"...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, August 17, 2022

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

If you’ve lived your life unaware that New York’s renowned Waldorf-Astoria hotel once boasted a ghost cat, this is your lucky day.  The “Hackensack Record,” April 21, 1911:

New York, April 21. Employees and other persons in the Waldorf-Astoria believe the great ballroom of the hotel is haunted by the wraith of a cat. 

For two weeks they have searched in vain for the musical or unmusical animal that interrupts every concert or anything like music in that room. Those of the hotel management taking a lively interest in finding the cat, if alive, or laying its ghost, if dead, differ as to whether pussy has a musical ear, just as nature-writers vary in their opinions of a dog howling on hearing music. Some say it is from anguish and others from pleasure, that the cat meows so incessantly. 

It was at a rehearsal of the Singers' Society a new member first joined the orchestra, then sang second to soloists. The stringed instruments were just getting in form, when the conductor dropped his baton and clapped both hands to his ears. The first violin glared at the cello, who scowled at the harp, who frowned at the trombone, who shook his fist at the cornet, who sneered at the flute, who looked pained at the oboe and all looked at the conductor. 

"Gentlemen." the latter man said smoothly, but shaking with anger, “just a leetle false notes. Now, we try again." 

It was worse this time, and the purple conductor thundered: "You all made it.” 

Everybody was angry at the charge but dissolution of the society was prevented by 


Then all present laughed, the conductor wiped away a frown and apologized. For, in truth, in the long-drawn wail of the cat or its unmusical wraith, in rising and then falling discord had touched upon a false note that might have come from each and all instruments In the orchestra, except the bass horn, who had been absolved from the first.

Word was sent to James Brennan, assistant manager, that a cat was concealed in the room and a request was made somebody remove it. Brennan responded with his assistant secretary Zehner, little Tom McCraw, one of the pages, Paul, the head carpenter, Michael Cuff, assistant houseman, and his assistant, Mike Murphy. They looked under the platform, in every nook of the great hall, and even on ledges outside the windows, but no cat was seen.

Satisfied with having corrected the orchestra, the cat waited until the first soloist began. The singer blushed with vexation when, after holding her high notes for the long time she is famous for, the spectre cat held to it on the wrong key as usual, and doubled her time. 

After that nerve-racking solo, the rehearsal was called off. That night and the next day men, by order of George C. Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria, even more thorough search was made, but no cat.

Evening after evening came the interruptions, the cat's voice apparently gaining in strength with practice, and until the hotel employees decided it was the wraith, the doppelganger of a cat belonging to a German musician that long ago had fallen from an upper story and "meowed" all the way down to death.

That is the reason, they think, the interruptions are more frequent and hideous when German music is being played, the cat mourning his owner on earth when the music recalls his kindness.

Yesterday Mike Murphy got a long pole and violently poked a scared pussy from beneath the platform. 

"Here that cat is," he shouted to Brennan.

Brennan was almost in tears as he petted the ruffled cat.

"That is mine," he said. "I put her in there hoping she would coax the other out."

So, the yowling wraith of the musical German's pet still haunts the ballroom.

I couldn’t find any follow-ups, so I am unable to say if the yowls were coming from an unmusical, but entirely corporeal, cat who had somehow found an ultra-secret hiding place, or if it was indeed the spirit of that poor feline who met its death at the hotel.

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was the same as the conductor's: that it was one of the orchestra. Maybe someone was throwing her voice...


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