Monday, May 16, 2016

The Coney Island Merman Sightings


I found the following tidbit in 'Broadbrim's New York Letter' printed in The Carbon Advocate (Lehightown, PA) for Saturday, December 12, 1885:

Our sister city, Brooklyn, is greatly exercised about a wild man of the sea, which, if the story is to be believed, would show that the mermen of the sea are not all dead. For ten days past a man has been seen on Coney Island beach, disporting himself in the briny waves as if they were his native element. The hair on his head reaches to his waist, and the yellow hair on his body is as long as a horse's mane. Many people have seen him at night walking along the sand, but as soon as he was approached he dashed into the breakers, and no one has seen him come out. But that he does come out is evident, for he has been seen by many, men and women. Towards night men go armed with hatchets and clubs for fear the wild man might grab them up and carry them into tho sea. Women and children keep close indoors, and a reign of terror of this submarine hairy man has shaken New York's favorite watering place from turret to foundation stone. People are afraid to shoot him for fear they might possibly be indicted for killing a harmless lunatic. Hundreds are watching for the wild man of the sea, and I should not be surprised when he is caught to find that it was another ingenious device of that aquatic blatherskite, Captain Paul Boyton, to advertise his life-saving suit. If it is not Boyton it is the ----.

The word 'blatherskite' means 'a person who talks at great length without making much sense' 'foolish talk; nonsense'. The description was used in reference to Captain Paul Boyton, known as the Fearless Frogman, who was a showman and adventurer who some credit as having spurred worldwide interest in water sports as a hobby, particularly open-water swimming. Boyton is best known for his water stunts that captivated the world, including crossing the English Channel in a novel rubber suit that functioned similarly to a kayak.

Just prior to the publishing of story, Boyton was involved in the fatal leap from Brooklyn Bridge of Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women's rights activist Charlotte Odlum Smith. Catherine Odlum, mother of Robert and Charlotte, blamed Boyton for her son's death. Boyton wrote Mrs. Odlum a letter disclaiming responsibility, which he also published in The New York Times and other periodicals. Mrs. Odlum subsequently traveled to New York City to see Boyton. According to her account, Boyton sent two men to see her who claimed to be a lawyer and a judge, and who warned her not to say anything against Boyton to avoid prosecution for slander. Catherine Odlum claimed in the biography she wrote of her son that Boyton hid or destroyed letters and telegrams from himself to Robert Odlum urging him to travel to New York and make the Brooklyn Bridge jump.

ROBERT EMMET ODLUM,
the Washington Professor of Swimming who was killed in his jump from the Brooklyn Bridge, New York, the 19th inst., has been suitably buried here. The death of this daring man and peerless swimmer has caused much regret among Washingtonians who merely knew the hero by sight reputation. A man of undoubted courage, frank, honest, generous, and enthusiast in the art he so devotedly pursued. Odium had many admirers, and few real friends. He had lost occupation by the burning of the National Theatre last February, and had doubtless suffered for want of the necessities of life, although he had saved a dozen lives. Embarrassed, desirous of fame only for money's sake he was driven to attempt a feat that, under more favorable circumstances, he might have postponed forever. - Western Sentinel (Winston, NC) - May 28, 1995


After the incident, Boyton left New York City and formed an aquatic circus, touring as the main act in Barnum's circus during 1887. He settled in Chicago in 1888 and noted the success of the attractions Midway at Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1892. Building on this, in 1894, he opened the first "permanent" amusement park (Paul Boyton's Water Chutes) in Chicago, which was also the first park of any type to charge an admission. Strangely enough, he bought 16 acres of land and opened the Sea Lion Park on Coney Island in 1895, fenced the property and charged admission. It would later become Coney Island Amusement Park. You can find his story at Paul Boyton: Sideshow World


Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century (American Century)

The Story of Paul Boyton: Voyages on All The Great Rivers of The World, Paddling Over Twenty-Five Thousand Miles in a Rubber Dress; A Rare Tale of ... in Distant Lands Among Strange People

Mermaids 101: Exploring the Magical Underwater World of the Merpeople

Spirits, Fairies, and Merpeople: Native Stories of Other Worlds






BOOK SUGGESTIONS


The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee

Stories from the Messengers: Owls, UFOs and a Deeper Reality

Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena

I Am the Word: A Guide to the Consciousness of Man's Self in a Transitioning Time

Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook

Astonishing Encounters: Pennsylvania's Unknown Creatures, Casebook 3

Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts

Monsters of Texas

Don't Look Behind You: Following Ghost Roads Into the Unknown

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

Bigfoot in Pennsylvania: A History of Wild-Men, Gorillas, and Other Hairy Monsters in the Keystone State

Wood Knocks Volume 1: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 2: A Journal of Sasquatch Research

Wood Knocks Volume 3: Journal of Sasquatch Research

The Black Eyed Children

Strange Intruders

The Essential Guide to Bigfoot

The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest

Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah

The Monster Book: Creatures, Beasts and Fiends of Nature

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

The Time Before the Secret Words: On the path of Remote Viewing, High Strangeness and Zen

The Zozo Phenomenon

The Djinn Connection: The Hidden Links Between Djinn, Shadow People, ETs, Nephilim, Archons, Reptilians and Other Entities

Beyond the Seventh Gate: Exploring Toad Road, The Seven Gates of Hell, and Other Strangeness in York, Lancaster, and Adams Counties

The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster

Momo: The Strange Case of the Missouri Monster

Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch

The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf

Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America

Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena

The Royal Arch of Enoch

The Real Men In Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO Phenomena

The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown

Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain State

Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

Cosmic Ray's Excellent Venus Adventure

The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas

Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions

Voices From the Cosmos

Humanoid Encounters Series - Albert S. Rosales

Monsterland: Encounters with UFOs, Bigfoot and Orange Orbs

The Chilling, True Terror of the Black-Eyed Kids: A Monster Compilation

Beasts of Britain

Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens

Passport to the Cosmos

Weird Winged Wonders: The Twilight World Of Cryptid Creatures

Fingerprints of the Gods

Into The Fringe: A True Story of Alien Abduction

The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work

Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo, Second Edition (Religion, Race, and Ethnicity)

Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact

The Starchild Skull -- Genetic Enigma or Human-Alien Hybrid?

Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers

Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows

The Lost City of the Exodus: The Archaeological Evidence behind the Journey Out of Egypt

Moses and Akhenaten: Brothers in Alms

The Crystal Bible

Encyclopedia of Crystals, Revised and Expanded

Winged Cryptids: Humanoids, Monsters & Anomalous Creatures Casebook

Alien Disclosure: Experiencers Expose Reality

Mothman Dynasty: Chicago's Winged Humanoids

Haunted Rock & Roll: Ghostly Tales Of Musical Legends

Angel Medicine

Toward the Light: Rescuing Spirits, Trapped Souls, and Earthbound Ghosts

Light the Way: A Guide to Becoming a Rescue Medium

Owl Medicine

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure

Pow-Wows, or Long Lost Friend: A Collection of Mysterious and Invaluable Arts and Remedies, for Man as Well as Animals

Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters

Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch: A Traditional Medical Practice in the Modern World (Pennsylvania German History and Culture)

The Mothman Prophecies: A True Story

Operation Trojan Horse: The Classic Breakthrough Study of UFOs

The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum

Our Haunted Planet

Strange Creatures From Time and Space