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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Tag Archives: nyc

Suicide Prevented by Cork Leg

 

39-year-old Russell B. Hayward had become despondent as his excessive drug use took control of his life. So, on July 12, 1924, as hundreds of people were standing on the seawall or strolling through New York’s Battery Park, he decided to end it all and took a flying leap into the bay below.

As much as Hayward tried, he was unable to sink below the surface because he had forgotten to remove his artificial leg, which was made from cork.

Brooklyn resident James Weiber, who operated a stand that rented binoculars, spotted the leg bobbing up and down in the water. Without hesitation, Weiber jumped into the water fully clothed and swam out to Hayward in an effort to save his life.

It wouldn’t be easy. Hayward kept poking Weiber with his cork leg in an effort to keep them away. Weiber refused to give up and eventually was able to grab hold of Hayward. After grabbing onto a line tossed from an excursion boat, the two were drawn into safety. Police then escorted Hayward to Bellevue Hospital for care.

A. A. Marks offered this artificial leg with a rubber foot in 1888. Image from archive.org.

Pushes Cart 13 Miles Off Course

 

56-year-old George Kuscinkas had been down on his luck since he emigrated from Lithuania to the United States back in 1915. Fast forward to March 16, 1950 and we find George unemployed and living in a flophouse in the Bowery.

While visiting a poolroom on East Tenth Street that morning, a man asked him if he wanted to make some money. All George needed to do was push a cart and deliver a load of art supplies. He agreed, was handed a slip of paper with the address on it and off he went.

He started out at 11:30 that morning but never arrived at his destination. The shipper, Philip Birn of the S. Rood Company contacted the police to report that both the courier and the goods were missing.

George was finally located by a detective early the next morning. Believe it or not, he was still pushing his cart.

George Kuscinkas pushing his cart loaded with art supplies.
George Kuscinkas pushing his cart loaded with art supplies.

He had zigged and zagged all over the city showing person after person the slip of paper that had the address on it. It was estimated that George had pushed the 630-pound (286-kg) cart approximately 13-miles (21 km) in total.

Confused, he stopped that detective at 3 AM and showed him the slip of paper. It read, “Morilla Co., 328 East 234 St.’ The officer called in and found out that an alarm had been issued locate George. That’s when it was realized that everyone had been misreading the handwritten address. It read as East 234 St, but really said East 23rd Street.

George and the missing supplies were transported back to their intended destination and the whole matter was cleared up. Mr. Birn rewarded George with $25 for his efforts (approximately $250 today) and the press chipped in to give him an additional $5.

He planned to use the money to get a shave, a haircut, and to “sit down for awhile.”

Thief Becomes Clerk at Drugstore

 
It was reported that three men robbed Heights Pharmacy on February 22, 1923.  The store was located at St Nicholas Avenue and 145th Street in New York City. Two of the men kept clerk David Neuberger busy while the third snagged druggist Dr. Abraham N. Horowitz as he emerged from the basement of the store after getting some drugs to fill prescriptions. Continue Reading
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The Honest Man with an Evil Eye

 
Useless Information Podcast

Back in 1935 a man carrying a sandwich-board sign stumbles across the find of a lifetime: A wallet containing the stocks certificates from Philips Petroleum, GE, and DuPont.  Find out what the press said that he did with the certificates, what really happened, and how he killed a man simply by staring at him.

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William Cimillo – Busman’s Holiday

 
Useless Information Podcast

Every day for sixteen years, bus driver William Cimillo drove his passenger bus out of its garage in the Bronx.  One morning he decided to make a left turn off of his usual route and ended up taking a ride that he would never forget.

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Ivory Soap Murders

 
Useless Information Podcast

The Easter Sunday 1937 murders of Veronica Gedeon, her mom Mary, and Frank Byrnes in NYC launched an intense nationwide hunt for the killer.  There were few clues to go on, but two bars of soap provided police with the conclusive evidence that they needed.

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