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DeadJet 10-29-2009 01:17 PM

American History 101
 
Okay, so I was on a thread and it came up that Ken and I both dig on American History, and instead of running off on some tangent, I figured why not make a thread to trade weird stories/hold polite debates/discussions about all things American History. Try to provide a link or cite a source, even though I regret to admit I'll probably be dropping wiki links and that's about it. Pay attention, you just might learn something. You get a gold star on your progress report if you can tell us something interesting about American Motorcycling history, too.

I'll start: The Donora Smog of 1948. This sounds like a B movie from the 50's, but it really happened. Donora was a small mining town around Pittsburgh where, for a few days in 1948, a poisonous, visible toxic cloud of fog settled over the town, killing 20 residents outright (mostly from asthma like symptoms) and plunging approximately half of the 14,000 population into sickness associated with it. Life expectancy of those affected also was dramatically affected negatively. It was caused by pollutants in the air, and an "air inversion," which essentially created a vacuum and sucked all the toxic mining crap into the valley the town was in. This happened similarly in St. Louis in 1939 and London in 1955. Donora Fog of 1948

Enjoy...

Kenneth_Moore 10-29-2009 01:38 PM

That's a wierd one.

Did you know the infamous Hollister photo of the drunk biker with the beer bottle scattered around was staged? There were, in fact, some bike gangs in town for the races, and they did some racing up and down the streets, drank a bunch of beer, etc. The media got wind of it and went to the town for a story. When they found out it wasn't that interesting after all, they started making stuff up out of whole cloth. Including the photo of the drunk biker...they placed the bottles around the bike and had the guy pose. Within a few weeks, the various wire services had picked up the story, and with each re-telling, the story got more dramatic and less factual. The town "was under siege," rapists were having their way with the town's womenfolk, livestock was roasted alive in the town park. Eventually this "urban legend" became the basis for an entire generation's perception of the outlaw biker. Arguably many motorcyclists were attracted to this image, and proceed to model themselves along it; creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

longride 10-29-2009 04:37 PM

"Okay, so I was on a thread and it came up that Ken and I both dig on American History, and instead of running off on some tangent, I figured why not make a thread to trade weird stories/hold polite debates/discussions about all things American History."

I thought Ken's version of American History was already weird. NO need to make a special thread for it.

mscuddy 10-29-2009 05:18 PM

Then there's the infamous "Foster Freeze Vomit Attack" that happened in Glendale, California in 1958.

Some unlucky patrons ordered the vanilla swirll cone only to find out later the swirll machine had been contamniated with Pep Boys Pure as Gold reclaimed motor oil, that the maintenance man had used to lubricate the pump motor.

Somehow the reclaimed motor oil made its way into the mixing hopper, and was churned into the vanilla ice creme, that caused projectile vomiting and instantaineous voiding of the transverse and descending colon of the patrons who consumed the contaminated mixture.

The Fire department was called to the scene, and had to hose the entire parking lot and adjacent sidewalk off to stop people from slipping and falling in the mixture of vomit and feces.

This also caused the incumbent Mayor to be voted out of office the next election, due to his exposed ties to Foster Freeze's maintenance department, and Pep Boys.

Manny, Moe and Jack were called to the inquiry in 1960, but refused to testify, citing their fifth ammendment rights.

seruzawa 10-29-2009 09:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kenneth_Moore (Post 227119)
That's a wierd one.

Did you know the infamous Hollister photo of the drunk biker with the beer bottle scattered around was staged? There were, in fact, some bike gangs in town for the races, and they did some racing up and down the streets, drank a bunch of beer, etc. The media got wind of it and went to the town for a story. When they found out it wasn't that interesting after all, they started making stuff up out of whole cloth. Including the photo of the drunk biker...they placed the bottles around the bike and had the guy pose. Within a few weeks, the various wire services had picked up the story, and with each re-telling, the story got more dramatic and less factual. The town "was under siege," rapists were having their way with the town's womenfolk, livestock was roasted alive in the town park. Eventually this "urban legend" became the basis for an entire generation's perception of the outlaw biker. Arguably many motorcyclists were attracted to this image, and proceed to model themselves along it; creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The guy on the bike wasn't a biker. He was a drunken townie that the reporters posed on the bike.

The thing to realize is that much of the "news" you see on the tube today is as invented as that Hollister incident.

schizuki 10-30-2009 03:59 AM

The most fascinating story to me is the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. I came across a newspaper article about it maybe ten years ago. What's so fascinating is how unknown this story is. I've been studying history since I was a child, and I simply couldn't believe that I'd never heard of it, and that a disaster of such magnitude had so completely disappeared from our collective memory.

It killed 3% of the world's population. It killed more Americans than World Wars I & II combined. It disproportionately killed healthy young adults. It happened less than 100 years ago. Yet it's virtually unknown. Nothing in popular culture, no stories handed down from old folks, no chapter in school textbooks. Nothing. That's mind-boggling.

I remember walking through a convent cemetary when I was younger and noticing a group of ten or eleven nun's graves that were all dated 1918. I thought it must have been a fire. I'm certain now it was the flu.

Kenneth_Moore 10-30-2009 05:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by longride (Post 227130)
I thought Ken's version of American History was already weird. NO need to make a special thread for it.

You charmer, you. You look tense, would you like to come up for a drink?

pplassm 11-01-2009 12:55 PM

The Mann Gulch Fire of 1949. 13 Smoke jumpers died.

The foreman, Wagner Dodge, lived through it by lighting an escape fire, and lying down in the ashes.

This incident was the impetus for changing the way the Forest Service trains and equips fire fighters.

Mann Gulch fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is a very interesting tragedy. I learned about it from a song I heard, and from Reading Norm MacClean's book, "Young Men and Fire".

DeadJet 11-02-2009 02:27 PM

Thanks for sharing guys, let's keep it going...

Ken, I'm not sure if I've come across that Hollister incident specifically, but I'm a big H.S. Thompson fan, so I'm familiar with all the blown-out-of-proportion stories from Hell's Angels. Give me a little bit here, I'll try to find something interesting to keep the thread alive.

Kenneth_Moore 11-02-2009 03:17 PM

I've been a HST fan since I was a kid. My cousin who gave me my first ride (on a 60's BSA in L.A.) had it on a cross-country camping trip. I read it then and again a couple of times since then. Have you ever read his political stuff like Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail? The stuff he wrote on Edmund Muskie's Ibogain drug habit was hysterical. He even took a limo ride with then-candidate **** Nixon, that was another memorable passage.


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