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Category Archives: Poison

Omaha World Herald, September 20, 1896.Gags about new brides and their indigestible pies were once a cultural staple, right up there with mother-in-law jokes. I gather from this meta-example that the trope is as old as pie and marriage themselves.

Kansas City Times, June 23, 1918. Read more.

Baltimore Sun, March 26, 1892. Taking the uneasy way out.

wapo 5 16 80Washington Post, May 16, 1880. You don’t even want to think about the physiological costs of cold water on a gutfull of mince pie.

6 4 94Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1894. Political battles over tobacco additives have a longer and weirder history than you might guess. Read More »

detox1The Chicago Tribune, December 23, 1858. According to Twelve Step lore, alcoholism was universally seen as a moral failing until Bill W. and Dr. Silkworth redefined it as a medical issue in the 1930s. In fact, the Revolutionary war hero and Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush had the medical model of alcoholism pretty much down over two centuries ago, and plenty of clinicians wrestled with the problem in the intervening years. As attending physician at Chicago’s “Bridewell,” Dr. Paoli here was squarely on the front lines of treatment. Some of his ideas have aged better than others. Read More »

chargeaDetroit News, May 26, 1931. Serial murderers work so hard at what they do, but most of them simply fall down the memory hole regardless. As we shall see, this Margaret Summers gal was ultimately credited with at least a dozen killings, but who now remembers her name? Ah well, sic transit gloria mundi.

A few years ago, I wrote what I still think is a pretty funny profile of a bogus profiler of serial killers for the Chicago Reader. I thought I was scuttling her barge, but I still see this nutjob crop up in the media as an “expert” from time to time. Read More »


Detroit News, April 1 and 11, 1931, respectively. This was a pretty common trope at the time. I don’t think people kill themselves in graveyards as much now.