Often when we here at Forgotten Stories have finished a story, and laid our weary head down to rest, there are leftovers that didn’t quite seem to fit, or illustrations that were interesting, but a whole column couldn’t be fashioned around them. So here we present a Forgotten Stories smorgasbord (by the way, smörgåsbord didn’t enter the American lexicon until 1939, when it was a featured entrée at the Swedish pavilion at the World’s Fair.)
First on the menu, some delightful humor from June 9, 1866, just as New York City was meeting a zebra for the first time:
This particular item probably should have found a home in our posts on bicycles, but unfortunately turned up too late to be used. On June 7, 1868, during a Spanish bullfight, a creative picador replaced his horse with a bicycle; explaining that as bicycles didn’t tend to get disemboweled by an irate bull, the choice was a logical one. To the bull it made no difference, he knocked over the picador, who found safety in flight, leaving his bicycle behind.
On May 27, 1871, the Pittston Coal Mine collapsed in a heap of rubble and fire. Trapped at the bottom of the mine was a minor miner, little Martin Creghan, and some of the more mature members of the mining fraternity, including his older brother. To protect themselves from the rapidly approaching flames and noxious fumes, the miners set to work raising a barricade. It was almost done before they realized that some sort of message should appear on the outside, letting their rescuers know that men were trapped inside. Only Martin could fit through the remaining hole. With a piece of chalk, he used his limited schooling to scrawl, very slowly “We are all in here.” Then, perhaps sensing his own impending doom, Creghan ignored the entreaties of the miners, who were quite anxious to seal the barricade, and laboriously wrote his name in full. They barely managed to pull him inside before the fire arrived. The men were eventually rescued by their fellows, who noted Martin’s sign; but unfortunately help arrived too late for Little Martin.
We’ll finish our tour with a dessert. You may have heard of pneumatic railways, where the cars are pushed along with giant fans. There was an underground one for a brief time in New York City; and illustrations of it were used for the Subway chain of restaurants for years, you can still find them on the walls of a few of them. Our forbearers weren’t merely thinking underground pneumatic transportation, for it would be far easier and cheaper to build the whole thing above ground, So here we present the original idea for New York Elevated Transit (note what appears to be Trinity Church in the background):
For those who want an exhaustive history of the underground pneumatic propulsion project, check out: http://www.damninteresting.com/the-remarkable-pneumatic-people-mover/