September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (2024)

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (1)

It's September, and we start the month celebrating Emma M. Nutt Day

And who is this Emma person?

This is exactly why subscribing to the Get Smart Newsletter is so valuable -- because you'll know something few, if any, of your friends will be aware of.

Go ahead, lord it over them.

Emma M. Nutt, to answer the question, was the world's first female telephone operator.

Which raises a couple of important questions, especially for younger readers. First, what's a telephone operator, and, second, what's the big deal?

Well, when phones were first invented, you needed somebody at a switchboard (like the one above) to connect the call for you. We're talking ancient times, of course, the late 19th century. The first telephone operators were young men, but they weren't very polite to customers. So, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell had a brainstorm: Let's hire women for the job -- they're nicer, and they work for less.

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (2)

The first person he hired was Emma. She started on September 1, 1878 and, in so doing, opened the door for women to enter what was then a cutting-edge, high-tech industry.

Interesting fact: She had a 54-hour work-week and made $10 a month. Ten bucks a month, by the way, was as bad then as it sounds. In today's dollars that's a little over $300.

Also, there were tons of restrictions imposed upon female operators including height, weight, and arm-length requirements. They had to be unmarried, between the ages of 17 and 27, and women of color need not apply.

In the years that followed Emma's pioneering hire, female telephone operators were in the vanguard of the fight for equal rights for women and were strong proponents for labor law reforms, which leads us to September's best known holiday...

Labor Day

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (3)

Labor Day is September 4. Traditionally, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, which given the devastating heat wave we're endured this year, can't come soon enough. The holiday recognizes the women and men who campaigned for workers' rights in the late 19th century. It became a federal holiday in 1894.

Some Labor Day Trivia:

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of Hot Dog Season, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (I'm not making this up). During this period, which begins on Memorial Day, Americans eat an estimated 7 billion hot dogs.

The largest labor union in the U.S. today is the National Education Association with about 3 million members.

During the bad old days of the 19th century, Americans worked seven days a week for about 12 hours a day to make a living.

The 40-hour work week evolved over time and wasn't enacted into federal law until 1940. It was popularized earlier by Henry Ford who discovered that productivity of his workers dropped dramatically after eight hours. In 1926, he announced he would pay his employees $5 for each eight-hour day, doubling the pay the average auto worker earned at the time.

Hello Autumn

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (4)

The Autumnal Equinox is September 23. This marks the official beginning of the fall season in the northern hemisphere when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal. The northern hemisphere will become increasingly darker with longer nights until December 21, the first day of winter (the Winter Solstice), when daylight hours will begin creeping up again. This is because the Earth's axis is tilted, so where sunlight hits the planet's surface varies with our orbit around the Sun. There are lot of other things on Earth that are off kilter, too, but this is not the spot in the newsletter to discuss politics.

Fall Sports

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (5)

September is the traditional kickoff of the college and professional football seasons, although there were a handful of college games in late August and the NFL's pre-season games are already underway. The Lions play the Chiefs on September 7 to launch the regular NFL season. Planning ahead? The Super Bowl will be Feb. 11.

The ESPN college pre-season rankings have these teams in the top five:

  1. Ohio State

  2. Alabama

  3. Georgia

  4. LSU

  5. Texas

Here's a link to the NCAA top 25 football schedule.

Here's the NFL schedule..

The U.S. Open Tennis Tournament will continue through Sept. 19 (it began Aug. 28) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

And for golf fans, this year's Ryder Cup is being held at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

On the Tube and Silver Screen

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (6)

The return of The Morning Show tops the list of September TV premiers. The Apple TV+ series is set to start its third season of the Emmy winning drama that looks at the modern workplace through the lens of network television (Sept. 13).

Other premiers to keep an eye out for include Wheel of Time on Prime Video, (Sept. 1), The Changeling on Apple TV+ (Sept. 8), and the next season of Survivor on CBS starting Sept. 27.

Full list of premiers here.

At the movies, it's looking grim for September. Mostly, we're talking sequels or spinoffs. The one promising film is The Creator, written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who gave us Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The Creator storyline: A mercenary is hired to take out an evil AI, only to find out the AI is a kid. Fingers crossed.

Here's the list.

September Milestones and Events

September is Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month. And September 7 is Buy a Book Day. One of the best ways to show your appreciation for writers and editors is, in fact, to buy a book. But there are so many to choose from, right? Here's a handy guide to help you out.

Hurricane season's busiest month, historically, is September. On Sept. 8, 1900, 120 mph winds struck Galveston, Texas, killing 8,000 people and destroying 2,500 buildings making it the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

Never forget. On September 11 we honor the lives lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and the heroic passengers aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year, begins at sunset on Sept. 15 and ends the evening of Sept. 17.

Batman Day is Sept. 16, a day to celebrate the World's Greatest Detective. As a point of interest, Superhuman Day precedes Batman Day. It's September 7. Batman, of course, is not a superhuman. Just a man. An ordinary man. With a flying-mammal fetish and billions of dollars.

The first airplane fatalityoccurred on Sept. 17, 1908, when a biplane flown by Orville Wright augured-in from a height of 75 feet killing his 26-year-old passenger and seriously injuring Orville. The cause: The propeller broke.

National Cheeseburger Day is Sept. 18.It's a day to celebrate your favorite cheeseburger at home or at your favorite burger joint. We polled readers of this newsletter two years ago on their favorite burgers. The resounding answer: Hometown favorites beat out the big chains.

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (7)

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Sept. 19, a holiday created as a joke in 1995 by John Baur and Mark Summers of Albany, Oregon. It has since been adopted by the Pastafarianism Movement as an official holiday.

(And if you're scratching your head about the "Pastafarianism Movement," it is the philosophy of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which was created as a counterpoint to efforts to teach so-called Creationism in public schools.)

Sept. 24 is National Punctuation Day;Don't let limitted vocabulistics hold you back.This is a grate thyme to brake out you're old gammer books: and study up so you can right gooder.

Yom Kippur starts at sunset Sept. 24 and ends the evening of Sept. 25. Also known as the Day of Atonement, it is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Finally, September 31 is Free Pork Chops Day at Mar-a-Lago. Drive over to Palm Beach and let Donald know I sent you.

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (8)

What I'm


Just finished CNN anchor Jake Tapper's All The Demons Are Here. The two point-of-view characters are Ike Marder, an AWOL Marine hiding from Idaho Nazis who hooks up with Evel Knievel who, Tapper fantasizes, is running for president. Imagine that: A showbiz huckster thinking he can break into politics. Ike's naive sister, Lucy, meanwhile, is cutting her teeth as a reporter for a Washington, D.C., tabloid owned by a Rupert Murdoch look-alike, which is just as awful as it sounds. Murder and mayhem ensue. (Spoiler alert: Count on a jarhead to invent a fertilizer cannon.)

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (9)

Teed up next on my To Be Read stack: With a Kiss We Die by husband and wife team Matt Dorff and Suzanne Dunn writing as L.R. Dorn, who I was pleased to meet at one of my recent book signings. It's a murder mystery written in the style of a true-crime podcast in which two college lovers suspected of a brutal double murder enlist a podcaster to prove their innocence.

Also happy to report that my friend and former Antioch Writers Workshop colleague Sharon Short will be publishing under her own name again. Look for Trouble Island coming in 2024. You may be familiar with her pseudonym Jess Montgomery and her wonderful Kinship historical mystery series.


“It’s staggering that a party that we all considered problematic in some respects, but that we thought of as a serious political party less than a decade ago, is what it is now, which is, you know, a whor*house.”

-- John Heilemann,on MSNBC

“We are drifting towards the greatest constitutional crisis since the 1850s.”

--Newt Gingrich, on the new indictments of Donald Trump

“The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”

-- Republican Gov. Brian Kemp responding to Trump

“There is no good way for DeSantis to attack Trump about Jan. 6 or anything else. There is no point in chaining a goat to a stake in front of a T. Rex, then asking the goat to assault the T. Rex. It has not worked out well for other goats, many stronger and smarter than this one… So, no, I would not advise the candidate who lost to the Mouseketeers to attack the T. Rex.”

-- GOP strategist Alex Castellanos' advice to Gov. Ron DeSantis

“I would tell DeSantis the hard truth. In my 40 years in presidential politics, I have never seen a worse campaign and candidate.”

-- Democratic strategist Joe Trippion DeSantis

"One more indictment and I think this election is over."

--Donald Trump

“We’re going to have all of these deep state people, you know, we are going to start slitting throats on day one."

--Ron DeSantis

The Strange Files

The world is a weird place. Which is a good thing for Alexander Strange whose adventures I chronicle in the Strange Files series. Here are a couple of stories Alexander has been covering:

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (10)

STRANGE CRITTERS: Hiss-sterical encounter of the slithering kind

A Tucson woman returned home after a four-day trip and said she was "looking forward to using my own restroom in peace."

Instead, she discovered a snake curled up in her toilet bowl.

"Everybody has the same reaction," she said. "Oh, my god, that's my worst nightmare."

The woman, Michelle Lespron, asked her dad to remove the snake, but the slippery critter was hard to catch. So, she called an outfit named Rattlesnake Solutions, and one of their wrangers snagged it -- one handed, no less.

Couple of additional points to note:

Let's pause for a moment to consider living in an area where there is a need for a company named Rattlesnake Solutions. Just saying.

Also, the actual snake was not a rattler but -- get this -- a black and pink coachwhip snake. How's that for a name!

Check out the video:

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (11)

MORE STRANGE CRITTERS: What's Green and NOT Spinach?

A Michigan woman may not have been hopping mad, but she nearly jumped out of her skin when she opened the package of spinach she brought home from the grocery store.

Amber Worrick of suburban Detroit said she'd just returned from a Meijer store and her daughter found a live frog in the container.

"It was alive and moving," she told a local TV station. "Just thank God I didn't eat the frog."

In an exclusive interview with Tropic Press, the frog, who declined to share her name, also agreed she was thankful not to be eaten.

Readers Write...

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (12)

Dear J.C.

Are you going to use that picture I sent you?

V. Bandy

Of course. Here's a cropped version; the full image is below. Thanks for the contribution. You are now officially a member in the Army of the Strange. Your invisible secret decoder ring is in the mail.

Dear J.C.

I love the monthly Get Smart Compendium of useful information. Thanks.


Gosh, thanks!

Dear J.C.

That letter right above this -- the one from DSF -- it reads like an actual letter from a reader instead of the cheap promotional gimmicks you ordinarily print in this space. Is that right?

A. Sorokin

Correct. The Get Smart Newsletter mailbox is routinely stuffed with flattering letters from adoring readers. But since I am a humble person by nature -- you hardly ever hear me bragging about my Gold Medal in Underwater Ping Pong or my doctorate degree -- I usually respond to those letters privately.

Dear J.C.

Okay, that's a joke, right? I mean, sure, maybe you won a gold medal in underwater ping pong, but since when did you earn a Ph.D. like me?

G. Santos

Dude! It's in my Amazon bio, so it has to be true. Check it out for yourself. Here's the quote verbatim: "Recently, I was awarded the George Santos Medal for Resume Embellishment and an honorary doctorate degree from the Lighthouse Institute for Extranormal Studies, a diploma mill I invented for my forthcoming sixth book in The Strange Files series."

Dear J.C.

You should tell people the actual name of your next book, not leave them hanging. Especially since it's about me. And thanks for running my picture in that item above about Talk Like a Pirate Day.


Good point. It will be titled An Angel In Time.

Dear J.C.

In that Strange Files news item earlier in the newsletter, the one about the frog in the spinach container. The picture looks like a cane toad, not a frog. Also, it seems suspiciously familiar. Care to comment?


All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. I learned that when researching the fifth book in the Strange Files series, Mister Manners. And, yes, that's the toad from the cover of the book. I couldn't resist.

Dear J.C.

Did you know that an entire Ohio town was created for telephone operators like Emma Nutt? It was called Phoneton.

R. Rollins

Thanks for the tip. Fascinating history. Here's a link.

Enjoy this Newsletter?

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (13)

I hope you enjoyed this edition of my free monthly GET SMART newsletter. If you have a friend you think might also enjoy this, please forward this email and/or share the subscription link, below. Actually, if you have an enemy you want to share this with, that's fine too. And as a reminder: September is National Buy a Mystery Novel Month. Here's a shopping list.


Got a Question or an Item For the Next Newsletter?

Send me a note by clicking this link.

Parting Shot

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (14)

J.C. Bruce is the author of The Strange Files series of mysterious novels (available on Amazon, other fine online booksellers, and at selected libraries). He also writes this free monthly newsletter. He holds dual citizenship in the United States of America and Florida where he is getting ready to move to a secret underwater bunker to avoid the roaming bands of book burners.

September 2023: The Strange Files Newsletter (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 5609

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Birthday: 1996-05-19

Address: Apt. 114 873 White Lodge, Libbyfurt, CA 93006

Phone: +5983010455207

Job: Legacy Representative

Hobby: Blacksmithing, Urban exploration, Sudoku, Slacklining, Creative writing, Community, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Merrill Bechtelar CPA, I am a clean, agreeable, glorious, magnificent, witty, enchanting, comfortable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.