No. 583
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 30, 2022

The Drama of Life,

September 1, 2014
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Tag: Chicago

New Girls Wanted.

Runners Scouring for recruits for the "Worlds Fair" Girl Market.

6/1/2021

That Settled It.

A Chicago man wants a divorce because his wife sings Salvation hymns, gains his suit by having her give an exhibition of her vocal powers in court.

1/22/2018

Won on the Midway.

A World’s Fair Tyrolese beauty captures the love and caresses of an alleged faithless husband and is discovered by his wife.

12/11/2017

Chicago’s Latest Craze.

Every Garden City belle wants to have her hair cut like a little man’s.

4/24/2017

Had a High Old Time.

9/12/2016

The Latest Agony.

A Chicago railroad man and a Chicago porter both say that it is becoming fashionable for young men of that city to kiss each other vigorously when they part for any length of time and when they meet again.

11/2/2015

Getting Above his Business.

How a too presumptuous shoe dealer’s attention to a female customer was resented by her male escort.

8/31/2015

"Ten Minutes for Refreshments and Divorce!"

Our suggestion.-- A divorce court in every railroad depot in Chicago! Time saved, and everybody happy!

3/23/2015

What it is Coming to in Chicago.

3/24/2014

Unmindful of their Attire.

A Fire in the Chicago Opera House creates a stampede among pretty actresses who rush to the street dishabille.

3/11/2014

Baseball Animals.

Cigarette cards, 1880s, 1890s

5/14/2013

Taking a Criminal's Measure.

12/11/2012

Allan Pinkerton.

The Eye that Never Sleeps.

3/27/2012

She Played Kissy Kissy

12/6/2011

Belles of the Bowling Alley.

The athletic diversions of an association of dashing damsels in their club rooms in Chicago. 

6/6/2011
Fifteen-year-old Jody Randall of Long Beach, California, was in most ways a typical suburban teenager.  The one thing that set her apart was a passion for antiques which was unusual for someone of her youth.  As a result of spending all her available free time (and her parents’ money) on her hobby, she eventually amassed some impressive pieces, including a doll collection noteworthy enough to
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Strange Company - 11/28/2022
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Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
Working as a domestic servant in 19th century New York City had plenty of challenges. Sure, servants received room and board in addition to their wages, and they usually had at least Sunday afternoon off. But living in another family’s home was isolating and lonely—particularly if you didn’t speak English or weren’t accustomed to urban […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/28/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Museum of the City of New YorkWilliam Howe and Abraham Hummel were the most successful criminal lawyers in Gilded Age New York. With a combination of skill, showmanship, and unethical practices, they defended most of the city’s significant criminals and many of its murderers. Whether they won or lost, Howe and Hummel made every trial sensational. Here are a few of the many accused murderers
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/26/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
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
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.