Here are a few items that caught my eye of late while clipping newspaper articles. One astonishes (that anyone made it through alive!), one will make you wince, the others may just give you a chuckle to start your week — oh, and a little European and literary history thrown in for good measure.
As I write today’s article on Sunday evening we are having our third straight night of storms. The first night the wind just blew HARD, almost tearing a couple of tomato plants out of the garden and breaking off a stem or two. Last night the rain came down in sheets with winds of probably at least forty miles per hour (or more). I was afraid the garden would be devastated but it actually weathered the storm pretty well, all things considered.
Tonight it is steadily raining and we’re being treated to a lightning show. It reminded me of a clipping I came across recently from the June 18, 1896 Kirksville (Missouri) Weekly Graphic. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have this happen (it would have scared the bejeebers out of me!):
During the rain storm last Saturday afternoon the residence of Rev. W.E. Chambliss was struck by lightning. The electric fluid entered at one of the dinning [sic] room windows, tearing off the shutter. From the dining room it skipped to the kitchen, shocking Mrs. Chambliss and knocking over a little daughter, who was in this room with her mother, and for a moment converting a gasoline stove into a huge electric light. It then left the building by the door as unceremoniously as it had entered at the window, slightly damaging some of the wood work near the floor. Fortunately no serious damage was done and none of the family was seriously injured.
Bet that was some sermon the reverend preached the next day!
Has Donkey Trouble
From the July 2, 1934 issue of the Lincoln Star:
William C. Cook, Wichita Falls, Tex., will have to answer in police court for the sins of his long-eared, sad-eyed donkey, J. Wellington Wimpy. It seems Mr. Wimpy has developed a liking for beer. He is one of the donkeys employed by a troupe which plays baseball on donkey back. Friday night Cook rode Wimpy into a beer tavern and demanded suds for his charger. Wimpy got too much and caused a riot. M. Earl O’Brien, tavern owner, called the law. Wimpy and Cook went to the hoosegow.
Dancing Straight to Jail
This Wilmington, Delaware man decided jail might be a better option (Lebanon Daily News, 15 May 1924):
Charley Curran has decided jail is better than a dance marathon. As long as he footed along in the marathon – he was shuffling through for more than 800 hours – he could keep out of jail where his wife decided he should go for alimony inconsistencies. The marathon promoters paid the alimony as long as he danced. But Charley go tired, the payments stopped and the jail has Charley now.
Victim of Horse’s Kick Swallows Part of Teeth
Think you’re having a bad day? What about this unfortunate fellow of Edon, Indiana who had a run-in with a horse:
Joseph Robinett, a prominent farmer living three miles west of Edon, who was kicked in the face by a horse last Thursday, is recovering. He was wanted at the telephone, and a member of his family went to the barn to call him and found him in an unconscious condition behind the horse’s heels. His teeth had been broken and he had swallowed a part of the teeth and a broken plate.
Bad English in Court Draws 30 Day Jail Term
For some reason it took me awhile to decipher the “bad English” in this article, but this Footedale, Pennsylvania man found out it didn’t pay to swear in court before a judge (the judge apparently had some difficulty understanding it as well):
Emile Polkabla, young Footedale miner, lost his liberty yesterday afternoon when he forgot himself while on the witness stand in court and started to speak the Queen’s English.
Emile was both defending and prosecuting surety of the peace charges with John Koballa, a nearby neighbor. In addition Polkabla is charged with being the father of a baby which Mary Koballa, a daughter of John, is anticipating in the near future.
“Heezadamliar,” shouted out Emile when he took the witness stand. “How’s that,” asked Judge D.W. Henderson, who thought he misunderstood. “Heezeadamliar,” repeated Emile all in one.
“Is that so,” replied Judge Henderson, “Well, young man, just take 30 days in the county jail until you learn how to conduct yourself in a court room.”
In addition Emile was directed to pay all costs on both proceedings and further at the end of the 30 days when liberty and sunshine greets him again he must post a bond of $500 to further keep the peace.
Deputy Sheriff Preacher Brady led the Footedale man over the bridge of sighs.1
That last phrase, “bridge of sighs”, caught my eye – what does that mean? At first I thought it might have been a typo, but a quick search revealed some interesting European and literary history. The “Bridge of Sighs” was mentioned in Lord Byron’s poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage which chronicled his travels to foreign lands.
This bridge, Ponte de Sospiri, is located in Venice, Italy, one of over four hundred bridges which span the canals. Built by Antonio Contino in 1600, the bridge was attached to the Doge’s palace (the Duke’s residence) which also served as an inquisitor’s or judge’s office. Across the way was the state prison.
The bridge was the path prisoners took when transported from their appearance before the judge to the prison or vice versa. “Its name stems from the popular belief of sadness and the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the executioner.”2
The term “Bridge of Sighs” was used after Byron’s poem was published. The prison building was older than the palace and had long ago been used by the Church during the Inquisition, for non-believers and people suspected of witchcraft.
Whoever wrote the article must have known their literary history rather well, depicting Emile “poetically” escorted to the nearby jail, albeit not to be executed. Just another reason I love history and writing this blog — even the stuff you learn from obscure little news clippings. As I find so often, one thing leads to another and I’ve learned something new today!
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2015.
- The Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA), 29 Nov 1930, p. 1)
- Pitara , Why is the Bridge of Sighs so Called?, by B. Sumangal)