Huge ice chunk can’t top Waco whopper of 1930s

25/ 10/ 2008 en 7:38 | Publicado en Fraudes | Comentarios desactivados en Huge ice chunk can’t top Waco whopper of 1930s

By MIKE LYONS. Special to the Daily News. Saturday, October 25, 2008

A 6-pound chunk of ice that smelled a little like fish and looked a lot like quartz made big news in York, Pa., last week. That’s because the frozen concoction fell from the sky, through a York woman’s roof and slightly injured her while she slept.

Mary Ann Foster was glad to be alive after a piece of the ice broke off and hit her on the forehead. The lump of ice left the 66-year-old grandmother with a large bump on her head and holes in her roof and bedroom ceiling.

Local officials, meantime, were left with a mystery: Where did the six pounds of ice come from? Some speculated that it might have fallen from an airplane or rocket, but the actual source remains unknown.

Ice, on a much smaller scale, does fall from the sky during thunderstorms. Most hailstones are often tiny compared to nickels and golf balls. Occasionally, hail the size of softballs shows up in Texas and Oklahoma, and every once in a while, so much hail falls in eastern Colorado that it looks like snow.

The largest hailstone in U.S. history fell from the sky in south-central Nebraska just over five years ago. It was the size of a soccer ball with a circumference of 18.75 inches. Still, it weighed a little more than 2 pounds, a tiny piece of ice compared to the chunk that hit Mary Ann Foster. And nothing like the 9-pound “hailstone” that fell in Waco, Texas back in the 1930s.

The great Waco hailstone was the talk of Texas for years. Photographs of the huge chunk of ice were seen around the world. Folks who witnessed the amazing event became local celebrities. It even became part of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

There was just was one problem with the story: The hailstone didn’t come from the sky. It came from a hotel room.

On an overcast, humid afternoon one summer day in the late 1930s, a traveling salesman checked into the Raleigh hotel in downtown Waco. The salesman asked the bellhop to bring a block of ice and some liquor to his room.

As the salesman began sipping his first cocktail of the afternoon, the sky in downtown Waco turned black. A squall line of thunderstorms was approaching the city. Heavy rain, gusty winds and pea-sized hail soon began falling just outside the salesman’s hotel window.

This was one whopper of a storm. Soon, the pea-sized hail morphed into quarter-sized stones of ice along with a few hailstones appreciably larger. Folks who had sought shelter from the storm under the hotel’s awning began gathering the hailstones marveling at their size.

Now on his second cocktail, the traveling salesman decided to have a little fun with the locals. He rounded the remainder of the block of ice under the hot water faucet and threw the 9-pound chunk out his hotel window.

The folks down on the street went crazy gathering around the large piece of ice like it was gold. Soon, a photographer from the local paper arrived to document the record-breaking event. Waco had made history.

The salesman did make an attempt to clear things up, to tell folks that he had thrown the ball of ice from his hotel room, but no one in Waco was listening. As far as the locals were concerned, Waco was now home to the largest hailstone in history, and no one was going to tell folks anything different.

Although we may never know where the 6-pound chunk of ice that struck Ms. Foster came from, the origin of the great Waco hailstone is crystal clear. Thanks to a traveling salesman with a sense of humor and an empty glass of liquor, a Texas tall-tale lives today.



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