On This DayOn April 14, 2021 by Elyse
Dog detectives. Petrified preachers. Horrid husbands. Bashful brides. No, this is not my sad attempt at transitioning from blogging to poetry.
Rather, these were the headlines on the April 14ths of years gone by. I don’t know about you, but I could use a break from today’s pandemics and politics. Scroll down to catch up on the breaking news of yesteryear. It may not have been a simpler time, but it was definitely a weirder time.
Wolf is approaching the age of 20 months and is sound and happy. He didn’t have a frog in his throat; it was in his stomach. The youngster began losing weight despite a heavy appetite and mother had visions of a tapeworm. The boy’s stomach was photographed via X-ray and a big lump was seen.
Doctor operated and brought out a half-pound milk-fed frog in the best of health. Mrs. Marry Wolf believes Johnnie swallowed a tadpole when they visited Mrs. Robert Gregory, his grandmother, in Syracuse. They drank hydrant water there.– The Day Book, April 14, 1915
Note to self: Buy a water filter immediately.
That’s a weird one alright, but today’s oddest story? Not even close.
It’s a tale as old as time: Boy meets girl, boy tells girl he loves her, boy abandons girl, boy breaks girl’s heart. But I guarantee you haven’t heard this version before.
The marriage was a secret one, and the parties never lived together. They met frequently until recently, when the defendant suddenly ceased his visits. His wife happened to meet him by accident, and on being asked why he had deserted her, he made the extraordinary reply that he had joined a secret society, and one of the rules was that no member should be married, adding, “If they knew I was married or they saw me talking to you, they would put me to death.”– The Cardigan Observer, April 14, 1888
I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous breakup lines in my time—I’m looking at you, “I have to go home to do my laundry” Joe—but at least this guy put some creativity into it.
However, before you start writing your script, you should know the law didn’t buy his excuse any more than I did. When the woman took him to court, Mr. Secret Society was ordered to pay her 3 shillings per week in alimony. He has a promising future as a novelist, so I’m sure he can afford it.
Some few days ago the proprietor of a wineshop in. . . one of the most populous of Bucharest’s streets, was foully murdered and robbed by some person, who broke into his dwelling, which stands behind the shop, and shot him through the head. . .
At the time of the murder the shop-boy was sleeping on a bench in the shop and a dog was lying at his feet. This boy stated that he heard the shot and shortly after, as he lay quaking with fear, a man opened the back door and entered the shop.
At that moment the dog sprang up barking, and the man, who no doubt expected to find no one in the shop and meant to rob it, fled out at the door, followed by the barking dog. . .
Daphne, Fred, Velma and Shaggy were right behind him in their psychedelic van.
On Tuesday [the dog] came back alone. . . [The police-inspector] had the shop arranged just as it was on the fatal night, closed all shutters and doors, and then bade the shop-boy lie down with the dog. Then one by one the “suspects” were ordered to enter the shop.
It’s entirely unethical, but I’d pay to watch this interactive police lineup from behind one way glass.
Three went in and came out again without the dog making any sign, but as the fourth. . . entered, the dog leapt at him, barking and snarling, and the man rushed out at the door, still followed by the enraged hound. . .
The inspector. . . ordered the attendant gendarmes to handcuff [the man]. It may be added that until being “picked out” by the dog this man was the least suspected among those arrested, he being quite a friend of the proprietor’s family.– The Western Mail, April 14, 1899
This versatile story has the potential to be a heartwarming children’s cartoon, a slapstick comedy or a suspenseful Sherlock Holmes spinoff. Hollywood, you’d be crazy to pass on the film rights.
An aged widow and widower had agreed to take each other “for better or for worse.” The banns were put up, and were read for the third and last time on Sunday. The eventful day was kept a profound secret from interested neighbours. Hence a careful watch was kept.
About nine o’clock in the morning the bride-elect was observed to sally forth. She was clad in everyday attire, with white apron and basket, and was apparently going shopping. The bridegroom followed a little later. He was also attired in working clothes. Both wended their way by a circuitous route to the church.
Maybe they were both in a secret society.
The bride, on arrival, was evidently surprised to find that her intentions had been anticipated. Indeed, quite a large number of persons had congregated.
She became indignant, and vowed that she “would rather eat her umbrella than that they should be gratified by seeing her married.” She was also of opinion that “it would have been better had the women stayed at home and minded their washing.”
After a short consultation with her prospective husband, the pair interviewed the clergyman, and the wedding was postponed, clearly to the disappointment of those assembled.– The Evening Express, April 14, 1897
And here I thought my invitation got lost in the mail. See if I buy them a wedding gift.
A certain divine. . . was officiating in a church. . . His object on special occasions is to warn his hearers against the wicked machinations of the Evil One.
Reverting to his favourite theme, suddenly a large window blind and roller behind the pulpit lost its hold, and fell right over the preacher, completely concealing him for a time. This brought the discourse to an abrupt termination. In its descent the roller smashed a number of the panes, and the peculiar noise of the falling glass, following in quick succession the enshrouding of the preacher, added panic to his already terrified condition.
Ignorant of the cause of the ridiculous hurly-burly, he thought, as he had exceeded in his denunciations the bounds of discretion, his Satanic Majesty had arrived in person to take him to task for slander and abusive language, having caught him in the act. Seeing that defiance was impossible, he called out, “I’m gone,” and with one bound cleared the pulpit, never stopping till he reached the extreme corner of the church.
Some of his hearers were struck with terror, while others, unable to repress their feelings, burst into laughter.– The Cardiff Times, April 14, 1877
When even your building starts throwing things at you, you know it’s time to stop recycling your sermons.
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Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above sources. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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