The Random Time Machine
|Fiction over fact|
|How it didn't happen|
“”"All Aboard "The Random Time Machine" for weekly journeys into yesterday - some of the strangest, most mysterious true stories that have ever occurred. An eerie side of history you may have never heard of before!"
The Random Time Machine was a syndicated newspaper article series (c 1974 - June 28, 1981) by "Doane R. Hoag" which is used as the name of a Hollywood film writer August 25, 1908 to June 28, 2008 and produced scripts for The Lone Ranger TV shows with their last film credit being the 1958 The Hideous Sun Demon. It is unclear if this was an actual person or a pseudonym like Alan Smithee.
The articles would take the current date as a launching point for a (supposedly) true story. It would switch back and forth between Thursday to Sunday before finally staying with Sunday.
Much of the time it was effectively a paper version of One Step Beyond… and it was not above taking dramatic liberties with its stories (though it stayed close enough you could cross reference material) and some of the articles were little more than historical pieces made dramatic. Occasionally an article was built around a theme rather than an event, person, place, or object.
- "Ship Never Overcame Curse" (January 28, 1858) - The curse of The Great Eastern.
- "The Ancient Curse of the Pharaoh" (February 17, 1922) - The curse of King Tut.
- "UFO Mystery Still With Us" (February 27, 1893) - one of the few online examples of The Random Time Machine
- "The Count Who Claimed He was 2,000 Years Old" (March 2, 1789) — Count of St. Germain — conman or true immortal? In Search of... had a similar piece.
- "He Played the Role Well But He could not take a Bow" (March 16, 1939) — Marcel Desage, rejected by his country due to him being a pathological liar, uses his acting skills to pose as German officers and hinder the Nazis as much as he can. The piece ends implying that he died blowing up a fuel dump in 1942 as an intelligence report talks about a German officer found with a theatrical copy of the Croix de Guerre with Palms in his hand.
- "The Last Flight of the Red Baron" (April 12, 1918) — straight historical piece that ends with telling the reader that the Red Baron was only 26 years old.
- "Did Pinta's Pilot Guide Ship Held in Storm Peril?" (April 22, 1895) — Was the Pilot Joshua Slocum saw on his ship Spray more than a delirium? Slocum is more famous to modern people for his Bermuda Triangle connection.
- "Failure Was Their Key to Success" (April 27, 1822) — the failures and later successes of Ulysses S. Grant, Richard Wagner, Col. Harland Sanders, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln. The article claims that at 40 Lincoln was so despondent that he wouldn't carry a sharp penknife for fear he'd kill himself.
- "Prophesy Proves True For Germany" (April 30, 1945) — The date is used as a lead in to a prophecy it claims was made by Saint Odelia in 750 CE and says she was born in 680 CE; Odile of Alsace is thought to have died c 720. As the article itself says at the end "Make of it what you will!".
- "Grave Prompts Mystery of French Hero's Death" (May 6, 1821) — was it really Napoleon that died on Saint Helena or a double? More over, did Napoleon actually die on September 5, 1823 shot by a guard when he refused to stop when a guard ordered him to?
- "Captain Kidd Wasn't Kidding (May 26, 1795) — Despite the title this involves the Oak Island money pit rather than anything definitively connected to Captain Kidd.
- "Unlikely Killer: Dangerous Only While Sleepwalking" (June 25, 1887) — The strange case of Robert Le Dru though the article implies he would go back to jail come nightfall until 1937 when he dies… in his sleep rather than the 24-hour watch he was actually under.
- "The Fatal Red Car" (June 28, 1914) — The red touring car Archduke Francis Ferdinand seemed to be cursed killing its last driver, Hirshchfield, before being reclaimed by the Austrian government and put into a museum. This was the last article of The Random Time Machine series.
- "Was the First A-Blast On the Tunguska River?" (June 29, 1908) — The somewhat popular atomic powered space craft blows up theory for the Tunguska Event.
- "Old-Timers Take Chance On Destiny's Last Last Voyage" (July 7, 1936) — John Myers Dow's ship leaves New York eventually reaching its destination with only Dow onboard… who had died two weeks previously.
- "One of Histories Most Beautiful — And Deadly" (July 15, 1676) - Madame de Brinvilliers awaits execution in the Bastille. The article claims poison was found in her home when it was searched.
- "Bordon Ax Slayings Shocked Fall River" (August 5, 1892) — The Lizzy Bordon ax murders
- "The Queen with a Heart of Ice" (August 3, 1730) — theme piece about how ruthless kings and queens could be; Anna Ivanovna, King Louis XVI of France, Philip II of Spain, and King Louis XIV of France.
- "Ocean Current Point Courses of Icy Ghost Ships" (September 9, 1929) - Three strange cases of the sea including the Octavius
- "Escape, Finally, from Devil's Island" (October 26, 1913) — the tale of Eugène Dieudonné who some 14 years after escaping finds out, in 1927, he was pardoned 7 years previously.
- "Bermuda Triangle Keeps 'Em Guessing (December 4, 1949). A theme article using the Minerva leaving port as it starting point (it was found without crew). The usual suspects are here: Cyclops, Flight 19, as well as the Columbus tie in.
- "A Day of War, A Day Infamy" (December 7, 1941) — a straightforward account of the Attack of Pearl Harbor that ends with reference to the ad for The Deadly Doublecross game with the comment of "We couldn't say we hadn't been warned. But by whom, we never did find out!"
While the articles themselves were well written, the Random Time Machine tended to jump the track when it came to the supernatural or strange. In some cases you have to wonder if some of the accounts are simply legends created after the fact.
- 286 articles on newspapers.com (Most are from The Atlanta Constitution) There is a 7 day free trial but after that you have to pay to get access.