Old Print Articles

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From the December 1, 1909 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“The policemen of Stapleton, Staten Island, station rejoiced when a pig, taken as evidence in a raid and placed in a cell, was returned to its owner, Alex Aleski, who has a saloon and hotel on McKeon Street. It was said a score of men were gambling for the pig. The animal’s squeals had kept the policemen from getting their usual rest.

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A Midwest man of marriageable age who was minus an ear made a monetary offer to purchase one to be transplanted onto the side of his head, improving his chances of wooing a wife, as reported in a grisly article in the July 19, 1924 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“A Chicago surgeon has a patient who lost one of his ears as a result of an accident. Now the patient desires to marry and would have the missing member replaced by the real ear of another or something resembling an ear.

In his oration over the dead body of Caesar, Marc Antony exclaimed: ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.’ Even in this compressed simile he did not ask for the gift or sale of an ear, but merely for its loan.

But the Chicago surgeon does not indulge in metaphor when he attempts to gratify the desire of his patient, nor does he call for a loan. In his advertisement he calls for a real flesh and blood ear and offers therefore a monetary consideration.

We are advised that the advertisement has brought responses from many sources, women being included on the list of applicants. The motives actuating those who have expressed a willingness to sell an ear are interesting. Doubtless each applicant realizes that loss of an ear would cause disfigurement and that amputation would not only be painful but probably dangerous.

Some of those who meet the conditions imposed are willing to make the sacrifice in order to secure money for treatment of their children suffering from tuberculosis.”

 

From the August 23, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Cairo, Ill.–Before Frank W. Wilson, an advertising solicitor of St. Louis, died here in a hospital yesterday, he told physicians he had swallowed several articles of a foreign nature, and that they had better put the X-ray at work. He was operated upon Sunday night on the theory that he was afflicted with appendicitis.

Three incisions were made in the man’s stomach and according to the physician, the following articles were removed: One shoe button hook, a woman’s hatpin, three keys, one lead pencil, one belt buckle, one tin toy pistol, three nails (small), one needle and one thermometer.

Wilson, according to his physician, had been in a depressed mental state for some time, during which he swallowed anything that he could get down his throat.”

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There’s something curious inside us all, a pre-program if you will, and it’s more prominent in some than others. It’s not that we don’t have free will, but it’s not absolutely free.

Harrington “Heavenly” Gates was everything his parents wanted him to be, but that wasn’t what he wanted to be. He left his excellence as a Dartmouth scholar-athlete behind one fine day, much to his family’s chagrin, and began a 72-year-old religious odyssey, something he seemed almost born to do. From an article in the November 2, 1938 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Boston–The family of Harrington (Heavenly) Gates, ‘as soon as we get our breath,’ will make a pilgrimage to his New Hampshire religious retreat and try to persuade the Dartmouth football star to go back to college and graduate with his class.

Gates’ father, mother, four brothers and five sisters will make the trip to the cult farm of the ‘Holy Ghost and Us’ Society at Amherst, N.H., Mrs. Elder Gates, the mother, said today.

Gates, after helping Dartmouth beat the Yale football team, left school for a religious colony because of the profanity of the team and commercialization of the game.

From her home at Saugus, Mass., Mrs. Gates, wife of an ironmolder, issued this statement on her son’s resignation:

Want Him to Graduate

‘Shocked as we are, we are all still proud of Harry for his splendid record as a student and athlete. When we get our breath we will all go to him and see if there is anything we can do. It has been quite a financial hardship for us, too, in spite of the scholarship and outside help that he received. We wanted to see him graduate next June with his class.’

No less astonished and disappointed than Gates’ family were members of the Saugus Lions Club and other hometown organizations which had donated to his college expenses.

Last December, when a football rally was scheduled at Saugus in his honor, he declined to attend despite the fact that the sponsors offered to pay his fare from Hanover, N.H.

Working on Cult Farm

Exchanging gridiron togs for overalls, the 24-year-old Saugus, Mass., youth, a senior student, was working today with fellow members of the religious cult, also known as the ‘Legion of God,’ on its Salem turkey farm at Amherst.

The cult believes that it alone can save souls from annihilation. Its regulations forbid the use of liquor, certain foods and contact with the outside world.”

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From the May 17, 1916 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Kansas City, Mo. — John Arnold is today recovering from an operation in the Kansas City Emergency Hospital and the cause of his trouble–a lively and well-developed frog–is hopping about in a large jar at his bedside. Some time ago, Arnold says, he drank from a spring. He cannot tell whether the frog took up its abode in his interior as a tadpole or a small frog. The physicians who operated, liberating the frog and relieving Arnold of the nagging pain amidship, say Arnold is doing well. The frog speaks for itself.”

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When editors at the old Brooklyn Daily Eagle thought about the world’s technological future, they mostly imagined how robots would help them get drunk. That explains so much about that newspaper in those days.

In the October 30, 1927 edition, E.K. Titus wrote an article about Roy J. Wensley’s Televox robot, which received instructions via its built-in telephone. The Westinghouse inventor promised the mechanical man would be able to deliver to you bottles of scotch through pneumatic tubes, drive your car from your garage to your front door, spy on your children, vacuum your floors and warn you of plummeting stock prices. A couple of excerpts follow.

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“‘Peep, buzz, buzz, toot, peep!’ you say into the telephone transmitter, with your tuning forks, which translated, means:

‘It’s devilishly cold over here and I want a bottle of Scotch.’

These simple sounds which you have emitted put the mechanical man to work. It is over in the woods of your country estate somewhere, where you keep your stock for the sake of privacy. The mechanical man hears and acts. He moves a mechanical arm to the exact box where your Scotch is segregated from the rest of your drinks, lifts it into an air-pressure tube, closes the tube and in a moment your phonograph is turned on to say:

‘Here I am!’

You then open your end of the tube and there is your Scotch.

Dr. Edward E. Free, president of the New York Electrical Society, offers to install such a system for any Brooklynites provided they pay him enough money.

It Can Be Done

‘It can certainly be done,’ Dr. Free declared. ‘The mechanical man can be made fully as versatile as that. I will fix up such a system so that they can get their drinks from as far as a mile away without moving out of their apartments.

‘For $40,000 or so it would be possible to rig up an apparatus through the mechanical man that would make it possible for a person to call up his garage half a mile distant, give instructions to the mechanical man and have the car at his front doorstep in a few minutes. 

The mechanical man is an electrical fellow who can hear, take orders and do hundreds of things if he is only trained in advance. He is a radio turned inside out. Instead of receiving electrical energy and transforming it into sound, as the ordinary radio receiving apparatus does, he receives sound and transforms it into electrical energy.

Roy J. Wensley, 29-year-old engineer of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, is the inventor.

Has ‘Brain Box’

Wensley’s child does not look like a man, but he has a sort of head or small box in which is located a ‘brain,’ or directing apparatus, capable of performing 20 separate acts when he is ordered to do so. And what is better, he takes orders over the telephone!”

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“Delivering a motorcar from one’s garage to one’s home would be a more expensive performance.

Mr. Johnson would lift his telephone receiver and give Televox the signal for a car.

Steer Car by Radio

Televox would then electrically start an apparatus which would open the doors of the garage, start the motor and steer the car over the garage driveway to the house.

‘You have heard of cars being steered by radio, haven’t you?’ asked Dr. Free. ‘Well, once Televox was on the job the actual work of steering could be handled by radio.’

Televox, indeed, sounds like one of the ‘Fairy Tales of Science‘ that the poet, Tennyson, talks about.

When it is remembered the Televox only responds to noise in the same way that previous apparatus has responded to the pressing of buttons setting up electrical impulses, his work does not appear so much like a fairy tale.”

 

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From the November 18, 1909 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“Mrs. James Edmonds of Washington County, Pa., deserted her home recently, taking with her the household effects and five head of cattle, but leaving behind an old mule. Edmonds preferred charges of desertion against his wife and larceny against a Pittsburg man. Early yesterday the mule, Edmonds’s only possession, kicked him, causing his death a short time later in a hospital.”

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A small plane powered for a matter of feet by a person on a bicycle is utterly useless in a practical sense, yet achingly beautiful to admire. From a July 10, 1921 New York Times article about French wheelman Gabriel Poulain, who was a pioneer in this odd endeavor:

Paris–Gabriel Poulain, the French champion cyclist, succeeded this morning in the Bois de Boulogne in winning the Peugot prize of 10,000 francs for the flight of more than ten meters distance and one meter high in a man-driven airplane. In an ‘aviette,’ which is a bicycle with two wing planes, he four times flew the prescribed distance, his longest flight being more than twelve meters, or about the same number of yards.

Poulain for several years has been devoting himself to the solution of the problem of flight by the power of his own muscles and several times has come near winning a prize. This morning’s exhibition, however, was by far the most successful, a cyclist never before having been able to rise from the ground a sufficient height to enable him to cover more than six or seven meters.

For today’s attempt Poulain altered the angle of the small rear plane of his machine and it was this alteration, it seems, that solved the problem. 

Poulain made his attempt just after dawn on the smooth road at the entrance to the Longchamps race course. Several members of the Aero Club, donors of the prize and a large company of journalists and photographers were present. A square twenty meters each away was carefully measured off and chalked so as to mark the points at which the ‘aviette’ must rise one meter from the ground and that two flights must be made in opposite directions.

Rides Smoothly in Air

Poulain, who was confident that this time he was going to succeed, rode his machine at top speed toward the chalked square. As he entered it he released the clutch which throws the wing into proper position and at once the miniature biplane rose from the ground gracefully and steadily to a height of more than a meter. 

The flight was as steady as that of a motor-driven airplane and Poulain declared afterward that the motion was smoother than when traveling along the ground. When the judges measured the distance between the wheel marks on the chalk they found it lacked only two centimeters of being twelve meters.

Poulain’s flight in the opposite direction was not quite so successful, though he succeeded in covering eleven and a half meters. In landing he broke two spokes of the rear wheel.

M. Robert Peugeot declared the prize won, but Poulain wished to make further proof of the powers of his machine. After changing the wheel he started from positions chosen by the judges, and in each case he succeeded in covering the prize-winning distance. His longest flight was the last, of twelve meters thirty-two centimeters.

In order to cover so great a distance Poulain worked up to a speed of forty-five kilometers an hour on the ground. According to his own estimate, the muscular force required for flight is equal to three horse power. The total weight of the machine, with the wings, is seventeen kilogrammes, or about thirty-seven pounds, and the cyclist himself weighs seventy-four kilograms, or about 165  pounds.

After the flight Poulain declared that he intended to set at work at once on another plane, which, he believes, will enable him to fly 200 to 300 meters. On this machine he will make use of a propeller instead of depending, as he did today, simply on impetus.

Once in the air, Poulain says that not so much power is needed as for the take-off. He says the pedal-worked propeller will be strong enough to continue flight for a considerable distance without fatigue.”

From the December 12, 1885 New York Times:

Bellaire, Ohio–Frederick Glatzer and Frederick Summers are coal diggers and reside with their families up Indian Run, a few miles from this city. What has made them notorious is the fact that they are fond of dog meat, and on occasions when the average mortal buys a turkey to celebrate with, these people kill a dog and roast it. Glatzer’s wife has not been in the country very long, but during the time she has lived here the family has had several dog roasts, and have made them very enjoyable occasions, and on Christmas expect to have another, at which a number of relatives will be present.”

“There is no such place anywhere.”

The infamous Wild West town of Deadwood was profiled in all its raffish, criminal, merciless glory in the the August 13, 1877 New York Times. An excerpt:

“Deadwood is as lively as ever. It is a queer place. The man who ventured the remark that a fool and his money are soon parted must have had in his mind’s eye some such place as this. It is the sharpers’ paradise. The ‘tenderfoot’ is here brought face to face with the ingenious bummer, the slick confidence man, the claim jumper, the land shark and the desperado, and he is a man of more than usual alertness who does not get ‘taken in’ somehow or other before he has been 24 hours in this sinful city. There is no such place anywhere. It shows up in its worst forms the ‘fast and flash’ American trait. A little over a year ago the site of this swarming camp was a part of the howling wilderness. To-day there are along the streets and up and down in the gulches, within a mile, over 10,000 people. Here is a city of 4,000 inhabitants, with a floating population of 2,000 more. About 1,500 houses and huts, and hundreds of tents up the hill-sides, an academy, church, two daily newspapers, four banks; 20 lawyers, physicians, dentists, artists; club-houses, theatres in full blast every night, the streets thronged with speculators, tramps, and bummers: gambling-hells open all day long, and ‘cappers’ on every corner watching for the next ‘victim’–such is a hasty glance at Deadwood. It is a place in which the few prey upon the many. You cannot buy anything for less than a quarter; your living costs you double what it would at Denver or Salt Lake City. You can’t step in any direction without facing some device for getting rid of your money. They have even got a ‘corner’ on postage stamps and you must pay from a dime to a quarter for a three-cent stamp. It is no wonder that the thousands who come here with a few dollars in their pockets soon find themselves ‘dead broke’ and dependent upon the charity of the better class of people. It cannot be urged too strongly that poor men or men of small competence should stay away from Black Hills. It may not be out of the way for capitalists to come and look around; but let the poor man stay away. One of the business men here, seeing the condition of the hundreds who lay idle and pennilesss about the street, has the honesty to write to the Deadwood Times, for the benefit of ‘pilgrims,’ in which he says that the truth ought to be told. and the ‘tenderfeet’ be advised to stay at home. I quote from his communication:

deadwodd890‘There are thousands of men in the Hills who would be glad to work for their bread, or enough money to pay their way back home; but there is no employment for them. The placer claims are all taken up by the first comers, and the quartz leads are not yet sufficiently developed to require many laborers. I never saw so many sick-looking men in my life as I have seen in Deadwood. They come here without a cent in their pockets, expecting to gobble up gold by the bucketful, and they soon go away without a ‘flea in the ear.’ Now these pilgrims are not only fools in this ‘vain delusive world.’ They come here full of greedy expectation, but in 24 hours their gorgeous air castles have blown away into bubbles.'”

From the February 28, 1867 New York Times:

Buffalo–Five dead bodies, two males, two females, and one newborn infant, were found by the Detective Police at the Grand Trunk Railroad depot this afternoon. They were shipped through the American Express Company for Ann Arbor, Mich. The bodies were packed  in flour barrels in a nude state, and had not been dead over a week. The bodies are now being cleansed of flour, and will be exposed for identification to-morrow morning. This city is wild with excitement to know whose relations have been thus desecrated by body snatchers.”

“Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet.”

“Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet.”

Louis Hauesser was a wealthy German who saw his fortune sink during World War I, before reinventing himself as a “messiah” with a bevy of young followers, many of them attractive females. In that sense, he presaged Krishna VentaCharles Manson and Mel Lyman, among others. He was in constant conflict with authority figures, and spent a fair amount of time as a defendant. A court appearance for a trifling matter in the early ’20s was the basis of an article in the December 23, 1921 New York Times. The story:

Berlin–The Moabit Police Court witnessed a strange scene when an ‘Apostle of Charity,’ one Louis Hauesser, self-styled ‘Prophet of the Latter-Day Christ, World Benefactor, Initiator of the New Era and Proclaimer of the New Healing,’ was called to the bar on a charge of having failed to pay $6.29 to a Berlin paper for an advertisement, the insertion of which is said to have been obtained under false pretenses. Prophet Hauesser, six feet of splendid manhood, had bare legs, sandals, a hair shirt, prophet whiskers and the longest inflowing locks seen in court in many a moon. He was accompanied by a similarly garbed and locked flock of faithful, more than a score of freakish men and women.

For months the German Messiahs have been peripatetically and profitably prophesying all over Germany, making many converts, particularly among women. The South German police, taking cognizance of the prophet’s increasing bare-footed and hair-shirted female following, put him into the psychiatric ward of Tuebingen University for observation, whence he was released owing to lack of a charge, but the professor’s expert findings are of remarkable human interest.

Until the outbreak of the war the hairy prophet was a well-groomed, fashionably dressed spender and husband of a remarkably beautiful woman living in luxury. He owned a champagne factory and also derived a large income from betting bureaus in Switzerland. But he blew in all his own and his wife’s money and went broke early in the war.

Then he began his career as an itinerant long-haired prophet. ‘His conspicuous virility exercised influenced a strong influence over a large number, even intellectual persons, particularly women,’ according to the Tuebingen professor.

In the police court Hauesser stubbornly refused to sit on the accused bench but graciously gave the Judge permission to go ahead and sentence him, however he pleased. He got the usual installment of three days in jail for contempt of court.”

From the March 17, 1904 New York Times:

“While in a cage with three lions this afternoon, Alfred J.F. Perrins, the animal trainer, suddenly became insane. Soon after he entered the cage Perrins struck one of the lions a vicious blow and cried, ‘Why don’t you bow to me, I am God’s agent.’

Perrins then left the cage, leaving the door open and saying, ‘They will come out, as God is looking after them.’ He then stood on a box and called on the spectators to come and be healed, saying he could restore sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and heal any disease by a gift just received from God.

The lions started to leave the cage and the spectators fled. The cage door was slammed by a policeman, who arrested Perrins. Physicians announced Perrins hopelessly crazed on religion. He has been in show business thirty years , having been with Robinson, Barnum, and Sells.”

From the July 17, 1898 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

New York Manila News–The European residents here (in Manila) complain of a tendency to scruff, which develops after a short stay in this climate, but they are generally loth to adopt the national preventive. In the forests of Luzon are a great many monkeys, and there is a belief among the natives that stewed monkey is an unfailing cure for all cutaneous diseases. To the stranger in these islands the idea of eating monkey flesh may be very revolting, but, there are few dishes more delicate than the young monkey stuffed and baked, though it does look very much like a small baby.”

From the January 11, 1885 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a story which originally appeared in the Wilson Echo of Kansas:

“A Barton County man has a living chicken without a head. Attempting to cut off a chicken’s head, the axe passed through the head of the chicken immediately in front of the ears, thus leaving a small portion of the brain attached to the neck. The chicken did not take this as an execution of his death warrant and got up and stood on his feet, to the astonishment of this would be executioner, who then contrived a plan to feed him by dropping food and drink into the thorax, which has so far proved a success. The chicken is now doing well.”

“Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence.”

“Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence.”

Trash has always been full of treasure and those who won contracts to remove offal from districts of Brooklyn in the 1800s checked the refuse closely for riches before chucking it, because you never knew what was going to turn up. And it was no different in London. From the July 4, 1886 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

“‘You would be surprised,’ sad a well known offal contractor to an Eagle reporter recently, ‘at the large number of valuables found in the city’s dumping grounds. Although the men in charge of the dumps deny that anything of value is ever found, I can vouch that they don’t always tell the truth. Miscellaneous articles, such as silver teaspoons, knives and forks, shoes and clothing, in good and bad condition, are picked up daily, but it frequently happens that gold watches and diamonds are among the valuables found. Dead babies a few years ago were not an uncommon occurrence. In the government grounds ten cents is charged for each load dumped. Articles of an unusual character are only found in the ashes and swill refuse. Ladies washing dishes will drop rings in the swill, and by the time they have missed them the swill will be on its way either to the dumping grounds or the piggeries. Diamonds, from earrings and rings, are lost in the same manner.

In London, the contract for examining ashes and swill is awarded to the highest bidder. The method employed by the contractor to ascertain whether any articles of value are contained in the rubbish is a novel one. The carts are dumped on a screen, which, after having become filled, is elevated into the air. A dozen men dressed in rubber suits, without pockets, are set to work on the screen. These men go over the ashes and the offal carefully, and in case anything valuable is found it is turned over at once to the contractor and superintendent. As the workers wear pocketless clothing they can secure nothing about their persons. After all the ashes have been thoroughly screened they are covered and a new lot examined.”

From the August 1, 1890 New York Times:

Plainfield, N.J. – Mary Goldsmith, who died near Plainfield a day or two ago in consequence, it is supposed, of a too free drinking of milk, was a cook employed on Gen, Schwenck’s large dairy farm, Holly Grove, on the Park Avenue Road. She was a middle-aged woman and had been in Gen. Schwenck’s service for some time.

She became very fond of the fresh milk, and drank it warm as it came from the cows morning and evening. The family cannot say how much she drank a day, but they think she must have consumed three or four gallons. She grew stout, but seemed to be in perfect health till within a day or two of her death. Then she complained of pains around her heart. She finally suffered so much that she was forced to her bed, and died a few hours later.”

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“A little thing that looks like a bean, but is really a whole mince pie, is swallowed.”

The only way to explain the following August 28, 1899 article is that either people in Indianapolis were taking their dinner in pill form or editors at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle were taking their lunch in liquid form. More likely the latter. An excerpt:

“Capsule banquets? Well, hardly! The idea of sitting around a table in company, taking pills and bursting into song, quip and jest and eloquence over a pellet! What are the scientists trying to do? Drive all the gayety out of the world? Such is the horrible possibility disclosed by way they dine in Indianapolis. It appears that in that city the public takes its steaks in capsules of concentrated beef–little capsules no bigger than a quinine pill. All that the hotel keeper has to furnish with it is a glass of water and a crumb of salt. Then they take a little powder which used to be a potato and toss that down, and if a regular table d’hote dinner as required a compressed tomato for salad and a little thing that looks like a bean, but is really a whole mince pie, is swallowed, and after that a demitasse follows of about the size of a homeopathic pill.

This kind of thing may do for Indianapolis and other Western cities where people are so busy making money and politics that they would forget to eat if they did not have their dinners in their pockets and have alarm clocks that went off warningly at the time to take them. But we can say to Indianapolis right now that she need not look for any outside endorsements of her persnickety practices. When we eat we do so not merely to sustain life, but because, when the right sort of victuals are afforded, it is fun to eat. We like to eat in company and bandy remarks across the table and up and down the length of it, and we like to wash down every course with colored liquids that look as if they were drawn from the jars and bottles that druggists keep in their windows, but are different. We are especially anxious as to those liquids. If in an emergency we consented to take our steaks in pellets and eat our soup dry in one tiny mouthful, are we supposed to take champagne and other mineral waters in a mustard spoon? Shall we quaff out Chateau Yquem and our Pontet Canet in single drops that would get lost between our tongue tips and our throats?

Why, the mere anxiety of keeping track of the potables in a dinner like that would offset all the possible pleasure to be had out of the banquet. Suppose a waiter were accidentally to stuff a couple of cases of Chablis into his vest pocket while he was gathering a service of fried chicken out of a pill box, and spill all the wine! Where would he then be and where would be the dinner? No sirs. We prefer to believe that stomachs were given to us in order to do work, and we do not thank the scientists who are trying to persuade us that all of our waking hours should be diverted from dinner and refreshments and devoted to labor and Lofty Thought. If this is all that science intends to do for us, down with science! Meantime, let us keep putting down pudding and cocktails and a lot of other joys.”

From the January 12, 1902 New York Times:

Phoenix, Ariz.–’Padre,’ a big medicine man of the Yuma Indians, who lives on a reservation near Yuma, Ariz., has been offered as a sacrifice to the spirit in accordance with the custom of his tribe and has expiated the sins of the tribe, which are held responsible for an epidemic of smallpox.

The medicine man learned several days ago of the intention of the Indians to sacrifice him, and fled to the mountains. Being half starved he returned to the Indian village and pleaded for mercy. He was bound hand and foot and conveyed by a squad of Indians to Mexico, where he was bound to a tree and tortured to death.

‘Padre’ had a warm place in the hearts of his tribesmen, but their customs required them to make a heavy sacrifice.”

"The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from."

“The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from.”

Before every infant was required by law to be accounted for by public authorities, “baby farms,” unlicensed businesses where newborns, often the unwanted offspring of prostitutes, exchanged hands for a profit via shadowy doorstep adoptions, were prevalent. These babies were not often cared for well as they awaited “purchase,” and the ones who perished were usually buried surreptitiously on the grounds of the farms. It was a dark practice that led to numerous shocking scandals. One such adoption story which had an odd twist was covered in perplexingly upbeat fashion in the February 18, 1891 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. An excerpt:

“What is known as the ‘baby farm’ is not an entirely modern institution. Nor has it escaped its share of criticism; but it serves one excellent purpose in supplying babies at small cost to lonely couples which Providence has not blessed with children. The beauty of it is that there is a large stock to choose from and it is just as easy to obtain a bouncing little girl, with the customary blue eyes and golden hair, as it is to acquire title to a rosy, roaring and frolicsome boy. It is with keen appreciation of these advantages that Mrs. Huber of Lorimer street, this city, negotiated for a baby warranted to give satisfaction and, having taken it home, succeeded in convincing her husband that the visitor was his son and heir. Mr. Huber appears to be one of those gentle, confiding creatures who are quite willing to believe that the moon is made of green cheese, and it is absolutely certain that he would still be celebrating his newly acquired dignity as a ‘parent’ had not an unlooked for incident disturbed the serenity of his repose.

angrybabyA few days after the appearance of the crowing youngster at the Lorimer street domicile, Mr. Huber was surprised to find his quarters invaded by strangers. There was a hack in front of the door, and upstairs, in his wife’s room, was a dashing young woman who, strange to say, made claim to Mr. Huber’s baby, and announced her intention to take it away with her, kindly promising, however, to leave another infant in its place. It is, of course, unnecessary to submit that Mr. Huber did not immediately recognize the young woman as the mother of his child, and after settling this point to his own satisfaction, came to the conclusion that he was harboring a lunatic. It was in vain that he appealed to Mrs. Huber. That estimable person, instead of becoming highly indignant at the unexpected turn of affairs, was disposed to accept the situation in a philosophical mood, and sat on the edge of the sofa closely studying the pattern of the carpet. Finally the truth was told, and Mr. Huber then had the pleasure of ascertaining that while Mrs. Watson Schermerhorn had changed her mind and wanted her baby back, Mrs. Kate Burke, polite and obliging as she was, was willing to let her baby be exchanged for it.

We do not believe that people will be disposed severely to blame the wife for the deception of which she was guilty, because her desire to be proud possessor of a prattling baby was really pathetic. It was the consuming passion of her life, for, as she innocently puts it, ‘there can be no happiness when there is no baby.’ But would it not have been advisable to consult the husband before surreptitiously introducing the stranger into the household?”

From the December 9, 1883 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Mobeetie (Texas) Panhandle–Jim Kelly, cow puncher, of Greer County, has been here for a few days. He is funning himself up a lot, and his contorting smile is frequent.”

"“In school I soon learned to unjoint my head.”

“In school I soon learned to unjoint my head.”

A performer of sorts blessed with extreme double-jointedness was the subject of a profile in the May 11, 1890 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in which he discussed a business arrangement that would not be completed until after his back had cracked for the final time. An excerpt:

“A freak in Barnum’s side show, who is in no sense of the word a fake, is Charles E. Hilliard. He dislocates his joints and replaces them at will to the great astonishment of the many visitors. The most eminent physicians in this and other countries have tried to solve the man’s peculiar gift, but all have failed and it remains as great a puzzle, to himself as well as others, as when he first discovered he could loosen himself, so to speak, without doing any harm or causing any pain. Mr. Hilliard is of medium height, lithe and graceful, and is possessed of his share of manly beauty. An Eagle reporter interviewed this stumbling block to science yesterday and drew from him a life history which is full on incident and novelty.

‘I was born at Martinsburg, W. Va.,’ he began, ‘on August 16, 1857. I grew up to a schooling age the same as any other child. One day–I remember it well–I climbed into an orchard from which little boys were supposed to be excluded, and catching sight of a dog, quickly jumped the fence into the roadway, turning my ankle when I struck the ground. It didn’t hurt any, so I kicked against the fence and snap it back into place again. I went home and scared my parents almost into hysterics by repeating my snap act, and they sent post haste for a doctor. He twisted me and hammered me, and found a lot of new places that could be broken without pain, finally giving up the puzzle with the consoling theory that there was a screw loose somewhere. In school I soon learned to unjoint my head and could write on the blackboard and look squarely at the school at the same time. I always cracked my ankles instead of snapping my fingers to attract the teacher’s attention, and if I found I was being beaten in a foot race I always managed to have a broken leg or twisted foot for ten, or fifteen, minutes as an excuse for having lost. When a bucket of coal was needed my wrist was always dislocated; during harvest time a dislocated knee came in very handy. I couldn’t carry water with a dislocated shoulder nor weed a garden with three broken fingers on each hand, so I managed to have things pretty easy during my childhood. As I grew older I found there were few joints in my body that I could not dislocate and it gradually got to worrying me. I consulted one doctor after another and one word, enigma, gives the result of all their investigations.

‘I now began to get used to being an exhibition through having so many doctors experimenting with me and resolved to accept one of the many offers that kept pouring in upon me to visit medical colleges, throughout this country and England, and after exhibiting for a time before surgeons and students at home, I took an engagement in the Royal College, in London, where they kept me for seven years and yet could tell no more when I left than when I entered. College work pays me the best, I get $150 a week at a college, but I have worked for $75 in a museum just because I wanted a change so much.

“He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

“He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

‘By the way I suppose you read in the newspapers a few years ago how I sold my bones. I had received various offers from half a dozen cranks scattered over the country from $1,000 to $4,000 for my body after death, but I paid no attention to them. Finally, one day while I was exhibiting at the Bellevue Hospital, Philadelphia, Dr. Doremus came up to me with a pleasant smile and the equally pleasant greeting of, ‘Well, Hilliard, how much for your bones to-day?’ ‘They’re $6,000 to-day,’ said I, laughing. ‘It’s a go,’ he answered, and the next day he sent me a check for that amount, and I signed a contract giving him my skeleton after death, but reserving the right to use it myself until death occurs.’

Mr. Hilliard has never known what it was to be ill, and is in perfect physical condition. He is married, well educated and a very pleasing conversationalist.”

From the January 21, 1891 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Decatur, Ill. – A surgeon of this city has just completed a novel surgical operation. He removed part of four ribs of a cat and inserted them in the nose of a young lady, forming a perfect bridge for the nose. The bones of the nose had decayed and were removed. This is said to be the first operation of the kind known in the annals of surgery.”

“Who shall say into what these automatic salesmen will develop?”

Arkady Joseph “A.J.” Sack was decades ahead of his time in scheme if not execution. The Russian-born businessperson (and historian), who had an ardor for animatronics, announced in the late 1920s that he would open a chain of automated department stores, the first to be located in Manhattan, which would feature talking robots rather than salespeople. One human would oversee the entire operation, with the machines communicating information to customers about the 150 products offered, accepting payments and thanking shoppers for their business, giving carbon-based workers the day off every day. The shops never opened.

In the March 10, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Marcia Nardi wrote an article about Sack and his helpful hardware, though the story focuses more on the robots and their sociological effects (skipping merrily past the specter of mass unemployment), rather than going into detail about the stores. (You can learn more specifics about the proposed shops here and here.) Two excerpts from the long article.

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“Before this winter is out, America will have been invaded by a whole army of salesmen-robots which have been called ‘almost human automatons,’ and of which the Associated Press says: ‘They will do everything but slap the customer on the back and ask him how his family is.’

In other words now that the infant penny-in-the-slot machine, not unfamiliar to commuting subwayites, has reached maturity and adult robustness, the salesman-robot is about to take his place along with the radio and airplane as one of the marvels of the Twentieth Century.

The salesmen-robots have been devised by the Consolidated Automatic Merchandising Corporation and A.J. Sack, the chairman of the firm, looks forward to their debut into the business world with all the assurance of the Creator when he commanded Eve to spring forth from Adam’s Rib.

‘In America today,’ says Mr. Sack, ‘we look over the merchandise in our homes, through the advertising pages of newspapers and magazines. Even in our travels and pleasure excursions, we actually shop through the medium of posters and billboards. National advertising, grown to the dimensions of a billion dollar industry, sells us on hundreds of articles in advance of our seeing them.

‘Having been sold on an article because it is standardized and advertised, it is hardly logical or economical to have a human being perform the simple, mechanical operation of exchanging this article for money. An Automatic Merchandising Machine can perform this work at less expense and more promptly.'”

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“With the inquiries and orders on hand, there will probably be a million and a half robots at work before long–mechanical men that will not only give the public what it wants in the way of service but will also add a little human touch to their purely mechanical function by saying ‘Thank you’ and by repeating the slogan connected with the merchandise they offer.

These robots will not have human forms like the robots of Captain Roberts and Captain Richards and will bear less resemblance outwardly to their English brother and sister than to their sires, the weighing and postage stamp and bar of chocolate machines, and will have much in common with the restaurants where you don’t require the smile of a pretty waitress in order to get your lunch.

But even as the automobile and airplane must smile incredulously as they contemplate their own tintypes of 1908, who shall say into what these automatic salesmen will develop?

Inventors of the future will probably perfect these machines so that they will be able to do everything a man does, but most likely they will never be able to make robots think. That is where the robots fall down, but that is also where their success lies.

We no longer need the personality of glib-tongued salesmen to influence our choice in buying small commodities. He might just as well be a mechanical man of iron and steel with electricity in his veins instead of blood for all the need the customer now has of salesmanship abilities. In the same way people in many other industries and trades have been similarly reduced to mere automatons, and perhaps some day other robots beside the salesman type will be the means of releasing that horde of countless workers whose tedious machinelike jobs in our factories and offices and telephone exchanges often leave their minds too dull and inert for any real enjoyment of their free hours. 

‘Yes, these robots have an importance beyond their economic one,’ says Mr. Sack, ‘It is true, of course, that the discord between modern production and the old-fashioned methods of distribution originally prompted their invention and is responsible for their growing popularity. But it is an established fact that every step in the development of our machinery age means also, in the long run, a forward step in the development of our civilization and culture. The energy released through the application of machinery in production is already responsible for our higher standards of living, and for the development and appreciation of art, music and literature among broad masses of people. The substitution of mechanical slaves for human slaves will inevitably result in further development of cultural progress among those who will gradually be freed from the deadening monotony of a mechanical job.'”

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From the May 31, 1811 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

St. Claireville, O.–During a thunderstorm at Harrisville, Ada Morgan, a high school girl, while talking over the telephone was knocked unconscious when lightning came in on the wire. The hair was burned from the left side of the head, and one ear was badly burned and a strip of skin an inch wide was burned on the girl’s body from the head to the foot, where the shoe was torn off. She will recover.”

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