The First Teachers

Since today is officially Teacher’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at the first teachers in history.

It’s a widely known fact that the first teachers were the priests and prophets of old. In the Jewish culture it was the mothers who taught their children of their religion and taught their daughters how to run the house and raise the children. Boys were taught everything they needed to know by the priests in the synagogues and became very knowledgeable in the Word as well as a wide range of other subjects they would later use in their lives.

In the Middle Ages, episcopal schools were set up by the Greeks and Romans. Basic reading, writing and counting (as well as rudimentary Latin) were taught by the bishops in what were the first primary schools. They were read sacred texts (no doubt the Scriptures) with a global method using whole sentences to teach their students. Children were sent to guilds once they were what was considered literate and thus able to learn their trade as an educated member. The family, however, was responsible for domestic skills.

If a child was able, they were sent to colleges or universities where they were taught subjects such as Latin, music and grammar.

It is no surprise to find out that the first private teacher in history was none other than Confucius (561 BC). This man has often been quoted. His words continue to influence us to this day. In his day, education was only available to members of high society. The schools were run by governmental officials and thus it was state policy that he, as an adolescent, wasn’t able to gain the education he longed for. However, Confucius found a work-around and started to work for a travelling noble from whom he gleaned the knowledge he needed and thus became a very sought after educator as he would teach any student who had a hunger for learning. This caused him to become very sought after as an educator for young men.

Since then many schools have come and gone. As an example, a brief 10-year stint for an Agriculture boarding school existed between the 1820s and 1830s.

The first education in America was brought by the Pilgrims in the 1600s with the establishment of the first public school in the year 1635. These schools were followed by “dame” schools. These schools were run by women in the community mostly from their kitchens. Another institution set up around then  was Latin Grammar schools for students seeking a higher education. In the year 1642 Boston, Massachusetts, passed a law that, if you weren’t educated, you would be apprenticed and taught a trade. They were followed by Virginia in the year 1646. In 1647, the Old Deluder Satan Act ruled that if a town contained more than 50 people, they had to hire a teacher and open a school so the children could learn to read and write. Towns of more than 100 had to hire a grammar schoolmaster who would prepare students to enroll at Harvard College.

As we can see from the above, education is a vital part of society whether you are in a trade or not. Today we celebrate all our teachers across the globe! You are truly worth your weight in gold. I pray God keeps you.

Have a Happy Teacher’s Day! God bless you all, my darling avidReaders.

Who Discovered Coffee?

I remember having to look this specific topic up for a book I was working on. Initially my research was inconclusive. There didn’t seem to be a direct answer to the question. Today, I was very curious, so I thought let me see what I can dig up.

So let’s look at it’s some of its origin stories. Now, there are quite a few stories telling us who used it first. Some say it was discovered in Egypt others say it was in Yemen. I’ve even heard it said that someone saw monkeys in India eating the berries and observed how peculiar they acted afterwards, but the most common story seems to be a legend about its discovery in Ethiopia. So let’s take a look.

This story seems to originate on the Ethiopian plateaus in the region of Oromia, later to become known as the “coffee forests” of Ethiopia. The story  is that an Ethiopian goat herder, by the name of Kaldi, saw his goats acting erratically after eating the red berries from an Coffea arabica tree. After watching the goats, he began to investigate, and soon discover, the usefulness of these berries. He observed the fact that his goats didn’t sleep after eating the berries. He then brought them to a local monastery and showed the beans to the abbot. After mixing them with warm water, he discovered that it helped him stay awake through the long hours of evening prayer. He then shared his discovery with the other monks in the monastery and news of this brilliant drink began to spread. However when the religious leaders got wind of this, they tried to burn the beans in a hearth, but when they smelt the smell the beans made when burned they soon changed their minds and decided to give this beverage a chance. Once this discovery reached Arabia, news spread to every nation across the world and they slowly began to invent their own ways of brewing and mixing coffee. This would lead to the coffee we know and love today.

Another story in Ethiopia talks of a mystic who came across the beans while on his travels. He discovered this drink by observing birds in the area eating the berries and noticing how unusually lively they were. Once he tried these berries himself, he soon discovered how lively he, himself, felt. Another version of this is that his disciple, Omar, discovered them while in exile near the Ousab city. He became desperately hungry and consumed the berries, soon beginning to feel the vitality that these berries produced when consumed.

The earliest noted mention of coffee was in the 10th century CE. This was noted by the literary coffee merchant Philippe Sylvestre Dufour. This beverage was mentioned by a Persian physician in his writings in the 10th century. It’s also important to note that more information for this dates back to the compiled works entitled Umdat al Safwa fi hill al-qahwa recorded in the year 1587. It reports that the sheikh Jamal-al-Din al-Dhabhani, mufti of Aden was the first person to discover the use of coffee.

It would appear that there is a lot controversy around this drink. I’ve only mentioned the three most common stories behind it. However, all the research I’ve done comes back to these stories: Kaldi, Omar and the sheikh. These three men seem to be at the very center of the discovery of coffee. Something I noted in my research was that because of its vitality benefits Muslims used it during Ramadan to not only remove their appetite, but also to keep them awake for their prayers. This is what caused it to become associated with Muhammed’s birthday.

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a proper article, but I have another one in the pipeline, so expect to hear from me again very soon.

God bless all of you, my darling avidReaders

Friday the 13th

DOGO News

In Western culture, Friday the 13th has always been believed to be an unlucky day, despite there being no evidence of this before the 19th century. This holiday can happen anywhere from 1 to 3 times a year. In the years between 2010 and 2019, there were 3 Friday the 13ths in 2012 and 2015, 2 in 2013, 2017 and 2019. In the years between 2020-2029 there will be 3 Friday the 13ths in 2026, 2 between 2023 – 2024 and 2 in 2029. The average is recorded at 2 or 3 a year. There is never more than 3 a year and never less than 1a year. Today was and will be the only Friday the 13th this year. Friday the 13th has inspired horror movie figures such as Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street and, in fact, a whole horror film franchise. It has also been related to various ill events in history which we will discuss below.

An Ill Omen

I mentioned above that various events have been linked to this very unlucky day. Two such events are the Last Supper and the Trials of the Knights Templar. Catholics believe that the number 13 is an unlucky number because according to the calendars at the time, Jesus was brought for execution on Thursday 13 and the Friday of the 14th, he was crucified

The Trials of the Knights Templar is another event in history that is always associated with Friday the 13th with their arrest on Friday the 13th, October, 1307. This was due to Philip IV’s desire for the vast wealth acquired by the Templars during the First Crusades.

Donald Dossey, a famous folklore historian, believes that this belief stems from Norse mythology. The story is that one day 12 gods were having a dinner in Valhalla when Loki arrived unwelcome. He arranged for Balder to me murdered by another god with a mistletoe tipped arrow. Quoted, Dossey says, “Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day.” This made the number “13” an unlucky number.

This belief inspired a 19th century secret society called The Thirteen Club. This club contained such famous members as Chester Arthur, Grover Cloveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Their sole aim was to prove that Friday the 13th wasn’t an unlucky day.

As well as inspiring a secret society, it also inspire a horror franchise and two phobias. These phobias are paraskavedektriaphobia and friggatriskaidekophobia.

In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer writes that starting a journey on a Friday was bad luck. However, Chaucer isn’t the only famous author to use this day in his literary creations. Dan Brown, as well as many other historical fiction writers, mention this day when discussing the Knights Templars.

I mentioned above that in Catholic belief, they hold that the Last Supper was considered evidence that 13 is an unlucky number, this due to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ being on a Friday. The Catholics are not the only culture to hold that the number 13 is an unlucky number. In the Code of Hammurabi there was actually no 13th day at all.

In Western cultures, the number 12 is often referred to as the number of completeness (12 months of the years and 12 gods of Olympus), while the number 13 has acquired a reputation for being bad luck number. It is believed that it is bad luck to have a wedding on a Friday and, as Chaucer mentioned, to start a journey on a Friday.

Today is day surrounded by so much controversy. Is it good? Is it bad? I guess, you will need to decide for yourself. What do you believe? All I can say is that it’s one interesting day with a dark, rich history. Mentioned down the ages from the Hammurabi Code to the Nightmare on Elm Street, this day has always been believed to be a bad day; but do you really believe it or is it just another day? For me, it’s my favourite day. My favourite number is 13 and I love Fridays. So it’s the perfect combination for me.

I wish you all a day filled with good luck and not bad. God bless, my dear avidReaders

The Cree Creation Story

At the beginning of time, the Creator made the animals and the people. The Creator told Wisakedjak (a trickster figure) to teach the people how to live good, peaceful lives, and to take care of them. Wisakedjak did not listen to the Creator, and soon, the people were fighting and hurting one another. The Creator was disappointed and threatened Wisakedjak with a life of misery if he did not obey. Still Wisakedjak did not listen, and still the people continued to be violent with one another. The Creator decided to flood the lands, washing out everyone and everything. Only Wisakedjak, Otter, Beaver and Muskrat survived. Stranded on open water, Wisakedjak had an idea — if the animals could help him dive down and collect some of the old earth, he could expand it and start a new land. This was not an easy task; Otter and Beaver tried many times to get to the earth below, but both failed, almost dying in the process. Muskrat was the last to try. He stayed underwater for a long time, but when he resurfaced, he had wet earth in his paw. From this mud is where the earth as we know it today came.

The above is a piece I wanted to put into my previous article, but my article was already too long. So here it is.

The Cri/Cree/Kiristinon

A Cree Hunter. Image found at https://www.legendsofamerica.com/cree-tribe/

In Canada, between Alberta and Quebec, live one of the First Nations of Canada–The Nehiyawak . These people have been called Kiristinon in French and Cree in English. The English term “Cree” originated in James Bay. They were first discovered by the European settlers in the year 1682 by the Haynes and Nelson rivers.

As I mentioned briefly above the Nehiyawak (one of their preferred names) live in the subarctic region between Alberta and Quebec, Canada. They are one of the largest First Nations. A title they share with the Haida, Salish, Kwakiutl, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nisga’a and Gitxsan. These North American people are best known for their birchbark canoes. They used dogs as pack animals as well as snowshoes and sleds to travel in winter. In Canada there are +/-356,000 Cree or people of Cree descent.

Language

The language spoken by the Cree come from a series of languages all derived from the Algonquian language. Some names of which are Cree, Montagnais or Naskapi. If you were to look at this dialect continuum as one language, it would have one of the highest number of speakers in Canada. The Northwest territories are the only place where Cree is an official language.

Communities

The Cree live north and west of Lake Superior in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. +/-27,000 Cree people live in Quebec. The Cree people were known as hunter-gatherers and had formed communities of families that they referred to as a “lodge”. This lodge consisted of 8 – 12 people. These lodges were made up of families which were normally from 2 married couples. They would live together in wigwams or tipis. It’s very rare for them to live together in wigwams and in what they called “bands”. These “bands” would be what we would call suburbs or communities. They were a group of lodges that had opted to live and hunt together. The bands were thought to be safer since there’d be more people to defend the lodges as opposed to a handful of men having to fight an opposing tribe or any other danger. In the case of an argument or fight they offending party would be banished or the lodges would leave. This was considered the worst punishment a Cree could experience.

Spirituality

Like most native American cultures, the Cree worship nature and in a lesser way animals such as bears, elk and buffalo as well as certain objects. Elements of nature such as the sun, moon and heavenly bodies, thunder and other natural occurrences.

When an animal is killed by a Cree the animal’s skull/stone representing his spirit was placed near the fireplace. The hunter would burn tobacco or sweet grass so that the words he spoke would arise with smoke to the spirit of the animal. The person would request certain blessings during this process. An example of such is, “Give me life, food, clothes and good hunting” or whatever else he wanted.

The Cree believe in the Spirits, dreams and visions. They will often consult mediums to enlighten them about the universe around them. They also believe that the Creator has put spirits into each part of his Creation, specifically humans and animals. They believe in eternal spirits and that after death life goes on and we become part of the circle of life. According to the Cree, the Spirits can communicate with us and manifest themselves to us. An example of this are the Northern Lights which they believe occurs when the Spirits dance.

During the Purification Ceremony or, as they call it, the Sweat Lodge, they often encounter the Old Woman, the bear or a buffalo during their prayer. Sometimes the Cree will call upon specific Spirits to assist them with their specific needs. These often coming during dreams and visions. They also incorporate what is known as Trickster mythology into their worldview. They believe that this Trickster could either be good or bad and could either set a good example or a bad example. The Trickster is a cultural and spiritual figure using his great intellect to cause mischief.

Conclusion

I think it’s fair to say that the Cree are a really fascinating people with a really interesting mythology. Their idea of community is so similar to ours and the diversity of their language is just amazing to me. They share so much with the European nations. Just goes to show we are all one people regardless of where we come from or what culture we are in. It’s truly beautiful. One people. One world.

God bless all of you, my darling avidReaders. Stay safe out there

The Greatest Pranksters

Given it was April Fools’ Day a week or two back, I was wondering about the first prank. Who did it? Where did they do it and what was it?

In the year 1582, France decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar which set the date of the New Year to January 1st. Up until then New Year’s day was always April 1st. The people who didn’t know that and still celebrated in April were considered fools and thus were the butt of a lot of jokes. This gave them the title “April Fools” and so began a long tradition of pranking “fools” every April. Some historians believe that the first prank started in France in this same year.

First Pranks

We go all the way back to Rome, specifically the reign of the emperor Elagabulus (c. 218-222). Known as one of the originator of the famed whoopee cushion, this emperor also had a penchant for leaving tamed wild animals such as lions, bears and leopards in the room of his sleeping, drunken guests. He also had a tendency to release snakes in public. He found this amusing to the terror of anyone who was unfortunate to be nearby.

Our next story takes us to two feuding neighbours. Anthemius was an architect who was at war with his neighbour. One day he lost it and ended up creating an earthquake machine. What he did was to build several boilers of water under his house. He then proceeded to feed a hose from his house through a tiny hole into his neighbour’s cellar. Whenever he got the inclination, he would start up these boilers and give his neighbour an “earthquake”. This prank was achieved by using massive amounts of steam caused by the boilers.

In the early 15th century what was probably the earliest pranks were done by a monk in England’s Syon Abby. He performed such tricks as making eggs levitate (this was his favourite prank) as well as making apples move on their own by putting bugs in them. He seems like he was the life of that Abby, doesn’t he?

Just over 200 years later, in the year 1740, we meet our next two pranksters. These two men decided to publish a fake newspaper called the English Mercurie which was supposedly published in 1588 (this would’ve made it the oldest newspaper ever published). These two pranksters decided to deliver it as a gift to the British Museum 26 years later where it can still be found and referred to to this day.

Then we come to the year 1810 and a prank that is my personal favourite. Theodore Hook made a bet that he could turn any home into the most talked-about address in London. He then proceeded to do just that. He started in the morning with a delivery of coal, then it became furniture, musical instruments, flowers, bread, fish, wedding cake, gardeners, undertakers and even the Mayor of London! All of this occurred outside the home of Mrs. Tottenham who was ignorant of the whole affair. It caused such a traffic jam, that Hook did, in fact, win his bet.

Pranks That Went Horribly Wrong

There have been many pranks over the years that have gone horribly wrong, such as the high school senior who was accidentally shot dead while participating in an elaborate treasure hunt. Then there were students who decided to put laxatives in a chocolate Bundt cake for their teachers and ended up sending two to the hospital with insecticide poisoning (Dulcolax poisoning). They ofcourse thought it was a huge joke, but I doubt the teachers agreed.

There are a few that fall into the category of pranks that went horribly wrong. Here are a few.

An Icelandic teenager falls into this category. The teenager had somehow managed to get the private phone number for George Bush. In the year 2007, this young man decided to call Bush to ask for a private meeting. The young man, Vilfill, pretended to be the president of Iceland. He managed to get through to Bush’s secretary and she informed him that he should wait for a call from the President, instead he got a house-call from the police and was dragged off to an interrogation room where he was interrogated for hours. He was able to answer all their questions and explained that he only wanted to talk with Bush.

Then we have the story of the two teenagers who covered up a stop sign and ended up accidentally killing two elderly ladies as they drove into the intersection and were hit by a car as they crossed. Both men were arrested and charged with reckless homicide.

Two guys were hanging out with a third friend for Thanksgiving (they were staying in Vermont with him). The one friend fell asleep and, in an hilarious attempt to wake him, fired off an air rifle and fire it off near off his friend. He was shocked to find blood spurting out. Later his friend was pronounced dead on the scene.

Our last tragic prank gone wrong, is a young boy of only 14 years old, who was shot dead in a drive-by for egging the wrong car.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with a fun prank between friends, but it’s important that, like in the instance of Elagabulus and his wild animals, sometimes a prank can go too far. It’s always important to remember that safety comes first, otherwise you’ll end up with a dead prankee.

It’s fascinating to note how far back some pranks go. From the very first whoopee cushion to the ultimate prank call, they all have their place.

God bless you all, my darling avidReaders.

Jack the Ripper/The Whitechapel Butcher

Magnifying Glass–Wikipedia

We all know the story of Jack the Ripper. Famed serial prostitute killer. Brutal murderer. Never found or caught. He is famed for being uncaught and even to this day his infamy lives on. There have been plenty of movies and series that have included the famed serial killer. Even famed author Patricia Cornwell has had her say in this world-famous case stating that the post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, due to a letter found matching his artistic style.

His MO

There have been over a hundred suspects over the years and the list just keeps growing. Ofcourse because of the lack of DNA technology back then there was no way to confirm the identity of someone. There are many who speculate that he lived in or around the Whitechapel district of London as female prostitutes from the East End of London were being murdered. Jack the Ripper, or the Whitechapel Butcher as some called him, had a very specific and gruesome MO(modus operandi/preferred method for murder). His MO was to cut the throats of his victims, mutilate them and then proceeded to remove certain of their internal organs–one such victim had her kidney removed. This is what originally caused the police to suspect a doctor or butcher. Both were soon disproven when they could find no one who was a viable suspect among the slaughter houses or doctors.

Who Did It?

Now that we have a bit more of a background to this famed murderer, let’s take a look at some of the speculation surrounding the murders. I mentioned above that there are a list of suspects that goes over a hundred people. Some of these however are just plain silly. At the time among the suspects were local gangs referred to as “High-Rip” gangs at the time. After this was found to be a faulty assumption, they then began to look into the possibility of a lone assassin. This conclusion came about after the murder of Annie Chapman. Due to Jack’s firm grasp on human anatomy, they began to inquire among doctors and slaughter houses, however both turned out to be dead ends. They then turned to medical students, however this also soon proved to be futile. Among all the mentioned suspects were such prominent figures as Winston Churchill’s grandfather, Prince Albert Edward Victor, Lewis Caroll, Dr. Barnado even the Freemasons made it onto the list. Two men who came on and then off the list were Thomas Cutbrush and Carl Feigenbaum. In recent years these men have once again made it into the spotlight due to modern research and records that were discovered showing that both men were in an asylum. Then came along Aaron Kosminski.

Aaron Kosminski

Aaron Kosminski was a Polish Jew who lived as a barber/hairdresser in the Whitechapel district of London. A sad fact at the time was that a lot of the low-rent boarding houses and brothels were not protected and a large amount of “working girls”, as they called themselves, were beaten and sometimes even murdered. A lot of these working girls lived and worked in Whitechapel and the police had no interest in these activities as long as there was no ruckus caused. So, as a result, a lot of murders involving these poor girls went unsolved. Only in the year of 1888 when Jack the Ripper began to cause a stir did the police finally get involved. He murdered up to five women–two of these within a span of two hours.

This sets the backdrop for the time and place that Aaron Kosminski lived in. Catherine Eddowes was the fourth victim in the string of murders involving Jack. Amos came on to the crime scene and found Eddowes’ shawl. He thought his wife would love it so he decided to take it home as a present for her. She was understandably appalled and rejected it immediately putting it away in a trunk up in her attic. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not the shawl actually belonged to Catherine Eddowes as some suggested it, in fact, belonged to Jack the Ripper himself. Whatever the speculation, the shawl was sold to one “armchair detective” Russell Edwards. The well-to-do businessman and cold case enthusiast bought it in the year 2007 at auction as he was very interested in its history–being connected to Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders. Despite it’s age, the dried blood on the shawl still held DNA and when compared to Aaron Kosminksi’s sister’s descendant, Matilda, the DNA was too close to leave room for doubt. This all pointed to Aaron Kosminski. Aaron had also been seen attacking a prostitute, but the witness refused to speak up. We see here DNA links as well as some evidence of violent tendencies. Aaron Kosminski was soon sent to an asylum where he lived till 1919, when he died of gangrene.

Conclusion

There will always be people who criticize or are skeptic of the evidence brought out. Ripperologists all over doubt and criticize Edwards’ discovery. They claim that as no one published the findings, there is something that is not right about the DNA research he did. Some even doubt the very appearance of Simpson at the scene. Personally, I stand with Edwards and his findings, but don’t take my word for it. The search goes on. One day THE most famous unsolved cold case in history will be solved.

Till then, my darling avidReaders, keep safe and God bless you all.

The Nain Rouge

I remember a while back I was looking into this while looking up fairies. One such story was regarding someone who had actually seen a dwarf watching her from the tree in her yard. She said he looked just the dwarves in folklore. We now know that there are people that have a condition called “Dwarfism”. This would not have been known at the time when the legends were forged into the culture of such peoples as the Scottish and Irish. Other cultures no doubt will have their own legends.

The most well-known are notably the Irish leprechauns. These were little men famous for their love of their “pot o’ gold” as they used to say. This is also where the legend of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was founded.

Dwarves are associated with wisdom, smithing, mining and crafting. They are little men with long beards who dwell in their mines mining all different kinds of ore. In the Germanic mythology these creatures lived in the earth and mountains, as you can most likely guess it is because of their precious ores in the earth. The most recent mention of this in the movie trilogy The Hobbit. In this trilogy we see dwarves swayed by the riches of their old mines. In this movie they are depicted as short, stubby men with long unkempt beards, but quite a few scholars debate whether this is true or just a comical portrayal of these beings. They would’ve no doubt been great miners because of their size and ability to fit into the smallest of cracks and crevices in the earth to get to the ore no one else could. In result, they could’ve perhaps become quite prolific as miners and even started to craft their own jewelry and other useful items. Something else to consider, why couldn’t these so-called misfits form their own communities–I mean being ignorantly treated as mis-fits, wouldn’t you? This could’ve very well led to the tales of the little people. Afterall, aren’t most fables and legends based on truth?

The Nain Rouge/Red Dwarf

But what about now? I mean that was then, are they still being sighted in recent years, well maybe. People in Detroit in recent years have claimed to have seen these famous little people. They have been sighted for hundreds of years dating back to the Ottawa Tribe up to most recent times. The most common sightings have been of what is called “Nain Rouge” or “Red Dwarf”.

The Nain Rouge was sighted by Native tribes for hundreds of years and were considered very real by these people. The earliest recorded sighting of the Nain Rouge starts with the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in March 10, 1701 at a party he was hosting. In this account he was met by a fortune teller who told him he would found a great city, but that there would be great turmoil within it and that he ought to always pay heed to and respect the Nain Rouge. If not, it would mean his downfall. He probably laughed at this. Later, however, he would realize the truth in her words. When he did found the city of Detroit, he was walking with his wife one night and heard two men complaining about the city and talking about a little man they had seen who they referred to as the Nain Rouge. This man then went on to say it was a sign of bad luck for the city.

Now we come to the great question: Are the dwarfs/dwarves of mythology real and as they were depicted back then? Well, quite a few have claimed to see them, but again are they not people that have lived outside of human civilization by choice? Well, if you ask the miners of Cornwall, you will know that they lived with the knowledge of the Knockers (sometimes called the Knockertommys) who were little people that were known to bring good fortune should you show them respect or misfortune should you show them any disrespect. I first read of the Knockers in an old heirloom my mother inherited from her grandmother called the Mermaid of Zenna–a compilation of Cornish folktales. It was about a young boy who learned this lesson very quickly and became blessed because he showed them respect. If you have someone in your family who is Cornish ask them about the Knockers, you might just hear something interesting. As for the other legends out there, there is always a possibility these things may be real. People didn’t believe in werewolves until Hypertrichosis was discovered and suddenly everyone understood the legends. Legends, as I mentioned above, very often ring with truth.

Don’t always doubt something before you see it.

A Shark and A Dead Man

Sound like something that happens every day, doesn’t it? Oh so another shark attack. You will be sadly mistaken. This attack, however, was very different. It sparked an investigation that was all over the news. You see the question is: “Where did it find this limb?” If we dig further, we discover something extraordinary. So how did this Australian shark spark one of Australia’s most infamous murder investigations?

In the year 1935, just off the coast of Cogee Beach, Sydney a tiger shark had got caught in the nets of local fisherman and researcher, Bert Hobson, in Mid-April. When the shark was sent to Cogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths, it was acting strange–swimming lazily and irregularly. 48-hours later, after suffering from terrible indigestion, in a great brown-yellow froth it spat out two fish accompanied by an unidentified arm. At first everyone thought the shark had eaten it, but when a coroner and shark expert took a closer look at the arm, they soon realized that there was no evidence on the arm to show that it was in fact eaten by the shark. The poor shark was merely the one who discovered it. The arm was severed by a blade and not a bite (there was no evidence of tooth marks). A tattoo was soon discovered on the arm which led to the identity of the missing arm as belonging to James Smith.

James Smith was no angel. He was a bookie, amateur boxer and a small time criminal. His story was far more tragic than just being a petty criminal, he was a bankrupt builder as well as being a former SP bookmaker (bookie for the horse races). He had been missing for weeks after going drinking and playing dominoes with his friend, Patrick Brady in Cronulla.

Further to the suspicious situation surrounding James’ disappearance is a cab driver who witnessed that both men were uneasy, especially Brady. He also witnessed that he was instructed to drive from Cornulla to the home of one Reginald Lloyd Holmes at McMahons Point, Lavender Bay. Soon after Smith’s disappearance, Brady vacated his rented bayside cottage, but not before cleaning the walls and his boat, as well as replacing some furniture items. Since there was no concrete evidence connecting either men to the murder, the judge was forced to give a verdict of not guilty.

This calm only lasted a few weeks, when on May 20th Reginald Holmes tried to kill himself. His attempt, however, was unsuccessful and ended in a boat chase between him and police officers until he was eventually caught and relented to testify to Brady murdering James Smith. However, before the case even went to trial Holmes was found slumped over his steering wheel dead. But further things came to light, it soon surfaced that James Smith was an informant who had informed on a man called Eddie Weyman which led to him being caught red-handed raiding a bank. Eddie Weyman was one of the most dangerous criminals in 1930s Australia with connections to the cocaine trade.

So the question remains, how was James Smith murdered? The modus operandi of gangsters in the 1930s would probably have been something like what had happened to Smith–his body cut into pieces and dumped in the ocean so no one would find his body. This was what they called “sleeping with the fishes”. They could’ve even hoped that a shark would come across the loose body parts and eat them–that would backfire on them in a big way later on. Whatever the case, here we find ourselves with a tiger shark who helped bring one of the most dangerous criminals to justice.

God bless all of you, my precious avidReaders.

The Beautiful Gate; Acts 3.

He sat in the sun as it burnt down on his face. It was a hot day and all these two men could do was think of their next town. Perhaps they were thirsty? Tired maybe? Whatever their condition it wasn’t enough to keep them from feeling a man tug on their robes. The men looked down and saw a lame man. The men looked at each other.

“Sir? Please, sir, if you have just a little bit of money to spare for a poor lame man?” One of the men, Peter, smiled and shook his head. This man didn’t need money. Peter knew it. John knew it. The only one who didn’t was the beggar.

“I don’t any money for you, but I’ll tell you what I can give you. Get up, pick up your bed and walk.” The man looked at Peter and thought, ‘What have I got to lose? I’m sitting here lame’ he tried to get up and instantly he did something he hadn’t done since birth–he walked! He got up and looked at Peter and John as tears poured down his face. He thanked Peter as he wept, but Peter said to him, “It isn’t me that healed you, but Christ the Lord Who has worked wonders for His glory. I am just the one He used.”

The man then ran away leaping and praising God!

A short, but beautiful story of the power of God. If you sit in the presence of God and wait in prayer, He can use you and others around you to work His glorious wonders!

God bless and keep all of you, my precious avids. 🧡💖 I wish each and everyone of you a blessed and very merry Christmas!