Schools borrowed hundreds of orphans and unwanted babies to teach about motherhood

A lesson about bathing a baby, 1926. Image Credits: Public Domain

In 1920, a foolish father abandoned his beautiful baby boy and the baby’s mother. Frightened and alone, the mother decided to give up her baby to foster care after giving birth.

Florence Grannis, a child welfare commissioner, brought this baby to his new home — an upper-middle-class home in Ithaca, New York. They called him Dicky. He spent his first year in this new home away from his birth parents. Except the home was not a real home: it was a “practice home”. And the practice home belonged to Cornell University. The family? It consisted of home economics majors. …

Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings

Image of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima. Credits: Wikipedia

In August 1945, two atomic bombs plummeted from bombers flying over Japan. The first destroyed Hiroshima. The second shattered Nagasaki. Between 129,000 and 226,000 civilians and soldiers died. Tsutomu Yamaguchi witnessed both attacks. However, unlike hundreds of thousands of his compatriots, he survived.

Why Hiroshima was bombed

It was the afternoon of April 12, 1945 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Then 63-years old, he suffered from a cerebral bleed. President Harry S. Truman succeeded him.

Shortly after President Truman assumed presidency, he was privy to confidential information. Two men informed President Truman of…

Prepare to pay a high price when striving to reach the top

Photo by Ben Lowe on Unsplash

Anyone who has climbed a mountain knows the exhilarating feeling of standing at its peak. Sweat and exhaustion give way to awe and beauty. It is not surprising that mankind has for centuries attempted to climb mountains. Higher and higher — in Asia, in Europe. But with each climb comes this known danger. This could be your last ascent. You may not come down alive.

You can never be 100% safe

No mountain ascent can ever be truly 100% safe. No amount of preparation from pamphlets, films, maps, or anecdotes guarantees a successful climb…

Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller film ‘Jaws’ was based on a true story

Image of Michael Schleisser and a Man-Eating Great White Shark. Credits: Wikimedia

“It lives to kill. A mindless eating machine. It will attack and devour anything. It is as if God created the devil and gave him jaws.” — Jaws (1975)

In 1975, Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film Jaws demonized the great white shark. The movie was based on a bestseller written by Peter Benchley in February 1974. Benchley, in turn, drew inspiration from the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. A shark attacked five people along the coast of New Jersey during that summer. Four of the five victims died.

Before the shark attacks in the summer of 1916, most people regarded…

Featuring the baked dormouse, flamingo, and sea urchin

Ancient Roman Banquet. Credits: Wikipedia

Imagine being a wealthy person in Ancient Rome sprawled on a lounge with three other women. A slave glides into the room holding a tray with sweetened meat and sausages. You glance and realize that it’s baked dormice dipped in honey. Would you eat it?

In Ancient Rome, its citizens ate the standard fare of meat, fruits, and vegetables. During ancient times, meat preservation was not yet adequately understood. Romans, therefore, preferred to slaughter the animals shortly before cooking. They consumed chicken, suckling pig, veal, lamb, goat, and game cooked over an open fire. Cows were valued more for their…

Motivation is key. But that is not all.

Image by Geralt via Pixabay

I live in a country with four official languages — German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Lots of people here in Switzerland are either bilingual or multilingual. And so it was not surprising for us to decide that we would want our children to grow up bilingual too.

Most children here already speak two languages. In my daughter’s school, there are children who speak English, Japanese, French, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish in addition to the local language (German). Local Swiss children where we live speak the dialect too (Swiss German).

Is there a secret to speaking two or more languages fluently…

She pretended to be Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter and fooled (almost) everyone

Cassie L. Chadwick. Source: Wikimedia

Cassie L. Chadwick wasn’t even born as Cassie. In fact, her real name was Elizabeth Bigley. She was born in Eastwood, Ontario, Canada on the 10th of October 1857. Elizabeth Bigley, a.k.a. Cassie L. Chadwick, was one of the most notorious con artists in American history. Her cunning caused the eventual downfall of the Citizen’s National Bank of Oberlin. She fleeced several banks of what would be between 21 and 40 million of today’s dollars.

First Fraud at Fourteen

As a child, Cassie was reportedly quiet. Her parents had a farm in Eastwood where she lived with her four siblings. Immersed in her own…

When biped beavers, bluish goats, horned bears, and man-bats were discovered on the Moon

Portrait of a Vespertilio-homo as seen on the moon via Wikimedia

The Great Moon Hoax began on the 21st of August 1835 with a teaser written in The New York Sun.

“We have just learnt from an eminent publisher in this city [Edinburgh] that Sir John Herschel, at the Cape of Good Hope, has made some astronomical discoveries of the most wonderful description, by means of an immense telescope of an entirely new principle.” — The New York Sun, Friday, 21 August 1835

This cryptic sentence published on a Friday promised a larger story in the following week. …

How all the things that could go wrong went wrong and caused more than 100,000 deaths

Nakamise after the Great Earthquake of 1923 via Wikimedia

Saturday, September 1, 1923. A date that Japan would never forget. What started as an ordinary day turned into a living hell. 11:58 AM. Almost lunchtime. Over a wood and charcoal fire, Japanese residents started preparing lunch. Children, men, and women came home to eat.

Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the Kantō region of Japan, a major city now home to 42 million people. The affected regions were Tokyo, Yokohama, and the coastal regions along Sagami Bay. Reports estimate it to have been between 7.9 to 8.2 on the Richter scale. Some witnesses described it as a couple of seconds…

The highs and lows of Julia Agrippina’s extraordinary life

Julia Agrippina, via Wikimedia

She was a great-granddaughter, niece, sister, and wife to various Roman Emperors. She would become an empress herself and one of the largest cities in Europe was named after her. Julia Agrippina lived a remarkable life, she was born to power and died because of it.

Charmed Early Life

On the 6th of November 15 AD, in what is present-day Cologne, a female infant was born to two prominent parents. She was the eldest daughter of Germanicus Julius Caesar and Vipsania Agrippina. They named her Julia Agrippina.

Agrippina came from a distinguished lineage. Her maternal grandmother, Julia the Elder, was the daughter of…


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