Odd bits number twelve

Our ‘Odd Bits’ never seem to end. The July 16, 1891 Daily Republican, under the heading of “Home Happenings” reported a humorous non-happening that must have brought readers much laughter.

“The largest snake in the world, measuring twenty feet in length and belonging to the New Orleans Museum, has escaped!”

The Gloversville Leader recalls that this very snake, when shown here at an earlier exhibition, tried to eat up a Leader reporter. It may be that this diabolical snake is now slithering back here from New Orleans to swallow up the entire editorial office. This big snake, after getting a fresh taste of the Leader crowd, may yet decide that if they’re the best editorial fodder Fulton County can supply, it doesn’t want any more, and it may therefore leave the county behind in disgust.”

A February 1857 Gloversville Intelligencer observed, “The Fonda jail presently contains eleven prisoners, kept on the following charges: Murder one; burglary, two; vagrancy, three; stabbing, one; drunkenness, two; disorderly, two. Hodge, the murderer, is the principal character in the institution and occasionally amuses the other inmates by performing some certainly marvelous acrobatic feats on the rods and railings that support the balcony along the upper tier of cells.”

No one interested in the history of early automobile races is without knowledge of the historic 1908 New York-Paris Intercontinental Race, won by America’s 1907 Thomas Flyer. Crossing the US, Japan, Siberia, Manchuria, and on across Europe to Paris, this race began at New York’s Times Square February 12, 1908. But before these pioneer autos got through all those far-away places, they first came north through the Hudson and west through the Mohawk valleys.

The Feb.13 Amsterdam Recorder took note of it when the cars passed through Amsterdam.

“Three of the big cars entered in the New York-Paris race were scheduled to arrive in Amsterdam this afternoon. The American car, the Thomas, is in the lead, followed by the Italian and one of the French cars. At Schenectady, twenty automobiles, property of Schenectady Automobile Club members, started out to escort the machines to Amsterdam. With its heavy equipment of stores and camp utensils, looking like a modern representation of a prairie schooner and fitted out with axes, shovels, ropes and other articles for the long journey, the Thomas car is the queerest looking automobile that ever came to Amsterdam. Nothing has been heard here so far of the other three cars, presently somewhere still below Albany.”

A June 1878 Gloversville Intelligencer reported what could have been a fatal accident in Broadalbin, but fortunately wasn’t.

“On the 24th, an accident of considerable consequence happened to William Gray, the son of Rev. J. Gray, who is aiding his father in the erecting of the new Baptist church here. A four-pound brick fell from a scaffold hanging about twenty feet above the second floor, down to where William was standing, striking him on the temple and making a sore wound. It was a narrow escape from hitting him directly on the top of his head and causing instant death. Dr. Barker of this village dressed the wound and William is now said to be in fine condition and ready to be hit again.”

In the same issue, the Intelligencer reported that in nearby Mayfield, “The ‘Temperance Wave’ has reached our shores and the ‘demon rum’ must receive a terrific blow. The first temperance meeting this season was held in the Presbyterian Church last Friday, and another at the Methodist Church the following day.

The pledge was circulated at these meetings and 119 signatures secured. It cuts off cider as well as whiskey. Some object to this and will continue using cider as usual. At one meeting when the pledge failed to find signers, a young lady offered to kiss the first young man who signed up. A lanky fellow in the rear of the room rose up and exclaimed, “I’m your Huckleberry!” He quickly signed the pledge and claimed his reward.”

Employees of at least one traveling carnival during the early 1930s used some very successful tricks to avoid paying Gloversville hotel keepers for their lodging while their carnival was playing in town. The Aug. 6, 1932 Daily Saratogian reports,

“A representative of Gloversville’s hotel association was in Saratoga Springs yesterday afternoon endeavoring to locate a number of men who he said stopped at his hotel last week and left without paying their bills. “I was fortunate,” he said, “as I had some of the better class of carnival people in my hotel and I only had about a third of them get away without paying. I found out later some of them gave false names when they registered, and then they removed their baggage the day before they left by dropping it from the windows of their rooms to friends waiting outside to catch it. Owners of the smaller hotels and rooming houses fared a lot worse than I did. My object in coming over here today is to warn your Saratoga hotel men to be on their guard.”

While on the subject of hotels, be careful of making false accusations against innocent hotel employees.

The April 26, 1883 Randolph, N.Y. Register reported, “A guest at a Gloversville hotel who wrongfully accused two chambermaids of stealing twenty dollars from him was waylaid in the hall by the indignant girls and thoroughly covered with flour.”

By Patricia Older