Strange Times Special 7: A Runaway Horse

Strange Times is going on hiatus for the month of August, as I work to finish revisions for the sequel to Westside. To tide you over for the next few weeks, I’ve included some favorites from issues 9 and 16, concerning a fasting zealot and a horse on the loose in Union Square.

First published in “Strange Times 9,” this has always felt like a fit subject for a play. Someday I’ll get to it, I’m sure…

DANVILLE, Ill., Jan. 8.—For the first time since his wife forty days ago began fasting in an attempt to induce him to abandon his produce business and join her as an evangelist of her religious faith, Ernest S. Harrington today admitted he was worried over her condition.

"I thought she was only bluffing when she started," he said, "and would soon give up her foolish notion, but I now see she is determined to go the limit. But I am just as determined as she is. Lawyers have informed me that I cannot be prosecuted in the event her fast results in death. I have done everything to induce her to eat except to join her church, and I won't do that."

Harrington says the only religion he knows is the Golden Rule, and he does not believe it necessary to have any other.

He is receiving many letters, some praising his wife's attitude and others from persons congratulating him for not yielding. One woman informs him her husband threatens to emulate Mrs. Harrington unless the writer joins his church. 

Relatives deny that Mrs. Harrington has a high fever, as has been rumored, but admit she has grown much weaker and is more restless.

From “Strange Times 16” comes the thrilling conclusion!

DANVILLE, Ill., Jan. 15.—Mrs. Ernest S. Harrington, who says she has been fasting for forty-eight days to influence her husband to become a church member, ended her hunger strike today, on being advised by the Rev. G.S. Payne of Eldorado to take food. She consented and drank a glass of milk in the presence of a minister.

Her husband, for whom she declared and undertook the strike, says his wife has "seen the error of her own way and is willing to resume her daily routine of life." He says he has not joined the church and will not do so "until he gets ready."

Mrs. Harrington is not expected to suffer any ill effects from breaking her fast, as it is the general belief of physicians here that she has not been abstaining from food for more than a week at most. Immediately after drinking the milk she admitted that she felt better and said she would not resume her fast.

A movement on foot here to investigate Mrs. Harrington's sanity and to have the Grand Jury sitting next week investigate the activities of religious enthusiasts who are said to have encouraged the woman in her fast is reported to have been responsible for the ending of the hunger strike. 

According to the woman's assertions, she had taken no food for forty-eight days. Dr. W.C. Dixon, City Health Commissioner, who examined her, declared, however, that he was convinced she had abstained from nourishment not more than a week and said that her condition was virtually normal.

Expressions of doubt that she had really fasted for the full period were characterized earlier in the day by Mrs. Harrington as "attempts to cheat God of the glory of preserving my body and keeping me alive until the great victory is win."

When asked if she did not fear she would die if she persisted in fasting Mrs. Harrington said: "Death? Why, no, I've never given that a thought. I know, however, that I am not going to die. Why, God wouldn't let me die. If I do, then nothing will be accomplished by my fasting."

The other story from “Strange Times 16,” included here because it’s too damn good not to.

Policeman Henry Koch captured a runaway horse yesterday after a chase in Broadway which ended like a fox hunt. He brought down the animal just as it was about to "take ground" by diving into the Union Square subway station of the B.R.T. at Sixteenth Street and Broadway.

The horse started to run with a delivery wagon after it had been left standing by Laurence Kerwin, a driver for the Oakley Stables, at Seventh Avenue and Eighteenth Street, while he stopped to get cigarettes.

Policeman Koch saw the horse making for Broadway at high speed, and tried to grab the bridle, but was thrown aside and knocked down. He scrambled to his feet and hailed a passing taxicab. 

The chauffeur put on full speed after the runaway horse and was almost alongside as the horse entered Broadway. The animal started uptown, then made a quick turn downtown. The chauffeur spun his machine around like a polo pony and was on the trail, while the crowd at the corner scattered in all directions, equally afraid of the hunters and the quarry.

Shouts so frightened the horse that it made another half turn and dashed for Union Square, scattering a number of people about to enter the subway kiosk.

The chauffeur made another quick change of direction and got alongside just as the horse saw the subway entrance and seemed to make for it like a scared fox darting into cover. Two or three people on the stairs reached the bottom in one leap. 

Policeman Koch, who is a skilled horseman and served in the field artillery of the A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Force], sprang from the running board of the taxicab and landed astride the animal's back. He made a desperate effort to rein the horse in, but was unsuccessful, and scores of spectators held their breath, expecting to see horse, rider and wagon plunge into the subway.

With only a second to spare, Koch swung his club and landed hard on the head of the animal. The horse and policeman fell in a heap. Koch jumped to his feet unhurt, while the spectators cheered.

Strange Times 83: Americans Like Milk

Today’s delightfully brief issue brings tales of overindulgence in dairy and jingoism. Put your hand over your heart for…

March 24, 1921

  • A California movie house chain bars any film featuring Clara Smith Hamon, lately acquitted of the murder of oil man Jake Hamon.

  • Chicago and Cincinnati bar the sale of Henry Ford’s paper, the Dearborn Independent, to protest its relentless anti-Semitism.

  • Apparently following orders from Moscow, Communists rise up and seize key buildings in Hamburg and other German cities.

  • The Weather: Increasing cloudiness and warmer today; Friday, showers, followed by clearing; southeast winds.

Since I’m sure you’re wondering, this is about double the cow’s milk Americans drink today.

WASHINGTON, March 23.—The average American today is a great milk drinker and consumes twice as much as former generations, according to the Department of Agriculture. The consumption of milk last year was estimated at 44 gallons per capita, not including that used in ice-cream, cheese and butter. 

While every family had its own cow in colonial days, the department experts said, the present day development of dairy centers with modern methods of handling and transportation facilities, make it easier now for the city consumer to get his milk supply.

Real Americans drink milk and pledge allegiance to stuff. Can you say the same about the people teaching your children?

ALBANY, March 23.—Over Democratic opposition that declared the measure a “fool bill,” the Assembly passed today by a vote of 98 to 31 the Halpern bill, which would require public school teachers to take an oath of allegiance to the flag and the Federal and State Constitutions. The measure is an aftermath of the “Red” investigation last year by a legislative committee, headed by Senator Clayton R. Lusk, now leader of the upper house.

“I was inclined to think that the hysteria which prevailed last year in this chamber had passed,” declared Minority Leader Charles D. Donohue in opposing the measure. “It would seem that unless a man wraps a flag around him he is not an American.”

Assemblyman Halpern, introducer of the bill, declared there were teachers in the New York City public schools who have “disregarded the ideals of institutions of the State and nation.” He asserted that the measure opened up an avenue to get “the teachers out of the schools who have no respect for American institutions.”

The Assembly defeated the Dickstein bill to permit Jews to keep open their places of business on Sunday. The vote was 96 to 31. Assemblyman Dickstein moved that the vote be reconsidered. His motion prevailed, and he will make another attempt to pass the bill.

Strange Times 81: Hungry Burglar Faints

If the title of “Strange Times 80: A Very Large Cock” doesn’t make you want to sign up for a full subscription, well, I just don’t know what to do with you.

Today brings a threatened Astor, an ejected Pastor, and two other articles that won’t fit into my rhyme scheme. Set poetry aside for…

March 22, 1921

  • Harry T. Lamey is convicted of threatening Man o’ War, but claims his demand of $10,000 in exchange for the horse’s life was made only “out of curiosity” to see what the animal’s owners would do. 

  • In Montevideo, a new law to legalize duelling results in the death of Captain Melo, of the Uruguayan army. 

  • The Canadian minister of commerce blames Canadian housewives’ unnecessary purchases of, “fruit, vegetables, eggs and textiles” for the adverse exchange rate with the United States.

  • The Weather: Fair and much cooler today; Wednesday, fair; strong northwest winds.

Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons, was 42 when she chased the man who threatened her through the streets of Plymouth, so rich and so fancy and so exquisitely British that she simply could not imagine he might actually cause her harm.

LONDON, March 22.—The papers publish an account of an unpleasant encounter which Lady Astor had with a stranger at Plymouth on Saturday afternoon.

She was accosted in the entrance hall of her residence by a man who declared in violent terms that he had served two terms of imprisonment and would return to prison in a few days on her account. Lady Astor asked him if he was threatening to kill her, and the man replied, “Yes.”

Realizing that he might attack her if she displayed any fear, Lady Astor temporized with the man and he eventually left the house, but refused to give his name.

Determined to get this information, the account proceeds, her Ladyship followed him and the man started to run. She did likewise and pursued him into some stables, where again she demanded to know his identity. Once more her courage dismayed the man, for he took to his heels and ran into a public house and out through the back of the premises, with Lady Astor in close pursuit. 

Within a short distance further the man was captured, but Lady Astor expressed the wish that no legal proceedings should be taken against him.

A theological filibuster! 

Bad feeling which resulted several weeks ago in violence among students of Beaulah Mission in North Bergen, N.J., the theological seminary of the Church of Jesus, formerly the Holy Rollers, culminated on Sunday in such a row between factions over the possession of the pulpit of the church that the police had to intervene and eject the reigning pastor in favor of his successor.

Last week the Board of Trustees, of which Henry D. Smith is President, decided to depose the Rev. Dr. Ernest Whitcomb and Rev. Dr. Harold M. Moss of Stockbridge, Mass., to assume its pulpit. As Dr. Moss was starting for church on Sunday for installation services, he was informed that the Rev. Dr. Whitcomb, who is blind, had gone to the church and taken a strategic position on the platform.

Dr. Whitcomb started the service at 2 o’clock, but did not end as usual. The clergyman led the singing and prayer services, read from the Scriptures and preached. The congregation began to weary, but many of them remained. Then it got to be supper time, and the Rev. Mr. Whitcomb was still holding the church. Some of his friends brought him something to eat, and he dined on the platform.

Dr. Moss lost patience and decided it was time for drastic action. And when the bell pealed for evening service, he, with church officers and two policemen, walked in. The policemen led out Dr. Whitcomb. Some of his followers did not submit so meekly, however, and the policemen arrested five. They were Cyrus M. Robinson, Maynard Ketcham, Clarence Teboe, Rex A. Thompson and Ernest F. Morris. Then Dr. Moss conducted the evening service. 

The men arrested were to have been arraigned last night, but their cases were adjourned last night because of the preoccupation of their counsel.

Pity Don Wade, who should have robbed a luncheonette instead. 

Fainting as a result of three days without food, Don Wade, 20 years old, of Pittsburgh, was taken prisoner early yesterday after he had cut an eighteen-inch hole through a ceiling in the offices of Van Pessler & Schleyer, livery goods dealers, at 509 West Eighth Street. He was found by Mr. Schleyer when he noticed a hole above his desk.

When arraigned in Jefferson Market Court on a charge of burglary, Wade told Magistrate Nolan that he had entered the building through the roof and had become unconscious. Wade pleaded guilty and was held in $2,000 bail for the Grand Jury.

Is this a story about women failing to help women, or the simple importance of punctuality? The balance of sympathy swings rather radically against the brusk assemblywoman when you learn the nature of the bill she is trying to pass.

Assemblywoman Marguerite Smith of the Nineteenth Assembly District is a businesslike young woman, so, when a delegation of trades union women whom she had agreed to meet at her home, 22 West 122nd Street, yesterday at 1:30 sharp, did not arrive on the minute, she started off in her car for the 2:11 train for Albany and left the women standing disconsolately on the street.

There were twenty women, representing 100,000 others. They bore a petition signed by 30,000. Miss Rose Schneiderman, President of the Women’s Trades Union League, and Miss Nora Long of the Women Upholsterers’ Union were their leaders. They wanted to protest against a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Smith repealing the law preventing women from working after 10 p.m. It is said some of the women, believing a few minutes would make no difference, tarried, and in that time Miss Smith was off.

“I can’t wait,” she called to the delegation as she was whirled off. “I must take that train.”

“There are other trains,” wailed the women, but the young Assemblywoman had vanished.

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