5 Oddball Tales from History You’ve Likely Never Heard (Part 10)

Continuing on from Part 9 this completes my epic compilation of oddball hidden gems from history.

(simplify.com)

Here, I present the last of my queer compilation of tales, exposed like some discovered ancient ruins until then hidden in the overgrowth of history. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!

The Boy Cop, 2009

Recruit them when they’re young: A cop walks his beat with a child. (Vox.com)

It was just past lunchtime and a young man named Vincent Richardson, who stood at 5ft 3in (1.6m) tall, felt a tingle in his belly which he could not decide was down to nerves or excitement; it was his first day on the job. He did not let his nerves show though as he walked up to the rear entrance of a Chicago P.D. Grand Crossing District station.

He told an officer smoking by the entrance that it was his first day and could he enter the security code on the lock? The officer obliged and he slid in.

He approached the Sergeant’s Office to report for duty. The sergeant glanced up at the small-statured officer before him and noted his watchful brown eyes and coat collar turned up against the January cold.

Officer Richardson signed out a ticket book and radio, was assigned a partner and began his first day on the beat.

For six hours that afternoon Richardson attended five traffic accidents and used the squad car’s computer to check license plates. It’s alleged he also took the wheel of the police car and may have helped handcuff a suspect.

His ruse was discovered by a supervisor who noticed Richardson was missing his badge, gun and a newspaper in place of a ballistic vest in his vest carrier.

To their great consternation Richardson was discovered to be just a 14-year-old high school kid.

For the stunt, Richardson was placed on juvenile probation but he clearly got a taste for the uniform; amazingly he was caught impersonating a police officer again in 2013 and 2015. For the most recent felony he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

When the Queen of England Met a Pirate Queen, 1593

In the 16th Century, whilst Ireland’s eastern coastline was controlled by the English, its hinterland to the west was frontier country.

On the wild Atlantic coast, where great rollers pounded the raw, verdant coastline, the Uí Mháille noble family held sway over the pasturelands there and surrounding seas. Into this family Gráinne Ní Mháille (Grace O’Malley in English) was born.

Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen (irishamerica.com)

A woman whose name is shrouded in legend, Grace O’Malley grew up to become the matriarch of her clan and followed in her family’s footsteps. The O’Malleys drew power by ‘taxing’ passing ships — a euphemism for piracy — and fighting rival clans, and Grace led from the front.

Yet this was a time when the English were a growing force to be reckoned with; the great English Queen Elizabeth I sat on the throne and she was tightening her grip on the emerald isle,

Elizabeth I’s man in Ireland Sir Richard Bingham was more than a match for O’Malley. As Governor of Connaught Sir Richard squeezed O’Malley’s domain so much that by 1593 he had captured her two sons, Tibbot Burke and Murrough O’Flaherty, and half-brother Dónal na Píopa.

O’Malley was reduced to desperate straits. What could she do?

She certainly wasn’t going to just give up. O’Malley was going to attempt something so audacious it might just win the Queen of England’s respect and therefore clemency.

This was risky to say the least; they were political enemies and cages hung from the Tower of London with rotting corpses in them, testament to the usual fate of pirates. Yet the Queen agreed to meet O’Malley in London so she could plead her case.

The two women were the most powerful in the British Isles. Despite being opposed in many ways they had much in common.

They were both courageous and charismatic leaders; Queen Elizabeth had earned huge respect for leading her nation to defeat the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588 and O’Malley has been described as a fearless leader and able negotiator, not to mention other less salubrious credentials.

O’Malley’s black sailed ship entered the Thames estuary and sailed upstream to Greenwich Palace where it docked. The lady was then searched and the queen’s guards found something on her… it was a dagger!

The Queen’s henchmen were furious; it was bad enough their queen was meeting with a brigand, yet O’Malley explained it was for her own protection and the queen accepted this.

O’Malley was brought into the queen’s presence surrounded by her guards and courtiers, wearing a dress rumoured so fine it drew not a few admiring glances.

The two queens conversing in Latin (shamrockgift.com)

They greeted each other as queens, if not equals. O’Malley declined to curtsey, and when the Irish Lady sneezed and was given an embroidered handkerchief she infuriated the courtiers even more by using it then throwing it on the crackling fire.

Yet Elizabeth was intrigued by the woman. The two conversed in Latin and Elizabeth I warmed to Grace as she regaled the English queen with tales of her daring exploits and grievances towards Sir Bingham. The only thing now was would Elizabeth let a perennial nemesis of hers just sail off after coming into her clutches?

She did. O’Malley’s gamble paid off. As the serious troublemaker to the English which she had been, she entered the lion’s den and left with not only her life and liberty intact but her son Tibbot released.

Sir Bingham would continue to make her life difficult though. The two feminist icons of their age would both pass away in 1603.

Epic ‘You Broke It, You Buy It’ Gaffe, 2017

The priceless jade bracelet and the woman who fainted after breaking it. (dailymail.co.uk)

The late evening breeze kept the humidity a notch above oppressive in Ruili city which is located in the Chinese Yunnan Province on the Myanmar border.

A slim, middle-aged woman with neck length hair, a blue short-sleeved blouse patterned with light flowers and dark blue trousers was arrested in her tracks as she ambled past a row of vendors, shops and stalls.

The wide-eyed tourist hailed from far away and like any visitor sought out the city’s sights, scenes and wares on offer. This hapless lady was about to pull off the worst ‘you broke it you buy it’ gaffe in living memory.

She peered into a shop and its owner bowed his head and smiled pleasantly in greeting. The vibrant colours of gems, precious stones and metals almost made her eyes pop out of her head in delight. The shop owner’s smile remained fixed as he looked on.

She admired the stock and asked questions here and there. Perhaps because they were closest to hand her gaze settled on the collection of bracelets under the counter.

She asked to take a closer look at one and marvelled at it, a green, glassy, opaque and rounded thing of beauty. ‘It’s one of my prized items, I only wish I could give it to my wife as a gift!’ declared the man on the other side of the counter proudly.

She slipped it on to her wrist, enjoying the cool, glass-like feel of it against her skin. ‘So how much is it?’ The owner took a short breath before he answered.

The bracelet was in fact one made of Jade, a generic term for two different gemstones, nephrite and jadeite. Known to humans for 7000 years, to the Chinese Jade symbolises good health and long life and can be worth more than solid gold.

‘For you madam, the price is 300,000 yen (£35,000)’.

She stared back in stunned silence then wrenched the priceless article off.

In her haste to remove it, the smooth gemstone slipped from her fumbling fingers. Then, almost in slow motion it seemed, hit the floor and snapped in half.

She gasped, clutching her face and barely registered the jabbering between the shop staff in her disbelief. The shop owner was dismayed. ‘You must pay!’.

The shop staff clamoured around her and picked up the broken jade piece. The poor woman began to tremble, turned a sickly pale and then fainted, overcome by what she had got herself into.

(youtube.com)

A crowd gathered around the commotion, as crowds tend to do, and one person tried to revive her with a pinch to the upper lip whilst another supported her sagging body. She was taken to hospital to recover.

It was a financial disaster. After she came around, The shop owner offered a reduced price of 180,000 yen to settle the breakage but all she could afford was 10,000 yen — not even close to an acceptable offer for the store owner.

Eventually an agreement was made; independent valuers weighed in and valued the broken bracelet at 190,000 yen which the woman’s family agreed to pay.

That is one wonderful family; we can only assume that come the Chinese New Year family get together the woman was on washing up duty.

Freak Streak of Coincidences Saves Choir from Death, 1950

The destroyed church (beatricedailysun.com)

It was a frigid evening on the first day of March in 1950 and the clock was ticking towards utter tragedy for the fifteen members of the West Side Baptist Church choir, in Beatrice, Nebraska.

The modest-sized, white wooden slatted church had been silently filling with leaking natural gas since the Reverend Walter Klempel had lit the furnace earlier in the afternoon in preparation for the evening’s choir practice.

By the time the scheduled choir practice came around, at the usual 7:20 pm, the church was full of highly combustible gas.

Five minutes later it happened; the building exploded so violently it blew the church to pieces and rocked the town, shattering nearby windows and knocking the nearby radio station off air.

The tight-knit community feared the worst as blaring sirens heralded the arrival of the first fire engines. First responders and neighbours searched through the wreckage yet inexplicably and with a huge sense of relief they found no bodies amongst the debris. So where on earth was the choir?

Bizarrely none of them had arrived because a weird run of coincidences had caused them all to be running late. It was a miracle, and if this didn’t affirm one’s faith in divine intervention, whatever would? What caused this miracle?

Incredibly all fifteen members had been running late because of trivial delays.

Reverend Klempel for example, who had lit the furnace causing the gas leak in the first place, was due to return with his wife and daughter yet the young girl noticed her dress was stained as they were leaving. This caused her mother to pick out another dress and begin ironing it. They were still home then the church exploded.

For Joyce Black, who actually lived just across the street from the church, she was feeling “plain lazy” that evening. She wanted to remain snuggled up in her warm house against the biting wind outside and delay her departure until the last minute. Joyce was only reluctantly peeling off her blanket to get moving when the deafening crack of a hundred timbers planks shattering to pieces terrified the bejesus out of her.

The news report of ‘The miracle of March 1st’ (newspapers.com)

The pianist Marilyn Paul usually arrived 30 minutes early. She took a nap after dinner however and overslept. Her mother, the choir director, struggled to rouse Marilyn until 7:15 pm. Marilyn was still struggling to get ready when she and her mother heard the blast.

Another member, Herbert Kipf, was actually on his way ahead of schedule when he remembered an important letter he needed to write, so he turned back home to do so. Another had their car breakdown, delaying three members.

Another two young ladies were held back listening to something interesting on the radio. The rest of the choir were delayed by similarly banal reasons converging into the extraordinary.

The ‘Miracle of March the 1st’ is still spoken of with reverence to this day in Beatrice.

Dog Fall Kills Three Passers-by, 1988

Cachi’s beady eyes were locked on to the tennis ball the Montoya family’s youngest boy bounced, so engrossed his head nodded up and down to its rebound.

The ball! The furry, squeezy round thing, fast and agile, and to his prehistoric instincts, his prey. Did he want the ball, his 4ft human friend asked? He certainly did.

The breeze cooled the family lounge that wafted through the open balcony doorway. In the background could be heard a cartoon on the TV and the dull, gentle thud of the ceiling fan.

Cachi’s sinews were trip-wire taut in anticipation. Finally the boy released the ball with a lob and it arched over the white family poodle. Cachi launched himself after his quarry.

The ball bounced too far however, bounding out onto the balcony and through the ornate railings to the street below.

Cachi’s frantic bid to gain traction on the smooth clay red ceramic tiles was in vain. With paws flailing, Cachi sadly dropped off the side after it. It was to his demise the apartment was on the most unlucky floor in the building.

To the agonised, lung-busting screech of his best friend ringing in his ears the red-rimmed hat below rushed up at him before he could eve……

The apartment block the dog fell from, illustrating the 13 floors it plunged (bestoftruecrime.com)

A small, delicate lady named Señorita Espina halted her slow walk along the Buenos Aires pavement in just the wrong spot. She turned to admire a lush carpet in a shop window; she admired it for its vivid colours as much as the fact her fading eyesight made it hard to enjoy the sight of anything much further away.

A sharp canine yelp made her jerk her head up. A heavy thump and moan caused other pedestrians to jerk their heads around in turn.

Catchi left his cherished human boy without a chance for even a farewell head pat. His journey to the next life abruptly commenced, now at the heel of his new grey-haired companion.

A woman named Edith Sola, with streaks of grey coming through her long, glossy dark hair, peered across Rivadavia Avenue. Her mouth hung slack-jawed and her brown eyes twinkled in curiosity at the scene.

She craned her head up to see the source of a child’s loud blubbering on a balcony thirteen stories up. Down at street level a crowd had gathered around directly below the balcony looking at… what, she wondered? Her curiosity took over.

The bus driver was making good time moving up the gears along Rivadavia Avenue, too good.

He had about two seconds to react to a woman stepping out into the road obliviously. In vain he stamped the brake pedal as far down into the footwell as it would go and tugged on the steering wheel. The bus screeched; an ugly thump; a crack of bones and Sola’s body was hurled into the air sideways before slapping to the tarmac, motionless.

Yet the catastrophic ripple effect of that bouncing ball wasn’t over. A gentleman had stepped out of a pharmacy in time to witness the small poodle slam into the elderly woman, killing both instantly.

He gasped in dismay, his feet rooted to the spot. He held his head and a silent prayer streamed from his trembling lips.

To turn to see the bus swerve wildly and another person die in front of his very eyes was too much. He suddenly wished desperately to be away from the lights, the babbling onlookers and oncoming blare of sirens. He started to pant, was then stricken with a sharp pain in the chest and his silent prayers were now audible.

His condition had turned to a full-blown heart attack by the time he was placed in an ambulance, and he too sadly perished.

I love to learn new facts and insight to better understand this crazy world we live in. Let me do what I can to distract you from your life’s drudgery.

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