October 24th in nerd history: The cost of a house 60 years ago

Happy National Bologna Day! Today we celebrate this hard-working, finely ground, doesn't-sound-the-way-it's-spelled sausage/lunch meat. Not only is it tasty in a sandwich or fried up in a pan, but it also became a word for things that are fake and/or lame (usually spelled "baloney" in those cases).

My bologna has a first name, and it's Awesome.

This is The Reset Button from Classic Nerd, resetting your day.

October 24 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on October 24th for those of us who just close our eyes during the scary parts.


Birthdays of honor: Kevin Kline (1947), The Big Bopper (1930), Bob Kane (1915), Drake (1986), Jeff Mangum (1970).


Today in 1926, the poster child for magic and escapology, Harry Houdini, performed what would be his last show in Detroit, Michigan.

Public Domain

It's said that before he took the stage, he already had a fever of 102°, but went on with the performance anyways. At some point during the first act, he collapsed — yet he still ended up finishing the show.

He was rushed to the hospital afterward and found to be suffering from appendicitis. Even though his appendix was removed, his body had already been poisoned, and he died a few days later, on Halloween night of 1926.

Some have attributed his death to being punched in the stomach a few days earlier as a test of his fortitude. Normally, Houdini would have been able to prepare himself for something like that and easily taken the hits, but he had been reclining on a couch at the time and was unprepared for the blows. Whether there's an actual connection there is up to the stuff of legend.

But Houdini's feats still live on, and for good reason. He pushed the entire field of magic forward, yet my favorite act was when he would challenge people to come up with crazy things for him to escape from — which included packing crates, mail bags, a barrel full of freshly brewed beer, and the belly of a whale.

And thanks to him, whenever your dog gets out of the yard you can say, "Boy, he's a regular ol' Houdini!"


Today is the day either society started to crumble or the music industry started to get fixed, depending on which camp you're in — in 2006, Taylor Swift's debut, self-titled album was released.

At just 16 years old, Swift was credited as a songwriter on every single track. The country-pop songs were written mostly during her freshman year of high school.

Her first stroke of marketing genius was to promote the album on Myspace — and apparently it worked, with the record charting 24 weeks atop the Top Country Albums chart, hitting number 5 on the Billboard Hot 200, and going 7 times platinum.

We hear she's still doing pretty well these days.


Clichés have to start somewhere, and today in 1901 one got started when the first person to survive a fall over Niagra Falls in a barrel took the plunge.

And, naturally, the feat was accomplished by a 63-year-old teacher, Annie Edson Taylor. Wait, what?

Black and white photo of Annie Edson Taylor standing next to a human-sized barrel
Public Domain

Taylor was strapped for cash, and after having learned about the growing popularity of the waterfall, hoped the stunt would bring her fame and fortune. Taking the tumble on her birthday, she chose a pickle barrel lined with cushions, roughly five feet high and three feet around.

After a violent trip, she made it to the shore alive but battered. Some press followed, but it was fleeting, and Taylor never achieved the fame she sought. She did, however, inspire more than a dozen copycats, 10 of which also survived.


If you were buying a house in 1963, 60 years ago, you would have done pretty damn well for yourself. The median price for a modest home was just $18,000.