- Mild Dry
- Bluff Slide
- Budget Tracking
- One-Eyed Terrier
- Hendy Woods
- TOT Purpose
- Substance Abuse
- GG Pier
- Saint Patrick's
- AV Village
- Scout Camp
- Death Cap
- Public Comment
- Doc Wheeler
- Stupid Remarks
- Ayn Rand
- Trump Pardons
- Wildlife Films
- Yesterday's Catch
- Rodin Latinos
- Adios Shell
- Remley Visit
- Weed Degree
- Blanche Captured
- Somber Madonna
- Studying History
- Poisoning Babies
- Financial Collapses
- Gentlemen Press
- Bloomberg Bribery
GENERALLY MILD AND DRY conditions are expected across the region through the remainder of the work week. Thereafter, light rain will be possible over the weekend, followed by another period of dry weather early next week. (NWS)
MAJOR BLUFF SLIDE, BIG RIVER
FINALLY! After years of delay, false starts, foot-dragging and dithering, Mendocino County has begun tracking monthly expenses against budgeted amounts for most county departments.
Until recently, the County’s formerly useless “Budget Portal” only had budgeted amounts in broad, meaningless categories with no expense info. But now they’re including monthly expense tracking against budgets for most departments (although some of the department names are misleading and require explanation).
OVERALL, probably because of one-time expense timing and significant vacancy rates, most of Mendo’s expenses so far this fiscal year (July through December of 2019) are well-under budget, so without knowing what lump sum expenses a given department has, there’s no way to know if the underrun will continue.
THERE ARE OTHER SHORTCOMINGS In the presentation as well. For one thing, for some unexplained reason, tax revenues are negative. So there must be a few more bugs in the system to work out. And there’s no provision for explanation of any of the items, just raw numbers.
According to their fancy intro, County management and the public can “Glean the context you need for budget decisions and the actionable insights you need for performance management. You can visualize trends and model the impact of proposed budget changes while you transform complex financial and performance data into actionable insights.”
NOT QUITE. BUT IT IS A FIRST STEP, albeit somewhat shaky and incomplete.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES (not counting Measure B funds) show almost $24 million budgeted with about $10 million spent so far. But the entire mental health financing and reimbursement picture is too muddy to draw any conclusions from, much less ask intelligent questions about.
OF SPECIAL INTEREST is the Sheriff’s Overtime expense which a couple of years ago was highlighted for special monthly tracking but never tracked when they budgeted a laughably low amount. We were lead to believe that since then, because the Sheriff has filled most vacancies after their big pay raises which went into effect last July, that there would be a reduced need for overtime, especially since there have been no big time consuming, high-profile cases to deal with. But the new special Sheriff’s overtime chart in the Budget Portal shows a budget of (seemingly low) $650k for Sheriff’s overtime, with almost $803k spent through the first half of the year — which would translate to over $1.6 million if extended out.
Somebody has some explaning to do for that one.
ALSO MISSING is any attempt to compare expenses with cost drivers for each department.
THE COUNTY has obviously put a lot of time and money into developing what seems like the Cadillac of budget tracking software and rolling it out for preliminary use.
SO IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see if any Supervisors bring up this new first attempt at budget tracking in one of their upcoming meetings. Is Mendo finally going to try to manage its budget and departments? Will anyone ask why expenses are so low so far? Will anyone ask about the glaring glitches in some of the items? Will Supervisor Ted Williams ask about his “zero-based budgeting” fantasy? Will Supervisor McCowen heap praise on CEO Angelo for finally getting something going on budget tracking, albeit still short of what’s necessary? Will CEO Angelo brag and point out what’s in store for the next phase — someday “soon”? Will anybody even care?
SEEKING GOOD HOME for a sweetheart one-eyed welsh terrier, coming on to four years old. He’s very affectionate and decidedly a people person. Please reply to email@example.com
THIS CANDIDATE sees it clearly:
I may sound like a broken record here, but despite some special interest group's desire to re-write history on the purpose of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), the tax was originally designed to compensate local government for the increased public service costs incurred by serving local tourists. It was not originally intended to "market" the county, nor was it intended to favor any particular industry. How do we define "local government"? Law enforcement/public safety is of course under the purview of county government. Local government also includes Fire Districts. Volunteer Fire Districts and Departments are affected by increased tourist activity. Hopefully our County Supervisors, despite who ends up getting elected, can seriously contemplate this message I've been trying to drive home for over a decade.
Jon Kennedy, Candidate for 1st District Supervisor
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS:
Partnership HealthPlan (Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan for 14 northern counties) presented a proposal for substance abuse treatment services at the HHSA Advisory meeting. They’re working on services for seven counties and will take in to account local needs. Our State’s Department of Health Services is working on a federal funding model.
I asked whether teen substance services will be included. Yes!
Requirements for participation were summarized as 1) diagnosed with an addiction, 2) wanting treatment
This is welcome news.
SAINT PATRICK'S POT LUCK ELK, SAT. MAR. 14
Sponsored by: Blessed Sacrament Church and Greenwood Community Church
Saturday, March 14, 4pm-8pm, Greenwood Community Center
Entertainment: Matthew Tyson and the Wild Elk band
Corned Beef and traditional rum cakes provided by the churches. Bring a dish of your choice and BYOB.
Silent Auction and 50-50 raffle
No charge but bring one of your favorite dishes. This is a fun event.
Lots of good food and great company.
AV VILLAGE - WEEKLY UPDATE for 02/18/2020
Below is a link with the calendar events for the next two weeks hosted by The Anderson Valley Village as well as events in our community at large. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us:
PERVS SINK BOY SCOUTS
Mones said he clearly remembers questioning an expert witness about one specific file, in which executives had concluded that a troop leader sleeping nude with Cub Scouts was not “sufficient reason” to permanently bar him.
“You could hear the oxygen go out of the room,” Mones said. “It was so abhorrent to people.”
WITH the Scouts in bankruptcy… Might free up the Boy Scout property in Willits. Beautiful place complete with a small lake whose waters have been piped into Willits in time of drought.
ATTENTION EVERSOLE MORTUARY, UKIAH: The state of Washington now allows "licensed facilities" to sell a mixture of wood chips, straw and, I think, flesh-eating mushrooms, to reduce one's earthly remains to a (smallish) natural organic heap suitable for the garden. What with cemeteries running out of space, this natural rendering seems likely to be the next big thing in the death biz.
MYSELF, I would prefer that Native American practice of hoisting the corpse up in a tree where it's not only closer to heaven, or a version thereof, but provides handy snacks for an array of birds and bugs.
FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA INTRO:
“MANNER OF ADDRESSING THE CITY COUNCIL: Any member of the public desiring to address the City Council may submit a Speaker Card to the City Clerk and proceed to the podium after being recognized by the Presiding Officer. Speakers will be called up in the order the Speaker Cards are received. Those who have not filled out a Speaker Card will be given an opportunity to speak after all those who have filled out Speaker Cards have spoken. All remarks and questions shall be addressed to the City Council; no discussion or action will be taken pursuant to the Brown Act. No person shall speak without being recognized by the Mayor or acting Mayor. Written comments may be submitted to the City Clerk, 416 N. Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. … BROWN ACT REQUIREMENTS: The Brown Act does not allow action or discussion on items not on the agenda (subject to narrow exceptions). This will limit the Council's response to questions and requests made during this comment period.”
BY COMPARISON, the County Board of Supervisors Agenda Intro says:
“Members of the public are welcome to address the Board on items not listed on the agenda, but within the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors. The Board is prohibited by law from taking action on matters not on the agenda, but may ask questions to clarify the speaker's comment. The Board limits testimony on matters not on the agenda to 3 minutes per person and not more than 10 minutes for a particular subject at the discretion of the Chair of the Board. Individuals wishing to address the Board under Public Expression are welcome to do so throughout the meeting. To best facilitate these items, please review and complete the public comment/speaker form available at the back of the Boardroom and present to the Clerk. If you wish to submit written comments, please provide 10 copies to the Executive Office staff, located in the County Administration Center, Room 1010. All meetings are tape-recorded, so speakers are reminded to announce their names as they approach the podium.”
With narrow and limited exceptions, discussion and action on matters not on the agenda is prohibited. Members may only:
Briefly respond to statements/questions from the public,
Ask a question for clarification,
Make a brief announcement,
Make a brief report on his or her activities,
Provide a reference to staff or other sources for factual information,
Request staff report back at a later meeting, or
Direct staff to place the matter on a future agenda.
(Gov. Code, § 54954.2(a)(2).)
ms notes: Some Supervisors (mainly outgoing Supervisor Carre Brown) routinely violate the government code requirement that their reports be “brief.”
ADD LOOKALIES: Pro Wrestler Brock Lesnar and Philo resident Ken Hurst
RUSTLED STEER FOILS DARING ROBBERY PLOT: THE MENDOCINO OUTLAWS
by David Aloysius Kelley
On Wednesday, October 15, 1879, a seven-man posse led by Mendocino Constable Thomas Host, was ambushed in a narrow defile near the headwaters of Russian Gulch by four suspected rustlers.
When the blazing gunsmoke had cleared, two of Mr. Host’s men lay in their own pools of blood, mortally wounded. A third had been shot, but would recover.
The cowardly ambush set off a manhunt that would eventually cover seven counties — from the Redwood Coast to the Sierra Nevadas.
Before it was over, a plot to rob and murder Mendocino County’s sheriff would be uncovered, and a genial coast dentist would be revealed as the mastermind behind the scheme.
John F. Wheeler set up practice in the small town of Mendocino and ran an ad in the Mendocino Beacon that a new dentist was in town, on August 31, 1878. Hailed as “Doc The Dentist” around town, the Mendocino townspeople quickly drew him into their social bosom.
As “Doc” settled into the small community and practiced his trade, local residents were unaware “Doc” Wheeler had learned dentistry while serving eight years of a ten-year sentence for mail robbery in San Quentin to the south.
He discovered Mendocino County Sheriff James R. Moore, who was also the county tax collector, would be traveling through Mendocino with the coast’s yearly taxes on his way back to Ukiah.
Learning the sheriff often carried as much as $15,000 while alone on these yearly trips, “Doc” Wheeler masterminded and assembled the four outlaws who would — along with himself — become known as The Mendocino Outlaws.
H.E. Brown (the captain of the gang), George Gaunce, Samual Carr (alias Captain Jones), and John Billings would eventually be brought to justice along with “Doc” Wheeler for the murders.
The plot was foiled before it had a chance to be put to the test.
“Doc” Wheeler’s cohorts were discovered when they rustled and slaughtered a steer for food for their flight through the redwoods after the robbery.
With the report of the first rifle fired from ambush into the midst of Constable Host’s posse, “Doc” Wheeler’s well thought-out plan exploded in ruins.
No one knew at the time that “Doc, the Dentist” was involved with the strangers. “Doc” was not with the outlaws when the shoot-out occurred, and had been very careful to not be seen with the four.
When he supplied the outlaws with provisions as they waited in the nearby woods to carry out his plan, he used other people to transport the goods for him.
Mendocino residents were not surprised when Mr. Wheeler stood up and made a speech at the mass meeting that was called to determine what to do after the shoot-out.
“Doc” Wheeler advised against following the men, saying they were “a desperate lot” and would surely kill even more Mendocino citizens.
A committee of 21 citizens was appointed to decide what to do during the emergency; Mr. Wheeler was one of them.
Over the next few days, subsequent evidence showed “Doc, the Dentist” Wheeler provided ammunition, guns, and other supplies to the outlaws.
The first break in the case came with the arrival of Deputy Sheriff Jerry Donohoe and several other lawmen. One of his party recognized “Doc” Wheeler as having served time in San Quentin.
Other evidence started to surface as well. At the outlaws’ camp, a cup and frying pan were found, said to have been purchased by Mr. Wheeler. He claimed the items had been stolen.
It was also discovered a horse he had used from the livery stable nearly every evening for some time had a broken shoe. These same tell-tale shoe prints were found near the outlaws’ camp.
“Doc, the Dentist” was arrested, along with a Mrs. Dicas and her two daughters, who had unknowingly given shelter to “outlaws.”
Al Courtwright was also arrested; he had taken supplies to the gang on Mr. Wheeler’s orders, letting them stay at his cabin for a short time. He gave a complete description of all the men involved and confirmed “Doc” Wheeler’s part in the plot — saying he had been asked to join with them, which he refused to do. Mr. Courtwright was later released, along with the three women.
The next break in the case came when Mendocino County Sheriff Jerimiah M. Standley, while investigating Mr. Courtwright’s cabin, found one of the outlaws. It was October 21, six days after the fatal gunbattle.
The suspect offered no resistance, “Captain Jones” (Samual Carr) was completely overcome with fatigue and exposure. Being the oldest and weakest of the gang, he had fallen behind. His “pals” had left him stranded when they had attempted to make their escape.
With the capture of “Captain Jones” and “Doc, the Dentist,” the mastermind of the dastardly plot, Sheriff Moore had in custody all but three of the gang. This was accomplished within eight days of the fateful day the gang decided to supplement their provisions with stolen steer meat.
Sheriff Moore decided to safely secure (or so he thought) his two prisoners at his headquarters in Ukiah to protect them from the vengeance of the citizens of Mendocino.
The adventure wasn’t over, however. The Sheriff and his posse would pursue the other three outlaws hundreds of miles before the curtain would finally fall on the most colorful manhunt in the county’s pioneering and deadly history.
The chase was on…
In and out, In and out…
Two of the outlaws responsible for killing two Mendocino residents were taken to the jailhouse in Ukiah after being caught, to protect them from the wrath of the victim's neighbors. Both “Doc, the Dentist” Wheeler and Samuel Carr (alias Captain Jones) were transferred to the county seat on the orders of Mendocino County Sheriff James R.Moore so they could be “safely secured.” But as Sheriff Moore and his posse pursued the remaining gang members exciting events were occurring back in Ukiah.
Friday night, November 7, 1879, Mrs. Paul Boulon noticed two strange men rushing from the Ukiah courthouse. She became suspicious and soon spread the alarm.
Two prisoners were found missing from the county jail. Both left letters professing their innocence. One of them was “Doc, the Dentist,” Wheeler. The other escapee was James Anthony.
Mr. Anthony was caught north of Calpella heading in the direction of Ukiah. He was in the company of a man who told the posse he was a poor farmhand whose wife was sick. He was going to Ukiah to seek the assistance of a doctor, he said.
Believing “Mr. Brown” had just met the fleeing fugitive, the posse bade the man a hasty goodbye.
“Doc, the Dentist” Wheeler had escaped once again.
Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Anthony were heading back to the town they had just escaped from.
“Doc” Wheeler had insisted on leading the trail even though his companion was more familiar with the countryside. And the escape might have succeeded had Mr. Wheeler not got turned around in Redwood Valley and headed back into the waiting arms of the pursuers.
The next day, “Doc” Wheeler hid in a cabin west of Calpella while as many as 30 men searched the countryside for the elusive outlaw.
Runners were sent as far as Lakeport to warn the country folks of the escape of the bold and quick thinking 36-year-old fugitive.
Late that evening his tracks were found in the Calpella area. At noon Sunday the cabin he had sought refuge in was discovered. Mr. Wheeler had paralyzed his leg while jumping from his horse in an attempt to throw off his pursuers to make them think he was still traveling on a mount.
The small cabin — its chimney issuing smoke — was approached by Fred DeCamp and Sank McGarvey. The two men called a hello to the cabin and asked: “Who's there?”
“I am!” came the returning shout.
Not considering the injury he might sustain jumping from his horse, Mr. Wheeler had planned on setting out on foot across the country to avoid capture.
Broken in spirit and worn down from exhaustion, “Doc, the Dentist,” Wheeler was returned to his jail cell at the Ukiah County Courthouse that evening. It was never discovered who helped the two to escape. But when Mr. Anthony was captured, a key was found that would unlock any of the cell doors or locks necessary to get out of the jailhouse. There were also horses saddled and ready for the fugitives when they escaped.
Six months after Mr. Wheeler made his escape attempt, he was convicted of first degree murder. It was Friday, May 7, 1880.
On May 13, Judge J.G. Pressley set the day of execution for Friday, July 2, less than two months from sentencing.
Two days after being sentenced to death, “Doc, the Dentist,” Wheeler was found apparently dead by his wife, who had come to visit him in his jail cell.
Searching the cell, the sheriff found a coat; the lining of which was found to have been used to secrete a fatal drug. Five bottles were found containing chloral hydrate. Two were empty.
After his death, oldtimers told a story about having seen “Doc, the Dentist” with his wife in San Francisco. Many believed that after he had been pronounced dead Mrs. Wheeler took the body of her husband and revived him from a deep drug-induced sleep.
Could it be?
(Research material for these articles was provided by the Mendocino County Historical Society.)
WHENEVER JOCKDOM talks about role models and the "values of our organization," brace yourself for major hypocrisy. Aubrey Huff is a dumb guy who says dumb things all the time, especially since he's safely retired and beyond whatever real sanctions the Giants front office might mete out if he were still their employee. So now we get this from the Giants: “Earlier this month, we reached out to Aubrey Huff to let him know that he will not be included in the upcoming 2010 World Series Championship reunion,” the Giants said in a statement Monday. “Aubrey has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization. While we appreciate the many contributions that Aubrey made to the 2010 championship season, we stand by our decision.”
EVEN PABLO SANDOVAL, the guy the Giants helped wriggle out of a sexual assault charge back in the day, is on Huff's case.
WITHOUT HUFF, there might not have been a big year in 2010, and to disinvite him to the 2010 reunion is, as Huff himself, put it, "If it wasn't for me, they wouldn't be having a reunion. But if they want to stick with their politically correct, progressive bullshit, that's fine."
SO, what did Huff say on social media that has gotten him blackballed? Back in November, he tweeted a picture of a gun range with the caption "Getting my boys trained up on how to use a gun in the unlikely event" that Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Uh, a stupid thing to say with its ignorant implication of Bernie as Bolshevik, but jeez, banning the stupeedo who said it?
WHEN THOUSANDS of literalists jumped on his case for that one, Huff tweeted that he was merely teaching his kids to shoot responsibly and that "I did make a political opinion, but at no time did I threaten anyone's life."
THEN THERE was a garbled joke about "kidnapping about 10" Iranian women to "bring them back here as they fan us and feed us grapes, amongst other things."
IF STUPID REMARKS were ban-worthy, most of us would be in permanent exile.
GO IN PEACE, CROOKS: Trump has commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and issued a trio of pardons to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, 1980s junk bond king Michael Milken, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., plus Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
BIRDS, BATS, AND BEARS:
Opening night of Wildlife Film Fest features films about the American West
The first of five Friday evenings of live music and notable films from the International Wildlife Film Festival originating in Missoula, Montana will begin Friday, February 21, at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue. Festivities will start at 6:15 p.m. with pre-film folk music by Steve Hahm.
Opening night screenings will begin at 7 p.m., featuring three films portraying the American West from a different perspective.
The feature film “Epic Yellowstone: Life on the Wing” (51 min.) provides a bird’s-eye view of an iconic place, Yellowstone National Park. Soaring above the erupting Old Faithful Geyser, the cascading Lower Falls, and the brilliant Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone’s winged creatures survey an extraordinary landscape. But a bird’s life in the extremes of the world’s first national park is anything but an easy glide.
Also showing are two short films. “Glacier’s Bats” (6 min.) depicts the threat of white-nose syndrome, a cold-loving fungus that has killed many bats in the U.S. and Canada. Glacier National Park biologists adventure deep into the backcountry to find out what species of bats live in the park and monitor any dangers to their populations.
“Grizzly Country” (12 min.) introduces us to author and eco-warrior Doug Peacock, who, after serving in the Vietnam War, spent years alone in the Wyoming and Montana wilderness observing grizzly bears. With the protection status of Yellowstone grizzlies now under threat, Peacock reflects on the importance of habitat and why he continues to fight for wild causes.
Tickets for the Wildlife Film Fest are available at Mendocino Book Co. or at the door. Series tickets are $45; individual tickets are a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. Films are appropriate for older children, but parental discretion is recommended.
Proceeds from the film festival are an important funding source for the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP), a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education programs to over 2,000 students a year.
For a full program of the film series and more information about the RVOEP visit its website, www.rvoep.org. For further inquiries, contact Maureen Taylor, RVOEP Education Coordinator, at 489-0227.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 18, 2020
KELLY CLARK, Ukiah. Criminal threats, probation revocation.
JAIME GONZALEZ JR., Ukiah. Probation revocation.
JOSE GONZALEZ-BARRAGAN, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DEVIN JOHNSON, Willits. Controlled substance, probation revocation.
ROXANNE KENDALL, Covelo. Under influence.
SCOTT MAINGI, Ukiah. Controlled substance, dumping commercial quantities, polluting state waters, trespassing, probation revocation.
DAVID PASCHKE, Ukiah. Dumping commercial quantities, polluting state waters, trespassing.
HISPANICS FOR RODIN
Although Latinos make up more than a quarter of Mendocino county's population, we have very little representation in our local government. Mari Rodin has given the underrepresented Latino community a voice in her campaign, making herself available and accessible to the Latino members of our city. Mari’s engagement in the community is more than the typical appearances at social gatherings to gain supporters. It is a sincere and honest belief that diversity makes our community better. She is about long-term solutions that support the Latino community to thrive and to support local businesses, address the homeless crisis, and protect the environment. Mari has our full support as Latinos, small business owners, and proud Mendocino County residents.
Juan and Jackie Orozco
THE REMLEYS had been picking asparagus in the Imperial Valley and were now on their way home with their asparagus money. Traveling with them was their infant son Hershel. Hershel was a cheerful, bright-eyed little fellow. He was very well behaved and Norwood remarked on this.
Mrs. Remley patted Hershel on his tummy and said, “Say I’m not always this nice.”
Hershel grinned but said nothing.
“I believe the cat has got that boy’s tongue,” said Norwood.
“Say no he ain’t,” said Mrs. Remley. “Say I can talk aplenty when I want to, Mr. Man.”
“Tell me what your name is,” said Norwood. “What is your name?”
“Say Hershel. Say Hershel Remley is my name.”
“How old are you, Hershel? Tell me how old you are.”
“Say I’m two years old.”
“Hold up this many fingers,” said Norwood.
“He don’t know about that,” said Mrs. Remley. “But he can blow out a match.”
When Norwood reaches his home in Ralph, Texas, he invites the Remleys to stay over, but they depart in the night, absconding with “a television set and a 16-gauge Ithaca Featherweight and two towels.”
— Charles Portis, Norwood
The curriculum for the US's first undergraduate weed degree
”You can now major in weed. A new program at Colorado State University-Pueblo, a campus serving 4,000 students in southern Colorado, will offer the country's first official undergraduate degree studying cannabis with its new Cannabis Biology and Chemistry program. But Jeff Spicoli need not apply. "It's not a party degree," says David Lehmpuhl, the school's…”
THERE ONCE WAS A MAN who was fixated on, obsessed you could say, with images of the Virgin Mary. He spent his entire life traveling all over the world — to Rome, to Paris, to Mexico City — to study the paintings and carvings and marble statues of the Madonna. When he died, he went to heaven, and there he asked Saint Peter if he could meet the Blessed Virgin. Saint Peter saw no reason to deny this good man’s request, and so he brought the man to her. “I have just one question,” the man began. “I have studied your face, every rendition of it, for my entire life. Why, in all those countless paintings and carvings and marble statues, do you always look so sad?”
“Well,” said Mary, “to tell you the truth, I really wanted a daughter.”
A VOICE NEEDED MOST
by Joni Craig
I’ve always thought that each new child brought into this world was the purest form of life. Angelic. As I look at a newborn baby, that’s what I see. Actually, I think that way from the first sonogram. Even though most times I’m unable to see what everyone else sees. I’ve had someone show me their babies, there’s his toes, there’s the little hand, see, he’s making a fist… Oh, and there’s the little butt. As I twist and turn my head trying to see what they're seeing, most times I’m left with nothing. I just take their word for it, and wait for the big day.
Another thing I’m unable to see, is how any person carrying an innocent little life(s), can continue on with “their” vices while carrying this little angel. I’ve witnessed it more times than I can believe — cigarettes, drugs, alcohol… Wtf? Women that indulge in one of the three, and at times all three, with not a care in the world for that pure, angelic little soul. I’ve never been able to understand their thinking, or lack thereof, not to mention, their absence of any caring and compassion for the little miracle they’ve been blessed with.
What one person chooses to do to themselves as an adult is entirely up to them; they make the choices they do, right, wrong or indifferent. I don’t think too many women would be loving it, if what was put upon them was done without their voice being heard. Poisons forced into their system on a daily basis, when they didn’t want or expect them to be.
Unfortunately, for the babies being carried by irresponsible women who not only do not have a voice, they are born into this world broken. The purest form of life, tarnished by their own Mothers and Fathers, and family members. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken up about this assault on the unborn, whether I’ve known the parents or not. Doesn’t It bother you that every drag of that cigarette you take goes right to the baby? Why would you want to harm that little angel? The reply I get 95% of the time is, “I’ve smoked with all my children, and they all turned out fine.”
What the hell kind of thinking Is that? I’ve never understood it, and never will.
I’ve also been a witness to alcohol and drugs being used by expectant mothers. I spoke my mind and then kept myself away from them. It saddens me to the deepest part of my being that any one person can be so self-centered and uncaring about the? miracle of life that’s been bestowed upon them. And in each of the situations I came upon, family members were going right along with this behavior — the baby’s father, grandma, grandpa, and so-called “friends” that keep the “assault” party going, as if there is nothing wrong. Then, after I’ve had my compassionate say, many within the group looked at me like, 'What is up with her?' And “I’m not doing anything any different than I did with any of my kids. This will be my fifth (or whatever the number is), and they all turned out fine.”
What kind of thinking is that? I’ve never understood it.
I can honestly say, the babies that were born by the women I had witnessed poisoning their unborns, had beautiful, beautiful babies. Yes they were beautiful, and they “looked” fine. But what these bad parents fail to realize, or even attempt to educate themselves about, is the effects It has on these beautiful children throughout their lives. Yes, there are effects.
Too many times I hear of situations where mothers and/or fathers, and grandmothers and/or grandfathers, or whoever is raising the child, they are defending the out of control behavior of the child, blaming the school, the teacher, the police officer, other children, etc. when the problem is within the child they are defending because of the handicaps placed upon them, or within them, before their beautiful little faces entered this world.
There is no way that poisons, ingested by anyone, have any positive effect on a child's development. Even when an adult, after say years of alcohol abuse, gets sober, the effects of that abuse are long term for him. Also, I’m sure we’ve all seen at one time or another, the damage methamphetamine takes on a person, years after they have stopped. The damage that it does will not correct itself once the user stops. Years later the effects are still there.
So for any expectant mother, or anyone, to say what they say about all of their children being fine, is true in the sense that they “look” fine, well actually, they look more than fine, they are beyond beautiful. However, the damage could show itself early on or not for years to come. One thing is for certain, this abuse does not go unnoticed.
This all saddens my heart more than I can actually express. I remember feeling this way when I was in elementary school. One of my classmates was walked to school by his mom.
This was still something special, so we must have been young. You know what I’m saying, it was still “cool” to walk with mom. Anyway, she walked him to the door of the school, she was pregnant, and she was smoking a cigarette. Now, mind you, I didn’t have a clue about pregnancy, but I knew somehow she had a baby in her belly and I didn’t think that was very nice to be smoking. That was that.
At dinner that night, I asked my mom if smoking cigarettes when you had a baby in your belly was a nice thing to do. I remember her saying that it wasn’t nice, that whatever mpm did, the baby did too. I said, what if the baby doesn’t want to smoke cigarettes? She said, the baby doesn’t have a choice.
I remember how I hated to be around cigarette smoke. It seemed like the whole world smoked in the early 60’s, and smoking was allowed everywhere. It was “cool” I guess. But when I’d find myself near someone smoking, I could move out of the way. I remember lying in bed as a child thinking about that little baby inside that mom's belly, and I could see just a belly full of smoke and the baby stuck in there with no windows or no way to get away from It. It made me very sad for the baby, and I remember feeling mad at the Mom.
My advice to anyone that feels like I do, or is in a situation where they feel helpless to help, the best thing for all of us to do is refuse in any way shape or form to contribute to the bad behavior of the mom, and try to be the voice of the innocent soul that depends on us to do the right thing for him or her.
THE ‘GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS’
by J. Anthony Lukas
From the start, that honorific was freighted with irony: Through the nineteenth century, news gathering was considered a lowly occupation, its practitioners on a par with actors and acrobats. Not yet a profession or even a dignified craft, it was the “haven of shipwrecked ambitions,” sought by men who'd failed in other endeavors, by bohemians who scorned the conventional life, by petty grafters hungry for free theater tickets or railroad passes. To Harvard's president, Charles W. Eliot, in 1890, reporters were “drunkards, deadbeats and bummers.” When Charles Edward Russell was a city editor of the New York World in 1894-96 a reporter was “a harum-scarum, irresponsible person with soiled cuffs and the lees of last night's drunk still upon him.” To O. Henry, the reporter was “a man about half shabby, with an eye like a gimlet, smoking cut plug, with dandruff on his coat collar.”
At banquets, the “cattle of the press” were frequently seated behind a screen so diners wouldn't spoil their appetites by gazing on them. One newsman, covering a literary society at a great home, was told to wait. The lady of the house inquired who he was. “A reporter,” said her husband. The lady gathered the silverware from the dining room and hid it in a safe place.
Some prospective reporters must have been slovenly indeed. For in 1889, a newsman published The Ladder of Journalism: How to Climb It, a primer for aspiring reporters who didn't shrink from instruction in personal hygiene: “Neatness in dress, cleanliness in habit and propriety in general conduct never fail to gain respect… Vulgar language creates disgust.”
But reporters were scorned because decent people — even decent editors — regarded news as inferior to opinion. Through the 1820s, what passed for newspapers were political subsidized pulpits from which editors preached, rarely dirtying their hands with mere facts. Their audience — partisans and intellectuals — hoisted their pantaloons above the offal of the magistrate's courts and jails, poor houses and asylums where less fortunate folk endured the indignities of the industrial city.
As the cheap, populist penny papers' coverage expanded, so did circulation. If the old-guard papers were rented by political parties, the new ones sold their product to the public — for the first time it was hawked by newsboys in the streets — then sold their readership to advertisers. The trend toward a general audience accelerated during the Civil War. Across the land, farmers and mechanics waited for the latest edition with its lists of dead and wounded, its stirring accounts of actions at Antietam or Manassas. By war's end, we'd become a nation of newspaper readers.
Reporters had showed what they could do with a great story, but for some years to come the press still functioned largely as the megaphone of imperious editors like E.L. Godkin of the New York Evening Post and Horace White of the Chicago Tribune.
Three forces combined to change all that by century's end. First was the flood of immigrants who transformed the nation from an Anglo-Saxon land to a tumultuous hodgepodge of cultures. The second was technology. In 1886, Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the “line-o'-type” machine, which set type five times as fast as the old-time printer with his box of precast characters. By 1891, one of R. Hoe and Company's quadruple presses could fold, cut, and paste 72,000 eight-page papers an hour. Finally, new advertising supplied funds needed to foot increased editorial expenses.
Until the 1880s, most editors were apathetic, if not hostile, to display advertising, which usurped space they coveted for editorial matter. Since most early papers were subsidized by special interests, advertising hadn't bulked large on their balance sheets. What ads they ran appeared in agate type, stacked in long gray columns. This practice changed with the arrival of brand names and department stores. Dry goods stores, which had always advertised, now concentrated in multistory buildings, absorbing other retailers. Increasingly, these vast emporia trumpeted merchandise in large display ads. In 1904, the Dry Goods Economist noted: “The newspaper of today is largely the creation of the department store.”
Dependence on their advertising lent the department stores leverage. Since shoppers craved security, store managers asked papers to omit a store's name from reports of shoplifting or other on-site crimes. Management resented suggestions that the low wages it paid shopgirls pushed them into prostitution; with an eye to such sensibilities, the Sunday World, which regularly ran O. Henry's stories, declined to publish “An Unfinished Story,” his tale of a salesgirl who weighed her virtue against her empty pocketbook. When bubonic plague hit San Francisco in 1901, department stores exacted a pledge that the press would suppress the news lest tourists shun the city.
Advertisers of all kinds felt they'd earned suppression of news harmful to themselves or their family. It took a courageous editor to respond as Lincoln Steffens did when called by an advertiser: “You have the wrong number. This is the news department. We have a business department that attends to business.”
Increasing dependence on advertising didn't reduce pressure for greater circulation. Indeed, the number of readers became the prime measure of the rates papers could charge for ads. The craving for circulation posed a dilemma: was it a paper's duty to lead readers toward the moral life or wasn't it perfectly professional to give readers what they wanted? In 1882, William Dean Howells grappled with this question in his novel “A Modern Instance.” Bartley Hubbard, an ambitious Boston editor, wanders into a tavern, where he hears a man questioning the manager of a popular variety show.
“What's that new piece of yours, Colonel?” he asked after a while. “I ain't seen it yet.”
“Legs, principally,” sighed the manager. “That's what the public wants. I give the public what it wants. I don't pretend to be any better than the public. Nor any worse.” … So said the manager of a school of morals, with wisdom that impressed more and more the managers of a great moral engine.
“The same principle runs through everything,” observed Bartley.
Although Howells yearned for the days when newspapers were great moral engines, by the 1880s the trend was decisively in Bartley Hubbard's direction. Charles Dana of the Sun said, “I have always felt that whatever the Divine Providence permitted to occur I was not too proud to report.” The Sun's motto — “The Sun Shines for All” — proclaimed that it addressed all classes and all tastes. Dana admonished his reporters, “Make it interesting!” — a compendious category that included “the exact weight of a candidate for President, the latest style in whiskers, the origin of a new slang expression, the idiosyncrasies of the City Hall clock, a strange four-master in the harbor, the head-dresses of Syrian girls.” The Times's motto — “All the News That's Fit to Print” — was a direct rebuke to the Sun's asserting that some phenomena the Times was too proud or too scrupulous to report.
Soon there sprang up a journalism with no scruples whatsoever. Dubbed “yellow journalism” after a comic strip character called The Yellow Kid, it got its start in the 1880s in St. Louis and San Francisco, where two young publishers took Dana's principle to its logical — or illogical — extreme.
A Hungarian immigrant and onetime mule hostler, Joseph Pulitzer, had made a huge success of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with stories that tweaked the noses of the city's Bourbon elite, like “Well Known Citizen Stricken Down in the Arms of His Mistress.” But when his enemies exploited a murder at the paper's office to build sentiment against him, Pulitzer grabbed his chips off the table. In 1883, he plunked them down in New York, purchasing the World, which ran stories like “Election of an Executive Committee of the American Cocker Spaniel Club.”
The publisher resolved to go after elements of New York's population who'd never read an American paper with any regularity, perhaps because none had ever paid much attention to them: immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, jostling for a place in this strange New World, and women, long accustomed to passive acquiescence in their men's requirements but now seeking suffrage, jobs, and equality.
Pulitzer appealed to the most elemental human passions — as one competitor said, “Sport for the man, love and scandal for the woman.” There'd never been a sports department until Pulitzer introduced one at the World in the late 1880s, covering horse racing, boxing, and baseball. Chicago baseball writers pioneered a colloquial style — comparing a ground ball ripping through the infield grass to “the hired man eating celery.” Soon that lingo spread to New York. The first women's advice column — letters from a “city cousin” Edith to her “country cousin” Bessie — appeared in the World in 1883, the first romantic fiction later that year.
Pulitzer's genius lay in his bold blend of sensationalism and idealism. He routinely offended good taste in his brazen display of sex and scandal but combined it with a warm concern for underdogs and a crusading zeal for bettering their living conditions. This concoction was an instant success. In his first three months as the World's ruler, the paper's press run went from 19,000 to 39,000 — almost none of it at the expense of other morning papers, suggesting that Pulitzer was indeed tapping into new sources of circulation.
In 1886, the World hired an unlikely reporter just expelled from Harvard, where he'd sent each of his professors a chamber pot with the recipient's name inside. William Randolph Hearst had admired Pulitzer's own stunt the fall before when, after Congress failed to appropriate money for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the World raised $100,000, most of it in children's nickels and dimes. So fascinated was Hearst by the World, it became his model for the San Francisco Examiner after his father bestowed that paper on him in 1887.
Eight years later, Hearst was back, purchasing a languishing “chambermaid's paper,” the “Morning Journal,” challenging his former idol for circulation, riches, and fame in the big city. No American community had ever witnessed the journalistic warfare the yellows waged in the 1890s, matching one another turpitude for turpitude. “What we're after,” said one of Hearst's editorial writers, “Is the gee-whiz emotion.” It wasn't necessary to tell an outright lie; a small shift in emphasis could transform an ordinary event into a heartrending drama.
Under Arthur Brisbane, Hearst's editorial page translated its pro-labor stance into vivid passages simple enough for a child to understand: “You see a horse after a hard day's work grazing in a swampy meadow. He has done his duty and is getting what he can in return. On the horse's flank you see a leech sucking blood. The leech is the trust. The horse is the labor union.”
Hearst wouldn't be outspent or outdone. Admiring the magazine of the Sunday World, he hired its editor and entire staff. After Pulitzer lured them back, Hearst — dickering from his office in the Pulitzer skyscraper — raised the ante 25% and won them back again. Pulitzer evicted Hearst, thundering, “I will not have my building used for purposes of seduction!”
This competition reached a crescendo in the Spanish-American War, a conflict Hearst and Pulitzer helped precipitate. For two years, while Hearst decorated his front page with spread eagles and cannon, the Journal built America's war hysteria with stories of unauthenticated atrocities. Though lacking Hearst's undiluted enthusiasm for war, Pulitzer wasn't far behind. Once the Maine exploded in Havana harbor, the World beat the war drums, giving prominent play to Buffalo Bill Cody's idle boast that 30,000 Indian fighters could chase the Spaniards out of Cuba in 60 days.
When McKinley finally declared war on Cuba in April 1898, Hearst and Pulitzer outdid each other in bravado. Though he already had Richard Harding Davis on the scene, Hearst chartered a launch and steamed south to cover the war with his star correspondent James Creelman. Pulitzer engaged Stephen Crane and the swashbuckling Sylvester Henry Scovel.
If the Civil War elicited the full-blown American newspaper, the war with Spain ushered in what the newsman Irvin Cobb called “the time of the Great Reporter.” The exploits of Davis, Crane, and Scovel captured the public imagination. All of a sudden, one of America's most despised professions had become one of its most glamorous. For years, reporters had been virtually anonymous, their bylines as rare as cucumber sandwiches at the city desk. Owners liked it that way because it prevented the newsmen from gaining a following of their own, useful in haggling for higher wages. Now names like Richard Harding Davis and Stephen Crane were coin of the realm, exploited by management to build circulation, by reporters to build independent careers.
For the cub reporter — often a rube from the countryside or an immigrant fresh off the boat — covering the teeming city could be a thrilling enterprise, Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke of the New York Herald thought “it would be hard to hit upon a career more seductive, more satisfying than that of a footloose reporter on a great paper, whose compensation was mainly in what fine things he saw.”
With reporting's new glamour and rising salaries, many reporters came from American colleges. As late as 1870, when Julius Chambers sought a job at the Tribune and told Horace Greeley he'd just graduated from Cornell, the editor growled: “I'd damned sight rather you had graduated at a printer's case!” But Dana, himself a Harvard graduate, disagreed; to cover a prizefight or a murder, he preferred “a young fellow who knows the 'Ajax' of Sophocles.” A few college men trickled onto papers in the 1870s; by the 1890s, there was a steady flow; by 1907, half the reporters and 3/4 of the editors on big-city dailies were bachelors of arts, convinced that newspapering was what Godkin of the Evening Post had lately described as “a new and important calling.”
These graduates helped transform the stilted language of journalism. Steffens felt he'd been “permanently hurt” by his years on the prissy Post, where newsmen were to report “like machines, without prejudice, color and without style.” Now, as the age of the reporter opened, Will Irwin, Julian Ralph, and Julius Chambers developed colloquial styles, rich with telling detail.
Many reporters of this generation were the bad-boy sons of Protestant clergymen, among them A.E. Thomas, Oscar King Davis, Stephen Crane, Sylvester Scovel, the Journal's Ralph D. Paine, and the Herald's Harry Brown. Such men fled the conventional pieties for what Theodore Dreiser called the “pagan or unmoral character” of the reporters' room. “While the editorial office might be preparing the most flowery moralistic or religionistic editorials regarding the worth of man,” he wrote, “in the city room the mask was off and life was handled in a rough and ready manner.”
Reporters now put their faith in “scientific method,” empirical observation, precision, and quantification. After graduating from Berkeley, Lincoln Steffens did graduate work in Germany with Wilhelm Wundt, the psychologist who'd trained Hugo Münsterberg. Herbert Spencer's social Darwinism enjoyed a vogue among many reporters of that era, including Dreiser, Ray Stannard Baker, and Abraham Cahan.
The mystique of “facts” hung in the air. To the First International Congress of Historians in 1900, the scientist Henry Houssaye declared, “We want nothing more to do with the approximations of hypotheses, useless systems, theories as brilliant as they are deceptive, superfluous moralities. Facts, facts, facts — which carry with themselves their lesson and their philosophy.” It was a theme Clarence Darrow had sounded in 1893 when he said, “The world has grown tired of preachers and sermons; today it asks for facts.” Wundt, too, called for “facts, nothing but facts,” and Ray Stannard Baker echoed, asserting, “Facts, facts piled up to the point of dry certitude, was what the American people really wanted.”
In this quest, newspapers often relied on a class of journalist known as detective-reporters, whose techniques were not unlike those of professional sleuths. At taverns where newsmen congregated, the feats of such specialists were recounted with awe. There was the man with a bomb who'd walked into the office of the financier Russel Sage and demanded a million dollars. When an alarm sounded, he dropped his bomb, blowing himself and Sage's clerk to pieces. The bomber's identity puzzled police until a World man traced a button and a scrap of trousers to a tailor who identified him as a Boston note broker.
Such yarns had a self-serving subtext: that a good detective-reporter could run circles round a city detective. As Arthur Conan Doyle hymned Holmes's superiority to the clods from Scotland Yard, so Julian Ralph held that, compared to the resourceful reporter, detectives were “a lower order of men.” To Dreiser, “the detective had no brain at all, merely a low kind of cunning, often red-headed, freckled with big hands and feet… with a ridiculous air of mystery and profundity in matters requiring neither, dirty, offensive, fish-eyed and merciless…whereas the average reporter was, by contrast anyhow, intelligent or shrewd, clean nearly always, if at times a little slouchy, inclined to drink and sport perhaps but genial, often gentlemanly, a fascinating story teller, a keen psychologist.” The reporter would solve any case, then “at the great moment” the cops would step forward “to do the arresting and get their pictures and name in the papers.”
To the public, though, reporters and detectives often seemed cut from the same repellent cloth. A reporter for the Statesman assigned to interview people at the Boise depot found that when he asked them their business he received a “haughty look” and a cold no, followed by a blunt question: “Are you a detective?”
The turn-of-the-century reporters most celebrated as investigators were the muckrakers. In a 1907 interview, S.S. McClure called that notion into question. From Paris, he insisted that his magazine “had never made a single exposure in all the years of publication. It never employs detectives and has never made original investigations. It has never given the public a single fact that had not already been made public either in the big newspapers, in court records or through the investigation of different government bodies. It has simply presented and explained as vividly and concretely as possible certain masses of facts that were already common knowledge.” In disclaiming original investigation and all facts not certified by authority, McClure was approaching an old question in American journalism: how does one distinguish between fraud and reality?
The 1830s saw not only the rise of the penny press but the emergence of that master of humbug P.T. Barnum. In 1836, he toured with a black dancer he declared to be George Washington's 161-year old former nurse. Soon his American Museum on Broadway displayed Dr. Griffin's famous “mermaid,” whom Barnum boomed as “the most stupendous curiosity ever submitted to the public for inspection.” In fact, the curiosity was the head and hands of a monkey skillfully sewed to the body and a tail of a fish. When scientists debunked the mermaid, Barnum advertised piously: “Who is to decide when doctors disagree?” The answer was the public, invited to pay their admission to make up their own minds, which many thousands did. Over the years, Barnum proffered a dazzling array of deceptions: the chess-playing automaton (with a man hidden inside); Santa Anna's wooden leg (which was somebody's leg, but not the general's); all sorts of anatomical monstrosities; hats and jewelry offered as sacred relics of famous men and women.
At the same time, fraud was endemic in the American press. In 1835, the Sun published articles, supposedly reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science, about the strange inhabitants of the moon viewed by a powerful telescope: blue goats with a single horn, biped beavers, short, hairy men with bat wings. The story was soon exposed as a hoax written by Richard Adams Locke, the Suns star reporter. The unrepentant editor, Benjamin Day, invited every reader “to examine [the moon story] and enjoy his own opinion.” The “disclosure” greatly boosted the paper's circulation. When Locke quit the Sun to found the New Era he published the “lost manuscripts” of the Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who'd disappeared 30 years before while trying to reach Timbuktu. They were, of course, as bogus as blue goats.
In 1874, the New York Herald devoted its first page to a widely accepted hoax about the escape of lions, tigers, and elephants from the Central Park Zoo and their rampage through the city, killing 49 and mutilating many more. The Philadelphia Press wrote of the gentleman who bought a bundle of toy balloons and gave them to a girl on the beach. The child wrapped the string around her waist, and the wind whisked her away. She would've been lost at sea had a hunter not shot the balloons, returning her to earth.
The art of faking it worked its way into the journalistic canon. In 1887, Writer magazine said such deception was “an almost universal practice.” Reporters were advised not to invent “the important facts of a story” but to supply with “healthy imagination” the “descriptive details,” which might “serve an excellent purpose in the embellishment of a despatch.”
One form particularly susceptible to faking was the interview. A relative latecomer in American journalism, it wasn't highly regarded, even when genuine, because it smacked of sycophancy. In 1869, the Nation saw it as “generally the joint production of some humbug of a hack politician and another humbug of a newspaper reporter.” When a yellow reporter was refused an interview, he often wrote it anyway. Many celebrities, eager for publicity, blithely went along. When Dreiser asked John L. Sullivan what he thought of the exercise, the prizefighter roared: “Exercise? What I think? Haw! Haw! Write any damned thing yuh please, young fella, and say that John Sullivan said so. That's good enough for me. If they don't believe it bring it back and I'll sing it for yuh.”
Why did Americans take such satisfaction in deciphering Barnum's and Locke's humbugs? In the tumultuous cities of the mid-nineteenth century, swarming with yokels from the country and greenhorns off the boat, the ancient hierarchies had been scrambled beyond recognition. In this fluid social order, nobody quite knew who their interlocutor was. The archetypal villain of the era was the confidence man who preyed on newcomers with his bundle of shell games and thimblerigs, while false identities and disguises were a consistent theme of the early dime novels. It took keen wits to decipher a bunco artist and a Barnumesque humbug. As one historian has written: “Those who managed to solve the puzzle… could pride themselves on possessing sharper perceptions and keener insights than those ordinary mortals who had been taken in.”
Perhaps this was part of the satisfaction the American press found in peeling identities off the mysterious figure known first as Tom Hogan, then as Harry Orchard, then as Albert Horsely. Pinkerton boss, Charles McParland, the impresario of investigations, proclaimed him the most remarkable witness ever produced in an American courtroom, while Darrow, the great debunker, declared him the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American public. Like Barnum's mermaid and Locke's blue goats, Orchard was examined in relays by sheriff's deputies, Pinkertons, reporters, scientists, and the clergy. Ultimately, the decision would lie with the jury of Idaho farmers, who represented the greater jury of all Americans, the court of public opinion.
For years, the genteel press had shunned criminal trials. “In order to preserve the vigor of the moral faculty,” the Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush wrote in 1786, “it is of the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as possible of those crimes that are generally thought most disgraceful to human nature… I should be glad to see the proceedings of our courts kept from the public eye, when they expose or punish monstrous vices.”
The penny press, by contrast, lustily embraced crime coverage. The 1836 ax murder of a prostitute named Helen Jewett ushered in the new era. A clerk named Richard Robinson had regularly visited the house of Mrs. Rosina Townsend, where he'd become infatuated with “the Jewett woman.” Now he was marrying a respectable girl and wanted his letters to Miss Jewett returned. He'd last been seen in her room about 11pm, when he'd ordered champagne. The police arrested him at his lodging house.
The case triggered an unprecedented orgy of lurid stories and fictionalized episodes in the penny papers. Reporting on a glimpse of Jewett's body — very likely invented — James Gordon Bennett of the Herald expatriated: “'My God,' exclaimed I, 'how like a statue'…The body looked as white, as full, as polished as the purest Parian marble. The perfect figure — the exquisite limbs — the fine face — the full arms — the beautiful bust — all — all surpassed in every respect the Venus de Medici.”
Aroused by this journalistic debauch, 6,000 persons converged on the courtroom in a pounding rainstorm to seek seats as the trial began. It took sheriff's deputies and 30 special constables to clear a path for the judge and his clerk through the unruly crowd. For days, the penny papers ran verbatim transcripts until Robinson was acquitted. Nauseated by the episode, the high-minded William Cullen Bryant of the Post was “glad that our columns are relieved from this disagreeable subject.”
But readers were hooked. Henceforth, murder trials were the acme of public entertainments. The 1842 trial of John C. Colt for murdering a printer named Samuel Adams aroused such fierce interest that Greeley's Tribune put out several extras a day, with verbatim coverage by a 22-year-old reporter named Henry Raymond, whose daily product of six columns would have done credit to a court stenographer. A decade later, he wrote in his prospectus for the New York Times: “The law courts should be carefully, accurately and more fully reported than is usual, as they relate to the business, and thus enlist the attention and interest, of a very large class of people.”
The most heavily covered trial of the century wasn't about murder but about the other enthralling subject: love, sex, adultery, and their heartrending consequences. The defendant was the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, one of Dwight Hillis's predecessors at Plymouth Church and for decades America's most renowned cleric. His bed partner was Elizabeth Richards Tilton, wife of Theodore Tilton, Beecher's longtime colleague. When Tilton's suit for alienation of affection came to trial in Brooklyn City Court in 1875, it became the hottest ticket in town. Members of Beecher's flock deluged him with roses and lilies, while Tilton's admirers buried him in blood-red tulips.
Packs of reporters stalked everyone, however slightly involved — even the families' grocers and shoemakers. One reporter at the Tilton residence was reduced to watching the flowers grow, or not grow: “The house looked desolate, the English ivy and smilex were withering in the rustic hanging baskets…” A reporter on duty in a tree had food pumped up to him through a garden hose. When the jury deliberated for eight days in stifling heat, reporters crawled onto window ledges, scouring the jury room with spyglasses. The trial ended in a hung jury, which didn't stop the Louisville Courier-Journal from labeling Beecher “a dunghill covered with flowers.”
The Beecher story had a particular grip on women, mesmerized by a preacher in passionate embrace with a church lady. Over the years, women became a principal audience for any trial that had at its center an abandoned or traduced woman. One that particularly engaged their attention involved a Floradora girl named Nan Patterson charged with killing her lover, a bookmaker named Caeser Young, in June 1904, hours before he was to leave with his wife on a European tour. When Patterson's trial began, men and women alike fought for admission. “Women, many of them dressed in the height of fashion,” reported the Times, “could not understand why officers barred their way, and returned again and again to the storming of the doors.” Ultimately, many got in and came back for weeks, until this trial, too, ended in a hung jury.