Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, July 26, 2021


 Openers:  A committee from the Phoenix Athletic Club and one from the Pres ott Club had met, and after considerable discussion had arranged a match to decide the Amateur Championship of Arizona.

As the Phoenix and Prescott clubs were far and away the foremost athletic organzations in the Territory, the contest was looked forward to with great interest, especially as an intense rivalry existed between the two cities.  

"Let the contest be fair and square on both sides," said Smith, the chairman of the Phoenix committee.  "Let each club sent its best man, who is strictly an amateur, of course, and a member of the club, in good standing, and let the best man win."

"Them's my sentiments exactly," responded Johnson, the chairman of the Prescott committee.  "Fair play and honors to the best man, say I!  I did think of sending a young fellow I know in our club who took some sparring lessons in 'Frisco last year, and is qjuite clever; he's a gunsmith by profession, but the trouble is he's been teaching the boys during his spare time when he could get away from the shop, and that makes him a professional, doesn't it?"

"It does," said Smith, "and I am glad to find you are as particular as I am in such matters; let me tell you, it is a pleasure to meet a man like yourself who tries to be fair and square, and to take no advantage of anybody.  Let's take something."

-- "The Amateur Championship" by Charles B. Cory (from his collection Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Tales, 1899)

You know where this is going.  When both parties agree to being "fair and square," neither means it.  Smith, the chairman from Phoenix, writes to his brother. a saloon owner in Chicago. to secure "some one who is a sure winner, and can punch the stuffing out of this amateur duck from Prescott."  For two hundred dollars (and expenses) he got the services of a well-known professional who had never been out West and who could "lick" anything on the Pacific Coast, amateur or professional.  The Prescott club, meanwhile, had sent a representative to San Francisco who had found an Australian professional who nhad just landed in America and was un,likely to be recognized.  This gentleman had a long string of victories in Australia and vowed to "knock the bloomin' head off any bloomin' duffer," for the bargain price of seventy-five dollars.

There was far more than honor at stake here.  Each group expected to clean up on the betting on the match.

Came time for the battle and the Chicago pug was introduced as a Phoenix banking clerk and the Australian as a Prescott drug store clerk.  Both men in their trunks looked far more buff than any clerk had a right to be.  The first round was a cautious one, with each fighter sounding the other out.  In the second round the fighters went at it hammer and tongs.  By the third round, each realized he was ot against an amateur and each developed a professional stance.

During the one-minute intermissions between rounds, the referee (Watkins, the Phoenix sheriff) was talkng to a friend by the ringside, while looking strangely at the drug store clerk.  Round four had each fighter using any professional trick they thought they could get away with -- eye gouging, elbowing, head smashing, and so on.

At the end of round four, Watkins stopped the fight, saying that the drug store clerk had been recognized as the "Ballarat Boy" from Australia -- a professional; and that the other battler was "a damn sight too good for an amatoor."  He declared the fight a draaw and that all bets were off.

Walking back to their lodgings after the bout had been cancelled, the charmen of both clubs bemoaned the fact they were each duped by a professional fighter.  But, "It was a lovely scrap while it lasted."

"That's what it was."

Chalres B. Cory (1857-1921) was an American ornithologist and sportsman.  Born to a wealthy Boston family, Cory never had to work.  Instead much of his time was devoted to his hobby, ornithology.  By age nineteen he had already collected the best collection of Caribbean and Gulfm of Mexcio birds in existence and was elected to the Nuttil Ornithological Club, the oldest such club in America,  He was one of forty-eight ornithologists invited to found the American Ornothological Society in 1883.  Cory published extensively on birding, including such titles as The Birds of Haiti and San Domingo, The Birds of the West Indies, and The Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin.  His four-volume Catalogue of the Birds of America was completed by Carl Edward Hellmayr after Cory's death.

Cory donated his collection of 19,000 birds to the Field Museum in chicago and was then named Curator of Ornithology.  His collection of 600 ornithilogical volumes also found its way to the museum.  In 1906 Cory lost his entire fortune but was named Curator of Zoology at the museum and was still able to make collecting trips and to finance ocassional trips for other naturalists.

In 1882, Cory purchase an island in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, for a summer retreat and game preserve.  There he entertained dignitaries, including president Grover Cleveland.  He and his friend Charles Richard Crane fundedand played on  the Hyannis baseball team (now the Cape Cod Baseball League) and brought in well-known professional and amateur players to play on the team.  In 1902, Cory entered the summer Olympics as a golfer, competing in the individual event.

Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Stories is an outlier among his works and his only collection of fiction.  None of the stories are listed in the FictionMags Index so it is likely that all sixteen stories in this volume are original to the book.  Another outlier was his book Hypnotism and Mesmerism (1888)

Montezuma's Castle and Other Weird Stories is available to read online.

In the Upper 50% of Ursine Intelligence:  Black bears are getting to be a problem in Gulf Breeze where I live.  Weel, not necessarily where I live but up the street a couple of miles where my daughter lives.  Bears have forever roamed the area but, with expanding development, they are approaching human habitats more and more.  Christina has always had bears crossing her front yard at night, perhaps two or three time a year.  For the past two nights, however, a mother bear and two cubs have been ransacking the sealed trash cans stored in her side yard.   A neighbor videotaped them last night and the cubs are really cute.  But it is not a wise thing to anthropomorphize them.  Mama bears are very protective.  I remember, yrars ago, stopping behind a car at Yellowstone Park.  A woman took her two young children out of the car and posed them by three bear cubs for a photograph.  The mother bear was down the road a bit and immediately charged to rescue her cubs.  Photograph taken, the mother ushered her kids into the car and blithely took off, never realizing that had she been five seconds slower, she and her kids would have been bear prey.  I think Christina had better find space in her over-crowded garage for the trash bins from now on.

This Week's Grump:  My major grump for this week is stupid people.  This includes people who refuse to get the Covid vaccines, as well as the politicians and media yahoos who support them.  My disdain also goes to lazy and unthinking jamooks -- the ones who litter and think nothing of it.  Lately the white sands of Pensacola Beach have been littered with unsightly and dangerous pieces of plastic and sytrofoam.  Ugh!  The world gives us so many beautiful things and some people are too ignorant to respect this.

And while I'm at it...This week marked the 80th birthday of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy who was viciously murdered by white supremacists -- a crime that shocked much of the nation and one that should have shocked the entire nation.  Not that Emmett Till was alone in having his life brutally cut short; children have been the subject of horrific violence at every time in history.  Each child's death robs the world of an individual shining potential that may have made the world a better place.  Emmett Till, however, holds a special ,place for many of us.  The publicity surrounding his death was a stark reminder of how an unreasoning evil can infect our country.  As with many of you I continue to mourn this young lad.  And as with many of you I remain ashamed as to how our country and the world continues to devaue the worth of our children.

Brrr!:  The Whaley House in San Diego is reputedly one of the most haunted houses in America.  It doesn't help that the house was built on what was once a graveyard.

Built in 1867, the home once housed the general store of Thomas Whaley.  Whaley, nis wife, and their three children lived in the Greek Revival home until Thomas, Jr., Whaley's second child, died of scarlet fever at age eighteen months.  Then the store burned down. Whaley and his family moved to San Francisco, where the couple had an addirional three children.  A bit over none years later, Whaley repaired the old house and he and his family moved back to San Diego in December of 1868.

On January 5, 1882, Whaley's two oldest daughters married in a double ceremony in san Diego.  anna married her first cousin, John T. Whaley, while Violet had the unfortunate luck to marry George T. Bertolacci, a con man who had hoped to gain a large dowry through the marriage.  Two weeks into the honeymoon, Violet woke up to find her husband gone.  On returning home without her husband and (gasp!) unchaperoned, Vilet found herself shunned by the polite society of San Deigo.  Nineteen-year-old Violet's divorce was finalized a year later but her public humiliation and betrayal had brought about a severe case of depression.  She committed suicide on August 18, 1885, shooting herself in the chest with her father's .22.  Coincidentally, Violet was also 22.  Violet's suicide note read:  "Mad from life's history, Swift to death's mystery, Glad to be hurled, Anywhere, anywhere, out of this world." -- a passage from a poem by Thomas Hood.

The third Whaley daughter, Corrine, was engaged, but her fiance broke it off due to the scandal.  Whaley then moved his family to a single-story house downtown, leaving the Whaley House unoccupied for two decades.

As the house fell into disrepair, Thomas Whaley died in 1895 and his eldest daughter, Anna, passed away in 1905.  In 1909, Whaley's oldest son, Frank, began another storation of the Whaley House, turning it into a tourist attraction.  Frank, along with his mother, Anna (Thomas Whaley's widow), his sister Corrine, and brother George moved back into the Whaley House in 1912.  Anna died the following year, followed by Frank in 1914, George in 1928, leaving Corrine to remain in the house until her death in 1953.

Guests at the house reported having seen a ghost or ghosts of the family members who had died in the house -- Thomas, Jr., Violet, Anna, Francis, George, or Corrine.

But that was not all.  Back when the Whaley familky originally moved in, they reported having heard heavy footsteps in the house -- footsteps which they believed to belong to James "Yankee Jim" Robinson, who had been hung on the propertyin 1852 for stealing the only row boat in San Diego Bay.  (Cave J. Couts [great name!] was the jury foreman who sentenced Robinson to be hanged.  The jury also happenedto include the two men who owned the row boat.)   Robinson was reportedly well-known for waylaying and murdering miners but, since he did not do this in San Diego, he was left alone -- shunned, but left alone.

The Whaley House has been featured in a  number of paranormal documentaries and scripted shows.  Television host Regis Philbinclaimed to have a paranormal encounter with Anna Wahley in 1964:  "I know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't ee it.  But there was something going on in that house."

Your F.B.I.:  A great-nephew of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Joseph Bonaparte created the F.B.I. on this day in 1908.  Charles Bonaparte was a lawyer and political activist was born in Baltimore.  During Theodore Roosevelt's administration he serve as, first, Secretary of the Navy, then later, as U. S. Attorney General.  As Attorney General, Bonaparte became know as "Charlie the Crook Chaser."  On July 26, 1908, he issued orders to immediately staff the the Office of the Chief Examiner, creating the Bureau of Investigation under the Department of Justice, with Stanley Finch as the Chief of the new 34-member Bureau.  The Bureau's first official task was to visit and usrvey houses of prostitution in order to aid the passage of the Mann Act.

Three full-time and one acting Chief followed Stanley Finch in heading the BOI until J. Edgar Hoover was named Chief by Herbert Hoover on May 10, 1924.  On July 1, 1935, the name of the Bureau was officially changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Hoover was given the title of Director.  In total, Hoover headed the agency for 47 years and 357 days.  Following Hoover's death, his assistant Clyde Tolson served as acting director for exactly one day.  Hoover's reign at the F.B.I. ended in a storm of controversy as it was revealed both before and after his death that the Bureau frequently abused its power, harassed political dissenters, gathered secret files on political leaders, and used illegal methods to collect evidence.

Hoover and his shenanigans aside, today's F.B.I. is mainly served by dedicated agents and workers who strive for political independence.  It is an effective tool in investigting and identifying crime, terrorist threats, and public corruption, as well as protecting the nation';s civil rights.

INTERMISSION:  A broken fiber optic cable stopped my cable and internet service for about seven hours today.  I do not like my provider, Mediacom.

Back now.  I'll be late in posting this.

Litho Stereo Cards:  Back before there was radio, or television, or DVDs, there was the steropticon for entertainment.  For those on a ow budget, real photo stereo cards were just too expensive so many people  had to rely on litho stereo cards to see the many wonders of the world.  Here's a collection of 144 of them.  NOTE:  It takes a couple of seconds for each one to upload.

Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Reza Beluchi has failed in his attempt to runacross the sea from Florida to New York.  The giant cylindrical contraption (he calls it a "hydropod") in which he was to make the run floundered ashore after he started the voyage in St. Augustine.  Some of his safety and navigational equipment necessary for the trip had been stolen, he said.  Earlier he had tried to run from Florida to Bermuda in a homemade hydropod.  He has however run from Los Angeles to New York Twice and once circled the US perimeter in a 11,270 mile trek.  His latest stunt was meant to raise money for "first responders, sick children, and people who are homeless," he said.  Meanwhile, the Flagler County sheriff wants Beluchi's hydropod removed from the beach where it landed but the weather is comlpicating efforts.
  • Florida Man and not a gentleman Gentry Burns, 27, is now headed to jail for two years for having sex with multiple women without telling them he was HIV-positive.  At least two of his known victims have cpontracted the disease.  Gentry was known to have traveled extensively along the East Coast and may well have infected others.  He is not a nice man.  About 1,2 million people in America have HIV and about 13% are unaware they have the disease.
  • Another not nice Florida Man is Danny Brandner, 37, of Volusia County.  Brandner was arrested for beating and dragging a five-month-old puppy.  When arrsted he asked officers, "Why?  What did I do that was illegal?"  Brandner then denied abusing the puppy but the police had video recorded by Brandner's disgusted neighbors of the act.  The floor of Brandner's apartment was covered with urine and dog feces from the beating.  Some Florida Men give other Florida Men a bad name.  
  • Does being arrested in Florida for a murder in Chattanooga make one a Florida Man?  If so, welcome Paul Hayden, 52, of Chattanooga, to the ranks.  Hayden was arrested in a Walgreen's parking lot in Tallahassee for the June slaying of Maurice Wallace.  Evidently arguments in Chattanooga can become quite heated.
  • For those who missed it, the documentary series Florida Man Murders is available on Bravo.  to which I say, Only eight episodes?

Some of the Good Stuff:
  • Check out this support cat who helps kids with eye problems feel better about wearing glasses
  • And how about a support owl named Louie who helps a man with PTSD go on hikes?
  • Keeping with the aninmal motif, here's a lucky tortpise with a back scratcher made from broom heads
  • 39-year-old becomes the first American to have a prosthetic artificial heart implanted
  • Watch hero officers and a good Samaritan rescue an unconscious woman from a sinking car
  • This thank you note from a woman eating alone left her waitress in tears
  • Students build an epic baby stroller for a new dad in a wheelchair

Today's Poem:
The Great Panjandrum Himself

So she went to the garden to cut a cabbage leaf
to make
an apple-pie;
and at the same time a great she-bear,
coming down the street, pops its head
 into the shop.
What!  no soap?
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
the Picininnies                      
                                  and the Joblillies,
and the Garyulies,
and the Great Panjandrum himself, with
the little round button at top;
and they all fell to plahying the game
of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gun;owder ran out at the heels
of their boots.

-- Samuel Foote

This early nonsense poem was one of sixteen picture books illustrated by Randolph Caldecott in 1885.
The text had been written and published by Samuel Foote in 1775, who had written it to test the memory of actor Charles Macklin, who claim to be able to repeat any text verbatim after hearing it once.

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