Alternative Fourth of July Activities

In many parts of the United States, Fourth of July celebrations will be (or at least, should be) a little different this year: no large crowds gathered together to ooh and ahh over fireworks, no hamburgers and hotdogs grilled at neighborhood barbecues and definitely no regiments marching around in powdered wigs. Fortunately, history is full Read More

Banning Fun: New Year’s Eve, 1913

In the waning weeks of 1913, Carter Harrison IV, mayor of a city renowned for its vices, was determined to stamp all the merriment out of Chicago’s New Year’s celebrations: Late-night drinking and tango dancing and hat tickling, oh my! I hadn’t heard of a hat tickler, but since it’s forbidden, I’ve never wanted an Read More

A Brooklyn Christmas Carol

As any child knows, stealing—especially if a creepy elf is watching from a shelf—usually lands you on the naughty list. However, in the case of poverty-stricken mother Anna Lobell, Santa Claus might want to check his list twice. Two women were arraigned. . . in Brooklyn yesterday, both charged with shoplifting. One of them was Read More

Revenge of the Turkey

As a staple of the holiday feast, Thanksgiving can be tough on turkeys (vegetarians, too—but that’s another story). However, if any are reading, take heart: History shows that once in a while, turkeys come out on top—and not just the top rack of the oven. Does a turkey gobbler possess the same remarkable mental faculties Read More

Behind Enemy Lines

No matter how Andrew Valentine Farley and his three companions maneuver their boat, they’re fighting the tide, and the Confederates are gaining on them. When they initially spotted the other boat on their way back to the U.S.S. Ottawa, they assumed it was a fellow Union boat coming from Jacksonville, just north on the St. Read More

Haunting Gone Wrong

These days, the newspapers—er, Twitter feeds—are filled with articles about lost jobs, dying industries and the changing face of the 21st-century economy. But amidst the handwringing over what’s been lost and who’s been left behind, one suffering population has been largely invisible: ghosts. Recent centuries have not been kind to those whose primary job is Read More

A Blah History

If you thought National Thank a Mail Carrier Day was an obscure holiday, you’ll never guess what today is: Blah, Blah, Blah Day. “Blah” is a relatively recent addition to our lexicon, first appearing in 1918. Considering the wide range of complex emotions it conveys, it’s a wonder the English language did without it for Read More

The Prince and the Pilot

Loyal readers might recall the story of plant-eating, teetotaling, jiu-jitsu-demonstrating health nut and newspaper darling, Gladys Mason, who went missing somewhere between Chicago and San Francisco on a cross-country trek in 1913. Well, folks, we found her! It turns out, after leaving Chicago, she took a detour to Wisconsin, where she opened a popular burger Read More

Presidential Pardon

Even if you didn’t have the day off work, the onslaught of mattress sale commercials should have reminded you that this past Monday was Presidents’ Day. Along with National Thank a Mail Carrier Day, it’s a busy month. In honor of the holiday, let’s explore a footnote in the administration of one of our more Read More

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