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6 Forgotten Places, Rediscovered

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Imgur

Visiting these rooms, businesses, and homes is like traveling back in time.

1. The Old Operating Theatre

Wikimedia Commons

In 1822, there was no surgical anesthesia. Operations were performed quick and dirty right in a wealthy person’s home or, for poorer patients, in a hospital ward. The distress of hearing a patient suffer through a surgery might have been what caused the Woman’s Dorcas Ward at London’s St. Thomas Hospital to build a small surgical theatre, carving it into the attic of an adjoining church. The theatre allowed student surgeons and apothecaries to view procedures, and allowed patients who might not otherwise be able to afford the surgeries to get them, in exchange for their privacy. In 1862, the hospital changed locations, and the operating theatre was partially dismantled and bricked up. Its special skylight, all important to illuminate the procedures being performed for the observing students, was covered in slate. The only way to access the attic surgery was through an opening in a wall, 15 feet above the floor. If you did get in, you would find yourself in a completely dark room with missing floorboards. In 1957, a man named Raymond Russell ventured into the darkness and found enough fascinating remains of the theatre to warrant a restoration. In 1962, the operating theatre was meticulously restored and opened as The Old Operating Theatre Museum

2. Posters in the Underground

Disused passageway with vintage 1959 posters, Notting Hill Gate tube station, London, 2010

In 2010, the London Underground began upgrading their Notting Hill Gate station. In the process of the renovation, workers uncovered a  section of tunnel that had been sealed up since the mid 1950s. The area had serviced people taking the elevator to the Tube, which was replaced with escalators in 1959.  The walls of this station were lined with a museum’s worth of advertisements and movie posters dating from between 1956 and 1959, left just as they were when the area was closed 50 years ago. The unusual part of this discovery is that the London Underground will be sealing the tunnel, and the posters, right back up again. The area will be untampered with, and completely off limits to civilians.  

3. Fulling Mill Cottage

British Listed Buildings

This thatched roof English cottage was likely quite a stately home when it was built in the 1400s. Its acreage was no doubt well farmed, and there is evidence in the traces of the stream that runs near it that it once supported a cloth mill. By 1870, the Saigeman family came to own The Fulling Mill Cottage, as it was now known. In 2010, the last surviving member of that family, Fred Saigeman, died. The cat charity that Saigeman left his home (and his 82 feral cats) to were shocked by the time warp they discovered within its crumbling walls. 

“He just lived a basic life, with one cold tap in the scullery and the occasional bare light bulb to see by. He chopped wood to light fires and cooked his meals in an old cauldron over the flames. He slept on a mattress on the floor and bathed in a tin bath in front of the fire,” a domestic life likely less comfortable, but otherwise similar to the cottage’s original inhabitants. Cat Welfare Sussex has undertaken to restore the severely dilapidated but priceless historic home.

4. Mr. Straw’s House

Mr Straw's House

William Straw was a successful grocer at the start of the 20th century. He and his wife bought a new home in 1923 Worksop, England. They decorated it attractively in the fashion of the time, and set about raising their two sons there. In 1932, William suddenly died. His family decided, though they continued to live there, to leave the home he once shared with them exactly as he left it, or as close as possible. The cupboards were still filled with the cans and jars of long extinct companies, and Mr. Straw’s coats, hats and shoes remained lined up in the hallway. Mrs. Straw died in 1938, and her two sons, independently wealthy, lived the rest of their lives in the house, changing nearly nothing. They died without heirs and left the house to the National Trust, who discovered a treasure frozen in time. Read more here.

5. First Class Shoe Store

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Earlier this year, Redditor Oktober75 posted to the r/pics sub-reddit something his family had discovered in a building they owned: an old shoe store, closed down in the 1960s, still fully stocked. Despite Oktober75’s insistence that the rubber and leather of the shoes were brittle and dry to the point of being unwearable, he was inundated with requests to  purchase some of his family’s bounty. The astounding Imgur threads for the fantastic footwear finds are here and here.

6. Lambrecht Chevrolet

MessyNessyChic

Ray and Mildred Lambrecht are in their 90s now, but they sold cars from their Chevy dealership in Pierce, Nebraska for 50 years. They closed their dealership in the late 1990s, and never liquidated their unsold stock. Instead, they accumulated around 500 Chevrolets over those 50 years, most stored away from the elements in a warehouse. Though some were trade-ins, many of the cars are still showroom-new aside from some dust and five or ten miles on the odometer. The Lambrechts put their collection of 1950s and '60s Impalas, TRi-Fives, Chevelles, and countless others up for auction in September of this year. The true classic car lover might enjoy an exploration of the Lambrecht’s untouched collection in this video.  

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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NASA // Public Domain
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History
On This Day in 1983, Sally Ride Made History
NASA // Public Domain
NASA // Public Domain

Thirty-five years ago today, on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She flew on the space shuttle Challenger on a six-day mission. She had previously helped build the shuttle's robot arm, and now she operated it in space. Not only was she the first American woman to go to space, she was the youngest astronaut in space, at age 32.

(As with many space-related firsts, that "American" qualifier is important. The Soviet space program had sent two women cosmonauts into space well in advance of Ride. Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew all the way back in 1963, and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982. They also sent various younger people to space, including Tereshkova.)

Ride represented a change in the previously completely male astronaut program. Although NASA had unofficially tested women in the late 1950s as part of the Mercury program, the idea of sending women into space was quickly discarded. NASA policy for decades was that only men would be considered as astronauts. It took until 1978 for NASA to change the policy—that year, six women became astronauts: Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, Kathryn Sullivan, Anna Fisher, Margaret Rhea Seddon, and Shannon Lucid.

Ride and her colleagues were subject to an endless barrage of sexist media questions, curious how women might fare in space. They also encountered institutional sexism at NASA itself. Ride recalled:

"The engineers at NASA, in their infinite wisdom, decided that women astronauts would want makeup—so they designed a makeup kit. A makeup kit brought to you by NASA engineers. ... You can just imagine the discussions amongst the predominantly male engineers about what should go in a makeup kit."

Ride held a Ph.D. in astrophysics, two bachelor's degrees (English and physics), and had served as CapCom (Capsule Communicator) for the second and third shuttle flights, STS-2 and -3. She was an accomplished pilot and athlete, as well as a Presbyterian elder. She was closely connected to Challenger, performing two missions on it and losing four fellow members of her 1978 class when it exploded.

After her astronaut career concluded, Ride served on both the Challenger and Columbia disaster review panels. During the former, she leaked vital information about the Challenger disaster (o-ring engineering reports), though this wasn't broadly known until after her death. She wrote educational books and founded Sally Ride Science. She was asked to head up NASA by the Clinton administration, but declined.

Ride died in 2012 from pancreatic cancer. Her obituary made news for quietly mentioning that she was survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy. Although Ride had come out to her family and close friends, the obituary was the first public statement that she was gay. It was also the first time most people found out she'd suffered from pancreatic cancer at all; she asked that donations in her memory be made to a fund devoted to studying that form of cancer.

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