I'll have both your badges for this outrage. In the meantime, either of you got a condom?
Pretty tame by today's standards, 1959's Sex Life of a Cop is the book that turned into a legal nightmare for publisher Sanford Aday when he shipped copies out of California, was indicted in Arizona, Michigan, and Hawaii in 1961 of interstate trafficking of obscene material, and finally convicted in Michigan in 1963. The story deals with two small town cops named Dempsey and Thorne who give a fat helping of nightstick to any woman whose path they cross, everyone from the hot new dispatcher to a female reporter who goes for a ride along. Ahem. The action starts right on page one outside the police station and doesn't let up. Aday, who was also the author of this as Oscar Peck, earned himself a $25,000 fine and twenty-five years in prison, a sentence that was eventually overturned.
Sex Life of a Cop later caused legal reverberations all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled not obscene in 1967. This was a stroke of good luck for publisher Reuben Sturman (the genius behind It's Happening), because he too was arrested and charged with obscenity when Cleveland police liberated more than 500 copies of the book from his warehouse. The Supreme Court ruling cleared him of wrongdoing. All this for a book that differs little from other sleaze of the era save that it stars two cops. But therein lies the lesson. When you cast aspersions upon law enforcement they'll move heaven and earth to punish you, first amendment be damned. We have covers for the original 1959 edition and the 1967 reprint.
During World War II anyone could put Hitler on the ropes.
We’ve run across some unusual World War II memorabilia over the years, but this might be the quirkiest item we’ve seen. Pretty much self-explanatory, it’s morale boosting anti Hitler propaganda in the form of a die-cut effigy. He could be used as a bookmark, or a lamp pull, or—in the case of the lucky duck who sold this trinket online for a serious windfall—not used at all so that it would be in A1 condition for the auction market decades later. It was produced by a company in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and came complete with a tiny piece of rope to make hanging it easy for the buyer. Morbid but amazing.
Bungle in the jungle.
During the 1960s the Cleveland Publishing Company, which was based in Sydney, Australia, printed quite a lot of books like the one above—i.e., World War II adventures that in retrospect are subtly racist. Well, actually, who are we kidding? Retrospect and subtlety have nothing to do with it. Even in the context of the 1960s these were overtly racist books featuring depraved and heinous Japanese adversaries putting Aussie soldiers through hell, often in jungle prison camps. We have other examples we’ll share later, but this is probably the most interesting of them, art-wise, with its devilish villain painted camouflage green. Mack Kenton, the author here, wrote many war books for Cleveland, including Beachhead, Operation Solo, Ordeal of the Damned, Fight or Die, et. al., but despite his extensive bibliography there isn’t much info on him. Uncredited artist as well. It’s amusing to imagine that both author and illustrator disavowed themselves from this dubious work, but that probably isn’t what happened. The book is just obscure. As always we’ll dig for more.
No, sweetie, I won’t "oil your rod," and FYI there are more romantic ways to ask.
Printed by Sydney, Australia’s Cleveland Publishing Co., The Lonely Gun was written by the prolific author who called himself Marshall Grover, as well as Marshall McCoy, Val Sterling, Johnny Nelson, Shad Denver, Ward Brennan and other names. He was in reality Leonard F. Meares, and he published an astounding 746 novels. Amazingly, he didn’t even see his first on the shelf until he was thirty-four—young for publishing one’s first novel, but not for publishing the first of 746. Or better yet—look at it this way: that’s an average of just more than nineteen novels every year until he died at age seventy-two.
All citizens possess unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of tabloid depravity.
Earlier this year, the website Darwination sent us two copies of the American tabloid It’s Happening. We posted the first in May, and today we have the second issue. As we pointed out before, the publication was dreamt up by Reuben Sturman, a Cleveland-born son of Russian immigrants who realized that the lack of a cheapie tabloid aimed at black readers represented a large—and potentially profitable—hole in the market. True, there had been the magazine Hep during the 1950s, but that had been a glossy tabloid. And true, Sturman had already delved into African-American erotica with his magazine Tan N’ Terrific, but that had been a photo digest. It’s Happening—provocative, humorous, but mostly plain ludicrous—was what Sturman came up with. See below, and see here.
The Depression-era magazine Hot Dog had two sides—and so did its editor.
Hot Dog was a humor monthly published out of Cleveland, Ohio during the 1920s and 1930s, and distributed throughout the Great Lakes states. It began as little more than a pamphlet, but quickly expanded to the digest you see above. It’s formula for success? Largely, it seemed to be stupid ethnic jokes and bawdy limericks mixed with photos of showgirls and actresses. At least, that’s mostly what we got out of this October 1931 issue. But thanks to a little research, we discovered Hot Dog also had a serious side, positioning itself as a foe of prohibitionists and moral watchdogs of every stripe. You’ll notice that editor Jack Dinsmore gave himself billing on the cover. Dinsmore was a pseudonym. We learned this from a rather beautiful 1996 New York Times article written by a woman who goes searching for traces of a father that died when she was seven. Her father was Jack Dinsmore, and the author is shocked to discover he edited Hot Dog, a magazine that, as the Great Depression wore on, became more and more insulting toward Jews even though Dinsmore was Jewish. But we all know nothing makes a man compromise himself more quickly than the threat of joblessness, and in 1930s America that possibility would have been staring an unimportant Midwestern editor—and millions more people barely hanging on—right in the face. Anyway, the Times piece is long and serious, but recommended. It teaches a lesson: nothing we write is ever truly lost. We’ll keep looking for more Hot Dogs, and if we find any we’ll definitely share them.
But I didn’t steal the money, I swear—it was a bailout.
Above is an August 1962 Master Detective with great cover art of a lady in red being taken into custody, and clearly this isn’t a Wall Street bank she works at, because at those taxpayers’ money is free for the taking. Since it’s getting toward the best part of baseball season over in the U.S., the blurb that intrigued us the most on this cover was the final one, telling us that Tito Francona—father of current Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona—was somehow involved in solving a murder. We’re told that he “belted a homer that led Tucson police to a killer”, and we were expecting the story to be some kind of convoluted mystery. But no—the blurb is meant literally. Francona hit a home run during a Cleveland Indians spring training game in Tucson and the ball actually landed next to a body that was hidden in brush beyond the right field wall. The body belonged to a fugitive who was wanted for the murder of his unfaithful wife’s lover. He had chosen that unlikely spot to commit suicide by shooting himself. Case solved. So Francona didn’t exactly enter stage right and help unravel a Da Vinci Code style puzzle, but the story is still an interesting historical footnote. Baseball is the type of sport where players and fans tend to believe in curses, so maybe a purification ceremony where the body was found would help the Indians finally win a World Series. It’s been sixty-two years and counting.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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