No. 556
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
January 22, 2022

The Last Dip of the Season.

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.
September 3, 2013
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Soapy Smith leading the packArtifact #96-Front Page, Part 1National PopulistMarch 24, 1894Jeff Smith collection(Click image to enlarge)  amblers, Thugs, Murders and Rogues."The alliance of the gamblers and bunco men with the old Fire and Police Board is not a pleasant thing to contemplate. It has come to a pretty pass if the interests of the city and the lives and property of citizens can't
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 1/21/2022

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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

 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnWinter has been here for one month now.And this is the current mood here at Strange Company HQ.A professor has an interesting side job.A board game from 4,000 years ago.Exploring the possibility that John Keats was a grave-robber.This week in Russian Weird looks at a vampire Baroness and her cursed tomb.In which we are confronted with way too much
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Strange Company - 1/21/2022
The Nicholsons of San Francisco owned some farmland near Watsonville in Monterey County, California. In 1873, Mrs. Sarah Nicholson spent all of her time there, working the farm while her husband traveled back and forth from San Francisco, where he had a carriage business.Two years earlier, they bought the land from Matt Tarpey, a wealthy landowner and a big man in Monterey County politics. Tarpey
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Murder By Gaslight - 1/22/2022

An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
cialis sales uk | A Bride’s Toggery.

The Last Dip of the Season.

Last Dip of the Season

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.

Westchester Water Witches

They Won’t Have a Man Around, and Still Enjoy Themselves—Diving as a Fine Art, With a Special View to the Exhibition of Pink Flesh and Pretty Hosiery.

The fair dwellers in some of the charming country sites on the shores of Long Island Sound have invented a means of enjoying themselves, whose novelty will probably recommend it whenever it becomes known before the season is over. In the course of a yachting cruise down the sound last week a Police Gazette artist enjoyed an admirable opportunity to obtain the sketch presented with this number.

The pictures explains itself. A long and elastic spring-board is flown from the gallery of a boathouse, itself built over deep water, so far out as to afford ample profundity for safe diving. The plank itself is some fifteen feet above the surface of the water and straight in advance of its end a light cork buoy is enclosed. The door of the boat house in the rear is open, giving the diver a run of some twenty feet for a start.

The result, seen for the first time, is, to say the least, startling.

An elegant figure clad in a tight-fitting bathing suit of the most improved French model, bounds out of the dark doorway, makes three or four leaps on the swaying plank and is then shot high in the air, a mere flash of striped hosiery and pink flesh, descending a parabola and landing, if she knows how to preserve her balance, with her pointed hands, into the water, clearing the surface like an arrow and vanishing at last in a little circle of boiling foam. The object of the divers is to leap beyond the anchored buoy as far as possible, and a regular record is kept of the distance of the leaps. After rising to the surface the fair swimmers paddle back through the piles on which the boat house is sustained and ascend a comfortable ladder to the club-room, for it is, again.

The boat house is the meeting place of the “Westchester Divers," as they call themselves, who consist of numerous wealthy ladies of the vicinity, with a sprinkling of well-known actresses and professionals in operatic walks.

It is a veritable female paradise, no men being admitted to the hospitalities of the establishment. “We can’t keep you away in your boat, of course,” observed the smiling president to the artist. “But we won’t permit you to land, and you are always glad to get over to the Point where they have excellent lager beer on tap. Are you not thirsty?” The artist considered the hint an excellent one, and took it. He is sorry to say, however that the charming president of the “Westchester Divers” is either no judge or she has never read Sapphire.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 9, 1880.