The City Border Bike and Walking Trail is actually the paved-over remnants of a moat that briefly surrounded the southern half of the city in the early 1940s, connecting to the East Patterson River. During the debate over whether to enter World War II, isolationist Mayor Dixon Webster Dell ordered city workers to dig the moat in a peculiar attempt to protect the city from invading Germans or Japanese and to, as Dell put it, “block the way of our young men who would populate this foolhardy internationalist endeavor.” The moat, proving to be an environmental and public-health annoyance, was capped with concrete and asphalt in 1945. No plaque exists to mark its time surrounding the city.
– C. Gaines
The 17th annual Running of the Cats made Alex Tuttle a winner this past weekend. Thanks to some fancy footwork and deft use of a squeaky toy, Tuttle navigated a particularly aggressive field of felines. The herd, estimated at close to 100 cats, was the largest in the Runningâ€™s history with cats outnumbering spectators two to one.
Asked about the small crowds, event organizer George Rechter admitted he was perplexed. â€œWho wouldnâ€™t want to watch grown men chased by a heard of cats? And do you know how hard we have to work to get those cats to all run in the same direction. Itâ€™s a behavioral miracle. Youâ€™d think people would want to see that, but people donâ€™t appreciate science anymore. This would have been huge in the 18th century.â€
The Running of the Cats was the brainchild of Rechterâ€™s stepfather, George Senior. He stumbled on the idea, quite literally, after exiting Sternâ€™s Tavern late one night and stepping on an alley catâ€™s tail. He was chased by the animal for four blocks. Today, cat owners volunteer their pets for the event, which is sponsored by The Utica String Company.
Asked about his win, Tuttle said, â€œIâ€™m allergic to cats so I had a good motivation to keep running. And I think I just plain out-hustled the competition.â€
There was no second place finisher.
– L. Lent
Last weekâ€™s electrical outage (technically, according to Energonistics, an â€œoutput diminishmentâ€) had residents of Brisket Street as far north as 198th scrambling for candles, flashlights, and emergency rations. Two highlights (and one lowlight):
:: Believing his CrÃªpe-TasticÂ® electric crÃªpe-warmer had broken again, Desmond Watson, longtime resident of the Elmwood Apartments, tossed it from his 3rd story window, whereupon it landed upon blind metermaid Penny Turgeon, temporarily restoring her sight.
:: Oliver Crandall, one of the Cityâ€™s 20-odd remaining World War I veterans, was trapped in an elevator at the 31st Avenue Plaza for close to 20 minutes. In that time, he bayoneted two fellow passengers (one of whom happened to be wanted on a shoplifting warrant).
:: The last slice of Grover Clevelandâ€™s wedding cake, stored since 1886 at a constant 20Â°F in the archives of the Museum of Historical Confections, thawed and spoiled.
– B. Grossblatt