Odd and True VI


Caution: Please make sure you’ve eaten your meals before reading


Headhunters in Borneo would mark one finger joint with a blue dot for each victim they had killed. Chief Temenggong Koh had completely blue hands by the time of his death in the late 20th Century.


The Sausa Tribe from Peru would skin their enemies, before filling the skin with ash, sewing it back up and displaying the stuffed skin as a trophy and status symbol.


The feared Wa Tribe from the jungles of Burma (Myanmar) would regularly cut off people’s heads, and did so up until the 1970s, as they thought the severed heads prevented disease and brought good luck.


Some of the most unbelievable discoveries of Robert Ripley made on his travels were the shrunken heads of South America. The Jivaro Tribes of Ecuador and Peru would take the heads of fallen enemies, remove the skin whole, and shrink it to the size of a fist. Tsantas, as the shrunken heads were known locally, were used to banish the vengeful spirits of their previous owners, with their lips sewn shut to stop the spirits from escaping. When Western tourists began to visit the area in the 19th and 20th Century centuries, a demand for gruesome souvenirs fueled the practice, and it is said that people were killed just to keep up the supply. Robert Ripley later reported in his journal that a German scientist who attempted to find Jivaro headhunters came out of the forest as nothing more than a shrunken head with a red beard. A TV documentary team recently unearthed a Polish videotape from the early 1960s that not only seemed to prove that tsantas were still being made by the Jivaro tribe at the time, but also provides remarkable video footage of the head-shrinking process. The Jivaro used to take a decapitated head and make an incision in the back of the scalp so that they could slice the skin, flesh and hair off the bone, making sure it remained intact. Then they take the boneless head, sew the eyelids shut, and seal the mouth with wooden pegs. The next part of the process involved boiling the head for no less than two hours in herbs that contained tannin to dry out the head. Once removed from the boil, the flesh was scraped from the skin and the head was shrunk further with hot rocks and sand, before being gradually molded back into its original shape. Finally, the mouth was sewn and shut with string and for the head dried over a fire for several days.


Odd and True V


Maori Tribes of New Zealand used to mummify heavily tattooed heads of warrior adversaries, skin, hair, teeth and other body parts. Maori warriors would collect them as trophies the decapitated, tattooed heads of notable enemies they killed in a battle, and the heads of their own dead leaders and family members were also removed and treated with respect – sometimes to prevent other tribes escaping with them. It has been reported that entire bodies were preserved, although none remain. Maori facial tattoos, known as Ta Moko, were a long and painful process, which made use of carved bone chisels to make cuts in the face. In order to mummify a head, the Maoris would first remove the brain and the eyes from the decapitated head. Then the empty skull and eye sockets were stuffed with plant fibers. The head was then dried over a period of 24 hours using boiling, steaming and smoking methods. In the 18th Century, European visitors began to buy the skulls as interesting artifacts, and soon the trade in mummified Ta Moko became so popular that appropriately tattooed enemies were killed solely in order to supply the market with fresh heads. This murderous practice was eventually outlawed in the 19th Century.


The journalist Paul Raffaele reported in 2006 that he had discovered a modern headhunter tribe on the island of New Guinea that still removed the heads of their enemies and cannibalized their remains, and they have the skulls to prove it.


The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a nomadic tribe in Iran that killed and ate members of their community when they became old and weak, cooking them with their cattle. According to his writings, this was the way they preferred to go.


In 1995, two climbers in the Andes discovered the mummified body of a young girl, frozen solid on the side of Mount Ampato. Although it is thought she died in the 15th Century, her body was remarkably well preserved.


Headhunting rituals took place in Europe well into the 29th Century. Tribes in Montenegro would remove the heads of the people they had killed to prevent them receiving a proper burial.

Odd and True IV


A woman who had been playing with a friendly bottlenose dolphin called Mako in the sea off Mahia Beach on New Zealand’s North Island got into difficulty when the dolphin stopped her from returning to shore. Her cries for help eventually alerted rescuers who rowed out to find her exhausted and cold, clinging to a buoy. Locals say the dolphin gets lonely in the winter when there are fewer people around and just wanted to keep playing.


9 years ago, police in Adelaide, Australia, investigated a series if thefts involving cucumbers. More than $8,500 worth of cucumbers were stolen in 11 separate burglaries on market gardens over a period of three months.


In 2002, Mike McDermott from Hampshire, England won the lottery twice with the same numbers, beating the odds of 5.4 trillion to one.


An elderly Japanese businessman lost $4 million in cash when a thief found it buried in his garden.


A man who robbed a Walnut Creek, California bank in July 2009 apparently felt so guilty that three days later he walked into a church, confessed to the crime and handed over &1,200 to a priest before leaving.


A ram in Helgoysund, Norway was stranded 15 feet (4.5 meters) up a telegraph pole for an hour after it tried to abseil down an electricity cable to reach a field of ewes. The lovelorn sheep slid down the cable from a higher field with his horn stuck on the wire, before stopping against a pole. Eventually, a group of German tourists managed to loop a rope around the sheep and lower it to the ground.


Eleanor Benz, who dropped out of high school to help her family during the Great Depression, finally received her diploma in 2009 – 73 years later. She left Chicago’s Lake View High School at age of 17 to take a job, but at her 90th birthday party she was presented with the diploma, gown and cap, complete with 1936 tassel.

Odd and True III


After spending 17 years building his own Lamborghini sports car in the cellar of his Wisconsin home, Ken Imhoff realized that he had no way of getting it out. Undeterred, he built a ramp and hired a mechanical digger to gouge out a slope in his garden, even removing a section of the house’s foundations. At the end of delicate 2.5-hour operation, the new car finally emerged above the ground.


In keeping with a tradition in Xi’an, China, that the bride’s feet should not touch the ground during the journey from home to the ceremony, a couple got married in 2008 in midair in two large tractor digger buckets. The bride and two bridesmaids stood in one bucket, while the groom and two best men stood opposite them in a second bucket.


The pilot of light aircraft forced to bale out in the middle in the middle of the Irish Sea had a lucky escape when he was spotted by a team trying to row its way around Britain. The four-man crew was ten days into its time challenge when one of them saw the plane half-submerged in the freezing water. Pilot John O’Shaughnessy, who had been flying from Wales to Ireland, was standing on the wing.


A German mathematician, who had been died for 450 years, received a letter in 2009 demanding that he pay long-overdue TV license fees. The bill was sent to the last home address of algebra expert Adam Ries, even though he had died in 1559, centuries before the invention of television.


An Italian thief thanked the police for rescuing him from a group of irate Korean tourist whom he had just robbed. The thief had stolen a handbag from the family during their visit to Rome, but they gave chase and floored him with taekwondo moves, before subjecting him to beating. They stopped only when an officer arrived to arrest the 48-year old man.

Odd and True II


A U.S $10.50 checked signed by Neil Armstrong hours before he took off for the Moon was sold for $27,350 at an auction in Amherst, New Hampshire in July 2009. It was 40 years to the day it was written. Armstrong had written the check – for money borrowed from a NASA manager, in case anything happened to him on the lunar mission.


Motorists in the Bulgarian capital Sofia were awarded a free salami in 2009 for driving courteously. As part of a police road-safety initiative, a salami factory offered lunch to any driver who yielded to pedestrians at marked street crossings.


In August 2009, customers flocked to a faulty cash machine that was paying out double money at a supermarket in London, England. The store closed the machine as soon as it learned of the fault, but by then lucky customers had taken over $7,500 from it.


A ghost once helped convict a murderer. Zona Shue’s death in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. In 1897 was presumed natural until her spirit appeared to her mother and described how she was killed by her husband Edward. Her mother persuaded the local prosecutor to reopen the case and an autopsy on the exhumed body verified that Zona had been murdered. Edward was subsequently convicted of the crime.


After a truck carrying bottles of wine crashed and caught fire on a highway in Warmsutter, Wyoming, emergency crews came under attack from a hail of corks as the bottles exploded in the heat.


After Josh Muszynski of Manchester, New Hampshire swiped his debit card a gas station to pay for a pack of cigarettes in July 2009, he checked his account online and saw that he had been charged over $23 Quadrillion. The Bank of America corrected this error the following day.


After six generations spanning 217 years, the last Dr. Maurice of the town of Marlborough in Wiltshire, England, finally hung up his stethoscope in 2009. Dr. David Maurice’s retirement brought to an end an unbroken line of family members caring for the town’s sick people dating back 1792.