The Lothario of the Law Courts

Fictional men in love have been known to engage in acts of striking bravery; Leander swam the Hellespont, Romeo braved the House of Capulet’s guards for an evening’s canoodling with Juliet, and Sir Gawain fought a whole host of knights and risked drowning merely because his fair maiden asked him to seize a tree branch which she particularly desired. Emanuel Schulhafer, a 25 year old clerk in his father’s grocery store at 1351 Third Avenue in New York, bore little in common with these legendary men. Nevertheless, he was very much in love with a pretty cook who worked in the kitchen of one of the large houses which lined the bucolic streets of the Upper East Side. Schulhafer’s parents did not approve; in 1885 it was simply not acceptable for a Jewish boy to be seen in the company of an Irish cook.

Nevertheless, on the night of January 7, Schulhafer invited her to join him at a performance of The Private Secretary at the Madison Square Theater. Schulhafer donned his best garb; Newmarket coat, three button vest, boiled white shirt complete with a high starched collar, and a pair of highly polished “toothpick” shoes, so-called because they were exceedingly narrow and finished in a sharp point. After scalloping his bangs so that they hung in curls along his forehead, the erstwhile beau picked up his Irish belle and headed for the theater.

Defying his parents was one thing, but defying them and getting caught was more than Schulhafer was willing to undertake no matter how pretty the colleen. Afraid of being recognized, Schulhafer donned a disguise a few blocks from the theater. He’d chosen his means of concealment poorly, for it was a long and bushy gray beard that flowed to nearly chest length. Even worse than its size and color, the beard was entirely too big, and hung loosely on Schulhafer’s narrow face. His date’s reaction is unknown, but she and Schulhafer took their seats front and center.

The first act went fine, but when Schulhafer reached over to whisper a comment in his date’s ear before the commencement of the second his beard got caught in her dress, and his efforts to free himself excited the attention of a few of the theater’s patrons. As the second act got underway, the theater-goers spent more time watching Schulhafer than the actors. Titters of laughter became giggles, for each time that he moved his head the oversized beard refused to follow suit. Quiet whispers became a little louder as people speculated on the young man’s identity; a bank clerk who’d absconded with funds and was out on a night on the town in disguise, or perhaps a detective sent to keep an eye on a suspect. Finally the giggles and loud whispers became too much for the ushers and Schulhafer was more or less discreetly hustled from his seat and into an upstairs office. Here, Captain Williams of the New York Police Department waited, and placed Schulhafer under arrest. The cook presumably found her own way home.

The next morning, after a night spent surrounded by the City’s Criminal classes, Schulhafer looked much the worse for wear. The high starched collar had wilted, whitewash from the jail’s walls stained his jacket, his hair presented a dapper picture, and his gold spectacles hung askance. Peering down at him Judge Duffy, whose diminutive size belied a powerful voice, read the charges; “That said defendant did disguise his face by wearing a false beard and moustaches and moved said beard and moustaches to and fro, annoying the patrons of said theater.” As such, Schulhafer’s conduct was a breach of the peace.

Judge Duffy asked to see the wig. “Young man, what did you parade yourself in this thing for? Why didn’t you go to the theatre like a man?”

“Because your Honor, I was with a party that I did not want to be recognized in her company and…”

“Another man’s wife I suppose?”

“No sir, no sir, nothing of the kind.”

“A widow, maybe then?

“I assure you, it was not.”

“You violated the law, anyhow; but after all I think you did it innocently. Five dollars or five days.” Schulhafer’s choice was an easy one, he peeled out five dollars from his wallet, took up his beard which he’d promised to return to the hairdresser, and sheepishly boarded the horse-car for home. History does not record if he got another date.


The Perfect Girl

For the most part, we here at Forgotten Stories shy away from more salacious material, but today we’re going to break with tradition and give you some full frontal nudity of the perfect girl.

The story of Margaret Edwards is almost inseparable from that of her mother, Edyth Edwards of Berkley California. There’s no telling what happened to Edwards pere, but Edyth made her living as a physical culture instructor for young ladies at local California schools beginning around 1905. Jobs as a physical culture instructor were hard to come by in an era when physical exercise for females was almost unheard of, and they were made all the harder to find by Edyth’s personality; one school claimed “she created much discord, and would not accept that she was a subordinate in the department.”


So Edyth hit upon a plan, exhibiting her daughter Margaret on stage as the “Perfect Girl.” Only 16 at the time, Margaret began appearing in local theatrical productions as a nymph, dressed in loose fitting tunics which demonstrated her “beautiful limbs,”  wrote the San Francisco Call’s theater critic in 1911, “…shown in all their natural loveliness, while her curls hung over her bare shoulders. With a beautiful woodland setting about her, leaves on the ground, trees and flowers about her, she seemed made for the environment, and there was nothing in the picture at which the least offense could be taken.”


Edyth stood on stage as her Margaret traipsed around looking perfect, and then gave a little speech about her daughter, starting with her physical characteristics; 5 feet 2 and 1/8 inches tall, and 112 and ½ pounds of weight, and then even got more specific: Neck, 11 ½ inches; arm 9 inches; forearm 8 and ¾ inches; wrist, 6 inches, elbow 8 and ¾ inches; chest normal, 31 inches;  chest, contracted 27 inches; chest, expanded 32 and ½; bust, 33; waist, 23 inches; hips, 32 inches; thigh, 19 inches; calf, 13 inches (for comparison purposes, we went out and asked several attractive women on the street today how big their hips and got ourselves slapped. Research is painful.).

Edwards 5

Margaret ate what the “stomach ordered” and eschewed cake, candy, and corsets.. Her physical perfection was not due only to a proper diet, but also stemmed from paying attention to muscles. “Learn to walk with your muscles; sit with your muscles, breath with your muscles; as your Creator designed you should do. That’s why Margaret’s muscles are round and full. There is no reason why every woman cannot be as perfect as Margaret.”

Mrs. Edwards outlined Margaret’s exercise regimen which centered on developing the core. “She first developed flexibility of the chest, forcing in the lower chest with hands while exhaling through the mouth, and inhaling through the nostrils, always exhaling before inhaling. With the thumbs under the armpits, she forces the upper chest in and breathes as in the former case. Her final exercise is “simply to lock the thumbs above the head and touch the toes without bending at the knees.”

By about 1915, and following a name-change from Margaret to the more exotic Marguerite, the Perfect Girl’s career began to peter out, but not before she appeared in a few films in the still nascent Hollywood. One of these early pictures, a morality film known as Hypocrites[1], debuted at about the same time as Birth of a Nation, and Marguerite played “The Naked Truth.” Now here’s the full frontal nudity we promised, from Marguerite’s brief performance. We encourage you to watch the whole 4 minutes, but jump to 1:20 if you want to see Marguerite:

The movie was banned in Boston due to the nudity (at least until the movie studio painted some clothes on Marguerite), but critics in most other cities lauded the performance. Another bit role  followed, and a season headlining the Pantages vaudeville circuit, but by about 1920 Marguerite was out of show business. Marguerite died in 1929. No word on what happened to Edyth.

Special thanks to Lisa P., who provided some insight on waist sizes, but refused to let us measure her calf.

[1] We believe the IMDB entry for Marguerite is wrong, as being born in 1877 would make her 38 in 1915. She doesn’t look 38.

The Hanlon’s Domestic Squabbles Exposed

New York Sun, January 20, 1885


Mrs. Hanlon Supports the Family and Proposes to Choose its Acquaintances

                Edward Hanlon, now of 102 Charlton street, was run over by a railroad train several years ago and his left leg was cut off at the knee. His wife bought him a wooden leg and since the incident has supported him. Edward has made friends whom Mrs. Hanlon does not like. On Sunday Edward said he was going to call on these people. His wife said he wasn’t. He had not yet screwed on his wooden leg, and when he was not looking Mrs. Hanlon hid it on the top shelf of the closet among the dishes.

“Where’s that leg” Edward asked later.

“You ought to know where you put it,” his wife answered. Edward hoppled around the room, and looked under the bed, in the bureau drawers, and in all the corners.

“You’ve hid it,” he finally said to his wife. She says he threatened to kill her, but on one leg and a half he couldn’t catch her. As he chased her about the room, she screamed and a policemen came in and took Edward to the station house, after the wooden leg had been found and screwed on.

Edward looked sheepish yesterday as he was led in front of Justice Welde and heard his wife say that she not only supported him but allowed him forty cents a day for tobacco, drinks, and other luxuries. Justice Welde held Edward in default of $300 bail for his good behavior for three months.

“I love a ballad in print o’life, for then we are sure they are true.”

According to the Spokane Press, “Spokane’s climate is growing milder; its winters are less severe and during its summers there is more rain than there was in the early days when the city was first founded.” Old timers recalled cattle dying from the bitter winter cold, until a local Indian taught them to send out horses to break through the ice crust and expose the grass, and grizzled residents who’d been in the area for years recalled that the valleys used to be sunburned deserts, but were now lush and green due increased rain.

Up in Minnesota too winter weather seemed warmer. “Is Minnesota’s climate changing? With the middle of December already here and winter caps, earmuffs and fur-lined gloves hardly used at all as yet, this question, for years the subject of heated and cold argument in Minnesota, has leaped to the fore and is again a common topic of discussion.”

Astute weather observer Charles P. Lovell noted the change. “Why, thirty years ago,” said Mr. Lovell in the Minneapolis Journal, “people were wont to go sleigh riding in the afternoon, but almost invariably they were compelled to seek their firesides by 4 o’clock because it began to get cold at that hour. Now you see them starting out at noon and riding until midnight. They had fur robes then and were bundled up just as tightly as they are now, but it got too cold for them before the afternoon was well spent.”

Lovell had his own theories as to why the climate was changing. “I have pondered long on this question and have reached the conclusion that railroad rails and telegraph and telephone wires played an import role in making this once frost-bitten, barren country a veritable Eden. These rails and wires seem to absorb electricity from the air.” More plausible was Lovell’s argument regarding re-forestation, “Timber, given a chance to grow after the settlers stopped the prairie fires that formerly kept it razed, has also contributed by breaking the force of the wind and dissipating storms that originate in far-off regions.”

It wasn’t just in the western portion of the country that folks were concerned about climate change. “People in the northeastern sections of the country, in particular are saying that something has happened to the winter;” wrote the New York Tribune, “that when they were children there was always deep snow at Christmas and the sleighing lasted for weeks.” Theories were advanced as to the cause; the Gulf Stream had shifted, as civilization pushed westward the growth of farming and land clearing had changed the topography and with it the weather, or that rising urbanization was to blame.

Robert De Courcy Ward, Professor of Climatology at Harvard University, weighed the scientific evidence regarding climate change. He consulted records from the Roman Republic, three centuries worth of grain harvest dates from France, obscure meteorological data regarding English farming, rainfall in Greece, Syria, and North Africa, the high water marks from the Caspian Sea and temperature surveys taken throughout North America over a period of thirty years.

Finally, De Courcy Ward announced the results of years of work. “The idea that the agency of man in cutting down forests and in cultivating new soil has resulted in a change in the climate of the United States finds no support in the recorded instrumental data…”  Professor Ward announced emphatically, “The answer to the question ‘Is the climate changing?’ is a negative one.”

So my friends, there lies the story of how Robert De Courcy Ward, Professor of Climatology at Harvard University, and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, resolved the debate about global warming…in 1906. Aren’t you glad we got that one resolved?

Not everyone can find peace of mind in San Jose

Katarina Petrinovich met her husband Jerry two weeks after their marriage ceremony.  Katarina, born Katarina Marcesovich in Split, Dalmatia in 1892 was a pretty 19 year-old girl, sang beautifully, and was fluent in three languages. Jerry learned of the accomplished young woman through his brother who lived in Split, and began writing the young woman letters. Told good things about her countryman in half-way around the world, Katarina responded and a correspondence developed between the two.

Katarina Petrinovich

Jerry told her of the wonders of California, that he had a fine home, was a mere 30 years of age, and that he’d built a career as a successful restaurateur. There’s no way around it, Jerry lied to the distant girl. He lived in a one room apartment, and worked as a night cook. The picture he sent on, if not exactly fake, was the 1910 version of photo-shopped; in the words of a reporter from the San Francisco Call “it flattered the original.”

Jerry proposed and Katarina accepted. Of course, her parents weren’t keen on dispatching an unmarried daughter half-way around the world to a man they never met, and so Jerry arranged a legally binding proxy marriage. His brother in Split, given power of attorney stood in for Jerry and married the girl in his name. With that, Katarina was dispatched to California, a journey of about two weeks.

Jerry Petrinovich

Jerry Petrinovich

The couple took up residence in Jerry’s small apartment. Jerry kept his new bride a virtual prisoner. If he wasn’t available to watch her, an aged aunt was assigned to keep an eye on her. Disappointed and repulsed by a husband who’d led her to have such high hopes only to see them dashed by poverty and misery, Katarina rebelled and the two fought. Long and loud, their words echoing through the thin walls of the apartment house in Orchard Street.

Jerry’s refusal to take Katarina to a picnic sponsored by their fellow Croatians on June 20, 1910 proved the final straw. Their high volume argument went on and on, and finally Jerry’s aged aunt went to the door of the couple’s room and forced her way in. Harldy had she made her way in to see what the ruckus was about when Jerry pulled his pistol from his coat hanging on the door and sprung at his wife, who was lying on the bed. A pistol shot, in her right breast was followed by a cut with a knife along her throat and abdomen. The Aunt did nothing but scream, as Jerry turned the knife on himself, drawing the knife over his own throat.

Jerry died that evening at Belvedere Hospital, never recovering consciousness. Katarina lived long enough to give a statement to San Jose’s assistant district attorney James P. Sex. “I am 19 years o f age. My husband shot me because I did not love him. He was trying to make me care for him, but I could not. He did not threaten me. He never did. I knew that he was going to do me harm because he said he would not let me out of the room unless I promised that I would care for him. He was talking a great deal about his caring for me and my not caring for him.”

Tragically it seems, Jerry got his wish never to be separated from his beautiful wife. The two share a gravestone at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.

Petrinovich Grave

L.C. Weilli’s Trunk was Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

On occasion here at Forgotten Stories, we like to reprint newspaper stories in full. Having come across the article below from the New York Sun of January 10, 1885 while doing some research, we thought we’d share.

Boston-Jan. 9 – L.C. Weilli, travelling salesman for Julius Brecker, dealer in human hair at 28 Howard Street, New York, came to Boston on Saturday with $6,000 worth of hair. On his arrival at the Boston and Albany Station he gave the check for his trunk containing the hair to Armstrong’s Express, with instructions to take the trunk to the United States Hotel. When Weilli went to look for his trunk on Tuesday, he could learn nothing concerning it.

The expressmen said that they had left it upon the sidewalk in front of the hotel. No clue to the thieves or property was obtained till yesterday morning, when officers on South street saw two young fellows carrying a trunk and bag on their shoulders. Knowing them to be thieves, they started to follow them, but the men dropped their loads and ran. The bag and trunk were brought to the station, and on being opened, were found to contain about $2000 worth of missing hair.

To-day, Michael and Andrew Presley were arrested for the robbery, and the trunk, empty, was found in their rooms. Many of the young hoodlums of the South Cove appeared on the streets to-day sporting flowing beards and moustaches and wearing wigs. The value of the plunder is said to be $10 per ounce. In all, about $2250 was recovered.

Don’t you wish you could see the facial hair display amongst the hoodlums of the South Cove?

A “Fluke” Appearance of Some Unlucky Whales

Harpooned Whales

In its glory days, Amagansett, a tiny village on the Long Island shore, had based its economy on whaling. Remnants of the once profitable trade still could be found in the shops and homes of its 300 or so residents; walrus tusks, rusting harpoons, and scrimshawed teeth from long departed sperm whales. Older residents, such as Captain Josh Edwards and his brother Gabe still told stories of battles fought with 100 ton beasts, of longboats caved in, of men dragged under the Arctic ice by a diving sperm whale, of long chases and narrow escapes. Overhunting had diminished the supply of sperm whales until it was no longer profitable to send the whaling boats out, and by 1885 Amagansett subsisted on the efforts of fisherman who sailed out into the Atlantic for the cod which would find their way onto the tables of homes and restaurants in New York City.

Captain Josh arose before daybreak on Saturday morning, December 12, 1885, and accompanied by his son began the cold walk to the beach. Cod fisherman such as Captain Josh used a dory, a 20 foot long boat which offered little protection from stormy seas or bitter cold, but was at least easy to pilot. As he strode up one of the sandhills that bordered the Amagansett beach, the Captain thought he spied another ship about a half mile off, which was curious. He knew everyone of the fisherman in the small village, and was sure none had beat him to the shore that day. “Here’s somebody that’s been spryer than us,” he complained to his son, “who do you suppose it can be?”

Then came a spout, and Captain Josh joyfully sang out words he hadn’t employed in many a year. “By gosh, thar she blows.” All thoughts of cod fishing forgotten, the Captain ran back to Amagansett and on the village flagpole ran up the town’s Weft, a tattered old flag that indicated a whale had been sited. Recruiting his brother Captain Gabe, Josh roused the villagers, and a tremendous bustle ensued as harpoons and lances were dug out of storage. Three boats of six men each shoved off, and it was a family affair. Captain Josh and Captain Gabe led the first, while relatives Jesse Edwards and Jonathan Edwards led the second and third boats respectively.

The whales, for soon it became apparent there were two, and already moved off to the southwest, and even the most experienced of the whalers knew there was slim chance at catching them. From the helm, Captain Josh encouraged the men to row harder, shouting with glee another “Thar she blows” whenever the whales broke the surface for a breathing spell. Breathing spells weren’t allowed for the men in the boats, and for hours they pulled at the oars, drawing ever closer to the beasts.

As they approached, it became clear that the two whales were exceptionally large prizes, a cow some 60 feet in length and a bull about 40 feet long. To Captain Gabe went the honor of the first throw, and from the bow he let the harpoon fly. Three feet of cold steel backed by ash buried itself up to the handle in the cow, and a shower of blood speckled spray covered the boats as both whales dove deep.  Under orders from Captain Gabe the boat backed away as the rope attached to the harpoon was made fast.

As the whale dove, smoke rose from the rope as it played out through the ring on the boat’s front. Taking advantage of the whale’s dive, Gabe and Captain Josh traded places, and the other two boats came up.  At last the whales again appeared, and were greeted with a shower of harpoons. Harpoons stuck from the whales’ bright shiny backs, but they made a game fight of it and their tails stove in the bows of two of the three boats. Again and again the harpoons flew, and both whales were soon hopelessly entangled in ropes that prevented them from diving. After two hours of fighting the cow’s spout showed blood, a sure sign she’d been hit in a vital spot, and a few minutes later she was dead. The bull too showed signs of exhaustion and the men took advantage of the slowed movement of its flukes to approach more boldly. Soon the bull too succumbed.

The battle over, the men discovered they’d drifted some ten miles from Amagansett, and binding the whales to the boats began a long strenuous row backwards, the carcasses trailing behind them. Sore, weary, but satisfied with a job done, the men dragged the whales on the beach and returned to their cottages. The next morning, they gathered round for the long bloody work of removing the blubber, whale oil and whalebone.

All together, the whales were worth around $1000 apiece ($250,000 each  in 2010 dollars) for the poor village of Amagansett, and it came as a welcome early Christmas present for the town.

A Bit of Language

While trolling through Pearson’s Magazine from July, 1910 I came across an article entitled The Prize Ring, discussing the mental confidence of boxers. From there, I learned a bit about the origin of the term “Get his goat.” Enjoy.

Freddie Welsh, the present lightweight champion of England, a vegetarian with puny hips, watery eyes and a weak mouth, who has never been knocked out, puts is advice to aspirants in three words, ‘Get his goat!’ Originally this phrase was racing slang. To keep a racehorse from going stale a trainer frequently quarters with him a goat, for the pet relieves the thoroughbred of his loneliness. But intriguers have found that by stealing a goat from a horse a day or two before a great race he can be thrown out of his condition. The loss of his favorite companion annoys the horse and he goes into the big event in a highly feminized state of nerves. So, to ‘get his goat’ is to remove his confidence.

   These days it is a little political incorrect to describe a high-strung, nervous horse as feminized, but now you have a bit of trivia that you can use at cocktail parties.


The Pimping Professor

Senor Jose Hidalgo had accomplished more by age 29 than most men do in a lifetime. In his native Guatemala he’d earned a doctor of laws degree, then gone on to represent his country as a counsel to Japan. Resigning his position he’d gone to San Francisco, published a book on the history of aviation, and by 1910 had become an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jose Hidalgo

His courtly manners and his polished appearance, coupled with a bit of Latin charm, made him one of the more popular professors on the Berkley campus, especially amongst the female student body. Many of the coeds signed up for private Spanish language tutoring at Hidalgo’s offices in the Westbank building.

His Latin American heritage also made him an advisor of sorts to the small contingent of foreign student from Central American who were studying at Berkley, among them Juan Posados, son of Zenon Posados, the coffee king of Guatemala. The two shared an interest in aviation, and Hildago took Posados, a sophomore, under his wing. As Posada recalled in June, 1910, “About three or four weeks ago, he invited me to visit a girlfriend of his. Prior to this time he had often boasted to me of his conquests among the girls of the University of California, most of whom, he said, were very young.”

Apparently, Hidalgo’s conquests were not solely due to his charm, “[h]e, knowing that I was interested in chemistry, asked me to let him have a drug which would render a person unconscious, explaining at the time that there was a girl visiting his offices at the Westbank building on whom he had designs.”

Posada never disclosed whether he provided the knockout drops to Hidalgo, but teacher and student kept in contact, “[h]e took me to the Hotel Cecil, where I was introduced to a woman named Marie Milder. I gave her $15.” Two weeks later, Hidalgo arranged another prostitute for Posada. “Last Saturday Hidalgo came to me again and invited me to meet another girl friend of his that night. Again I accepted. On this occasion I met Grace Carter. The strange part of the affair was that she was not the person whom it was intended to meet, but the other party failing to keep the appointment, Hidalgo found Grace Carter walking the streets, became acquainted with her to be a substitute.” Hidalgo reached an agreement with Carter, and they split the proceeds of her night with Posada.

Grace Carter

The ease with which he’d arranged trysts between Posada and Grace (a/k/a Grace Ellifritz) gave Hidalgo an idea; a house of assignation in Napa, where he could arrange meetings between his wealthy Latin American students and a hand selected group of prostitutes. He pitched the idea to Grace Carter, fully intending her to run the house while he took care of recruiting student visitors. Posada was either brazen or foolhardy; his meeting with Grace took place in his offices in the Westbank building, where a 20 year old student he’d ravished lay passed out from the effects of absinthe. Carter agreed to the proposal.

Meanwhile, Posada and Carter’s trysts at the Hotel Navarre continued. As Posada described one tryst “Hidalgo left us, and waited outside in the corridor. After he had gone the girl told me of her meeting with Hidalgo and said that he had proposed to her that he should bring students to her, and that she should give him a third of the money she received. ‘He is waiting for his share now.’ she said. ‘Let him wait.’ I replied. ‘He waited until 1 o’clock in the morning, and then slipped a note in through the door, saying he would call again at 3 o’clock the following afternoon.”

Hidalgo did call, although by that time Posada was gone. Carter and Hidalgo finished off a bottle of absinthe, then went looking for another victim. It didn’t take long. At one of the neighborhood cafes, Hidalgo sighted Richard Barry, sitting alone nursing a drink. Hidalgo quietly pointed him out, and discreetly withdrew.

Hidalgo couldn’t have chosen a worse victim. The lonely young man who appeared to be a likely looking Richard was a writer for Pearson’s Magazine. Even worse for Hidalgo, Barry was a muckraker who’d dedicated his literary efforts to exposing corruption in everything from boxing to the Utah state government. A skilled interrogator, Barry soon had the full story, and he dragged Grace Carter off to the San Francisco District Attorney, and then to the police.

Chief Martin, and Detectives Wren and Boyle set up a sting operation, and ordered Carter to phone Hidalgo and invite him to visit her at the Hotel Navarre on the evening of Wednesday, June 22, 1910. To entice him, Grace let him know that she’d found a mining millionaire willing to invest in the Napa establishment.

That night, Richard Barry, the detectives, a newspaperman from the San Francisco Call, and a police stenographer sat in an adjoining room, listening as Grace steadily drew Hidalgo out. The conversation, preserved by the newspaperman, gives the modern reader a fascinating window into the economics of prostitution and the slang of the day:

Grace: How much would it take to sta

rt an assignation house?

Hidalgo: Where?

Grace: Here, in San Francisco.

Hidalgo: Oh, about $3000 at least.

Grace: I’ve heard of a chance in Napa. I hear you can rent a house there for $35 per month, and get a license for $30.[1] So we could start on easy capital. Would you like that?

Hidalgo: Certainly.

Grace: Well, make a square propositi

on. How shall we run it?

Hidalgo: The way to do business is half and half. You take half and I take half.

Grace: How about getting the women for the place.

Hidalgo: Oh, get some you can manage – two young chickens and one good old one. Do not get them under 18. You have to look out; but get young fools –

Grace (laughing): Like the one you gave absinthe on your couch the other day?

Hidalgo: Yes, certainly.

Grace: How old was she?


Hidalgo: Oh, 20, I guess.

Our newspaper report cuts off here, presumably out of concerns of revealing the identity of the young victim. At 4AM, the police broke down the door, and took Hidalgo away in manacles. Two days later he was indicted on one felony count for a “criminal conspiracy against public morals.” Isaac Goldmen, grand jury foreman opined “It is the regret of this grand jury that the law does not permit of a stronger felony charge being laid against the man, as the evidence proved him to be of a most depraved character and a danger to the community.”

Hidalgo’s lawyer, H.F. Marshall, put up a valiant but forlorn effort to quash the indictment, and moved that it  be dis

missed because one of the witness’ names had been spelled incorrectly. The motion was denied, and on July 26th, 1910, Hidalgo pled guilty before Judge Conley of the county court. According to the San Francisco Call, “the assistant district attorney…urged the imposition of a light penalty, and said the prosecution would be satisfied if Hidalgo were sent to jail for a month.” Scheduled for sentencing on July 30th, Hidalgo was unable to appear in court because of a quarantine placed upon the city jail after a smallpox outbreak. On August 23, 1910 the court granted Hidalgo probation, on the condition that he leave the country immediately. After seven weeks in the county jail, Hidalgo hightailed it out of San Francisco and was last heard of in Mexico, where he was managing airplane races. He got off easy if you ask us.

As for the rest of the motley collection of characters they disappear, except for Richard Barry who kept right on muckraking.

[1] I can only assume they mean a liquor license.

Forgotten Man O. Puren, of Seattle

On occasion, we touch on those men and women of the past who appear for but a brief moment on the world stage, before sinking once more into obscurity.  Today’s Forgotten Person is O. Puren of Seattle, Washington.

Puren was apparently a large fellow; at least according to the Prosecutor who called the twenty-year old a “big hulking brute,” when he appeared before Judge Gordon on a charge of disorderly conduct.  His crime was breaking into a boxcar that lay on a siding near the Seattle waterfront on the morning of April 6, 1908.

Puren had been out of work, and as a consequence was hungry. He’d last eaten on the morning of April 4, and when he saw the refrigerated boxcar, knew it contained food of some sort. He broke the car’s seal, and downed four cans of condensed milk. But then Puren did a strange thing, which we confess we might not have done in his shoes. He left a note behind:

 “Dear Sir,

This burglary have been made by me, O. Puren, because I was near to the starvation. I am voluntary to give myself up and pay for it by such act. I am courageous to give myself up because I am unequal to do wrong. I was broke and nothing to eat since 10 a. m. yesterday. I guess you will be very satisfied because that is not so many thieves in the country confess their crime. I drunk four of the cans of milk that were in the box present here.

Yours Truly,

O. Puren

Puren then marched out, found Patrolman Jennings of the Seattle Police Department, and placed himself in the officer’s custody. Taken before Judge Gordon the next morning, Puren received the maximum sentence; 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. Unable to pay the fine, Gordon added another 33 days of hard labor on the chain gang.

Compared to the other sentences handed down by the same Judge, Puren’s sentence seems unduly harsh:

  • On March 27, thirty Chinese workers were arrested for gambling, and had the charges against them dropped;
  • On that same date, George Baldwin was apprehended with a loaded gun, and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He was fined $20;
  • J. Hong was convicted of operating a boiler without a license, and forfeited his bail and went free.
  • Several men were charged with selling milk that didn’t come up to the standards of the health code, and fined $15 each.

There ends the story of poor, but honest O. Puren, who leaves behind a question for us some 105 years later. Would you have turned yourself in?

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