Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Rack


Two simple words - the rack.  For some, these words may bring about happy thoughts of shopping in a very popular department store chain.  Other people may snicker while thoughts of female anatomy run through their heads.  But for me, these two words instill sadness and fear.  Want to know why?

"The rack" conjures mental images of a medieval torture device that was commonly used to force people to confess to wrong-doing, or to give up information.  It was a form of torture that was meant to be a last-ditch type of option.  In other words, "milder" methods of torture were supposed to be used before the rack would be considered.  Personally, I would really hope to not have an over-zealous torturer! 

The rack was a piece of equipment, generally made of wood, where its victim would be bound by the wrists at one end and by the ankles at the other end.  A crank or wheel would then be maneuvered, resulting in the tightening of the ropes.  There was a possibility of loud popping noises because ligaments and other internal things could be snapped.  Sometimes the device would be cranked too much (whether intentionally or not), and the victim would be rendered paralyzed as a result of dislocation, or possible separation of a limb. 

Needless to say, this form of torture was excruciatingly painful on its own.  However, often times other methods of torture were applied while the rack's victim was stretched. People would often be burnt, pinched, or have their finger and toe nails ripped off as well. 

Though I haven't come across it in my research, it is to my understanding that the rack is no longer used - anywhere.  However, in the height of its time, variations of this device were used throughout Europe.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Robert the Doll

Do you remember the 1988 movie Child's Play, which spawned many sequels?  Well, believe it or not, there's some truth to that story.

In Key West, in the year 1906, a man said to have been trained in black magic and voodoo gave a doll to a little boy.  The magical man was angry with the boy's family, but he gave the boy a "gift" anyway.  The doll he gave to the boy resembles a 20th century Naval officer.  At first, the boy's parents thought it was cute that their son would talk to his little companion and then speak in a different voice for the answer.  It soon became evident that the boy was not throwing his voice, but the toy was actually talking back!  Some other things Robert the Doll has been said to do are facial movements and knocking furniture over.  The little boy eventually grew up and when he passed away in 1974, Robert the Doll was shoved to the attic.  When a new family moved in, a ten-year-old little girl became the proud new owner of the forgotten toy.  Strange occurrences began to happen again.  It's been over thirty years, and she still holds to the story she told in childhood - the doll wanted to kill her.

As I've never had the chance to visit Key West, I've not had the opportunity to see Robert the Doll for myself.  However, I do remember watching the movie that his story inspired.  I was a little girl then, but it still became one of my favorites.  I liked the second movie too, possibly more than the first.  Even as I sit here and type this, I have a smile on my face just thinking how that second movie was set at a military school, and I am now a military wife.  Just a little strange coincidence, but I digress.  Anyway, by the third movie, I thought the plot had become a little tired.  Would Chucky and his murderous ways ever be stopped?  I watched others after that, I think just because I loved those first two movies so much.  What drew my macabre little mind to enjoy them so much, I do not know.  Maybe I'll have to re-watch them to figure it out.  It's been years!

If you'd like to learn more about Robert the Doll, you can check out the museum's website at There, you will find tales of how Robert's story was taught in a classroom, how he possesses an aura, and other blogs about him.