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LucidElement

Strange Case of Rudolph Fentz

46 posts in this topic

The story:

In 1950, a man with mutton chop sideburns and Victorian-era duds popped up in Times Square. Witnesses said he looked startled, and then a minute later, he was hit by a car and killed.

The officials at the morgue searched his body and found the following items in his pockets:

  • A copper token for a beer worth 5 cents, bearing the name of a saloon, which was unknown, even to older residents of the area
  • A bill for the care of a horse and the washing of a carriage, drawn by a livery stable on Lexington Avenue that was not listed in any address book
  • About 70 dollars in old banknotes
  • Business cards with the name Rudolph Fentz and an address on Fifth Avenue
  • A letter sent to this address, in June 1876 from Philadelphia

None of these objects showed any signs of aging.

Captain Hubert V. Rihm of the Missing Persons Department of NYPD tried using this information to identify the man. He found that the address on Fifth Avenue was part of a business; its current owner did not know Rudolph Fentz. Fentz’s name was not listed in the address book, his fingerprints were not recorded anywhere, and no one had reported him missing.

Rihm continued the investigation and finally found a Rudolph Fentz Jr. in a telephone book of 1939. Rihm spoke to the residents of the apartment building at the listed address who remembered Fentz and described him as a man about 60 years who had worked nearby. After his retirement, he moved to an unknown location in 1940.

Contacting the bank, Rihm was told that Fentz died five years before, but his widow was still alive but lived in Florida. Rihm contacted her and learned that her husband’s father had disappeared in 1876 aged 29. He had left the house for an evening walk and never returned

The facts:

The story was published a number of times in the 70′s and 80′s as fact, until 2000, after the Spanish magazine ‘Más Allá’ published a representation of the events as a factual report, folklore researcher Chris Aubeck investigated the description to check the veracity. His research led to the conclusion that the people and events of the story invented all were fictional, although he could not find the original source.

Pastor George Murphy claimed in 2002 that the original source was from either a 1952 Robert Heinlein science fiction anthology, entitled ‘Tomorrow, The Stars’ or the Collier’s magazine from 15 September 1951. The true author was the renowned science fiction writer Jack Finney (1911–1995), and the Fentz episode was part of the short story I’m Scared, which was published in Collier’s first. This meant that the fictional character and the source of the story were finally identified – so everyone thought. No copies of the story have ever been found, and Finney died before he could be questioned.

The Twist

in 2007 a researcher working for the then Berlin News Archive, found a newspaper story in the archives from April 1951 reporting the story almost as it reported today. This newspaper archive was printed some 5 months before the short story sourced as the origin. Whats even odder, a number of researchers have claimed to have found evidence of the real Rudolph Fentz, and proof of his disappearance aged 29 in 1876.

LINK::: http://coolinterestingstuff.com/the-strange-case-of-rudolph-fentz

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There've been reports of strange disappearances and subsequent reapparances for a long time.

The one that leaps to mind is from South East Asia, a guard in Malasyia (IIRC) appeared in the capital city shouting about how his city was being attacked, noone believed him and he was locked up for desertion. A week or so later it turns out his city HAD been attacked. It was miles away on another island.

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Posted (edited)

...if you're studying history at university with the hopes of being a historian (or even being a really good history student), you're might want to develop a slightly more critical eye for reviewing sources. As in, this story presents none.

--Jaylemurph

Edited by jaylemurph
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I would like to add that, even if it could be shown there was a Rudolph Fentz who went missing in 1876 that fact would not validate the story of the re-emergence of the person in 1950.

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Based on a work of fiction:

Rudolph Fentz (also spelt as Rudolf Fenz) is the focal character of "I'm Scared", a 1951 science-fiction short story by Jack Finney, which was later reported as an urban legend as if the events had truly happened. The story tells of a man wearing 19th century clothes being hit by a car and killed in New York City in 1950. A subsequent investigation reveals that the man had disappeared without trace in 1876, and the items in his possession appear to reveal that the man had travelled through time from 1876 to 1950 directly.

The story of Rudolph Fentz became one of the more significant urban legends of the 1970s and has been repeated occasionally since; with the spread of the Internet in the 1990s, it has been reported more often as a reproduction of facts and presented as evidence for the existence of (involuntary) time travel.

There's this thing called "Google," see...

Harte

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There've been reports of strange disappearances and subsequent reapparances for a long time.

The one that leaps to mind is from South East Asia, a guard in Malasyia (IIRC) appeared in the capital city shouting about how his city was being attacked, noone believed him and he was locked up for desertion. A week or so later it turns out his city HAD been attacked. It was miles away on another island.

You're talking about Gil Perez, and the story's a bit more complicated than that.

http://rumorfriends.blogspot.com/2012/02/gil-perez-teleportation-case-of.html

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Based on a work of fiction:

There's this thing called "Google," see...

Harte

There's also this thing called "Reading," see...

(from OP)

Pastor George Murphy claimed in 2002 that the original source was from either a 1952 Robert Heinlein science fiction anthology, entitled ‘Tomorrow, The Stars’ or the Collier’s magazine from 15 September 1951. The true author was the renowned science fiction writer Jack Finney (1911–1995), and the Fentz episode was part of the short story I’m Scared, which was published in Collier’s first. This meant that the fictional character and the source of the story were finally identified – so everyone thought. No copies of the story have ever been found, and Finney died before he could be questioned.

The Twist

in 2007 a researcher working for the then Berlin News Archive, found a newspaper story in the archives from April 1951 reporting the story almost as it reported today. This newspaper archive was printed some 5 months before the short story sourced as the origin. Whats even odder, a number of researchers have claimed to have found evidence of the real Rudolph Fentz, and proof of his disappearance aged 29 in 1876.

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Pastor George Murphy claimed in 2002 that the original source was from either a 1952 Robert Heinlein science fiction anthology, entitled ‘Tomorrow, The Stars’ or the Collier’s magazine from 15 September 1951. The true author was the renowned science fiction writer Jack Finney (1911–1995), and the Fentz episode was part of the short story I’m Scared, which was published in Collier’s first. This meant that the fictional character and the source of the story were finally identified – so everyone thought. No copies of the story have ever been found, and Finney died before he could be questioned.

I have just a leetle trouble with the complete disappearance of an issue of Collier's: it was a widely circulated magazine at the time. Have all the doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms been checked?

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I have just a leetle trouble with the complete disappearance of an issue of Collier's: it was a widely circulated magazine at the time. Have all the doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms been checked?

Took just a few minutes to find the full issue, complete with Rudolph Fentz (p. 80), online:

http://www.unz.org/Pub/Colliers-1951sep15?View=PDF

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So we have the sci-fi story.

Where's the Berlin News Archive story?

This is a load of crap, obviously.

Harte

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Took just a few minutes to find the full issue, complete with Rudolph Fentz (p. 80), online:

http://www.unz.org/P...1sep15?View=PDF

Well done.

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So we have the sci-fi story.

Where's the Berlin News Archive story?

This is a load of crap, obviously.

Harte

...The "Berlin New Archive" does not appear to even exist. Hence my first post. :)

--Jaylemurph

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What is the Berlin news archive?

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What is the Berlin news archive?

In 1950? It was probably rubble....

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...The "Berlin New Archive" does not appear to even exist. Hence my first post. :)

--Jaylemurph

You are correct, we do not have an agency here named "Berlin News Archive" and we do not have a newspaper here named

"Berlin News" or "Berliner News".

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For a person that apparently studies history in college, LucidElement has a strange aversion to doing research himself. :no:

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For a person that apparently studies history in college, LucidElement has a strange aversion to doing research himself. :no:

Might be resulted by the fact that research isn`t a discipline that gets teached on Creation Colleges.

(Hahaha!)

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Might be resulted by the fact that research isn`t a discipline that gets teached on Creation Colleges.

(Hahaha!)

Thats not quite true toast, they do teach history in Creation College, its just that they use only one reference book. :tsu:

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It seems the story began as a short scifi story and has morphed into urban legend.

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Might be resulted by the fact that research isn`t a discipline that gets teached on Creation Colleges.

(Hahaha!)

I /really/ want to make a joke about credulity being the pinnacle of Creationist education, but ultimately that sort of horse manure parading around as academic education just isn't funny.

--Jaylemurph

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For a person that apparently studies history in college, LucidElement has a strange aversion to doing research himself. :no:

I saw the stories on gooogle about how it was said to be a hoax, i just figured itd be interesting to see what you all thought about it..

Might be resulted by the fact that research isn`t a discipline that gets teached on Creation Colleges.

(Hahaha!)

"gets teached"?

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Urban legend or not, the principle seemed interesting. its tough to argue and have good convos now that this site has been made up off many many skeptics who dont think outside of the box. Way to many interesting historical phenomenons as well as unexplained ancient structures to be so closed minded.

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Urban legend or not, the principle seemed interesting. its tough to argue and have good convos now that this site has been made up off many many skeptics who dont think outside of the box. Way to many interesting historical phenomenons as well as unexplained ancient structures to be so closed minded.

The issue here seems to be the demonstrable inability to separate "thinking outside the box" and "believing any old toss someone throws out onto the internet". Demanding actual citation when citations are presented as a key factor in credibilty isn't closed-mindedness, it's being rational and thorough, two of the chief requirements for historians. Thinking out of the box in no way constitutes /not/ thinking at all...

...and if you're going to attack the English of someone who's not a native speaker, you open yourself up to similar cavilling: the plural of phenomenon is not "phenonemons". It's phonomena. :)

--Jaylemurph

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Urban legend or not, the principle seemed interesting. its tough to argue and have good convos now that this site has been made up off many many skeptics who dont think outside of the box. Way to many interesting historical phenomenons as well as unexplained ancient structures to be so closed minded.

Closed minded skeptics and their research. The fun that could be had with gullibility.
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Posted (edited)

Great little tale! Would be cool if it were true but alas like most of these incidents, they are connected to local myth or urban legend, generated as in this case it seems from short story. But as a History undergraduate myself, yes research is very important :yes:

Edited by Silent Trinity
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