February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment
Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks’ paean to perfidious politicians, opened in theaters on this date in 1974, giving me all sorts of excuses to cast asparagus today at our own reigning William J. Lepetomane, but in the words of Lili Von Shtupp, “I’m tired … “
I love barbecue brisket almost as much as I love my mother, but after the first week or two of eating it, like Lili, “I’m tired … .” And for today at least, I’m tired of “funning” our gallery of rogues up on Capitol Hill. So I’m taking a break from roasting our elected elite of tweedledums and tweedledumbers to look back at some of the hoi polloi of back stabbers and con artists who have made this date memorable in Austin history.
February 7, 1857
FIGHTS. – The “winter fights” are drawing to a close but they maintain a character for briskness. In the course of the week the boys have indulged smartly in this exercise. Tables, chairs, sticks, knives, derringers and six-shooters figured, but, fortunately for the parties concerned, all ended without much bloodshed. It is a very interesting variation to the monotonous proceedings of a magistrate’s court to spice them with a nice little row, and the abstraction of claret from noddles instead of bottles. It may give the grand jury business; it enlivens the dullness of the times, and keeps the boys from “spiling.”
February 7, 1886
A Peripatetic Merchant.
Wherever a fakir plants his flaring lamp at the corner of the street, and exhibits either his vegetable ivory or patent medicines, his ingenuity gathers about him a wondering, listening, purchasing crowd. His medicine generally is a panacea for all known diseases that flesh is heir to, but even if its virtues only extended to the elimination of corns from fretful feet of limping pedestrians, he has his purchasers, and one standing near would imagine that the passing crowd was wonderfully afflicted with corns.
The land of the Lone Star has been invaded by the fakirs, even the capitol of the state seems to prove a ripe field, yielding many golden grains to their enterprise. The one that established himself last night in the rear of the Statesman office displayed the ingenuity of the craft. With an ordinary furniture wagon, by spreading a curtain along its side and lighting strong lamps at either end, he extemporized something between the counter of a booth at a fair and a throne for a peripatetic Punch and Judy show, and as from his lofty purge his voice rang out on the night proclaiming his wares, people collected from every quarter. The medical faculty opened the doors of their offices on the stairway opposite. The late dweller on the drive with a fast horse, the purchaser of Sunday marketing with bundles in his arms, man, women, children and Mexicans stopped spelled bound by the magic of his story and eulogy fulminated from the tinsel throne of the fakir. The small boy was out in full force and rewarded him with vociferous applause at every threadbare joke told, and every significant allusion to the virtues of the medicine offered.
It is said that the same man has for the last week gathered in numerous shekels from the confiding public.
One cannot help wishing the efforts of this ingenious and vociferous class of men success, although if compelled to try the remedy, his intelligence and prudence might revolt. However that may be, their general success in selling whatever they offer, proves two things, and suggestive of many others, First, that any occupation industriously followed will be compensated, and in next, that the gullibility of the American people cannot be wondered at becoming proverbial.
February 7, 1889
The Whitechapel Murderer.
Managua, Nicaragua, via New Orleans, February 6. — Either Jack, the Ripper, of Whitechapel has immigrated from the scene of his ghastly murders or he has found one or more imitators in this part of Central America. People have been greatly aroused by six of the most atrocious murders ever committed within the limits of this city. The assassin has vanished and left no traces for identification. All the victims are women of the character who met their fate at the hands of the London murderers. They were found murdered just as mysteriously and evidences point to almost identical methods. Two were butchered out of all recognition. Even their faces were most horribly slashed and in the cases of all the others their persons were frightfully disfigured. Like Jack the Ripper’s victims, they were found in out of the way places. Two of the victims were possessed of gaudy jewelry and from that it is urged the mysterious murderer had not committed the crime for robbery. In fact, in almost every detail, the crimes and their characteristics are identical with the Whitechapel horrors.
IS IT THE FOUL FIEND HIMSELF?
The citizens of Austin and those familiar with the celebrated servant girl murders here in 1885, will be specially interested in the dispatches from Central America which we print this morning. It gives an account of a series of murders of women, which the writer of the dispatch, a resident of Managua, Nicaragua, himself, states are exactly similar and their characteristics identical with those of the Whitechapel murders. It may be added also, in mystery similar to the Austin murders. The Managua telegrapher points to the circumstances that the assassin or assassins left absolutely no clue to their identity. The victims were all women of frail reputation. Their bodies were mutilated, especially were their faces cut. The dead bodies of all were discovered in out of the way places. Silence and mystery brooded over the crimes. There are characteristics of the Austin assassinations and of the Whitechapel murders. From the surrounding circumstances does it not seem possible that one and the same person, some wandering, bloody demon, who, after finishing his dreadful tasks, seems to vanish with supernatural skill — may be the author of some of the Austin homicides, the Whitechapel butcheries and the Central American assassinations?