Far-Out Friday: There Once Was a Chicken Without a Head

Seventy years ago this year, about a month after the atom bomb was dropped on Japan, one story grabbed headlines around the country.  That story is still reason for an annual celebration on the third weekend of May in Fruita, Colorado.  He probably didn’t even have a name before all the hoopla which began on September 10, 1945, but afterwards they called him “Mike the Headless Chicken”, although how the rooster came to be called Mike is unclear. According to the Mike the Headless Chicken web site, this young chicken was supposed to be dinner on that day in September. Farmer Lloyd Olsen had been dispatched by his missus Clara to kill the chicken, instructed to leave a generous neck bone, his mother-in-law’s favorite part of the chicken. Olsen did the deed and as usually is the case (which is where we come by the phrase, “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”) the chicken staggered around. Normally a chicken is supposed to fall dead after a time, but this one apparently shook off the trauma of having its head severed and began walking around preening his feathers and pecking for food. The following morning Olsen found the rooster still alive, its “head” (neck) tucked under its wing. He figured if this bird had that much will to live perhaps he could find a way to feed and keep it alive. Using an eyedropper, Olsen carefully fed and watered Mike and the chicken actually started to gain weight and thrive. Several days later, Olsen decided to take his headless chicken to the University of Utah and...

Far-Out Friday: This Might Have Been a Victorian Thing (Get Me Out of Here, I’m Not Dead!)

A friend forwarded a story to me recently from Retro Indy (Indianapolis) about a device invented in the late eighteenth century, which led me to explore a bizarre series of patents granted from the 1840’s through the early twentieth century.  The September 20, 1963 issue of Life magazine suggested that one peculiarity of the nineteenth century, the fear of being buried alive, may have been inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy stories. This article is no longer available at this site.  The former Digging History blog is now a monthly digital (PDF) publication, available by single issue ($2.99) purchase or by subscription at the Digging History Magazine site.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Far-Out Friday: Friggatriskaidekaphobia and the Thirteen Club

Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia (and you say, I don’t even know how to pronounce it, so how could I be afflicted with it!?!).  Maybe not, but it may affect between seventeen and twenty million Americans.  According to the Mayo Clinic, in clinical terms a phobia “is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance.” This particular phobia, as it relates to a certain calendar date, may only be experienced one to three times per year.  This year it will haunt millions of people three times on a Friday – February 13, March 13 and November 13 – and no one seems to know definitively when and where the notion of “Friday the 13th” being an unlucky day, or for that matter the number “13″ being associated with misfortune and bad luck, originated. This article is no longer available at this site.  The former Digging History blog is now a monthly digital (PDF) publication, available by single issue ($2.99) purchase or by subscription at the Digging History Magazine site.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Far-Out Friday: The Great Airship Hoax

Orville and Wilbur Wright had made headlines six years earlier at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with their “flying machine.”  However, from mid December of 1909 to late January 1910, newspapers across the country perpetrated, and later renounced, a farcical tale which came to be called The Great Airship Hoax. This article is no longer available at this site.  The former Digging History blog is now a monthly digital (PDF) publication, available by single issue ($2.99) purchase or by subscription at the Digging History Magazine site.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Far-Out Friday: The Bennington Triangle

Like the so-called Bermuda Triangle, which stretches along lines from Florida to Bermuda to Puerto Rico and back to Florida, the Vermont phenomenon known as the “Bennington Triangle” is full of intrigue and mysterious disappearances — although precisely where the “triangle” is situated seems unclear.  The Appalachian Mountain Club calls it the “Triangle of Doom.”  Even though the last reported disappearance occurred well over sixty years ago, it’s still remains a mystery and was featured in a July 2012 episode of William Shatner’s Weird or What? cable television series. This article was featured in the October 2018 issue of Digging History Magazine.  Preview the issue here or purchase...

Far-Out Friday: The Boston Molassacre (January 15, 1919)

As disasters go, whether considered “acts of God” or man-made, this one was one of the most bizarre.  It happened on January 15, 1919 in Boston, a flood of epic proportions; however, it wasn’t water that flooded the area, but ooey-gooey-sticky hot molasses.  The scene of the disaster was Boston’s North End at the Purity Distilling Company. This article is no longer available at this site.  The former Digging History blog is now a monthly digital (PDF) publication, available by single issue ($2.99) purchase or by subscription at the Digging History Magazine site.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...