No. 539
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
September 17, 2021

The Drama of Life,

September 1, 2014
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If you were young in New York City in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s, then you probably remember the thrill of visiting Jonah’s Whale at the Children’s Zoo in Central Park, with that smiling open mouth you could practically walk into. Jonah’s Whale had been part of the Children’s Zoo since its 1961 opening, according […]
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Ephemeral New York - 9/16/2021

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Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020

Via Newspapers.comThis odd little story appeared in the “Altoona Tribune,” March 25, 1875:For the past week a story has been current on the street which at first we could not believe. Mrs. Julien Jerome, a Frenchwoman, whom all that knew her say had always led a very devout, good life, lived on Main street, and was taken sick about five weeks ago. Immediately after a cross appeared on the wall
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Strange Company - 9/15/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
On Saturday, May 13, 1882, 16-year-old Thomas McCabe shot his stepmother, Catherine McCabe, in their New York City apartment. The wound to her neck was so serious that Coroner Knox was summoned to take her anti-mortem statement. She dictated her story:“Shortly after 5 o’clock, I came from the kitchen and was putting oil in my lamp when my stepson, Thomas McCabe, fired a shot at me. I fell on my
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Murder By Gaslight - 9/11/2021

Frank Reid casket guardsas shown in Klondike '98By Ethel A. BeckerEthel Anderson Becker collectionLocation currently unknown(Click image to enlarge)    rank Reid's Casket GuardsReversed Image    I received the following fascinating email     Greetings Jeff Smith: (re: Sept. 18, 2009 – Speaking frank about frank pt. 2 – Soapy Smith’s Soap Box blog).     Having cruised to Alaska, I got
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 9/1/2021
Take a Chance? | An Undertaker’s Assistant’s Mistake.

The Drama of Life,

Drama of life

Whose Strangest Tableau Was Played on the Bowery Sidewalk—The Chance Which Reunited Two Sister and Spoiled a Juvenile Target Party. [more]

There was a mob of urchins assembled in front of a Bowery groggery the other afternoon as a Gazette reporter traveled up town. They were filling the air with those hideous noises only boys and girls who go to school in the gutter, and are brought up by hand, with a club in it, know how to produce.

They were also loading the atmosphere with a miscellaneous assortment of missiles, comprising pretty nearly everything capable of being thrown, form a gob of mud or a putrid orange to the corpse of a cat which had tried to stop the wheels of some wagon and made a bad failure of it.

The object of these attentions was a woman.

She was a wretched, tattered, bloated, battered wreck, staggering even as she leaned against the wall with the fumes of the liquid poison she had been imbibing mounting into her brain.

She yet presented some traces of feminine beauty in her puffed and swollen face. Her eyes, bleared and bloodshot, were still large and shaded by ling silken lashes. Her skin, even under the grime that coated it, fine of texture. The unsteady had with which she strove to ward off the fusillade she was being made the target of, though unlashed and blackened, was as small and taper-fingered as the finest lady’s

There clung to all the shameful distortions of her womanhood, in fact, a subtle suggestion of some better past that an observant eye could not fail to discover.

The Gazette reporter had just insinuated to a red-headed boy with a decayed head of cabbage in his hand the he could find a better use for it than throwing it at a drunken woman, and the youth was rubbing the part that hurt him the most saying naughty words about the reporter, when there was a rustle of silken skirts and a voice cried sharply:

“You little wretches! How dare you! Stop at once or I’ll have you all arrested!”

For an instant the two stood looking at one another. No one but a blind man could have mistaken the resemblance between them, any more than any one could have mistaken the meaning of the simultaneous exclamations—

“Nellie!”

“Grace!”

In a moment more the outcast had staggered forward and was folded in her happier sister’s arms, with her foul rages sullying her skirts and her bruised face hidden on her bosom. Even the gutter brats looked on in awestruck quiet, and then the lady said sharply, “call a hack, somebody.”

The first to start at full speed, yelling after a passing coach was the red-headed boy, who had forgotten his injuries all at once, while a string of his comrades followed him, rending the air with shouts that made the hackman pull up with a suddenness that almost jerked his horse over his head. Before the crowd which had gathered with the suddenness that characterizes a street mob had really commenced to wonder what it was about, the coach door had slammed upon the strangely contrasted figures and the vehicle whirled away.

Five minutes later the tide of life that ebbs and flows in the great thoroughfare of the east side was in full progress again, little dreaming of the drama of real life whose strangest tableau had just been enacted on the busy pave.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, December 11, 1880.