And then there is Charles Albin of Eastport, Long Island. Some are born Newspaper Clipping of the Day great, some achieve such greatness, and others, like Charles, have greatness thrust upon them. Truly, here was a man who personified the Strange Company Lifestyle.
The first mention I've found of Mr. Albin in the public prints appears in the "Brooklyn Eagle," August 10, 1897:
Speonk, L.I., August 10--When Charles and Henry Tuttle. residents of this village, were returning home in their sail boat from the beach Sunday night they found four young men clinging to the bottom of a capsized boat. They were Collins Jayne, William Jenkins, Jesse and Charles Albin, all of Eastport, and had been caught in a squall and upset out in the middle of the bay. All of the party were drawn into Tuttle's boat in an exhausted condition and brought to shore, where they soon recovered.
You would think that would be enough excitement for one month, but our hero was just getting warmed up. From the August 22 "Eagle":
Eastport, L.I., August 21--While attempting to ride his wheel along a narrow rail projecting out over the Great South Bay, near this place, yesterday, Charles Albin, a young man of this village, fell into the water, his wheel falling upon him. In the attempt to keep his wheel above water he was caught in the frame, from which position he found it impossible to get free. Realizing his danger of drowning, he shouted lustily for help. His cries attracted the notice of some fishermen down by the shore, who immediately ran to his rescue and drew him, his wheel still fastened to his limbs, out of the water.
Bicycles and Albin were obviously magic together. Here is an item from the "Eagle" just three days later.
Eastport, L.I., August 25--A serious bicycle accident occurred here last night by which William Jenkins and Charles Albin, two young men residing in this village, sustained serious injuries. They were returning home on a tandem and were pedaling at a high rate of speed when they collided with a wheelman whom, owing to the late moment at which discovered, and the narrowness of the path, it was impossible to avoid a collision, which resulted. The riders of the tandem were thrown violently to the ground stunned. The bicycle rider was also hurt but succeeded in riding away and concealing his identity. The tandem was so badly wrecked that after Albin and Jenkins were sufficiently recovered from the shock of the accident to allow them to rise, they were obliged to return home on foot.
After this incident, Albin managed to avoid any recorded exploits for a while. Perhaps he was lying low, burning incense and sending up prayers to the gods to remove the curse that had descended upon the good name of Albin. If so, he was sadly disappointed. The "Eagle," July 9, 1898:
Eastport, L.I.. July 9--A horse belonging to Wiggins' livery stable at Center Moriches while being driven by Charles Albin opposite the station here yesterday, became frightened at a passing train and ran away. Albin made a frantic effort to restrain the animal which, however, proved fruitless. The horse broke through a barbed wire fence at the side of the road before it was finally under control. Albin escaped serious injury.
But wait! I have saved the best of Mr. Albin's adventures for last! He has my undying gratitude for inadvertently providing one of my favorite vintage headlines ever:
|"Boston Globe," Apr 10, 1898|
Long Island's crop of spring stories is making its appearance. These alluring tales come with the early flowers and are as full of local color as a whitewashed fence. East Moriches starts the ball rolling with a wild animal story. (N.B. The adjective "wild" in the preceding sentence qualifies animal and not story.)
A muskrat is the hero of it, and Charles Albin the party of the second part. Mr. Albin. whose age, color, and previous condition are not stated, was riding a bicycle between East Moriches and Eastport on Friday evening, when he observed a beast of unknown species loping toward him. Unfortunately the dimensions of the animal are omitted from the reports sent out.
As it drew nearer Mr. Albin recognized it as a muskrat, and, knowing the cruel and ferocious nature of these formidable beasts, put on an extra burst of speed. In vain! The muskrat leaped upon him, bore him to the ground, and. endeavored to chew him to rags.
The unfortunate wheelman fought hard for his life, but was handicapped by the antics of his agile opponent, which darted beneath the fallen bicycle every time he kicked at it. Finally, when his clothes bad been torn to shreds and there were deep wounds on his arms and body, Mr. Albin succeeded in landing a pedal uppercut which lifted the bloodthirsty rodent over an adjoining fence into the dark realm of death. When the wounded bicyclist returned to East Moriches be looked just like a person who had coasted down a long hill with abandon, only to be received in the arms of a barbed wire fence. Had it not been for the story of the adventure with the muskrat many would have believed that this was what had happened.
His wounds were dressed and he trundled his wheel to a repair shop, the muskrat having punctured his tire and bitten three spokes in two. This year these water rodents are said to be unusually plentiful along the Long Island streams, and Long Island story tellers are afraid to go out at night without guns for fear of being attacked by them.
Even after the Great Muskrat Horror, Fate was not through yet with Charles Albin. The "New York Tribune," December 28, 1904:
Eastport, Long Island, Dec. 27--To the interference of a heavy canvas hunting coat which he wore, Charles Albin probably owes his escape from death while hunting ducks over decoys on the river here yesterday. Another sportsman, mistaking the decoys for wild ducks, discharged his gun among them, the whole charge striking Albin, who was concealed in the grass on the opposite side, in the breast. At first Albin feared he was seriously injured, but on removing his coat it was discovered that the charge had scarcely penetrated the resisting canvas.
There is no other way to put it: the entire animal kingdom was out to get this guy. He inspired another classic headline in the "Brooklyn Eagle," February 15, 1908:
East Moriches, L.I., February 15--Charles Albin of the Moriches Life Saving Station, was attacked by a big bird while on patrol in the fog and mist of the early week, and quite severely bitten and bruised on the legs.
Albin succeeded in killing the bird, which proved to be a loon or Great Northern Diver. He says the night was very dark, and as he was walking above hlghwater mark he heard a peculiar noise nearer the edge of the water, and thinking it might be a man washed ashore, started to investigate.
He was grabbed by the bird's bill and thumped by its wings before he had time to see what manner of creature had attacked him. He had no walking stick and could only defend himself by kicking in tho dark, but won the fight and carried his assailant, dead, to the station.
One of the patrolmen is an amateur taxidermist, and the bird is now set up and on exhibition at the station.
Incidentally, I trust you are all appreciating the irony of Albin working as a rescuer.
After bicycle wrecks, near-drownings, runaway horses, muskrat attacks, killer loons, and being mistaken for wild game, I had assumed this walking hoodoo came to a premature and gruesome end, but by God, the man was even tougher than our old friend Michael Malloy. Albin died peacefully in 1931, at the respectable age of 69.
I hope you are resting in peace, Mr. Albin. God knows, you earned it.
[Note: All stories via Newspapers.com]