Odd news from the past

Originally Published September 9, 2009

Just as today, odd news stories popped up in the newspapers from time to time; editors put them in to fill space, because he thought his readers might be interested, or because they tickled his funny bone. Here’s a few to tickle your funny bone. While the stories may not be based in Colorado every time, they were in the Colorado newspapers.

 From the Denver Times, March 7th, 1901
Miss Ethel Bartholomew, 18, of Wallingford, Connecticut, is suing Charles Parmalee, a wealthy farmer from Wallingford, for $10,000, claiming his “Boo!” on dark winter evening has ruined her and made her so nervous that she can never become a teacher as she had planned.
Apparently, a year earlier, Miss Bartholomew and a friend set out from her home to visit the dressmakers.   As they went up a dark street, they realized they were being followed by a man, who was shuffling his feet and said “Boo!” to them when they noticed him. They ran to the nearest house, and the man chased them, saying “Boo!” again. At this time, the young ladies recognized his voice, and while Miss Bartholomew’s friend berated the man,   Miss Bartholomew was in such a state of hysterics she needed a doctor’s attention, and has been under a doctor’s care since. She claimed that because of this event, there are times when she is literally paralyzed, unable to move or speak, and this has put an end to her plans to become a teacher. Mr. Parmalee admits to following the girls, but did not intent to scare them. Trial was set for the following week.
Now no news about whether she won her case; perhaps the follow up story can be found in a New Haven, Connecticut newspaper.
From the Denver Post, May 8, 1922
Couple marries in their bathing suits and their parson gets in trouble. Frank Wall Helen Brinsfield, of Dallas, Texas, decided to have a unique wedding – at a bathing pool in Medicine Park, Oklahoma. On August3, 1921, in a moonlit ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Wall were married by Reverend Thomas Irwin, while standing in waist deep water. The entire wedding party of 18, including the Reverend, were clad in proper bathing suits for the time. The wedding appears to have been wonderful for the couple and the guests, but sadly for the reverend, his presbytery put him on trial several days later for “conduct unbecoming of a minister.” It does not say in the article whether the man was removed from his ministry, but we can hope that it all went well for him.
From the Denver Post, May 11, 1922
“Lost hair dye brings woe to Bigamist, 68”
The original title of the article tells most of the story already. Mr. Calvin Wampler, true age 68, was not only jailed for bigamy, but also sued for annulment by his most recent bride, Mrs. Anna Minich Wampler. Mr. Wampler, with the aid of hair dye, posed as a 36 year old man, and courted and won the hand of the wealthy Miss Minich, aged 46. All was going well until Mr. Wampler mislaid his hair dye and his gray hair became apparent, prompting his new bride to ask how old he really was. Of course, the new Mrs. Wampler, upon receiving the information that her husband really was older than her, did some more investigation and found that he had a home and another wife in a nearby town! This, of course, led to his incarceration and the loss of his second wife.
From the Rocky Mountain News, August 11, 1914
A few divorce cases of couples in Denver; the divorce part was common enough, with a divorce rate of approximately one out of every 14 marriages ending in divorce at the time, but the causes sited for divorce are what make these cases unique.
Robert and Sarah Miller are divorcing on grounds that he has no sympathy for her hay fever, and has refused to give her money to go to the mountains to escape the worst part of it for the season. She also claims that he hides food from her so she doesn’t get enough to eat. Mrs. Miller claims Mr. Miller is worth $20,000 and asks for alimony.
Virginia and Ethelbert Erlenborn are divorcing over matters of a marital loan. Mrs. Erlenborn lent her husband money to start a business, and he had refused to pay her back. She claimed non support for her petition of divorce. The couple had been married almost six years.
Samuel and Fannie Slaughter are up for divorce; Mr. Slaughter filed on the grounds that his wife was in prison for theft.
From the Rocky Mountain News, July 27, 1902
The American Dredging Company in Breckenridge, cleaning up the Summit county placer mines, found a gold nugget weighing almost 25 ounces and worth $500. This is the largest nugget ever found in the Summit County.
From the Denver Times, December 14, 1901
Chicago, Illinois – as a corpse lies on the examining table, doctors and police officers bow their heads in a moment of prayer for the deceased man. Suddenly, the corpse bursts out in laughter, sending the room into chaos. The non-deceased, William McDonald, continued laughing about his joke all the way to the Desplaines jail and up until the judge fined him $10 for disorderly conduct, admonishing Mr. McDonald that it was no laughing matter to come back to life after being declared dead. Mr. McDonald said he was in town visiting friends, and decided to inject some fun into the lives of the officers on duty that evening, and the street car driver. Officers Finerty and Casey, who had brought in the “body” and Drs. Hogardus and Nash were reported to be still shaken up at the time of the story.
Amusing, yes? But it is the details of this case that makes the story even funnier.   Apparently Mr. McDonald, when a Paulina Street car came to a stop, crawled out of the shadows and onto the fender of the vehicle, and feigned death. Mr. William Johnson, a passerby, gave out a yell when he saw the “body” on the vehicle, which caused it to stop again. No sign of life was found in Mr. McDonald (He must have been very good at holding his breath) and a police wagon was summoned, and Mr. McDonald was delivered to the hospital, since there seemed to be no signs of bruising or other damager to the body. Drs. Hogardus and Nash were summoned, and as soon as they arrived, the “corpse” started shrieking in laughter, and had to be held down by the officers.
“Quit laughing,” Said officer Casey, in a frightened but firm voice. “You’re dead. Dead men shouldn’t laugh.”
The Doctors declared Mr. McDonald as quite alive, and officers Finerty and Casey put the man back on the stretcher and into the police wagon, with the intent of taking him to jail. Still laughing, Mr. McDonald rolled off the stretcher and started to climb into the driver’s seat. Mr. Wilson, driver of the wagon, turned deathly pale and whipped the horses up toward the morgue until the officers informed him that the man was alive and they were going to the police station instead.
Mr. McDonald continued to laugh as he was booked on a charge of disorderly conduct. The officers later said they wished they could book him on a more serious charge – “Assault with intent to kill by fright or some still more serious accusation.”
From the Denver Post, July 15, 1944
A Greeley man claims it is his pig who is guilty of theft and not him, when a neighbor’s washtub was found in his yard. Libardo Golindo said his pig had gotten lost and wandered onto the neighbor’s property, and while investigating the tub, ended up with it on his head. The pig then wandered back home, finally dislodging the washtub. Golindo claimed to have found it and intended to return it, but had not gotten around to it yet. He was fined $10 for petty larceny and instructed to go home and talk to his pig about the evils of stealing.
From the Denver Times, December 14, 1901
“Drummer draws his gun on a Colorado Springs young man”
As the story goes, a drummer from a traveling company checked himself into the Antlers Hotel and promptly went back out, returning around 11:30 am with one of Colorado Springs “lovely young ladies”. They went into the hotel’s café for lunch. A couple of local young men, clearly having imbibed a great deal throughout the evening, entered the café and proceeded to make disparaging remarks about the drummer and his female companion. They were also making fun of the drummer form not drinking anything stronger than Manitou water. Eventually the drummer had enough, and pulled his revolver on the men. Timely action from a bell boy, who took the gun from the drummer, kept anything more serious from happening. The drummer and his lady friend left the café, and later returned alone. The troublemakers continued to lounge around the hotel, indifferent to the problem they had caused. The police were not notified.
The drummer, upon speaking to the reporter later in Denver, declared himself “thoroughly disgusted with the state of affairs at Colorado Springs, which renders it impossible for a gentleman to take a young lady out to lunch without being insulted.”
This advertisement for Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co. was in the May 20, 1912 edition of the Denver Times. The heading seems a little odd at first glance.
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