada]
2 June 2010

'Nazi' soap contains no human remains

Quebec authorities say they found no human remains in a swastika-stamped bar of soap sold at a Montreal curio shop whose owner claimed it was made with fat from Holocaust victims. [...]

The shop owner likely won't be charged with fraud for misrepresenting his soap, police said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Acid Rain Rumors (Nigeria)
23 March 2010
Nigeria: Expert Allays Fears On Acid Rain
23 March 2010
Nigeria: Panic Over Strange Weather
26 March 2010
Nigeria: Panic Over Acid Rain in Lagos
25 March 2010

Nigeria: Experiencing the Purported Acid Rain in Lagos

Stella Odueme
Daily Independent (Lagos)


Lagos — "Be careful from March 20 to 28, there is possibility of acid rain. The dark circle appeared around the moon on February 17 and this is an indication of acid. Apparently, this happens once in 750 years. It rains like normal but it may cause skin cancer if you expose yourself to it, so alert your loved ones, this is from NASA, do not neglect, please."

With this text message circulated via the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), the tune was set for anticipation of what next.

Not even rebuttal by the National Aeronautic Safety Administration (NASA) of Nigeria could convince many Nigerians and indeed Lagosians any longer about the purported acid rain. [...]

25 March 2010

Residents take cover from ‘acid rain'


"This rain must not touch my body, or else my mother will beat me. She said the rain has acid and my skin will peel off. Please, don't let the rain touch my body." These were the words of eight-year-old ‘Niola Adageje, a pupil of the Agege Local Government Primary School, as she clustered with other children under the cover of a Mobil Filling Station while it rained yesterday. [...]
27 March 2010
A rain like no other
By Ben Ezeamalu
29 March 2010
Nigeria: Acid Rain Palavar
Ebele Orakpo
The Vanguard [Nigeria]
The Punch [Nigeria]
29 March 2010
Acid rain’ causes scare in Osogbo
By Tunde Odesola, Osogbo

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green Stamps

William Lynwood Montell, Tales from Kentucky Doctors (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2008), pp. 48-9.


My husband, Dr. Weldon DeMunbrun, [...] provided us with another humorous incident at the office. Our nurse had prepared a woman for a pelvic examination. As usual, the patient was on the exam table with her feet up in stirrups, feeling very self-conscious. When the doctor entered the room, he burst out laughing. This thoroughly distressed the poor patient, who wanted to know just what he thought was so darn funny.

"Did you by any chance use a Kleenex out of your purse to wipe yourself when you used the bathroom just now?" he asked her.

"Well, yes I did," she said. "How did you know that?"

"You have a row of Green Stamps in a most interesting place, and I don't even take Green Stamps," he replied.

Dr. Donne O'Donnell DeMunbrun-Harmon, Louisville, March 10, 2006

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reading Scores Predict Future Inmate Populations

The Oregonian
23 March 2010

Prisons don't use reading scores to predict future inmate populations

By Bill Graves, The Oregonian

The statement gets tossed out at conferences, pops up in blogs and surfaces in newspaper editorials. It is always a variation of this: "Some states use their third-grade reading scores to plan for future prison beds." [...]

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bombers Buried Under Pueblo Memorial Airport

KKTV [Colorado Springs, CO]
18 March 2010

The Legend of the Buried Bombers

Reporter: Jason Aubry

Legend has it, the military buried up to 12 B-24 and B-17 bombers near the airfield that would become the Pueblo Memorial Airport, right before they turned it over to the city of Pueblo. [...]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wal-Mart Aids in Rounding Up Illegal Immigrants

Bakersfield Now [CA]
11 March 2010

Texts warn immigrants to stay away from Wal-Mart

By Sabrina Rodriguez, Eyewitness News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A text message that's been circulating among Kern County's Hispanic community is causing some concern.

The message claims that Wal-Mart gave permission for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to round up immigrants in its stores on March 20. The message adds to support the Hispanic movement by not shopping at Wal-Mart and to spread the word. [...]

The Trentonian [NJ]
16 March 2010

False word of fed immigration bust has Trenton Latinos in hiding

Staff Writer

TRENTON — It might have been bogus, but a rumor that federal agents raided a city shopping center in search of Latino illegal aliens forced many immigrants into hiding over the weekend. [...]

North County Times [Escondido, CA]
18 March 2010

REGION: Latino immigrants in a 'panic' over rumored raids
Text messages spreading rumors of immigration sweeps in local stores


Rumors spreading like wildfire in Escondido that immigration authorities are conducting large-scale operations in local Latino supermarkets and Wal-Mart stores are false, say authorities and community activists. [...]

Chewing Gum Firm Battles Rumors

Arab News
11 March 2010

Chewing gum firm battles rumors


JEDDAH: A Saudi chewing gum manufacturer has been forced to publish adverts saying its product is safe following rumors that the gum causes severe memory problems and damages the nervous system.

Rumors about Batook chewing gum have circulated not only on Internet websites but also via text messages for over six months. [...]

Dog Droppings Stolen (UK)

The Argus [UK]
10 March 2010

Hunt for Worthing "poo thief"

By Ben Parsons, Crime Reporter

A bag-snatcher on a bicycle pinched a bag of poo from an elderly dog-walker in Worthing. [...]

Worthing Herald [UK]
10 March 2010

Tarring bag snatcher grabbed dog mess

A THIEF got more than he bargained for when he snatched a carrier bag from a woman walking her dog in Tarring. [...]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One-Armed Soldiers Clapping

Michael David Harris, Always on Sunday. Ed Sullivan: An Inside View (Toronto: Signet Books, 1969), pp. 93-5.

[During World War II Ed Sullivan "organized the entertainment program at Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island."]

There is one Halloran show Ed Sullivan remembers before all others. Sullivan was scheduled for a show there and received a phone call from the Halloran chaplain, Father Delaney, who said the soldiers read that Jimmy Durante was in town and wondered if he would join the troupe. Sullivan called Durante at the Astor and discovered he had a bad cold and was also scheduled to do two radio programs on the day of the Halloran show, but to Sullivan's surprise Durante said Yes. The two men worked out a precise schedule for Durante to get back for the radio broadcasts, and this involved catching a particular ferry. It meant that Durante could only do one song, but Sullivan reassured him the men would understand and be delighted he came at all.

When Durante arrived at the island, he was kept hidden in the general's office so the men would be surprised. On that particular evening the first shipload of wounded had come in on the liner Gripsholm. Most of them had been American prisoners of war, and the Halloran wounded insisted that the newcomers take the best seats on the divans in rows one and two. When Sullivan introduced Durante, the place went wild. The comic did a routine in which he threw sheet music around and ripped the top off his piano. When he finished, the applause was incredible. As he left the stage, Sullivan started to explain that Durante had to rush back to town for a radio date but the comic came out of the wings, grabbed the mike, and went into another number and then a third. "Thanks to Jimmy this was the greatest night the hospital had ever had. The place was pandemonium."

After Sullivan introduced the next act he went backstage and said to Durante, "Are you out of your mind? You'll never make your ferry." Durante told him to look at the front row of the audience. "When I saw that, Ed, I made up my mind that my radio broadcast wasn't so important, and my cold wasn't so important either." Sullivan put his head through the curtain and saw two young lieutenants in the center divan. They had each lost an arm and were applauding by clapping their two remaining hands together.

Bennett Cerf, The Sound of Laughter (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1970), pp. 276-7.

In Michael David Harris' engaging book about TV star and columnist Ed Sullivan's career, Always on Sunday, there is told the story of the day when Ed and the great Jimmy Durante rode out to Halloran General Hospital to entertain the sorely wounded war veterans there.

Durante explained in advance that he had two very remunerative radio dates scheduled for later that very day, so that he would have time to do only one number. When he actually did that number, however, the audience was so ecstatic that he grabbed the microphone and did two more complete routines.

Sullivan cried, "You were great, Jimmy. But now you'll never make those two radio dates of yours."

"Look at the front row of the audience," Durante told him. "You'll see why I forgot all about those two dates."

Ed Sullivan poked his head through the curtain and spotted two soldiers in the center divan. They each had lost an arm and were applauding happily by clapping their two remaining hands together.

Bennett Cerf, Stories To Make You Feel Better (New York: Random House, 1972), pp. 4-5.

Several times a year Ed Sullivan performs a worthy service indeed. He persuades a group of top-flight Broadway stars to accompany him to Halloran General Hospital in Staten Island to entertain the sorely wounded war veterans there.

For one of these expeditions, Sullivan sought out the beloved veteran Jimmy Durante, who accepted the invitation but explained in advance that he had a very remunerative date to perform at a private party later that night and would, accordingly, be able to do only one number for the boys.

The number he chose, naturally, was his famous "Inky Dinky Doo," and at its conclusion he audience was so ecstatic that he grabbed the microphone back and did eight more complete routines.

When he finally staggered off the platform, exhausted, Sullivan cried, "You were just great, Jimmy, but didn't you see me signaling to you? What came into you? You'll never make your private party now!"

"Look at the front row of that audience," Durante told him, "and you'll see why I forgot all about that private engagement."

Ed Sullivan poked his head through the curtain and spotted two lieutenants in a first-row divan, applauding happily. The lieutenant on the right had lost his left arm, the one on the left his right arm. With no semblance of self-consciousness, they were clapping their two remaining hands together, and giving Jimmy Durante the most soul-satisfying round of applause he ever in his life had received.

James Maguire, Impresario: The Life and Times of Ed Sullivan (New York: Billboard Books, 2006), p. 110.

In addition to his whirlwind of war benefits, Ed organized a constant stream of celebrity-filled shows at New York-area hospitals filled with wounded soldiers. He often recounted moments from these shows in his column, always in highly emotional terms. Typical of his anecdotes was one from a variety revue he put together at Staten Island's Halloran Hospital, starring comedienne Beatrice Lilly, Jimmy Durante, and Peg Leg Bates. In the show, Durante reprised his wildly physical 1920s act from Club Durant in which he tore apart a piano, hurling the pieces pell-mell through the hall. After his act, standing offstage with Ed as Peg Leg Bates performed, Durante pointed out two soldiers. "Then I noticed the tears on his face," Ed wrote. " 'Ed,' he said, in that hoarse whisper, 'take a look at those two kids out there.' He indicated two youngsters, one a lieutenant and the other a G.I., each of whom had lost an arm...They were applauding Peg Leg Bates. With great spirit and not the slightest self-consciousness, they were clapping their hands -- the lieutenant's left against the G.I.'s right."

Ed's story of the one-armed soldiers clapping was, to some, quite maudlin, though few would have carped about such a thing at the time.

Using's book search feature, I could find no mention of this anecdote in Gerald Nachman's Right Here on Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America (University of California Press, 2009).

Bennett Cerf's more elaborate version of the anecdote differs so much in important details from his first version that I suspect he wrote it from memory.

Judging from some Google Books snippets, Sullivan's own account -- from one of his New York Daily News columns? -- was reprinted in I.B.M.'s internal magazine, Think (1959, vol. 29, p. 17):

I also called Jimmy Durante. "I know you're not well," I told him, "but if you could come out with us and make just one appearance, it would mean a lot to those kids."

Jimmy said he would ask his doctor whether it would be all right to make the trip. It's my guess that he used a little persuasion; at any rate, the doctor gave his okay but stipulated that Jimmy could sing only one song [....]

I rushed backstage, where I found Durante drying himself with a towel.

"Are you out of your mind?" I asked. "I promised your doctor that you wouldn't do more than one number."

Then I noticed the tears on his face. "Ed," he said, in that hoarse whisper, "take a look at those two kids out there." [...] I figured even the doc would have told me I had to go on. Watch them."

I saw it then. They were applauding Peg Leg Bates. With great spirit and not the slightest self-consciousness, they were clapping their hands -- the lieutenant's right against the G.I.'s left....

According to a source on the Internet, the 1921 Buster Keaton film The Playhouse features a running gag about a pair of one-armed men who applaud by clapping their remaining hands together. -- bc

Pig Ingredients in Soft Drinks (Qatar)

The Peninsula [Qatar]
10 March 2010

Ministry denies rumours about pig ingredients in soft drinks

DOHA: A senior official of the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning has denied rumours circulating through emails that soft drinks being sold in the country contain ingredients made from pig organs. [...]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Driver Sucks Pennies to Fool Breathalyser

South Wales Echo [UK]
9 March 2010

JPR ‘sucked pennies’ in bid to trick drink-drive breath test

by Lisa Jones, South Wales Echo

RUGBY legend JPR Williams put coins in his mouth to try to fool a police breathalyser when he was arrested for drink-driving, a court has heard. [...]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Newborn Speaks (Orissa, India)

Breaking News Online
3 March 2010

Women throng to Shiva Temples in Orissa, as Rumor triggers Panic

Bhubaneswar: Breaking News! In a bizarre development, a rumour triggered panic across Orissa and forced the women in the state to throng to Shiva Temples to seek the blessing of Lord Shiva to save their sons.

It's not clear from where the rumour started, but it put the state on a high alert (unofficial though). It started as a newborn baby speaks out just after his birth. He stood up, spoke out and asked all parents to worship Lord Shiva to save their sons from any evil. And, he died immediately. [...]
Orissa Diary
3 March 2010
Rumor triggers panic across Orissa
Orissa Television [Bhubaneswar, Orissa]
3 March 2010
Rumors trigger panic among parents