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The case of the vanishing bovine

Posted Thursday, July 5, 2012, at 9:00 PM

In light of our record-stomping heat wave, it doesn't make sense to write my usual kind of blog. I doubt too many readers are inclined to hike in the 106 outdoor furnace known as July. So here's something completely different.

As I explored in my previous blog, Cape Girardeau was once home to a short-lived newspaper called The Weekly Tribune and Cape County Herald. The newspaper's archives, available online from the Library of Congress, reveal that the editors of this low-budget publication had a fondness for silly stories, especially those involving animals. Since this newspaper would cover everything -- no matter how trivial -- it's appropriate that one of their slogans was "The Tribune Covers Southeast Missouri Like The Dew."

Below is a selection of filler material high-quality examples of journalism that I've found in the archives for The Tribune:

[November 17, 1916 - Page 6]


Patrolman Groce Goes Into Pitfall Looking for Vanished Bovine


Chief Hauls Out Lantern in Search on West Morgan Oak Street.

"When is a cow not a cow?"

That was the question that confronted Patrolman Groce of the Haarig beat last night when a bovine that he was driving in from the southwest part of the city went into eclipse in the middle of the road--disappeared in thin air.

The policeman searched for the cow for several minutes to no avail and as he was about to give it up, he himself went into eclipse. He fell into an old abandoned, dry well in the middle of Morgan Oak street between Pacific and Ellis streets.

The cow did too, but into a different well, and Patrolman Groce's search was not ended until he and Chief Hutson had procured a lantern and made a thorough investigation of the premises.

The disappearing cow is owned by Adolph Seabaugh. The animal broke her tethering chain late yesterday afternoon and wandered to the southern part of the city. Groce went after her and was coming back toward Haarig with the animal, when she became discontented with the policeman's gait and broke loose from him.

Mr. Groce followed in the cow's wake up Benton street to Jefferson and over to Morgan Oak. As the cow was charging down Morgan Oak street, Mr. Groce was several paces in the rear. While his eyes were fastened on the roadway immediately in front of him and he was not gazing directly at the cow, the bovine started across a small gully in the middle of the road and disappeared.

A sort of a thatched roof of dirt, leaves and sticks had been built over the top of the old dry well, that once had been part of a brickyard. The cow had stepped on the middle of this roof and went in head first.

Mr. Groce went through the same sort of a covering into a hole about nine feet deep, as he was looking for the cow. After floundering around at the bottom of the hole, the patrolman clambered out and went in search of the chief. While searching for the cow with a lantern, the two men heard her breathing, but could not locate the animal for several minutes.

She eventually was found standing on her head in the bottom of the well and in danger of being strangled to death. Henry Brunke, Mr. Seabaugh, and George Meyer, together with several other men were summoned and they finally succeeded in digging the cow loose and hoisting her out of the hole.

When Seabaugh led the cow home, she took a long drink of water and was little worse for wear.

[December 17, 1915 - Page 2]

Minister Buys A Possum Thinking It Was A Rabbit

Rev. Salinger Admits His Mistake When Capt. Bridges Insists That a Bunny never Wears a Long Tail.

Rev. Johannes Salinger, retired Episcopal clergyman, discovered yesterday that he would not know a rabbit if he met one in a butcher shop. He thought he bought one yesterday afternoon, but upon arriving at his home on North Frederick street, he was told that his "rabbit" was a possum.

Dr. Salinger simply dotes on fried rabbit. He has often boasted that he could eat rabbit three times a day for a year and occasionally consume a rabbit sandwich between meals.

While taking his usual stroll yesterday afternoon, his attention was attracted to an array of rabbits, hanging out in front of a butcher shop.

"Oh, Ho!" he sighed, as he started to cross the street and get better acquainted with them.

"One of those properly cooked would make a man's hair curl," answered the clerk. But Mr. Salinger walked on without making a purchase.

Upon arriving at his home, he informed his cousin, his housekeeper, what he had seen in front of the butcher shop.

"Well, I was just wondering what to get for dinner tomorrow," she said. "Why didn't you buy a rabbit?"

That was enough. Dr. Salinger had wanted his cousin to say exactly what she did. Before she could take advantage of a woman's prerogative and change her mind, he got under his hat and started back to the butcher shop.

After scrutinizing the wild game offering, Dr. Salinger picked up what he thought was a rabbit, and asked a clerk what it was worth. "Wrap it up," he said after he learned that it was only six bits.

Dr. Salinger hurried back home with what he felt sure was a swamp rabbit.

"Well, is that a swamp rabbit?" asked the clergyman's cousin. "I never knew what they looked like before."

While Rev. Salinger and his housekeeper were discussing whether to fry or boil the "rabbit," Capt. Harry W. Bridges, who boards at the minister's home, reached the house.

"Ah, ha!" he exlaimed. "We are going to eat possum, are we?"

"Why, you don't mean to say you caught a possum?" asked the clergyman of the Cape County Legislator.

"Oh, no; you must have caught one. That will be enough for the family," remarked the Captain with a sneer, because Capt. Bridges just naturally detests possum.

"Wh-a-a-a-t!" cried Dr. Salinger. "You don't mean to say this is a possum? Mercy! I thought it was a swamp rabbit."

Capt. Bridges enjoyed the incident fully as much as if he had sold an insurance policy. And while he was explaining to Dr. Salinger that a rabbit did wear a long tail, Albert Wibbenmeyer, who also lives at the Salinger home, arrived.

"Mr. Wibbenmeyer, would you call this a rabbit or a possum?" asked the minister, holding the animal up by the tail.

"For the love of Mike," exclaimed Wibbenmeyer, "who brought that pesky possum in here?"

"I guess the I's have it," mumbled the minister.

But just to demonstrate that a man is master of his own house, Dr. Salinger will serve possum and sweet potatoes today.

[July 20, 1916 - Page 5]

Hen Goes to Her Roost When She Wants to Lay Egg

Has Been "Setting" for Two Weeks on Her Roost and Herman Bunch Forecasts Hen Heart Failure When Hatching Time Comes.

Herman Bunch, well known East Side farmer who lives three miles from the river on the Illinois side, yesterday afternoon while in the Cape was accorded the prize for telling the most unique story of a hen heard in the city for many moons.

Bunch has a hen that lays from her roost. The laying has been a sort of aimless job, because each egg that the hen has produced has been smashed on the ground beneath the roost where it dropped instead of having been cradled in a nest as fresh eggs should be.

The discovery of the unique manner in which the hen preferred to do her laying was made when one of Bunch's sons determined to watch the fowl after having daily found a scramble of chickens over a broken egg in the hen coop.

He saw the hen, a large matron-like bird sedately clamber to the roost and after a patient wait, he witnessed the destruction of the egg as it fell to the floor.

The hen, satisfied with her work, quit the roost cackling and spreading the news in true hen fashion.

Young Bunch told his father of the affair, and while they were planning a away in which to educate the hen to the use of a nest like other hens use, the bird quit laying and determined she wanted to set.

She went to her regular berth on the roost and Mr. Bunch yesterday declared that for two weeks his hen has been doing a job of setting on her roost.

He is at a loss to know how he is going to keep her from dying of a broken heart when she finds her three weeks work has been wasted.

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The webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers, James Baughn has lost track of the number of websites he manages. On the side, he maintains even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix.
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