Ever have one of those days when nothing goes right? How about a year
when nothing does?
1871 was one such year, for a lot of people. Over in Fairport, on the 28th
of April, a section of the canal bank gave way, carrying the barge Bonnie
Bird, her crew and her horses a mile away. Luckily all survived.
The next month, in France, the socialist Communards rioted, burning much
of Paris. Their luck ran out with their capture several days later, and
many of them were executed in the city's Pere-Lachaise cemetery. An interesting
sidelight to their story ­p; it was around the time of this event that
Paris police began collecting photographic portraits of the Communards -
the first mug shots.
July brought some bad luck to New York City political boss William Marcy
Tweed, as the New York Times began printing an exposé of his
In August an express train departing from Boston rammed into the rear of
a stopped train at Revere, killing 29 people.
The midwest was very unlucky on October 8th. An alleged bovine arsonist
did a number on Chicago, while forest fires off to the west destroyed Peshtigo,
Wisconsin, and left very little of Menominee, Michigan, standing.
The year had its share of miscalculations, also. Syracuse, New York, began
drawing drinking water from Onondaga Creek. Not such a good idea when you
considered all the glue factories and tanneries pouring waste products into
In Kansas, Abilene marshall Wild Bill Hickock got himself mixed up in a
gunfight. Which was unfortunate for an innocent bystander and his own deputy,
both of whom he accidentally killed.
Sometimes you are more unlucky than you know at the time; you think then,
"what else could happen to me?" A young veteran military officer
traveled to New York City, looking for a career which would get him out
of the Army. He was disappointed; couldn't find an occupation that suited
him. He didn't stay. His loss was Legend's gain, when George Armstrong Custer
returned to the West. At least he didn't pass through Abilene.
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
© 1999 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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