No. 423
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
April 23, 2019

Christmas in Bohemia.

December 24, 2013
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Spanish general Jose Aranguren was shot on this date in 1939 by Franco’s Spain. A brigadier general of the Civil Guard — an internal-to-Spain paramilitary/law enforcement force that remained predominantly loyal to the Republic during the Spanish Civil War — Aranguren (the very cursory English Wikipedia entry | the more detailed Spanish) at the outset […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 4/22/2019

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The Savoy bookstore in Westerly, R.I. was cram-packed with Borden case enthusiasts this evening as author Cara Robertson held forth …

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Lizzie Borden : Warps & Wefts - 3/26/2019
"Roses are red, Violets are blue, And my cat is, too." Cats and weird little stories from the past.  What could be more Strange Company than that?  For this reason, I'm delighted to temporarily pass the blog's steering wheel over to Peggy Gavan, whose upcoming book, "The Cat Men of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York" (Rutgers University Press, May 3, 2019,) is now available
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Strange Company - 4/22/2019

Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
Rosa Buckstahlen and Ida Bjornstad, servants in the Chicago mansion of Amos J. Snell, were awakened at 2:00 the morning of February 8, 1888, by the sound of a gunshot from the floor below. They heard someone shout “Get out! Get out of here!” followed by more gunshots, then silence. Thinking that all was well—or more likely, too frightened to do anything else—the girls went back to sleep.
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Murder by Gaslight - 4/20/2019
I count six transportation options Brooklynites had in 1915, according to this rich and detailed postcard of Flatbush Avenue. There’s the elevated train, of course, as well as a streetcar, automobile, bicycle, horse and wagon, and of course, getting around on foot, as most of the crowd seems to be doing—when they’re not mugging for […]
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Ephemeral New York - 4/21/2019
[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
Burglars on Bicycles. | Puck's Dude Champions.

Christmas in Bohemia.

Christmas in Bohemia.

Celebrations of the annual festival in which comfort and fun replace fashion and ceremony, and those who enjoy to-day leave to-morrow to take care of itself.

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Christmas in Bohemia.

The Revels of Genius in its Gay World Within a World.

There are a good many ways of celebrating Christmas and the world makes use of all of them. But from first to last there is no jollier way than the one which Bohemia enjoys Christianity’s great holiday.

There are grander ways, to be sure. The stately pageant with which royalty commemorates it, for instance, with thunder of guns and blare of trumpets; with the flash of jewels, the shimmer of imperial purple and discussion of a banquets under the shadows of flapping banners to the music of a court band. The church, too, has its special celebration, perfumed with the incense of sacrifice, and society does the occasion honor after its on stately and ceremonious fashion. But these are the hollowest of mockeries after all; ghost of that real, healthful enjoyment of a holiday which all the wealth of the world can not buy without the spirit of content to back it.

That enjoyment is found in Bohemia if it is found anywhere. There the revel runs most merrily, the tongue grows lighter and the airy nonsense of the social board sparkles in gems of wit that outshine the diamonds of the most splendid drawing-rooms. What reck they if the fest to-day is followed by fast to-morrow? Is not to-morrow a new day and did they not wonder yesterday where to-day’s feast was to come from? No shadow of the future darkens the Bohemian holiday. If such ever does rise in some graver brain it is resolutely bounced. The wind wails without and misery is buffeted by the storm, but we are warm and gay within and with good store of inner comfort for the present. Time enough to face the tempest when we are forced to; time enough to regret the past when we have no longer a future.

Thus, in studio and green-room, over the beer table and at the garret feast, the men and women who amuse the world sit down to wassail, casting their gay defiance into the face of a staid society which may frown on them for spurning its hollow creeds but can not darken the enjoyment of their holiday. Does society’s frown lighten at the sight of that haggard figure under the lighted window? Doubtless, for in that figure and many like it it sees its vengeance embodied, it sees Bohemia’s wrecks drifting upon the dark sea to which the present revelers close their eyes.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, December 31, 1881.