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Showing posts from September, 2012

Strange History: The Day a Dead Jockey Won at Belmont

Since opening in 1905, New York's famed Belmont Park has been called one of the world's finest horse racing tracks.  As every sports fan knows, the Belmont Stakes constitutes the third leg of the Triple Crown.  Naturally, this track has seen its share of memorable finishes.  One such finish took place on June 4, 1923.  What made this race noteworthy, however, was the fact that it was won by a dead man.

On the home stretch, a horse named Sweet Kiss took the lead, spurred on by a jockey named Frank Hayes.  Hayes had never won a race before, and the spectators in attendance who noticed the slumped jockey on the thoroughbred's back thought the young rider was merely 'showboating', riding the horse one-handed, relaxed as a dog sleeping in front of a fireplace.

But when the horse crossed the finish line it became quite evident that Frank Hayes was more than just "relaxed"- the jockey dropped out of the saddle, lifeless.

It was later determined that Hayes had d…

Kentucky Bigfoot Sighting: Work of Con Artists or Kooks?

Anyone who pays attention to odd news headlines may have heard about a Bigfoot sighting which took place in Kentucky's Daniel Boone Forest a week ago today.  According the the story which appeared on Sept. 12 in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (read the original news story here), a woman who plunked down 75.00 to join a group of paranormal researchers in a late-night Bigfoot hunt claims that her group stumbled across the fabled cryptid as it attempted to eat a deer.  Claims the woman who spotted the creature, "When the flashlight hit his eyes he immediately turned his head and moved his body and turned the opposite direction we were in."  The creature then fled into the eastern Kentucky wilderness.

This alleged sighting, we're afraid, has more holes than a hunk of Swiss cheese, which leads us to believe that this sighting is, at best, the result of overactive imaginations.  At worst, it may be an attempt to con simple-minded folks out of their money.

One should be skept…

Strange History: Bizarre Circus Deaths

When one thinks of dangerous professions during the 19th and 20th centuries, we tend to think of those who worked in the mining, railroad, and lumber industries.  The circus profession, however, was just as dangerous as crawling through coal mines or felling timber.  Hundreds of acrobats and performers have met their demise beneath the brightly-colored big top, and while every death is unfortunate, some are more memorable than others.  Here are a few circus-related deaths which can be described only as bizarre.

Suicide of a Clown

The image of the sad clown is poignant because clowns exist to bring smiles to people's faces.  Perhaps the only thing sadder than a sad clown is when a clown decides to take his own life, which is exactly what Charles Rench did in 1908.  Rench was a renowned clown with W.W. Cole, P.T. Barnum, and the Irwin Bros.  He was so successful that in 1886, at the age of 16, the Barnum circus presented him with "a magnificent gold-headed cane" as part of …