Not Quite Sure That’s What They Mean By “The Old Ball and Chain”

Good fortune had smiled on Miss Annie Lieberman. It was November 10, 1912, but more important it was her wedding day. She’d run a risk having the wedding outdoors in New York, where the November weather can waiver between bone chilling gale and a balmy breeze.  As she looked over the East River from the rooftop of the Harlem Terrace Garden at 210 E. 104th Street, the gamble had paid off; beneath her orange and red leaves rustled in the light fall air. Her new husband, Joseph Kaartles, looked particularly dashing in his new tuxedo, and she was glad that the wedding was being held in her childhood home of New York instead of Chicago, where she’d moved with her mother and father six years ago. The smell of orange blossoms wafted in the air, and the orchestra played. Perhaps the guest discussed yesterday’s game between the Carlisle Indians and the Army Cadets at West Point. The Army team went down in defeat, 27-6, despite the efforts of a young cadet, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before wrenching his knee late in the game, Cadet Eisenhower forced a fumble from Carlisle’s best player Jim Thorpe, who’d won two gold medals at the Olympics just that summer.

Papa Lieberman arose to give the traditional wedding toast, rattling off the bride’s virtues, the groom’s accomplishments, and finishing with helpful words of advice from his years of marriage. In the wings, Detectives Brown and Behan of the Williamsburg division of the New York Police Department waited until Mr. Lieberman had finished his speech, then dispatched a waiter to inform the beaming Mr. Lieberman that they had a warrant for his arrest.

It seems that when Mr. Lieberman moved his family from New York to Chicago six years before, he’d neglected to let Morris Block, his partner in a butter and egg business at 308 Bushwick Avenue, know that he was going. To make matters worse, Lieberman had relieved the partnership of a substantial sum of money. Annie hadn’t been informed that her father had left town on less than savory terms, and when planning her wedding had made sure that an invitation addressed to “Morris Block and Guest” had been duly sent.

It was the first Block had heard of his wayward partner since Lieberman and the cash had disappeared, and he hastened to the nearest police station to swear out a warrant. While his daughter fainted, and his wife went into hysterics, Lieberman pere put up a show of resisting, but Detective Behan’s display of a billy club quickly drove the thought from his mind. Some two hours later, Lieberman was released on $1500.00 bail, and returned chagrined to the now cold wedding feast, and then disappeared into history along with the Kaarstens, with no sign of his case’s outcome.


Merry Christmas from 1918

I don’t know about you, but this year’s Christmas shopping was pretty easy for us here at Forgotten Stories; the beauty of just shopping on the internet you know. But, we are aware that some did not have quite as easy a time, and that some of you are probably still shopping. So were the folks back in 1918, whose newspapers carried these advertisements on December 23:

Player Piano

Perhaps $495 for a player piano is a bit out of your budget, even at $25 monthly. J.T. Hinton’s store in Paris, Kentucky, offers some more affordable options:

JT - Hinton - Paris, KY

That’s right friends, not only can you get a new Bissell vacuum cleaner, but you can pick up a brass bed, which is “just the one you want for someone’s Christmas gift.” Now take a look at this young lady, who we suspect received a brass bed last year:

La France Shoes - 2

Why is she so happy, you ask? Well, she got a new pair of shoes for Christmas, and not just any shoes, she received La France kid leather shoes from Berberich’s in Washington D.C., which shows that her husband truly cares:

La France Shoes-1

There were some other big ticket items available for Christmas that year, including Edison’s $3,000,000 phonograph, because purportedly Thomas Alva spent some $3,000,000 developing the thing. Fortunately, it was available at something less than $3,000,000:

Edison - NY World

Then of course there was Wallace J. Smalley, of 517 S. Third Street, Louisville, Kentucky. According to Dr. Smalley, for Christmas there is “nothing more useful or suitable than a pair of SMALLEY GLASSES.”

Smalley Eyeglasses - Lexington KY

The good Dr. Smalley, optometrist and optician, put in 14 hour days as the advertisement shows, so we hope he took a day off for the holiday. Finally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that in December, 1918 the First World War had only been over for a month, and industry was rapidly switching back to peacetime production, as our friends at the Buick dealership in Columbia, Missouri reminded us:


A just in case you could drive the Buick yourself, and wanted to provide your chauffeur with some fancy new duds, Brill Brothers in Manhattan had just the thing, a Christmas sale on the full kit and caboodle:


From Forgotten Stories, a Merry Christmas to you all!

It’s a Miracle!!!

We here at Forgotten Stories are always hesitant to endorse any product in the marketplace until we know it actually works, but it seems that this time, we’ve discovered a miracle of (un)modern medicine: LISTERINE! According to this advertisement from 1898, Listerine is useful in the treatment of whooping cough, scarlet fever, dressing operative wounds, diphtheria, pertussia, and as an air freshener.

Listerine - 1


Of course, that’s not all. We learn in 1922 that Listerine, used every day and applied either full strength, or in diluted form, is useful for the treatment of dandruff.

Listerine - 2


As if that wasn’t enough, from 1928 we find out that “Listerine, applied to the body with a sponge or cloth, will impart a refreshing feeling of cleanliness. It is effective as a deodorant when employed in cases of excessive perspiration, and useful for many purposes of personal hygiene.”

Listerine - 3


As we said, we are hesitant to endorse a product until such a time as we have proof that it actually works. In the interest of efficiency, we are looking with someone to try the product who has whooping cough, scarlet fever,  and dandruff, who suffers from excessive perspiration and body odor and also needs an air freshener. Please leave your name and contact information in the comment section below.

At Least He Wasn’t Raised by Wolves

The good Reverend Chauncey J. Hawkins, of Spencer, Massachusetts’ First Congregation Church was a prolific author, penning such classics as The Little Red Doe, Will the Home Survive?, and Ned Brewster’s Caribou Hunt. From the slim evidence available, he was married for he dedicated his work The Mind of Whittier to his wife. We suspect however that Mrs. Hawkins exercised little influence over her husband’s activities, most specifically when it came to the selection of playmates for their four year old son, Robert Boone Hawkins.

At Least He Isn't Being Raised by Wolves

Rev. Hawkins brought home two friends from New Brunswick (heaven knows how he got them over the border) to his home at 34 Elm Street, Jamaica Place, Massachusetts. Named “Donner” and Blitzen” the two baby bears were said to be quite safe; according to the New York Times of Nov. 26, 1912, “Mr. Hawkins says that Blitzen and her mate, Donner, make ideal playmates and keepers for his little boy. They are not at all savage; and he has no scruples about leaving the baby alone with them for hours.”

Blitzen, according to other newspaper reports, learned to wheel little Robert Boone around in a carriage, much to his delight. Not so popular with young Robert were the exceedingly wet kisses bestowed by his 135 pound hairy nursemaid, but with proper training the slobbering embraces became few and far between.

Living with two bears would, as you can imagine, not be without mishap. According to the New York World’s reporter, “one afternoon last week their curiosity created havoc in the home of Mr. Hawkins. A step ladder was placed at the rear of the house and in an unlucky moment a nearby window left open. The cubs promptly climbed in and entered the kitchen and soon became coated in a mixture of flour and molasses. Then they continued into the parlor, and strains of wondrous discord were heard proceeding from the piano. When the cubs were discovered they were rolling on the parlor floor in an attempt to rid themselves of their sticky coating.” One hopes that Mrs. Hawkins insisted her husband clean up the mess left by his two wards.

With that, our story comes to a close. There are no reports of children being mauled by bears, and so we presume that Robert Boone Hawkins made it to adulthood; nor would we be surprise, for after all, Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf, and they turned out just fine. Well, except for the whole fratricide thing.

Andrea S. and Kim F., in addition to be loyal followers of Forgotten Stories, just so happen to enjoy those emails containing cute puppies, panda bears, and baby sloths. To them, in thanks for their friendship, this post is humbly dedicated.


Long Before the High-Line

“The multitude,” said Hugh E. McLaughlin during a speech in 1912,  “have to travel for miles to some distant point to get a day’s enjoyment nowadays. Children and young people now make wide excursions for an hour’s play and grown people there depend upon their weekly or monthly expeditions for bodily and mental refreshment.” The multitude to which McLaughlin referred were the huddled masses residing in the congested Lower East Side of Manhattan, where parks were totally absent, forcing residents to take a trip uptown for a spot of greenery.

McLaughlin's plan

Where McLaughlin saw a problem, he also saw a solution. “At present in Manhattan there are elevated railroad structures on First avenue south of Twenty-third Street, on Second avenue north of Twenty-third street, on Third avenue entirely, on Park avenue through Harlem, on Sixth and Eighth avenue in part, and on lower Ninth avenue…Second avenue has no elevated railroad below Twenty-third street,  and First avenue none above Twenty-third street, so that on these avenue the proposed ornamental parks and playgrounds can be built.

McLaughlin wasn’t just proposing that the parks be mere spots of green in the otherwise congested greyscape of the City; these would be real parks, complete with football fields, tennis courts, fountains, gymnasiums, and running tracks. He even suggested a covered baseball diamond, although this was before the home-run became an integral part of the game, so he didn’t have to worry about baseballs plummeting into car windows below.

McLaughlin’s ideas never really got off the ground, but almost a century later some folks did get together, and converted an elevated railroad into a long thin park, and New Yorkers today enjoy the High Line, which runs above Tenth Avenue. Of course, the High Line is on the other side of Manhattan from the very Lower East side, where McLaughlin noticed a lack of parks. Creative New Yorkers are working on that too, Dan Barasch, James Ramsey and the good folks at Delancy Underground are working to make the LowLine a reality, converting an abandoned trolley terminal beneath Delancey Street into a 1.5 acre park, lit by natural sunlight conveyed along fiber-optic cables. You can watch a video describing their idea here:

Billy Mays Would Have Been Proud

We had the good fortune to spend part of a lazy weekend afternoon thumbing through the pages of Scientific American. Interesting stuff, and for some reason we can’t quite define, we were particularly fascinated by Dr. August Friedrich. Stockley’s Pacific Coast Scrubber.  Here it is from the pages of Scientific American:

Stockley's Improved Scrubbing Machine

Here’s two more views, from Dr. Stockley’s patent application:

Stockley - 2

Stockley - 3

The box in the center is used as a water tank, and beneath is a lamp that heats the water and sprays it on the brush. As one pushes the machine forward, the bristles as the front move back and forth by a set of pinions and gears. All we’ve been able to find out for certain on the good Dr. Stockley is that he lived in Lone Pine, California, and later received a patent for an improved mail-bag fastener.

We also came across this interesting device. Imagine you’re a coal miner, working long hours underground. Of course, you have a trusty lantern, but what if you could also have a piping cup of coffee and a warm lunch? Joseph Haight, of Port Chester, NY has solved the problem you didn’t even know existed. Coal miners, break out your pocket books, because we present the combination lantern and lunch pail; the lantern inside not only lights your way, but keeps your lunch warm in Chamber A, and your coffee hot in Chamber B.

Haight's Lantern

Finally, we note that one of the major public safety issues of the day was that crooks had a particularly diabolical tendency to hit policemen over the head, before proceeding to rob the nearest millinery store or apothecary shop. Jose M. de Celis, of New York City had a solution, an improved policeman’s hat. Mr. de Celis’ invention contained a separate mechanism between the hat’s brim and its body, designed to lessen the impact of any blow through the use of a cushioning spring. Perhaps it wasn’t particularly stylish, but then style is a secondary concern when warding off the blows of a wandering gang of toughs.

De Celis' hat


*** Update ***

Courtesy of the good folks at, we have a picture of Haight’s combination lantern and dinner pail:



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