Days Gone By - stories from the past

Spectacular newsreel of a woman being blown out of a cardboard casket with dynamite & pilot crashing plane in Birmingham

Extreme sports are not new.  There were many stuntmen, often called ‘death dodgers’ that put on shows at state fairs throughout the country in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 50s. Check out these amazing newsreels of events that took place in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1900s of Helen Howell, the Dynamite Lady, and Blaine, a Pilot who intentionally crashed a plane into the ground.

 

The Dynamite Lady ca. 1948

Helen Howell was part of the daredevil group Jimmy Lynch & The Death Dodgers who traveled the country throughout the 1930s, 40s and ‘50s, performing spectacular stunts. According to the Reading Eagle Newspaper of Sept 4, 1941, Jimmy Lynch had been an automobile salesman at Texarkana in 1931 before embarking on his thrill seeking career. At that time, an automobile manufacturer had just developed a machine with an automatic clutch and during a demonstration of the car one day, Lynch left the car in gear, stepped to the front, and removed the hood. Then he pushed on the accelerator, and presto, the car almost jumped through a plate glass window.

After this event, Lynch came up with the idea that if a hydraulic cylinder could operate the clutch, there was no reason it would not operate a brake. After weeks of experiments, he developed a gadget which would automatically stop the car when the foot was removed from the accelerator. With the development of the device, Lynch placed a saddle on the hood, ran some “reins” to the steering mechanism, mounted the mystery “horse car” and rode forth to fame. He demonstrated the so-called horse car for years, and then became interested in death-defying stunts. Eventually, others joined him in the group and the ‘Death-defying’ Group appeared at fairs around the country.

Pilot risked death by intentionally crashing his airplane.

I wonder what happened to these two people.

Bestselling novel FreeHearts: 2nd edition A Novel of Colonial America Col. John Washington (ancestor of President George Washington), Randall Revell, Tom Cottingham, Edmund Beauchamp ward off Indian attacks and conquer the wilds of Maryland’s Eastern shore in 17th century colonial America in this historical novel, inspired by true events.

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3 comments

  1. It looks like the woman casket explosion took place at Legion Field. It was under constuction to add more seats. The lower wall is there and the wall behind the field. Stop the video and look in the back ground. Very interesting shot, worh the look.

  2. I saw a guy named Gene the human bomb climb into a coffin just like that one at Dixie Speedway in Midfield Al and blow himself up just as the lady did. It must have been late fifties or early sixties.