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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

April 27, 2006



We all know the story of the Salem Witch Trials, but how many have heard of the story of Hormel Thatcher? A full ten years before witch hysteria gripped Salem Village, Thatcher lived with his wife Misery, his daughters Dorcas, Submit and Infection and his sons Groininjury and Angstridden in that community. A good and God fearing man, Thatcher earned a living harvesting lobsters for their shells (it would be many years before Oswald Blather discovered that lobsters were easier to eat and tasted better if you ate the meat and discarded the shells. His discovery was met with skepticism at first, resulting in his being burned at the stake. For years afterward, chastened Puritans would avoid ordering the "Surf and Turf"). Anyway, Hormel Thatcher earned enough to keep his family in penury, but one day his life changed forever when a neighbor accused him of yodeling on the Sabbath, a serious crime in those days. Professing his innocence, he stated before the congregation that it wasn't he who had yodeled, but rather it must have been a doppleganger sent by Satan. This turned out to be a mistake, as in Salem Village people were responsible for the actions of their dopplegangers, be it cursing livestock, making mischief or taping games without the expressed written consent of the Commissioner of Baseball. Hormel and his entire family were hanged, their property confiscated and their land turned into a theme park. It wasn't until 1957 that the injustice was recognized. Christian Herter, the Governor of Massachusetts, formally pardoned Thatcher, giving rise to the phrase "too little, too late".


Have you ever wondered how Smuttynose Island, off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, got its name? Neither have I, but the question had plagued Mehitable Sangfroid since she was a small girl growing up in nearby Newcastle. Then, on her 30th birthday in 1873, she looked it up in the local library, wondering aloud why it hadn't occurred to her to do so sooner.


Octavius Winesap owned a prosperous apple orchard in Londonderry, New Hampshire. A true Yankee tinkerer, he was always looking for ways to improve his harvest and cider yield. One day, while watching some ne'er do wells savagely beat a tramp, an idea hit him. It was actually several of the tramp's teeth that hit him, but it inspired him nonetheless. He thought, "What if I made a device that gnashes the apples like teeth, rather than simply presses them?" Until then, the cider press was the standard way of extracting cider, but it was painstaking work. Octavius rushed home to build a prototype of his invention, but sadly he was hit by a beer wagon on the way home, so nothing ever came of it.


On a stiflingly hot day in August, 1892, a horrible sight greeted Dr. Tweed Markham as he visited his neighbor, Abner Brood. Brood, a notorious miser despite his success in the ready to wear bodice industry that flourished in Fairhaven, Massachusetts in the 19th century, lived in a less than elegant part of town. He shared his home with his two spinster daughters Molly and Beatrice and his trophy wife Bubbles, an exotic dancer whom he had met on a trip to Las Vegas. Dr. Tweed was surprised to find the front door ajar, as Brood was, in the words of his family and friends, "wicked paranoid". Upon entering the house and not getting an answer to his calls, he entered the sitting room. There, sprawled upon the mohair sofa was Abner Brood, his skull crushed by multiple blows from an ax. Alarmed, Dr. Markham ran upstairs looking for the rest of the family. He found Bubbles face down on the bedroom floor, her skull also shattered by an ax. He heard a noise from downstairs and found the younger daughter Molly washing a bloodstained ax in the kitchen sink. At the time Dr. Markham thought nothing of it, as Tuesday was traditionally ax washing day in Fairhaven, but he would later say that he should have seen it as a clue. As Molly was the only person in the house (her sister was visiting friends in New Hampshire and Bridey, the maid, was busy having a torrid affair with Lars Harmstrom, a Swedish cobbler on the other side of town), suspicion immediately fell on her. It would have been the crime of the century, but the day before a nearly identical crime occurred in Fall River involving a more prominent family named Borden. Although no one was ever convicted in either case, experts agree that this was the first "copycat" killing on record. A footnote: Twenty years later the maid Bridey went on to found General Motors..




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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11