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Category Archives: Cutting up didos with cadavers

New York Times, August 5, 1878. ¬†Yes: cartridge placement would be key here. Standard operating procedure among ghouls was not to expose the whole coffin, just the top half. Then the lid would be prized up with a bar and/or hooks. The soil pressure on the lower part of the coffin helped lever the lid upward. Then the smallest dude in the crew would get down in the hole and run a rope under the armpits of the deceased, who could then be extracted with a quick heave-ho. The best of the trade took pains to restore the grave to an ostensibly undisturbed condition–leaving a mess was bad for repeat bidnis, see? Sometimes mourners would leave small tokens on the grave–a stick or a stone–as a quick way of determining if the site had been disturbed, but the ghouls knew about this trick too and did their best to anticipate it. Anyway, this torpedo gizmo apparently found a market and sometimes worked, judging from this prior post.

P.S. To those who like this sort of thing, may I recommend this excellent book.

Daily Alta California, March 29, 1891. Yet another zany med student, doing how they do. The joke just never got old.

Baltimore Sun, February 27, 1893. Those wacky medical students are at it again! Read more.

Georgia Weekly Telegraph, April 16, 1880. The level of detail here proposes sort of a PSA agenda: Robbing graves isn’t cool, kids, plus it can liquefy your eyes. This item would make for a swell high school instructional film, or an equally fine E.C. horror comic.

By the by, my most recent post on Oom the Omnipotent generated a handsome uptick in traffic to the Hope Chest after someone posted a link to it at the MC Forum, which a message board for folks who write and share handcrafted stories about “erotic mind control”–hypnosis porn, if you will. Hello and welcome, sexy mind control aficionados! Feel free to drop by any time, and please do keep us posted should anybody post any Oom-themed slash fiction. I’m dead serious: I wanna read that.

Kansas City Evening Star, January 18, 1881. I suppose an unexploded bomb in every grave would have slowed down the trade in stiffs for a while, but there’d have been public safety issues, and eventually medical schools would have started offering bomb-disposal courses and we’d have been back to business as usual. Life is an arms race.

Omaha Morning World Herald, September 7, 1895. Sounds like lonely sport.

The Daily Picayune, September 25, 1883. Oh maaaan, that is beyond Gothic. Inferably the animal must have pulled and torqued and worried the man’s neck until his head broke clean off. Then there would have been a season of intense insect and scavenger activity until the bone was stripped. But exactly what kind of evidence underwrote the supposition that said skull was that of a negro? Was this the opinion of some armchair physical anthropologist, or did the hard-luck scenario that produced this trophy just strike our hunting party as a black thing? Read More »

Philadelphia Inquirer, August 26, 1904. Let no one accuse John W. “Black Spot” Williams of an underdeveloped work ethic.

Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1887. Seems like a commodity as poetical as graveyard honey really ought to have some sort of magical properties, but what? Maybe it cures grief but only temporarily, and when the grief returns it is redoubled, or its stay is lengthened sevenfold. Or maybe it’s just a good poultice for lumbago.

I was trying to figure out what this story reminded me of, and it finally came to me: It’s that weird-ass thing in the Good Book about Samson and the lion (Judges 14), which incidentally sets a Biblical precedent for not burdening consumers with too much information about where your bees have been. I quote:

And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

I like honey, and once even helped a beekeeper harvest his hives, which was incredibly interesting. But honey is still objectively weird as an isolated, grandfathered exception to the vehement Western rejection of anything that remotely smacks of entomophagy. If honey were a new product, it would go absolutely nowhere. “It’s the amazing new sugary goo produced by flying bugs to feed their squirming white larvae! Try it, it’s good! Don’t worry, we’ve taken most of the larvae out.” Good luck with that, Don Draper.

And yet God clearly intended for us to eat the bugs, else He wouldn’t have made so damn many of them, nor provided us with detailed instructions as to which ones to avoid and which to dine upon. That’s all in Leviticus 11:20 through 22:

All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.

Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

The key clause here is the permission to eat the beetle after his kind. Since beetles make up 25% of all known life forms, this is God’s way of saying that the bug buffet is wide open. And yet we have strayed so far from the dietary path He proposes for us. Even to the extent that when a book entitled What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer comes along, it mentions only the prohibition against that which flies and creeps on all fours, and skates blithely over the probability that Jesus was stuffing His face with bugs from the manger to Gethsemane.

Now I’ll grant that there’s no actual description of Jesus eating bugs in the Bible, but neither do the Gospels document Him using the latrine, which I think we can presume he did, else it would likely have excited comment.

Anyway, reform has to start somewhere, so let’s everybody agree to eat a bug today. Deal?

Various newspapers, 1870-1909. Like so many other once-great American institutions, the trunk mystery has gone where the woodbine twineth. Read more.