Strange Times is a weekly newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time. Issues 0-52 are archived here. If you haven’t upgraded to a premium subscription, do so here to get every issue, every week.
Today brings a gun-toting pastor, a reevaluated Zipfel, a heroic Paskert, and a pair of children driven by Hollywood to a life of crime. Please think of the children on…
February 24, 1921
Author William Allen White issues a statement that the film version of his novel, In the Heart of the Fool is the worst movie he's ever seen, complaining that the producers changed his story into "a nasty sex thing."
The Princeton sophomores caught in the blizzard while hunting for wildcats reach safety after hiking ten miles through waist-deep snow.
Caruso's doctors insist the tenor's larynx has not been affected by his illness, and that they hope he will be recovered in time for the fall opera season.
The Weather: Fair, colder today; Friday cloudy, somewhat warmer; strong northwest winds.
This“vivid narrative” doesn’t quite reach the killing itself, but I am awed by the story of Rev. U.O.L. Spracklin, and by god I want to hear more.
SANDWICH, Ontario, Feb. 23.—The Rev. U.O.L. Spracklin, liquor license inspector, on trial for manslaughter in connection with the death of Beverly Trumble, hotel keeper, took the witness stand tonight in his own defense, and for two hours withstood the ordeal of searching cross-examination. The pastor-inspector recited a vivid narrative of the incidents which preceded the killing, bursting into tears when he described how he fired the fatal shot.
The courtroom was packed. The spectators were moved by the pathetic figure of the defendant as he endeavored to justify his act.
Spracklin recounted his original charges against conditions in the town of Sandwich, in which he had declared indecency, intoxication and other violations of the law were tolerated by police officials. He told of watching the roadhouse from a vantage point and had seen intoxicated men and women leaving it.
He described his attempt on a previous occasion to search Trumble’s car after having seen a truckload of beer delivered at the roadhouse, and was subjected to abuse by the man and his wife, both of whom threatened him.
Mrs. Evelyn Bell, sister of the accused man, testified she met Trumble in the park at Bois Blanc, where she had gone on an excursion, and he advised her to tell her brother to get out of the license inspection business.
"He will be shot if he doesn't get off the job," Mrs. Bell testified Trumble told her. "They will shoot a man quicker for whisky than they will for money. He wants to get off the job before he gets killed."
Mrs. Bell testified she warned the Rev. Spracklin immediately on her return to Windsor, and that she considered Trumble's language a threat against her brother's life.
Similar testimony was given by Seaman Reid of Walkerville, a toolmaker. He said once when Spracklin went to search the Dominion House he was stopped by Trumble, who said:
"I don't care whether you are an officer or preacher or what you are, I'll wallop you. Come outside and I'll lick you in a short time."
Spracklin, the witness said, pushed Trumble out of his way, saying he had no quarrel with him. Trumble followed Spracklin, the witness continued, uttering threats. When Spracklin got into the car to drive off, the witness said Trumble shouted at him: "I'll get you yet."
A promising update to the case of Miss Lena Zipfel, who was hurled into an insane asylum after the school board charged that she mistreated her students. Last week’s issue included Miss Zipfel’s account of her railroading, and is available to all premium subscribers here.
ALBANY, Feb. 23.—Charges by Miss Lena Zipfel that the New York City Board of Education dismissed her as a public school teacher without a fair trial, and had her "railroaded" to an insane asylum when she fought for reinstatement, will be investigated by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Chairman Louis M. Martin reiterated today.
"We are going to get to the bottom of this thing," declared Chairman Martin. "It does not seem to me that Miss Zipfel was given a fair trial. As far as the question of her sanity is concerned, the fact that she was declared sane by Dr. William Mabon when she was charged by the school authorities with being insane in 1916 will carry some weight with me."
Considerable pressure is being brought to bear on Assemblyman Frederick A. Wells, Kings County Republican, to withdraw the bill introduced by him to reinstate Miss Zipfel, according to Mr. Wells. The bill is now before the Judiciary Committee and is expected to be reported to the House for its consideration.
Three cheers for Dode Paskert, the apparent inspiration for the Simpsons scene when José Canseco gets stuck rescuing a woman’s entire apartment from a fire.
CLEVELAND, Feb. 23.—Heroic efforts of George "Dode" Paskert, outfielder of the Cincinnati National League team saved the lives of five small children and helped save the lives of ten other persons, when fire broke out in the Union Clothing Company store, on Lorain Avenue early today and swept through the second floor where three families were sleeping.
Paskert was passing the store when the fire was discovered. He made three trips into the burning building, carrying out five children wrapped in rugs and his overcoat and directed the other members of three families to safety.
In the rescues Paskert's hands and arms were badly burned and his face blistered by the flames. The property loss was small.
Kids have been blaming their misdeeds on the movies since the movies were born. I look forward to hearing whether or not young Israel cracks. I doubt he will.
Imitating a method which one of them said they had seen in the movies, two small boys yesterday afternoon locked an east side butcher in his refrigerator, robbed the cash register and left the store without releasing the man. A half hour later Father Philip McGrath of St. Brigid's Church rescued Herman Jablonowitz, the butcher. He collapsed and had to be attended by a physician.
About 6 o'clock the boys entered the shop at 401 East Eighth Street, and one of them, later identified by Jablonowitz as Israel Mendelson, 12 years old, of 405 East Eighth Street, asked for 5 cents' worth of meat for a dog. Jablonowitz went to the rear and opened the iceroom. One of the boys closed the door, locking it. The two then took $22 out of the cash register and left.
As Father McGrath was passing, some children, who had watched the proceedings, told him that they thought Jablonowitz still was in the refrigerator. The priest hastened to the rear of the shop and opened the door. Jablonowitz fell into his arms.
After questioning children in the neighborhood, Detectives Grossman and Murray of the Union Street Station arrested Mendelson. At the station house he admitted that he had participated in the robbery, but refused to name the other boy, who, he said, had the money. Mendelson will be arraigned in the Children's Court today on a charge of juvenile delinquency.
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