We've worked long and hard here at Cracked to make it clear that the past was badass. All you have to do is sift through old-timey photos, and you quickly realize that people back then possessed neither sanity nor a sense of self-preservation. Trust us, the explanation behind these seemingly inexplicable photos tends to make them even more baffling.
#18. "Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Him. We Have the Technology ..."
So ... what can that be other than two Nazi scientists doing repairs on a robot super-soldier?
Actually, this 1964 pic from Popular Science depicts the wizards/Nazi scientists at Walt Disney Studios building an automated caveman for the 1964 New York World's Fair. See? That's not horrifying at all.
Walt Disney was quick to calm the world's fears about his horrifying creations, reminding everyone that only he knew "the killing code."
#17. A Bicycle Built for ... Two
This 1890s photo is of the legendary "Armless Wonder" Charles B. Tripp of Woodstock, Canada, who was born without arms yet enjoyed a fantastic career in the furniture business. Next to him sits Eli Bowen of Ohio, who if you look closely was born without legs but does enjoy two feet.
In the compassionate late 19th century, being born with a deformity meant joining the circus. So both men toured the world with Barnum and Bailey and eventually married, though it was Bowen who wooed ladies as "the handsomest man in his line of business."
Take that, Mr. "Armless Wonder"!
#16. The Model T Vending Machine
Are you tired of delinquents stealing the hand crank to your Model T? Well, bamboozle those scalawags with a car lift! The fools will either be powerless to harm your car or will die trying to steal it.
This isn't some ridiculous "city of the FUTURE!" concept art; this photo of an "elevator garage" was taken in 1936 Chicago by photographer John Gutmann, and here it is from another angle. All we can picture is us dropping in a nickel to get our car back and then seeing it get stuck at the top like a bag of chips in a vending machine.
#15. The Racist-est Place on Earth
How far back in American history do you have to go to find the Ku Klux Klan openly riding the Ferris wheel, presumably screaming "wheeee!!!" the whole time? To 1928, apparently. That "every day is the carnival when you're in the Klan!" publicity photo was taken in Colorado (the owner of the carnival was also a Klansman).
It was a different time.
It was 1881 when William "Doc" Carver came up with the idea of dropping a horse 60 feet into water for financial gain, a spectacle that quickly become a popular attraction at Atlantic City's Steel Pier. If you're not understanding what is cruel about this trick, you're not picturing what practice must have looked like.
Carver claimed he got the idea when a bridge collapsed under him one day and he and his horse plummeted into the river below. Back then, witnessing gruesome accidents was all most people had for entertainment. So making it in showbiz involved nothing more than finding some tragedy you could replicate on a nightly basis.
#13. Goddammit Another Ball Went Into the Propeller
Barely 20 years after the invention of the airplane, mankind started doing shit like this. This 1925 photo depicts a male and female daredevil pretending to play tennis on the wing of a biplane.
Based on what we know of the era, we're guessing there is either no one flying the plane, or it's a chimpanzee.
#12. Vote McKinley/Roosevelt!
This picture is real, this scene existed, and yes, at one point in our history, you could have actually voted for this man.
We do not know if this was a publicity stunt, a routine hunting incident or seriously how our beloved President Theodore Roosevelt used to ride to work every day. All we know is that it was taken during the 1900 presidential election campaign and as far as we are concerned, virtually guaranteed William McKinley's re-election for as many terms as God gave him.
On that note, President McKinley was dead a year later.
#11. Apparently, Hitler Loved Women's Hockey
Not only did Hitler forever ruin a perfectly good mustache, he also ruined one of the classic good-luck symbols -- the swastika. Once upon a time, it was as common a symbol to see on a team uniform as the five-pointed star is now.
So, for instance, here's the 1909 Chilocco Indian Agricultural School basketball team:
They even named the teams "The Swastika" -- here's the San Francisco YMCA Swastika ...
... and the proud Canucks of the Windsor Swastikas ...
We're just waiting for some league or other to bring these back for Throwback Jersey Day. It's history, dammit!
#10. Call of Duty: Old-Timey Warfare
It's easy for us to laugh, but in 1899 this must have looked like a terrifying vision of the future. Even if the guy was wearing a tie, bowler hat and dress shoes. Back in those days, if you were not the more finely dressed army, you were considered to have lost the war regardless of how much land you seized.
That's inventor F.R. Simms, by the way, demonstrating his Simms Motor Scout armored quadricycle. Can somebody in the comments photoshop this guy onto a battlefield littered with blood and maimed bodies?