Tuesday, September 5, 2017

HGB Ep. 220 - Kentucky State Penitentiary

Moment in Oddity - Tomato as the Wolf Peach
Suggested by: Shelby Hammond

Some people may not be aware that a tomato is not actually a vegetable. It was declared to be one in the courts in 1893, but botanically, the tomato is a fruit, more specifically classified as a berry. When the tomato finally made its way to Europe, many Europeans associated it with poisonous plants like nightshade and mandrake. The tomato plant is actually part of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. (Sole ah niece ee i) German folklore claimed that witches used these plants to summon werewolves. The old German word for tomato was wolfpfirsich (wolfpfeersick.) The tomato species name became Lycopersicon (like oh purse ican) esculentum (ess coo lentum) in the 18th century, which literally means "edible wolf peach." Many believe that Linnaeus (Lyn nigh us) chose this name because he was familiar with the legend about tomatoes being used to attract werewolves. During colonial times, tomatoes were used strictly as decoration because the colonists believed eating a tomato would turn your blood to acid. Farmers who tried to sell tomatoes in the markets had no luck convincing anyone to buy them. Perhaps that is why the lore then switched to large red tomatoes being able to scare evil spirits away. People took to placing them on windowsills. Putting them on the hearth was thought to bring prosperity. So the next time you eat a tomato sandwich, now you know that there is a lot of fun lore connected to them and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - French Aviators Dieudonne Coste and Maurice Bellonte Make 1st Non-stop Flight from Europe to the USA.

In the month of September, on the 2nd, in 1930, French aviators Dieudonne Coste and Maurice Bellonte made the first non-stop flight from Europe to the USA. Coste had set flight distance records before and he was also a fighter ace during World War I. After the war, he flew in civil aviation and by 1925 he was performing record breaking flights. In 1929, he partnered with another record breaking pilot, Maurice Bellonte, and the two made an attempt to cross the North Atlantic Ocean westbound, from Villacoublay near Paris to New York. Bad weather forced them back. They set off again on September 1st in 1930 in a red Breguet 19 aeroplane from Paris Le Bourget Field aerodrome. They arrived at Curtiss Field aerodrome in Valley Stream, Long Island New York after a  37 hour and 18 minutes flight. An enormous crowd awaited them including Charles Lindbergh and his wife. There was a ticker-tape reception and a meeting with President Hoover on September 8th. An interesting side story involved the loss of their navigational map out the window while flying over Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Two children saw the map falling from the sky while they were watching for the flight to cross over their farm and they retrieved it. They returned the map to Costes after he asked for its return through the media.

Kentucky State Penitentiary

The Kentucky State Penitentiary is known as the "Castle on the Cumberland." The prison is perched along the Cumberland River and is Kentucky's oldest prison facility. Construction on the facility began in October of 1884, headed by Governor Luke Blackburn after the Kentucky legislature passed a bill authorizing the construction. The prison officially opened in 1889. The worst of the worst have found their way to this place and male death row inmates have been housed here. And since 1911, 164 men have been executed at the penitentiary. Because of the deaths and the energy, the prison is reputedly haunted. Author and paranormal investigator, Steve E. Asher joins us to share the history and hauntings of the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

The Kentucky State Penitentiary was meant to bring reform to the prison system. Life in prison before the 1880s was horrific. An study conducted at the original Kentucky State Prison found that 20% of inmates had pneumonia and seventy-five percent had scurvy. Descriptions in the study claimed that the jail had "slime covered walls, open sewage, and graveyard coughs." Approximately seventy of the one-thousand prisoners had died in 1875. The Kentucky State Penitentiary became the jail for executions and Old Sparky took its first victim on July 8, 1911. That convict was a black man named James Buckner, who had been convicted of murder at Lebanon, Marion County. The last execution was in 2002 by lethal injection. Steve Asher worked at the jail and has collected the stories of those who have experienced paranormal activity.

Is the Kentucky State Penitentiary haunted? That is for you to decide!

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