Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A miscreant who attempted to rip off the home of a dead man paid for the crime with his life when the shock of being kicked by the "corpse" was enough to bring on a fatal heart attack.
Origins: Shades of Scrooge and the bedcurtains, here's a tale to warm the cockles of any heart that has ever wondered how people would react to its passing.
[Collected on the Internet, 1993]In addition to the above version, which came from a much-forwarded article titled "Bad Days" ("If you ever think you're having a bad day, well think
Hitting on the novel idea that he could end his wife's incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself. When his wife came home and saw him, she fainted. Hearing a disturbance, a neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the outraged and suspended
You wouldn't think this could happen to two different fellas, now would you?
Told as an urban myth in a 1994 paper, the story's small details blurred yet again. Now the neighbor was said to be both male and elderly. Still died of a heart attack though.
It's interesting to note that the nationality of the man faking his own hanging is invariably given as Hungarian. Makes one wonder if there might not be a real story behind all this after all. Then again, it could be but a play on words.
Barbara "hung Gary, Jan!" Mikkelson
Last updated: 21 February 2009
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