Back in the day, I guess there wasn’t a whole lot to do for fun. Or at least there wasn’t a whole lot that could safely be done – theme parks weren’t a thing, the Internet and television weren’t even a glint in anyone’s imagination, and travel was basically limited to where you could drive (or, if you were rich, go on a boat that would probably sink and kill you).
What followed was that our ancestors likely took some pretty dangerous holidays – perhaps without even realizing how people a couple hundred years in the future would see things differently. I’m sure it also has something to do with the fact that we have a lot more rules, regulations, and government branches designated to making sure the human population doesn’t dwindle to zero due to pure stupidity.
It’s a big job, to be sure.
But before all of this beautiful mess we’ve created, our people had to wing it. And wing it, they did.
People who stumbled across people like Robert Harrill – later known as the Fort Fisher Hermit – told their friends how awesome it was to sit and chat with a real-life hermit. And then more people came. Seriously.
For his part, Harrill was a man who had a rough go of things before settling in his abandoned wartime bunker in North Carolina, and though he might have been interesting, he probably would have preferred being alone. Because why else does one choose to live alone in the middle of nowhere?
He did get over it when people kept coming to the tune of 10,000 a yea, and made a decent living off the change they left after listening to his sermons on the hard lessons life had taught him.
Yeah, yeah, some of you have been to Yellowstone, too, but not when it offered a “bear lunch counter,” like it did in 1919. It was a raised bear feeding platform accompanied by nearby bleachers for spectators and yeah, it’s about as dangerous as it sounds.
A ranger rode a horse-drawn cart out onto the feeding platform and gave a lecture while a swarm (literally) of bears showed up for their free lunch. VIPs could even pay extra to be up on the platform and feed the bears (by hand) themselves.
The bears did eventually start attacking people for food and the program was phased out. If only humans had learned their lesson when it comes to bears in Yellowstone.
Residents of San Fransisco’s Chinatown figured out a way to make a quick buck during the Great Depression – they played up racial stereotypes for white tourists in everything from added “oriental features” to fake opium dens and “captured” white women.
New York’s Chinatown got wind and followed suit, and residents there staged events like knife fights between “opium-crazed men” while actual tour guides warned their parties to stay close lest they end up in cages of their own.
I’m adding this as a place on my time-travel todo list.
In the 50s and 60s, people in the Pacific Northwest used to wrestle octopi. On purpose. If you’re picturing man vs. octopus in some kind of cage fight, though, think again – it was basically divers who competed to see who could find the biggest octopus and drag it back to the surface.