Stewardess survives 31,000-foot fall, a weasel funeral and a tax on gramophones

IRISH TIMES ODDITIES: A selection of unusual articles from the Irish Times archives.

IRISH TIMES ODDITIES:A selection of unusual articles from the Irish Timesarchives.


A young Yugoslav stewardess who fell 31,000 feet from an exploding airliner headed yesterday towards recovery – and a place in the record books. Miss Vesna Vulovic (22), is “feeling better” and there is every likelihood that she will live, the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said. No one has ever fallen that far without a parachute and survived. The Guinness Book of Records lists the previous record as 22,000 feet, set in 1942 by a Russian pilot named Lieutenant IM Chissov.

The Yugoslav Communist Party newspaper, Borba, said that Miss Vulovic was caught in the tail section of the plane after the explosion. The section fell into a snowbank, which apparently cushioned the fall. But the agency said that Miss Vulovic may not be able to help investigators who are probing the explosion of the Yugoslav airlines DC9 which killed 22 passengers and five of her fellow crew members. “The hostess does not remember the explosion in the plane or even the flight she was on,” it said.


Yugoslav sources have said that they suspect that a band of Croatian nationalists, the Ustachi, planted a bomb on the airliner, which exploded over north-western Czechoslovakia last Wednesday.

Miss Vulovic has been in a hospital at Ceske Kamenice, Czechoslovakia since then with injuries to the head, spine and kidney and with broken arms and legs. But she has emerged from her coma, Tanjug said, is able to speak and read and is chatting in English with her doctors.

February 2nd, 1972


I believe that naturalists scorn the story, but the legend of the weasel’s funeral is very persistent throughout the country, and I have heard recently, through an unimpeachable clerical source, of a professional man in Co Mayo who actually witnessed this strange ceremony. The observer was driving from Balla to Claremorris when he noticed what he thought was a monster snake crossing the road. He slowed speed, and, on approaching the “object” found that it was a procession of weasels. In front were four, carrying the body, and behind them came nearly 100 other weasels, two by two. When the “mourners” had crossed the road, climbed a fence, and entered a field, the car-driver followed them, but left when some of them turned and began to spit at him. This story is quite well authenticated.

Can anybody else tell me why the story is associated only with weasels, and never with squirrels, or hedgehogs, or any other specimens of ingenious wildlife – QUIDNUNC

February 13th, 1952


The village of Oberstein, in Germany, exercising its right to levy an amusements tax, has decided to impose a tax on gramophones, says Reuters.

February 20th , 1950


Jack O’Leary, 24-year-old clerk, of Glendale, California, has been hiccoughing for 19 months on an average of one hiccough a second.

January 16th, 1928


Dogs at the animal shelter in Knoxville, Tennessee have a special treat in store for Thanksgiving Day – people biscuits.

The biscuits have been made to look like people that dogs traditionally like to bite – postmen, milkmen and policemen.

November 27th, 1968