Sunday, December 18, 2022

Humor in History

 With Nancy J. Farrier

Caligula Declares War on Poseidon/Neptune


Photo by Richard Mortel
Wikimedia Commons
Caligula, who was the third Roman emperor, is a controversial figure. Many say he was crazy and did such weird things that his troops had trouble following him. He tried to lead an attack on Britain but was unprepared for the English channel. When they reached the channel, he turned his troops back with an excuse. 

He then led them to the sea where some said he declared war on Poseidon but since he was Roman it’s more likely he declared war on Neptune. He had his soldiers throw spears in the water to wage the war and then had them gather sea shells to take home as war trophies. Hmmmm. Maybe there is something to the craziness rumors. 

Give the Enemy Some Bullets


Photo by Jebulon
Wikimedia Commons
In 1821, during the first siege on the Acropolis, Greek soldiers were fighting the Turks, who were holed up inside the Acropolis. The Turks were running low on bullets and discovered the joints in the stone were supported by lead. They destroyed stone to get to the lead to make bullets. The story came out during a funeral speech later that the Greeks were so horrified at the destruction that they sent the enemy lead bullets so they would stop destroying the architecture and the beautiful columns. By sending over bullets, they were able to limit the Turks need to dig out lead from the surroundings. Nothing like giving the enemy the ammunition they need. 



Poll the Naughty Parrot


By Samuele Wikipediano 1348
Wikipedia Commons

In 1827, Andrew Jackson purchased a parrot in Nashville for his wife, Rachel. After her death, he kept the parrot. When Jackson became President, Poll went with him to Washington and was there until Jackson’s death. At the funeral, Poll was present and disturbed by the commotion, the parrot, “…let loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss words.’” Reverend Norment was quoted saying, “Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet got excited and commenced swearing so loud and long as to disturb the people and had to be carried from the house.”Needless to say, Poll was removed from the funeral much to the mourners relief.




The Traveling Corpse

Elmer McCurdy wanted to be a gunslinger in the Wild West. During his last, he robbed banks and became an outlaw. In 1911, he died in a shootout with law enforcement after he robbed a train. His body went to an undertaker and wasn’t claimed, so the undertaker embalmed him with a preservative made from arsenic, commonly used to preserve bodies for long periods of time. Johnson, the undertaker, shaved the corpse and dressed him and stored him in the back room. He wanted payment for his services, so he decided to put the corpse on display and charge for viewing.


By W.G. Boag
Wikimedia Commons

In 1916, two men claiming to be McCurdy’s brothers paid Johnson and took the body. They were actually James and Charles Patterson of the Great Patterson Carnival Shows. They traveled with the corpse on display in their show until they sold everything to Louis Sonney who put McCurdy in his Museum of Crime, another traveling show.


McCurdy’s body ended up in Los Angeles and was eventually sold to a wax museum and then a funhouse called, The Pike. In 1976, a scene of The Six Million Dollar Man was being filmed at The Pike. When a prop man moved a hanging wax corpse, the arm broke off. Human bone and muscle tissue were visible. The police took the corpse to the coroner’s office and they tested the remains to determine who this was. Through various clues they discovered this was really the corpse of Elmer McCurdy. McCurdy was taken in 1977 to Guthrie, Oklahoma and was finally buried—right next to another outlaw.

These were some interesting and unusual stories. I hope at least one of them gave you a moment to smile and maybe laugh. Wishing all of you the best Christmas and a blessed New Year. - Nancy

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning, best-selling author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats and dog, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today, and Merry Christmas! This was certainly a collection of the odd and unusual!!!