"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Nothing brightens the day like a "Mysterious Woman in Black" story, so here's this item from the "Syracuse Herald," April 29, 1928:
Syracuse police today, after an interval of almost 10 years, again were confronted with the "Woman in Black." A detective yesterday was assigned to the 5500 block of South Salina Street, where residents reported a mysterious woman, garbed in black, has been hiding behind trees and frightening children for the last week.

Almost 10 years ago, veteran police officials recalled yesterday, the city literally was held in the grip of terror for months because of the frequent appearances in different sections of a similar woman. That mystery never was solved. The "Woman in Black," despite almost countless theories, remained simply the "Woman in Black."

Police yesterday advanced the theory that this woman seen in the South Salina Street block may be the same "Woman in Black." They declared the search for her, which was started yesterday, will be continued until the mystery is solved. They admitted the possibility the "Woman in Black," as was believed when the figure terrorized the city years ago, may be a man dressed in woman's clothing. They added the caution to residents not to be frightened, because the figure at the time of its former appearance committed no crime of violence and requested that the police be told instantly when any suspicious looking woman appears.

The former visit of the "Woman in Black" which ended as suddenly and mysteriously as it began, left in its wake only one possible solution. The theory was advanced that some mother, crazed by the death of her son in France, roamed the streets at night, vainly seeking to find in the faces of passing children some resemblance to the boy who was lost.

But that was only a theory, neither proved nor discredited. And against it were the claims of many persons, some of whom claimed to have had close views of the mystery figure, that the "Woman in Black" was a man.

The former scare started when milkmen, driving their lonely routes in the late hours of the night, reported a shadowy figure in black. Some of the men declared they made unsuccessful attempts to catch the figure. Others, after the scare had reached major importance, frankly admitted they fled the scene.

One section of the city after another reported visits from the "Woman in Black." One nervous householder reported firing a revolver at the figure. The shot took no effect.

Workers in a railroad yard reported an encounter with the mystery figure.

Then came the story of a man who declared he had a close encounter with the "Woman in Black." He said the cry that came from the lips of the creature as he attempted to seize an arm was the cry of a man. He declared the stride of the fleeing figure was the stride of a man.

But that, even as the story of the crazed mother, was probably only a theory. The "Woman in Black" remained shrouded in mystery. That mystery remained unsolved when she disappeared. For a while it was the leading topic of conversation. Then the city turned to other things.

The mystery, so far as the police were concerned, was reopened when the black-garbed figure was seen yesterday. The "Woman in Black" is back.
I have no idea if the "Woman/Man in Black" was ever identified, but if you are a mourning widow--or just have a taste for Goth fashion--stay well clear of Syracuse. Otherwise, you're liable to get arrested, manhandled, or shot.


  1. It sounds like a transvestite to me,choosing a time of day to dress up when he would be least likely to be noticed. We had one like that about 20 years ago in my home town.

  2. Strangers are creepiest when they do nothing. I like this sentence: The police "added the caution to residents not to be frightened...and requested that the police be told instantly when any suspicious looking woman appears." Of course it's not dangerous - but stay the hell away from it!

    I enjoyed the uniquely American touch of someone shooting at the apparition, just because.

  3. https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Mysterious_Traveler_Singles

    My favorite Woman in Black.

  4. Maybe it was just some guy who liked to wear women's clothes. He had a uniform to wear during the day, but at night could wear what he wanted. Then something happened and he was either in prison or a mental institute for ten years.


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