Eccentricities, true crime, macabre, lore

Category: Extraordinary People Page 1 of 2

Blanche Monnier

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I last wrote something. Don’t ask! In any case, there’s something about this gray Sunday, and this new lockdown that is starting tomorrow in most of Europe, that made me feel the need to share one story. I might not be writing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t watch my true crime documentaries, or that I don’t research for interesting stories for you all. So, if you are feeling sad about the new lockdown, here’s a story of an absolute lockdown that will make you feel better… just kidding; everything about this story is sad and miserable. Presenting the story of Blanche Monnier!

Blanche was born on March 1st, 1849 in the city of Poitiers, France. Her family was wealthy, aristocratic, and very, very conservative. By the time she reached her 25th birthday, Blanche was still staying in the family home, with her mother and her brother, and by the standards of the era, she was already a spinster, but a spinster of exceptional beauty. Then how, you might ask… Well, her mother was trying to find a groom that would have the same aristocratic background, and a decent social status, while poor Blanche was in love with a “simple” lawyer who was also much older than her.

Saint Athanasia

Those of you who have been following this site know that I’m a sucker for absurd, extreme stories. This one combines religious fanaticism, political power games, money, deceit, human idiocy, and all of those things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. This is the true story of a modern “saint”, a woman who has been pulling all the right strings for the biggest part of her life, and debatable career. Prepare to lose some faith in humanity.

It was back in 1928, in a small village in the Peloponnese, when Athanasia was born. She was part of a large family, with far too many mouths to feed, and receiving a proper education, especially at this time, was out of the question. Athanasia followed the most appropriate life path for her and became a shepherd. The thing with shepherds, though, is that they have way too much free time on their hands, plus the lovely scenery to ponder and plot, and although Athanasia could barely read and write, she wasn’t stupid.

When she was 17, she came back to the village one day, claiming that she had seen Mary, the mother of God, in a vision. Apparently Mary liked hanging out in the fields of Peloponnese, because she kept on coming to meet Athanasia, and she soon started leaving marks of her presence in Athanasia’s chest. I don’t know why the mother of God would do such a thing, but I do know that Mary couldn’t spell properly.

“(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag”

I wonder how many of you used to write letters to Santa Claus. You know, those awkward letters, with the cute handwriting, and the even cuter spelling mistakes? The ones where you tried to convince Santa – as if he didn’t know – that you were good kids and so much deserving of that gift. You would then put it in an envelope, write “Santa Claus, North Pole” and put it in the mailbox, and with it, all your hopes and wishes for Christmas. Ever wondered what happened to those letters? You do realize you are in Hiccups, and this will have a slight twist.

We are in New York, and the year is 1913. Throughout the states, and for decades upon decades, all those letters were answered by charitable organizations, but New York was a different story. Due to a series of bureaucratic problems that occurred in 1911, the city had no way of dealing with all those thousands of letters. They would eventually end up in the “Dead Letter Office”, aka “the office where undeliverable letters go to die”, aka “an office, I would love to visit if I ever find my way to New York”.

December of 1913 was no different. The letters would go straight to their resting place, and the city’s postmaster, Edward Morgan, had no way to deal with this. This is when our hero came along. His name was John Duval Gluck, Jr and he was a broker. Much to Edward’s relief, John had a perfect plan about those letters. He founded the Santa Claus Association which would be responsible for answering the children’s wishes. The idea was plain and functional. The citizens of the city could take one or more letters, and fulfill the child’s wish.

The Collyer brothers

I did some cleaning up in my flat these days. Cleaning up is always a good time for random thoughts, until you pull back a table, or look under the couch, see the huge pile of dust bunnies and think to yourself, “Thank Goodness no one saw that!”. It was at a time like that when I remembered a documentary I had once seen. This is the story of the Collyer brothers, a story of brotherly love, mental disorders, and more dust bunnies that you could ever imagine.

The Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley, were born in New York, in1881 and 1885 respectively. They were the sons of an upper-class family, owning a four-story brownstone in Harlem. Their father was a doctor, and their mother an opera singer. Homer studied law, and Langley engineering. Both of them had an interest in music, but Langley mastered the piano so much, he actually performed in Carnegie Hall.

A most unfortunate name

Imagine you have done something bad, I bet it’s not that difficult, we’ve all been there. Now imagine that what you did was so bad, that people turned your last name into a verb, immortalizing you and your act. That’s taking it a bit over the top, right? Well, this is what happened to Charles, whose last name I will reveal at the end of the text. Hey, no scrolling! Play fair because your name might have a similar fate.

Charles was born in England in 1832. There’s nothing particularly interesting about his life, only that his service in the army brought him to Ireland and gave him the nickname “Captain”. After retiring from the army, he remained in Ireland and became a land agent.

Hermann Steinschneider

Once upon a time in Vienna, around 1889, there was a poor Jewish boy who claimed he had psychic super powers. His name was Hermann Steinschneider. He was able to convince his parents of his abilities, and he also managed to convince many others, including some very powerful people… No spoilers! Keep on reading.

So, after feeling that his abilities needed a larger audience than his parents, Hermann ran away from home and joined a circus. There he was able to learn more and add more skill to his performances, excuse me, I meant “readings”.

The Brontë sisters

Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse is the poison of life. –Mr. Rochester

…and that was Mr. Edward Rochester, ladies and gentlemen, a character from Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books, by Charlotte Brontë. The question is, was Charlotte living by her writings, or did she live poisoned by remorse? Or even worse, what if she didn’t have any remorse at all?

Personally, I take a deep interest in conspiracy theories, call it a hobby if you please. Some of them are easily debunked, some need more time, some are true, and there are some that will never be properly solved. This is one of the latter.


Do you think that bullying, in the form it takes on social media, is a phenomena of our times? Do you think that public humiliation, and its grave consequences didn’t exist in the old days? If you answered yes, then I’m sorry to tell you that you are wrong. Here’s a story from roughly 540 BC.

Hipponax was born in Ephesus, and he was a poet. Well, let’s just say that he wasn’t the regular kind of poet, if such thing exists. If we want to put this in modern terms, imagine Hipponax as trying to run the biggest and oldest rap-battle of his time. He was basically free-styling, although he was using the basic iambic method, and his aim was to be as insulting as possible. For someone with a creative mind, the Greek language can be their best ally, as it offers the chance to make new words from scratch. For example, he managed to enrich the Greek vocabulary with words like μεσσηγυδορποχέστης (mid-meal-pooper).

Garry Hoy

How far would you go to prove your point? How eager are you to show the world that you are right? Assuming you are willing to push it to the limits, the important question would be, is it worth it? Have you heard of Garry Hoy?

Garry was born in 1955 in Toronto. He was apparently a very successful lawyer, which means that he actually made a living from proving points and winning arguments, something that eventually got him to be featured here.

John Harvey Kellogg

I’m sure that most of you have started, or continue to start your day with a nice bowl of cereal, right? Forget all about the debate on what comes first, the milk or the cereal, I have a juicy story for you all! Put the spoons down first, ok?

John Harvey Kellogg was born in Michigan in 1852. He became a rather successful doctor of his time, and was the chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. His holistic practice was based mostly on vegetarianism, and on his religious beliefs, which were the ones of the Seventh-Day Advent Church. So, let me clarify how those two come together.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén