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The "Wildman Suit"
To this day, the one-of-a-kind "Wildman Suit" sits on display in the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. A double-layered set of armor coated from head to toe in one-inch-long, outward-facing iron nails, this suit remains as terrifying as it is mysterious.
While it's widely referred to as Siberian bear-hunting armor from the 1800s, others say it was used in the gruesome spectacle of bear-baiting popular in Shakespearean England. But the true purpose of the "Wildman Suit" remains largely elusive centuries later.Reddit
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John Smith, The "137-Year-Old Man"
John Smith was a Chippewa Indian from Minnesota who claimed to live to 137 years old. Long before his death in 1922, the Chippewa people referred to him as Ga-Be-Nah-Gewn-Wonce, or "wrinkled meat," due to his starkly creased face.
However, some say that his facial appearance was caused by disease and not age. Though his real age remains contested, his gravestone in Cass Lake, Minnesota still lists his birth year as 1784.Wikimedia Commons
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Luxembourgish-American inventor and futurist Hugo Gernsback worked tirelessly to find all potential solutions to the inconveniences of modern life in the early-to-mid-1900s. He created everything from portable television goggles to the device seen here, which he aptly named "The Isolator."
Intended to block out all noise and allow users to properly concentrate, the contraption did prove to be oddly prescient. After all, using noise-canceling headphones is a popular method to block out the distractions of public places today. Nonetheless, The Isolator was far too bulky and inefficient to find success with the public when it debuted in 1925.Facebook
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While it looks like something straight out of a vintage cartoon, kangaroo boxing actually became pretty popular in the late 1800s. In both Europe and the United States, clowns and professional boxers alike would square off against these marsupials in front of frenzied crowds.
The man seen in this weird photograph was sparring with a kangaroo in Berlin, Germany in 1924. In the decades that followed, the "sport" fell out of favor as many decried its abuses of the animals involved.Getty Images
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When Children Were Shipped In The Mail
Believe it or not, there was a time when American children were sent through the mail. When the USPS's Parcel Post service officially began on Jan. 1, 1913, it allowed customers to ship large packages — including people, provided they weren't heavier than 11 pounds and were appropriately stamped.
Fortunately, all children who were shipped arrived unharmed and the USPS cancelled this bizarre service after only about two years. But to this day, a collection of weird historical photos allow us to revisit this unusual time.Smithsonian
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The Strange Picture Of A.L. Kahn's Manta Ray
In the summer of 1933, a man named A.L. Kahn was fishing off the coast of New Jersey when he landed this 20-foot-long, 5,000-pound manta ray. It took him, his mates, and the U.S. Coast Guard several hours and several dozen blasts from a gun to finally reel in this "devil fish."
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote at the time, it was "a harrowing three-hour struggle to decide whether the fishing party was capturing the fish, or the fish was capturing the boat and its four occupants."Reddit
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When Thanksgiving Was More Like Halloween
"Thanksgiving masquerading has never been more universal. Fantastically garbed youngsters and their elders were on every corner of the city…There were Fausts, Uncle Sams, Harlequins, bandits, sailors."
This 1899 quote from The New York Times recalls an era when Thanksgiving was more like Halloween. With costumed revelers out in droves to celebrate this day of thanks, the holiday was said to be the busiest time of year for mask dealers and the like. But by the 1920s, the tradition had started to wane and the modern version of Thanksgiving increasingly took root.Library of Congress
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The Disneyland Cafeteria
The Disneyland staff takes a break from their shift and fuels up at the theme park's cafeteria in 1961. While this weird historical photo was likely staged — that astronaut is going to have a hard time eating with his helmet on — it still makes for a strikingly bizarre image.Twitter
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The Woman Who Went Over Niagara Falls In A Barrel
While this may not look like a particularly weird historical photo at first glance, the story of Annie Edson Taylor is nothing if not astonishing. On Oct. 24, 1901, her 63rd birthday, this "very prim and proper" New York schoolteacher became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive.
She performed the stunt in hopes that it would bring in money with public appearances and memorabilia afterward. However, her manager soon made off with the barrel, which would have been a key prop for her appearances, and she never quite earned the windfall she'd sought.Wikimedia Commons
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The Original Ronald McDonald
If McDonald's still used the original Ronald McDonald depicted here, customers would probably lose their appetites before even placing their orders. This advertisement, shown in the Washington, D.C. market in 1963, saw actor Willard Scott portray the now-world-famous clown in a way that some would say is much creepier than the version we know today. Twitter
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Vintage Circus Hippo
A circus hippo pulling a cart in 1924. These 3,500-pound beasts have notoriously been some of the most dangerous animals used in circus performances.
In 2016, one escaped from a circus in Spain and got onto the surrounding roads, where it brought traffic to a standstill before being recaptured. Incidents like these have furthermore brought attention to the abuses suffered by animals like these in circuses around the world to this day.Pinterest
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Office Whiskey Machines
While they never became widespread in offices around the U.S., people were seriously shopping this whiskey dispenser machine around at exhibitions in the 1950s and 1960s.
This photo was taken in February 1960 at the Second Automatic Vending Exhibition in London, England.LIFE/Pinterest
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A Strange Photo Of A Policeman's Portable Holding Cell
While this portable jail cell isn't too far off from our modern alternative — being handcuffed in the back of a police car isn't much different, after all — this motorcycle sidecar is something to behold. The one pictured here dates to the 1920s and was used in Los Angeles.Hulton Deutsch/Corbis/Getty Images
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Miss Atomic Bomb
Before the United States realized that celebrating nuclear explosions might not be the most sensitive thing in the world, the most dangerous weapon ever deployed inspired the Miss Atomic Bomb pageant.
Held in Las Vegas, Nevada throughout the 1950s, the event saw showgirls like Lee Merlin (depicted here) compete for the title. In fact, with the American military's atomic bomb testing grounds only a few dozen miles away from Las Vegas, the city used mushroom clouds and the like in a number of tourism and marketing endeavors during the early Cold War era.Las Vegas Sun
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Vintage Ice Mask
Designed by 1940s Hollywood makeup artist Max Factor Jr., this bizarre ice mask aimed to reduce facial puffiness. Factor believed actresses would jump at the product, whether to cool down between scenes or curb the results of a long night on the town.
Unfortunately for him, they never did. Today, we're only left with weird photographs of the device like this one.Pinterest
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As South Vietnam collapsed with the final stages of the Vietnam War in 1975, President Ford ordered the mass evacuation of Vietnamese orphans from Saigon. A massive Northern Vietnamese offensive loomed, and time was of the essence. In the end, Operation Babylift saved more than 3,000 orphans.U.S. Military
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One Of The Weirdest Pictures Of The Punt Gun
The punt gun was so powerful that it was outlawed for being too effective. This comically large weapon was first built in the early 1800s as demand for duck skyrocketed.
Capable of killing 50-100 waterfowl with a single shot, it began to decimate duck populations. Fortunately, regulations instituted in the first two decades of the 20th century brought the reign of the punt gun to an end. Pinterest
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Mummies For Sale
This weird historical photo depicts a street vendor selling mummies right outside of the Egyptian Pyramids in 1865. Wikimedia Commons
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A Half-Catholic, Half-Protestant Couple Buried Side By Side
With tensions between Catholics and Protestants running high in the Netherlands in the late 1800s, this Catholic woman and her Protestant husband were buried in different cemeteries, segregated by religion. Fortunately, this couple managed to find a solution to stay together after death by having their graves straddle the wall separating their cemeteries. Pinterest
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Preserved Human Hands Captured In This Weird Photograph
These bloated and disfigured hands reveal the chilling effects of gout. They were preserved by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, the renowned scientist who would later tragically suffer from the ailment himself.
In addition to these hands, the doctor left behind a vast and disturbing collection of anatomical and pathological specimens. Much of it can still be seen today at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.Mütter Museum
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Cynthia "Plaster Caster"
Cynthia Albritton wasn't just any rock and roll groupie. In fact, she has been making molds of the penises of some of the most famous rock stars on Earth since the late 1960s.
Rightfully nicknamed Cynthia Plaster Caster, she got people like Jimi Hendrix to dip their penises into a martini shaker filled with dental-mold gel. Her work has been popular for decades and has been exhibited as recently as 2017.Tumblr
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André The Giant Meets A Fan
French wrestler and actor André the Giant stood seven feet and four inches tall and weighed in at 550 pounds. His staggering size helped make him a beloved icon throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This photo shows him meeting one of his smallest fans in the early 1970s.Facebook
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Neptune Rising Out Of The Sea
Sculpted by Luis Arencibia Betancort, this statue of Neptune graces Melenara Beach in Spain's Gran Canaria to this day. With trident in hand, Neptune vanishes and then reappears as the waves come crashing down, making for a unique sight for beachgoers.Pinterest
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When Hard Drives Had To Be Transported By Plane
It's easy to forget just how much space computers used to take up. The first IBM machines were essentially rooms unto themselves.
This photo serves as a stark reminder of how large memory itself used to be — as maintenance personnel load a mere five megabytes of memory into a Pan Am aircraft in 1956.IBM
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Alfred Hitchcock Meets Leo The Lion
The sounds of a growling lion are surely etched into most of our memories as a clear sign that a movie is about to begin. And the beloved lion used for MGM's title credit was indeed a real specimen named Leo the Lion.
Given that Leo was an icon of cinema himself, it was only right that he meet fellow film legend, director Alfred Hitchcock. Thankfully, their 1957 teatime was captured in time so that we could enjoy it forever.Pinterest
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Salvador Dalí And His Anteater
The famously eccentric surrealist painter Salvador Dalí had a passion for anteaters, which are frequently depicted in his paintings. For Parisian onlookers in 1969, this scene of the artist with his pet anteater was as bizarre as it was amusing.Facebook
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Trying To Escape To Mexico In 1939
Back when Mexico was a haven for American fugitives dreaming of liberty, escaping the law by hopping over the border was not uncommon. Captured in 1939, this photo shows just how close one particular lawbreaker came to freedom at the border in El Paso, Texas. Reddit
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Finished in 1932, the Dynasphere seemed like something out of the era's science fiction literature. Patented two years earlier by English engineer Dr. J. A. Purves, this motorized monowheel prototype weighed 1,000 pounds and could reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour. Unfortunately, it was tremendously unwieldy and thus never caught on.Twitter
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A Weird Photograph Of Soviet Soldiers Feeding Polar Bears
Taken in the 1950s, this weird photograph was captured during a routine military expedition in the Soviet Union's Chukchi Peninsula. With temperatures below zero and a severe scarcity of food, this Russian soldier felt it only fair to give these polar bears a snack consisting of some condensed milk.Pinterest
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World War I Sound Finders
Dubbed "Sound Finders," these World War I soldiers were tasked with identifying where exactly enemy planes were approaching from via acoustic location. It's unclear how effective these primitive contraptions actually were, but armies on both sides of the conflict used devices like these in the days before radar.Pinterest
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When this strange picture was snapped in 1927, it was thought that "sunlight therapy" effectively treated patients with malaria. Though they may look shockingly antiquated, UV lamps like these only fell out of favor for such purposes in the 1960s.Pinterest
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The Mickey Mouse Club In The 1930s
The uniform mob of smiling humanoid mice seen here were gathered for an early meeting of the Mickey Mouse Club in Ocean Park, California, circa 1930. Facebook
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Buzz Aldrin's Space Selfie
NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin took the first space selfie in history, long before smartphones, social media, or even the term "selfie" ever existed. Captured in 1966, this photo was taken during the Gemini 12 mission, Aldrin's first space excursion. Three years later, during the Apollo 11 mission, he would become the second person in history to walk on the moon.NASA
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Spectators At The Trial Of Al Capone
Deemed Public Enemy No. 1 by the U.S. government, Chicago gangster Al Capone made a fortune in bootlegging and other illegal rackets during Prohibition. His reign finally came to an end in 1931, when the authorities were able to bring him up on income tax evasion charges that ultimately landed him in prison for eight years.
The terror that this notoriously ruthless gangster inspired in others is perfectly encapsulated in this image from his 1931 trial in which spectators hide their faces from news cameras. Whether they were fellow gangsters looking to fly under the radar or civilians scared of incurring Capone's wrath, seemingly no one wanted to be recognized at this historic trial.Ullstein Bild/Getty Images
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Nintendo's Original Headquarters In 1889
Before it became a video game empire, Nintendo produced handmade playing cards. Founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, the company wouldn't even delve into electronics until decades later. Seen here are Nintendo's original headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, just after the company was founded. Wikimedia Commons
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Motorized Roller Skates
Salesman Mike Dreschler fills up the tank for his motorized roller skates at a Sunoco station in Hartford, Connecticut. Produced by the Motorized Roller Skate Company of Detroit starting in 1956, these seemingly convenient skates sold for $250 and reached speeds of 17 miles per hour.
In addition to their exorbitant cost — which would be around $2,300 today — the skates weighed a whopping 19 pounds. While these factors prevented the skates from ever truly taking off, perhaps their most glaring failure was their lack of brakes.Motorized Roller Skate Company
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How To Avoid Trigger-Happy Police During Prohibition
Before the end of Prohibition in 1933, both gangsters and amateur bootleggers across America made a fortune in black market booze. But these bootleggers were also in the crosshairs of the authorities, who were hellbent on catching them — as evidenced by this man's pleas to police to not mistake him for a criminal and fire on his vehicle.Pinterest
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Testing The Bulletproof Vest
Testing the first bulletproof vests essentially required men to take turns shooting each other in the chest. This harrowing experiment naturally required an extraordinary amount of faith in these vests, and trust in the gunman's aim. Seen here are members of the Protective Garment Corporation of New York, demonstrating the efficacy of a light vest intended for police, in Washington, D.C. in 1923.Library of Congress
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A Strange Picture Of A Vintage Coca-Cola Advertisement
Before guerilla marketing like this became more commonplace, it'd be rare to encounter such a thing in the wild. This Coca-Cola ad was surely a sight to behold for those on the ground in Venice, Italy's Saint Mark's Square in 1960. All Coke marketers had to do was scatter grains across the square and wait for the hungry pigeons to come congregate and unwittingly spell out the brand's name in enormous letters for all to see.Pinterest
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Vintage Halloween Costumes
Halloween costumes of decades past were undoubtedly far creepier than anything you'll see today. From unnerving doll masks to bags placed over children's heads, the guidelines were a little less stringent back then, making the costumes all the more disturbing.Pinterest
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A Weird Photograph Of A Wheat Field In Manhattan
Before high-rises and condos dominated Manhattan's Battery Park, the Public Art Fund commissioned artist Agnes Denes in 1982 to create something of creative value in the area. Rather than opt for a sculpture, she planted a golden wheat field. The dirt used to do so was excavated during construction of the Twin Towers, which stood adjacent, a decade earlier.
Denes explained that the idea "grew out of a long-standing concern and need to call attention to our misplaced priorities and deteriorating human values."Tumblr
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Night-Fishing In Hawaii In 1948
You might think this precarious torch was made to give this Hawaiian man better visibility for nighttime fishing. On the contrary, the bright light of kukui-nut torches served to attract fish in shallow waters. Made of kukui nuts wrapped in leaves, these torches drew the fish in — then the fisherman's pointed spear finished the job.Reddit
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Rapatronic Image Of Nuclear Detonation
Engineer Harold Edgerton's rapatronic camera was such a technical marvel it could record a still image with an exposure time as short as 10 nanoseconds.
Soon after this camera was developed in the 1940s, the United States government began using its high-speed capabilities to capture nuclear detonations. This photo, snapped during a test in the 1950s, reveals the bomb's explosion like never before.Smithsonian National Museum of American History
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1950s Smoking Device
Not all failed inventions deserve to be remembered. This cigarette holder, however, certainly does. Photographed in 1955, model Frances Richards illustrates just how efficient this smoking device could be — if you want to consume 20 cigarettes at once.Jacobsen/Getty Images
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Human Chess In Soviet Russia
This weird historical photo captures a human chess match that took place in St. Petersburg in 1924. With contemporary chess masters Peter Romanovsky and Ilya Rabinovich facing off, this match involved real horses on both teams, members of the Soviet Union's Red Army (in black), and members of the Navy (white). The match purportedly lasted five hours and was held to promote chess playing in the Soviet Union.Reddit
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Margaret Howe Lovatt's Intimate Relationship With A Dolphin
Margaret Howe Lovatt had always been fascinated by the prospect of communicating with animals. When NASA secured funding to attempt communication between humans and dolphins in the 1960s, Lovatt was determined to help.
The 23-year-old naturalist's passion was rewarded with a job to supervise the creatures at the experiment's Virgin Islands facility. But no one would have guessed that Lovatt would eventually engage in a sexual relationship with one of the dolphins. Lovatt would reportedly manually stimulate the dolphin in order to relieve his urges, which were disrupting the research.YouTube
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Turkey's Drunk Baskets
During the 1960s, many bars in Turkey employed basket men called "küfeci" to transport inebriated ruffians home if they were too drunk to stand. The regional saying "küfelik olmak," or "needing to be carried home in a basket," is still used to this day.Reddit
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A Mother And Son Watch An Atomic Bomb Test From Their House
While this photo might look innocent at first, note the small yet unmistakable mushroom cloud on the horizon. During the 1950s, the U.S. government conducted many of its atomic bomb tests just a few dozen miles from Las Vegas. Many locals, like this mother and son photographed in 1953, were able to witness the greatest force of devastation in the history of the world from the comfort of their own homes.Pinterest
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Dr. Carl Tanzler And His Human Doll
In 1930, Florida doctor Carl Tanzler fell in love with his patient, Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. Though she died of tuberculosis the following year, Tanzler wasn't ready to let go.
Determined to keep Hoyos alive, Tanzler stole her body from the mausoleum and used the corpse to fashion a sort of human doll. He held her body together with coat hangers, wax, and silk while replacing her eyes with glass and stuffing her torso with rags. Though he was eventually caught after sharing his home and his bed with her for seven years, the statute of limitations had expired — leaving Tanzler free to go.Wikimedia Commons
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Woodrow Wilson Flash Mob
The likeness is striking: President Woodrow Wilson looks forward with hair cleanly parted and glasses firmly in place. Remarkably, this 21,000-person proto-flash mob was executed so diligently that it looks like a painting from afar. Captured on Sept. 5, 1918 at Ohio's Camp Sherman, soldiers of the U.S. Army's 95th Division did an astounding job modeling the visage of their commander in chief.Wikimedia Commons
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This weird photograph depicts Swiss engineer M. Gerder in Arles, France, departing for Spain in his "Motorwheel" on Sept. 1, 1931. This motorcycle used one wheel that ran on a rail placed inside of a solid rubber tire. Fox Photos/Getty Images
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The Statue Of Liberty's Head
The head of the Statue of Liberty sits on display in a park in Paris, France in 1878, not long before it was transported to its permanent home in New York City. A gift from France to the U.S., the statue was built and even displayed in its home country before eventually being shipped overseas.Library of Congress
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Poon Lim's 133 Days At Sea
Chinese sailor Poon Lim was working aboard a British merchant vessel when it was sunk by a German U-boat on November 23, 1942. After surviving the initial strike, he managed to find an eight-foot wooden raft and a few supplies. Miraculously, he used what he'd found to survive the next 133 days alone at sea before he was ultimately rescued as he neared the coast of Brazil.Wikimedia Commons
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Sharply dressed in suit and bowler hat, Hollywood inventor Joe Gilpin showcases his latest gift to the world in 1948. The "Motorboard" was just what its name implied, allowing users to surf without the need to paddle — or actually catch a wave. However, demand never really took off and the product was ultimately a flop.Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Finding The Collyer Brothers
It was March 21, 1947 when an anonymous New Yorker called police to complain about a horrid stench emanating from an old house at 2078 Fifth Avenue. Officers like the one seen here were shocked to find the residence packed almost literally from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with junk.
It was only after hours of wading through refuse that authorities found the corpse of homeowner Homer Collyer — who had been dead of starvation and heart disease for 10 hours. It took more than three weeks of cleanup for police to find his brother and roommate, Langley Collyer, likewise dead and lying only 10 feet away the whole time.
The Collyer brothers had lived together in the house for more than two decades and steadily isolated themselves more and more while hoarding all manner of junk as they descended into madness.Tom Watson/NY Daily News/Getty Images
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