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Did a goat really explode in 1938?

June 17, 2008 | 11:56 am

We couldn't make these up, though we wonder if someone did. One involves an unlucky horse with a wooden leg, the other a combustible goat.

The stories were published in The Times generations ago. Times blogger Larry Harnisch stumbled across these two oddities while compiling The Daily Mirror, his immensely readable blog on Los Angeles' past. On June 8, 1938, we ran this Associated Press story out of Carlinville, Ill., under the headline "Gasoline Drinking Goat Blows Up":

Nanny drank a pan of gasoline and then exploded.

That's the story of Arnold Garlo and Melvin Miller, tenant farmers, as they explained the fate of their pet goat.

Garlo and Miller were cleaning some farm implements today with gasoline. The goat got nosy and drank the contents of a dishpan. Presently one of the men lighted his pipe and tossed the match to the ground. Nanny sniffed. Her whiskers ignited. Blooie. Nanny doesn't live there any more.

Journalism standards were, well, different back in the 1930s, so we have our doubts about this one. We also wonder about another flammable tale, this one involving the pegleg horse. Read on for that one.

This next story ran on Aug. 18, 1908, as a "exclusive dispatch" from Chicago under the headline "Horse Injured, Asks Big Sum":

Jake Diamond, a vegetable peddler of Hammond, who was known to every resident of the suburb because he drove a horse with a wooden leg, has filed suit in Superior Court of Hammond in which he seeks to recover $10,000 in damages from the owner of the automobile. The automobile recently crashed into the horse, breaking its wooden leg. Jake thinks $10,000 will about cover the damage sustained.

On one occasion the horse's wooden leg caught fire and the Fire Department was called to extinguish the blaze. The animal stopped too close to a pile of rubbish.

"It's not that I can't get a new wooden leg," explains Jake, "but think of the humiliation to the horse. That mare is a swell and a gentle soul."

Animal stories are a staple of journalism, but it's safe to say they don't write them like that anymore. No word on whether Jake prevailed in his suit.

-- Steve Padilla

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