The Town That Hanged an Elephant – The Chilling Story of Murderous Mary

It’s hard to tell if the photograph is fake or real. Either way, the story of Mary – the only elephant in the world to have been hanged – will send chills down your spine. Cruelty towards animals is by no means rare, but stories like these seriously leave you wondering if there is any hope for us humans.

Mary’s fate was sealed on a cold afternoon in February 1916 when Charlie Spark’s traveling circus arrived in the small town of Kingsport, Tennessee. She was the star of the circus – she could pick out 25 tunes on musical horns using her trunk. She was also the champion pitcher of the circus’ baseball team. As a promotional activity, the circus conducted a parade along the main street that day. Mary, or ‘Murderous Mary’ as she would later be known, was ridden by 38-year-old Walter Eldridge.

Eldridge happened to be a drifter – he had only joined the circus the day before and had no experience of handling elephants. But that was no concern; he would do fine as long as he could wield the ‘elephant stick’ – a long rod with a sharp spear at the end. The elephant stick is a notorious instrument that evokes extreme fear out of tortured creatures. To make an elephant perform tricks, it first has to be broken down into subservience. And that’s where the stick comes in handy. Trainers repeatedly poke the giant creatures until they bleed profusely. Ultimately they will do anything the trainer asks, in order to avoid the stick.

Mary was obviously trained with the stick too. She would do as Eldridge ordered as long as he held it – or so he thought. Unfortunately, on that fateful afternoon, Mary happened to be suffering from a painfully abscessed tooth. She stopped during the parade to chew on a piece of watermelon rind and Eldridge jabbed her to keep moving, catching her on the exact spot of the infection.

Murderous-Mary-the-elephant

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America’s Most Artistic Parking Garage

The city of Detroit is home to the most artistic, most magnificent car park in America. The opulent structure that was once known as Michigan Theater is now being used as a three-level parking garage. And here’s the irony of the situation – one of the reasons the theater had closed down was insufficient parking space!

In fact, you could safely say that the car park has come a full circle. Before the theater had opened at the site, it used to contain Henry Ford’s first automobile workshop. That was torn down in 1926 and the theater was constructed with a massive budget of $5 million. Michigan Theater was one of the largest in the state – it could accommodate 4,000 people.

The premises was a multiplex of sorts – it served as a theater, concert hall and movie house. The French Renaissance décor included 10-foot tall chandeliers, a gilded four-story lobby, and mezzanine seating for black tie guests. The structure, covering 1,000 sq. ft., was an architectural marvel and a symbol of Detroit’s growing wealth.

Michigan-Theater-parking-garage

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Cambodia’s Rickety Bamboo Trains

Although Cambodia has a fine network of railway tracks dating back to the French colonial days, there are hardly any trains running these days. Real trains, that is. The locals get by perfectly well with their own indigenous invention – bamboo trains.

The Cambodian railway system never really recovered from the horrors of war and the Khmer Rouge genocide that happened decades ago. They have just one proper train line in service and the rest of the tracks were covered for years by homemade trains called ‘norrys’. These weird contraptions aren’t exactly what you’d call luxury transport. But they are cheap – about 50 cents a ride. And that suits the locals just fine.

Norrys are made of bamboo, wood and sometimes even parts of old tanks. The first one was built in the 1980s by 73-year-old Pat Oun, or so he claims. The earlier versions didn’t have any engines. Drivers just stood in the train and used long bamboo poles to propel the vehicle down the tracks. “I did this for 20 to 30 kilometers in the past,” said Pat, as he demonstrated the motion.

bamboo-trains-Cambodia

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No Shoes for a Year – Kentucky Man Goes Barefoot for Charity

This winter has been one of the toughest in years, which makes this Kentucky man’s initiative all the more special. Richard Hudgins has decided to go barefoot for an entire year to create awareness about the plight of shoeless children around the world. He also hopes to raise money for the cause.

“For 365 days I’m going to wear no shoes to collect new shoes and raise money to buy shoes for children who have never had the luxury of owning a pair,” Hudgins wrote on his Facebook page ‘No Shoes for a Year’. “At the end of the year I’m going to take all of the money that I’ve raised and talk to as many shoes companies as I can. Hopefully, I can raise enough money that they really really want it and they’ll make a contribution as well.”

Hudgins, a hairstylist from Louisville, started the charity campaign in December. His first day barefoot was the hardest. “After that first hour-and-a-half, I was like no way, I can’t do this, there’s no way.” He even abandoned his workout and left the gym when he saw the manager approaching him. “It was kind of humiliating, I didn’t expect that at all,” he said. He almost gave up after that, until he saw his first $5 donation on the website. “That really inspired me and I said I’m going to keep doing it, I’m going to keep going.”

no-shoes-for-a-year

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Taiwan’s Notoriously Dangerous Beehive Rocket Festival

When I light a firecracker, I make sure to run at least 10 yards away before it pops. That’s how terrified I am of the noise and sparks. So when I watched a video of Taiwan’s Beehive Rockets festival, I was quite shocked. These crazy people deliberately run into bursting firecrackers. They dance in clusters as hundreds of crackers go off, allowing the sparks to rain on them. Like I said – crazy!

The Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival is one of the oldest folk festivals in Taiwan and the third largest in the world. It has been celebrated for over 180 years in the southern district of Yanshui. Its origins date back to 1885, when a cholera epidemic had gripped the district. Due to primitive medical facilities, the disease consumed thousands of victims. Locals lived in a state of fear and prayed to Guan Di, the god of war, to save them.

So what exactly is a Beehive Rocket? Essentially, it is a multiple launcher of bottle rockets. Thousands of bottle rockets are arranged in rows in an iron-and-wooden framework that looks like a beehive. When the contraption is ignited, the rockets shoot out rapidly in all directions. A deafening, bee-like buzzing sound fills the air. The dazzling explosives whiz and whirl across the sky and into the crowds of dancing people surrounding the beehive.

Beehive-Fireworks-Festival

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Tiny Terror – Arizona Town Terrorized by Packs of Stray Chihuahuas

I always thought Chihuahuas were pretty harmless, but apparently they can be quite vicious in large numbers. The residents of Maryvale, a small town in Arizona, can certainly vouch for the fact. The town is filled with stray pooches that are terrorizing children and defecating all over the place.

Local animal control officials say they’re finding it quite difficult to control the Chihuahua population. They’ve received over 6,000 calls from frustrated residents – three times higher than any other town in the state. According to Melissa Gable from Maricopa County Animal Control (MCAC), these dogs aren’t spayed or neutered so they’re always looking out for a mate and having babies. This makes the problem worse.

“There’s a lot of dogs in the street,” said Stephanie Guzman, a resident. “People will start going crazy because they bark all night.”

feral-chihuahuas

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Inmates in Thailand Can Reduce Their Sentences by Beating Foreigners in Muay Thai Prison Fights

In a world where prisoners’ sentences are reduced for good behavior, the rules at Klong Prem Central Prison, in Thailand, come across as bizarre. They basically have it the other way around – inmates battle foreign fighters in a tournament called ‘Prison Fight’, a charity event organized by Thailand’s Department of Corrections. The organized boxing matches, held regularly across various Thai prisons, give them a shot at reducing their sentences or even gaining their freedom.

Winning inmates receive prize money as well as the chance to meet with the warden to have their sentence reduced. Needless to say, the Thai prisoners win at least 9 out of 10 fights, both because they are eager to get out of confinement and because most of them have years of experience. But they also need to have a track record of good behavior to be let off the hook.

“Prison fights are done to help the prisoners. It lets the prisoners fight so they can earn money,” said Mr. Pek, Prison Fights coordinator. “They also fight to reduce the time of their sentences. To reduce their sentence and to bring honor and fame to Thailand, if they can defeat foreign fighters and fight a lot. Some of the fighters are in for drugs, robbery or murder. There are boxers doing life or 50 years. There are boxers who can never get out.”

Prison-Fight-Thailand

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Solvay Hut – The World’s Most Precariously Placed Mountain Hut

The Solvay Hut may be quite humble in its construction, but the view it offers its residents is priceless. This tiny hut is perched right on the narrow north-eastern ridge of Matterhorn, in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is the highest mountain hut in the region, at over 13,000 foot above ground level.

The emergency refuge is owned by the Swiss Alpine club, and is intended to provide food and shelter to mountaineers, hikers and climbers. At about 1,500 foot below the summit and two-thirds up the mountain, it provides respite to many Matterhorn climbers and rewards them with the breathtaking view of all the Monte Rosa summits. It is only meant to be used during emergencies, but climbers do stop there to rest and click photographs.

The hut, which can accommodate about 10 people, is not a recent construction. It was actually built way back in 1915 and took only five days to complete. All the building materials were brought up to Hornli Hut, just 2,500 foot below, with the help of animals. A small temp cable car was used to haul up the materials from there. It was rebuilt in 1966 and an emergency telephone was installed in 1976.

Solvay-Hut

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Chinese Girl Agrees To Leave Disabled Boyfriend If He Doesn’t Start Walking Again in Three Years

A 23-year-old Chinese girl is being forced to leave her boyfriend for a weird reason – he can’t use his legs. Yang Nan’s parents permitted her to live with Yan Hongbo for three years, in which time he had to start walking again. But the time is up now and the boy is still wheelchair-bound.

Yang has begged her parents for more time, and they’ve allowed her another 6 months. But she has almost no hope that things might improve. “I don’t know what to do, I know that he can be cured but we don’t have any money now for medical treatment. We don’t even have enough money to properly get by day-to-day. We need a miracle,” she said. Yan on the other hand is being the sacrificial lover – he wants Yang to listen to her parents and leave him. “I don’t see any future for her with me, she has a bright future ahead of her,” he said. “If we can’t get my legs fixed I have made her promise that she will do as her parents want if we don’t get things sorted in the next six months.”

sad-romance

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Barbie-Obsessed Woman Uses Hypnotherapy to Make Herself a Brainless Doll

All this while I thought it was offensive to stereotype blonds as ditzy, but it turns out there is a blond who actually wants people to see her that way. She’s even going through online hypnotherapy to make herself a more like a brainless, plastic doll.

38-year-old Blondie Bennett from California has been obsessed with Barbie dolls ever since she was a little girl. As a teenager, she often dressed like one to gain attention from men. But now she’s taken her obsession to a whole new level. Her weekly sessions actually help her get more confused and vacant. Just like a doll. “I just want to be the ultimate Barbie. I actually want to be brainless. I don’t like being human, if that makes sense. I’m sacrificing a normal life to look like this,” she said. “I always hear like, ‘natural’s better, natural’s better’. But natural’s boring, I’m sorry. I would love to be like, completely plastic.”

Blondie isn’t even her real name, as you might have guessed. The former model had her name changed a year ago to suit her new personality. She has spent over $40,000 on five breast enhancements. Her breasts are now a whopping size 32JJ. She had a chin liposuction as well, to contour her face to resemble Barbie.

Blondie-Bennett

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Business Brilliance – Chinese Sell Miniature Snowmen as Cartop Decorations

When snow is free of cost, who’s going to pay for snowmen, right? Wrong! Apparently, people will buy anything if you sell it right. These two Chinese men have hit the marketing jackpot – making the most of heavy snowfall, they’re selling snowmen by the dozen.

The two men (we don’t know their names or who they are), make snowmen for cars in the suburb of Chengdu, in Southwest China’s Sichuan province. A photograph taken on 10 February shows them placing snowmen with orange eyes, noses and buttons, on top of a customer’s car.

According to some reports, they had sold over 100 snowmen before noon that day. Other pictures show several cars lined up in a street, all sporting snowmen on the roof. It certainly made for a festive display. It was as though the frozen figures were cheering on the traffic.

Chinese-snowmen

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Summum Mummification Services – Who Needs Coffins When You Can Spend Eternity as a Mummy?

If the mummies of ancient Egypt fascinate you, then you are going to love this – you can sign up to be a mummified too. Summum Mummification Services is the only company of its kind in the world, perfectly preserving human and animal bodies after death.

The company, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was set up in 1975 by Claude Nowell. He now goes by Summum Bonum Amon Ra, or Corky Ra, for short. “We’re the only ones worldwide who do modern mummification,” he said. Summum’s mummification method is actually a lot more advanced than the ancient Egyptians’, taking only 90 days to complete. First, the blood is drained out of the body and the organs are taken out and cleansed. Then the body is hydrated for over 70 days in a tank full of chemicals that Corky Ra calls his ‘secret formula’.

After the soaking is complete, the body is doused in lanolin and wax, and covered in layers of cotton gauze. About a dozen coats of polyurethane rubber are put on, which dry as tough as a tire. Then come the layers of fiberglass bandages, which set the body in the desired position. Once the mummy is ready, it is encased in a bronze or steel casket.

Summum-Mummification-Services

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The Creepy Moving Mannequins of One Mysterious New Hamburg House Will Probably Freak You Out

The John Lawson House, located in the vicinity of the New Hamburg train station in New York, is a mystery in its own right. You couldn’t really say it’s haunted, but it has its own share of secrets that no one has managed to reveal. Yet.

Every day, the porch at the John Lawson House is occupied by life-sized female mannequins dressed in clothes from the last century. Their number, position and theme varies from day to day. But no one knows how they get there. No living person has ever been spotted at the house, which is one of six properties at Main Street Historic District.

Some believe that the dolls have a message to convey. They think the dolls are trying to gesture and point towards an unsolved riddle. Others say that the dolls’ mystery lies in the history of the house. In 1871, during a two-week cold wave, a train crashed just 200 feet from the house, instantly killing 22 people. It is believed that the dolls are always pointing towards that crash site.

John-Lawson-House-mannequins

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Artist Uses Ashes of the Deceased to Paint Portraits of Them

Adam Brown, a Missouri-based painter, is offering his clients a unique way to connect with their deceased loved ones. He mixes the ashes with paint pigments and uses them to create portraits of the dead, as a ‘lasting memory’.

The 32-year-old artist said: “It hit me that having ashes in an urn on a fireplace would be a good way to remember that someone died, but having them in a piece of art is a good way of remembering that someone lived.” For Brown to paint the portraits, his clients need to send him the cremated remains of their loved ones. “Out of respect, I still wear gloves when handling the ashes,” said Brown “And whatever is left over, I am careful to return. I only need about four to six ounces, depending on the canvas. The ashes would go into the background.”

He takes these ashes, which have the texture of sand, and mixes them with paints, craft glues and resins. Brown also incorporates the deceased’s favorite colors and personality into the artwork. He puts a written inscription at the back warning that the painting contains human remains. This is “in case it ever leaves the family and goes into auction, so people know what they’re buying.”

art-with-human-ashes

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Jet-Engine-Powered World’s Fastest Truck Is a Genuine Beast on Wheels

Shockwave, the world’s fastest truck, is so fast that it can actually outrun a Japanese bullet train. The four-ton Peterbilt Semi is powered by three jet engines and hits speeds nearing 400mph. It generates a whopping 36,000 horsepower, covering a quarter mile in just 6.5 seconds.

The incredible vehicle was first built by Les Shockley in 1984. 64-year-old Neal Darnell purchased and rebuilt it along with his son Chris, 31, in 2012. It now holds the world record for the fastest jet-powered full-size truck – 376mph. “It’s an awesome experience,” said Neal. “You won’t believe it until you see it.”

Shockwave is equipped with three Pratt & Whitney J34-48 jet engines that were taken out of US Navy trainer jets called the T-2 Buckeye. Each jet engine is capable of producing 12,000 horsepower in afterburner, which makes a total of 36,000 for Shockwave. It holds 190 gallons of fuel, burning 180 of it per performance.

Shockwave-truck

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