"...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, October 3, 2018

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

via Newspapers.com

Let us discuss Mr. Oliver and the Cats. The "Detroit Free Press," December 25, 1870:
The fact that Mr. Oliver lived in a uniform row of houses in the Fourteenth Ward, says the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch, was the reason why he was unfortunate.

One moonlight night last week the noises made by the cats on his roof was simply awful. Mr. Oliver lay in bed trying in vain to get to sleep and grinding his teeth in rage, until at last the uproar overhead became unendurable. Mr. Oliver crept out of bed softly, so that his wife would not be wakened. He put on his slippers, seized a boot with each hand, and clad in the snowy robes of night, he opened the trap-door and emerged upon the roof. There were thirty or forty cats out here holding a kind of a general synod in the cool of the evening, enjoying the bracing air and singing glees.

As Mr. Oliver approached, the cats moved over to the next roof. Mr. Oliver advanced and flung a boot at them. They then adjourned suddenly to the next residence. Mr. Oliver projected another boot, and went over after the first one. In this manner the synod retreated and Oliver advanced until the last of the row of twenty houses was reached, when the cats arranged themselves in a line along the parapet, ruffled up their fur, carved their spines and spat furiously at Oliver. That bold warrior gathered up his boots and determined to retreat. He walked over a dozen houses and descended through a trap-door. He went down stairs to his bed-room, and opened the door. There was a man in the room in the act of walking up and down with a baby. Before Oliver had recovered from his amazement, the man flung the baby on the bed, and seizing a revolver began firing rapidly at Oliver. It then dawned upon Oliver that he had come down the wrong trap-door. He proceeded up stairs again suddenly, the man with the revolver practicing at him in a painful manner.

When Oliver reached the door he shut the trap quickly and stood upon it. The man fired through the boards twice, and then hooked the door upon the inside. A moment after Oliver heard him springing a watchman's rattle from the front window. As soon as the neighbors knew there was a man on the roof they all flew up stairs and fastened their trap-doors, and Mrs Oliver fastened hers, with the firm conviction that some predatory villain had entered while she slept and stole her Oliver. When he tried the door It was fast, and Mrs. Oliver was screaming so fiercely that he could not make himself heard.

By this time the street was filled with policemen, all of whom were blazing away at Oliver with their revolvers, while the young men in the houses across the street kept up a steady fire with pistols, shot-guns and miscellaneous missiles. Oliver, with every advantage of forming an opinion, said that Gettysburg was a mere skirmish to it. He hid behind the chimney and lay up against the bricks to keep himself warm, while the policemen stationed themselves all around the square to capture him when he would slide down one of the water spouts.

But Oliver did not slide. He sat out on the roof all night, with the bitter air circulating through his too trifling garments listening to the yowling cats and the occasional shouts from the picket line below, and thinking of the old Jews who used to pray from their house-tops, and wondering if Mussulmen were ever shot at or bothered with cats and policemen when they practiced their evening devotions on their roofs. And then he wondered how it would do to take off his night-shirt and wave it over the edge as a flag of truce! He concluded not to, because of the danger of a bullet from some misguided policeman not familiar with the rules of war. When daylight came, the neighbors rallied in a crowd, armed with all kinds of weapons from howitzers down, and mounted to the roof. Oliver was taken down and put to bed, and he now has more influenza for a man of his size than any other citizen of the Fourteenth Ward. He says he is going to move as soon as he gets well--he is going to move into a house that is next door to nobody, a house that stands in the middle of a prairie of some kind and he intends to stencil his name in white on the trap-door.
Let us hope Mr. Oliver also learned a lesson about throwing shoes at cats.


  1. This is the funniest story I've read in a long time. The poor, poor man. But I'm sure this was also the last time he ever threw a boot at a cat!

  2. As we all know from going to the movies, you should only throw your shoes at leprechauns. (Well, if you haven't actually seen that movie, you should go out and rent it, just in case you are ever attacked by psychotic marauding leprechauns.)

  3. Everyone blazing away - police, neighbours, young men with nothing else to do - and I suspect all they were told was that there was a man on the roof. Someone may have suggested getting a ladder and seeing what he was doing up there, but the words were probably drowned in teh gunfire. Mr Oliver probably moved to Dodge or Tombstone, where it was safer...


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