No. 526
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 21, 2021

Christmas in Bohemia.

December 24, 2013
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"Louisville Courier-Journal," May 8, 1881, via Newspapers.comWhen I started this blog, I hoped to focus on the smaller, obscure stories from the past--the long-forgotten bits of random oddities that, when taken together, show just what a strange world we live in.  In short, the "uncommon" is really quite commonplace.One such story is the death of one otherwise completely unmemorable young man. 
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Strange Company - 6/21/2021

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An Ordnance to Cover the Defective Points.Denver Tribune-RepublicanMay 14, 1885(Click image to enlarge)   n order to cover such cases as "Soapy" Smith, the arrest of whom for violating the lottery ordinance"  Note how bad the Xerox copy at the top is. This was shared to my father, by his brother (my uncle) Joseph Jefferson Smith​ (1909-1977). Obviously, the copiers at the time did not do
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/13/2021

When railroad baron H.H. Cook decided to build himself a New York City mansion, he didn’t try to squeeze into a plot of land on Fifth Avenue in the 50s—an area that had been colonized by several Vanderbilt heirs and other Gilded Age moneymakers. Instead, he went to the then-hinterlands of Manhattan, purchasing the entire […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2021
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
Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                             Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/19/2021

Producer-director Ric Rebelo has today, in memory of LeeAnn Wilber, former co-owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, released this award-winning film for public view on Youtube. This was filmed in 2010, some of the participants in the production are no longer with us today. What was recorded in 2010 has not changed much today in 2021, only intensified in fascination.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/16/2021
[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
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.