The Twelve Days of Guy Town Christmas, Day One
December 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
December 12, 1882: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love left for me, a pungent suit hanging from the police station clothes tree.”
That night, a remarkable case of mistaken identity, or absentmindedness, or whatever one might call it, occurred. A gentleman of color, whose wife was the cook-lady of a prominent business man, went home to his virtuous family somewhat late in the night and as he went to his bed he was startled to find there was no room for him. His wife was there peacefully dreaming, and so was someone else. The husband began to think that he was dreaming too. There was a man in the bed, but it wasn’t himself or his double, for the intruding party was a white man. The gentleman of color had always believed that he was the proper and only authorized person to rest in the bosom of his family, and he thought so still, consequently, he prepared for a raid. But just at that moment the other party awoke, and discovered his mistake, his fit of absent-mindedness left him at once, and knew that he was one too many.
There could be no more sweet dreams in that house, for there was blood in the husband’s eye. The white man made a desperate resolve; and didn’t argue the case, but broke for the window and liberty, out into the cool night air. But, alas for him! He had left his clothes with the contestant, and it wasn’t a soft or balmy night by any means — not at all the kind of night for roaming around with nothing but underwear on. But he scooted and disappeared, probably warming up with the exercise. The husband gathered up the other’s articles of attire — boots, stockings, trousers, vest, coat, hat, and gloves — and carried them to the police station, where they put on exhibition. Curious persons ventured there to view these evidences of a remarkable case of absentmindedness.
Early the next morning, while the night clerk was on duty, a man came to the police station and inquired about a suit of clothes. The night clerk told him he knew nothing about them, and the man went away stating that he would return again at some other time.
Two days later, that suit of clothes was causing considerable vexation up at the police station, unclaimed and uncalled for. There was a pungency about them that had an unpleasant effect on sensitive nostrils when one got close to the peg where they hung. As things of beauty they were a flat failure, and as articles of virtu [the good qualities inherent in a person or thing – ed.] — particularly “virtue” spelled with an “e” — they were still worse.
The Daily Statesman was not run as a free advertising medium, it stated, “but if the owner will call on the police clerk, take the clothes away and bury them, and give his full name, if he does not have too many, we will charge him nothing for this notice. Charity should pervade everything, and it is out of charity to the unhappy city officers that we ask the owner of those clothes to carry them away and out them out of sight and hearing. The validity of this agreement, however, is conditioned on the point that the owner do not inter the aforementioned wardrobe inside the corporate limits of the city, nor sink them in the Colorado river above the city’s water pumps. It seems very strange that the owner does not come and claim the property, but perhaps he took such a start that he has not yet had time to return on the rebound. Something must be done with the clothes, for we do not believe the city council will dare to meet before they are put out of the way, and the capitol syndicate want right of way through the city in order to build our new capitol. Just see what a plight we are in! That interesting suit of old clothes may be the means of ruining all our future prospects and cheat us out of a magnificent edifice in capitol square.
“But there may yet be hope. The husband of the cook-lady who was somewhat connected with this suit of clothes, has expressed himself as desirous of procuring a divorce, which, if carried out, will leave the ebony-colored damsel somewhat forsaken and alone in the world. Now it seems that she might go to the station house and get the clothes referred to, thus securing herself something with which to console herself in her widowhood. To her they might prove not only ornamental but useful; and they would remind her of happy hours in the past that can never return.”