Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Inspector Kolb's Pronouncement & E. G. Bagard's Tempestuous Cuisine

I don't know if it was merely latent, post-war related stress rearing it's ghoulish mug, the rapid industrialization of the major cities of the world, the economic depression of 1896, something in the water supply or that people just hid their insane relatives off in a cellar much better before then but the late 1890s seemed to be the turning point in private madness becoming a public nuisance. Extreme cases of drunkenness, mischief, poverty, suicide, assault and murder took hold and haven't really relented since. As Inspector Kolb attested to in late 1897, the asylums were fast becoming full, over-spilling and affecting both public health and safety.

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What's the difference between an eccentric man and an insane one? The former puts out a press release announcing that he just needs some rest, is in the asylum of his own accord and will get back to his friends and companions as soon as possible.

E. G. Bagard was a well-known restauranteur who kept a place on Lafayette Avenue near its intersection with Michigan Avenue. The Frenchman known for his tempestuous nature would be aroused to wild anger if a patron dared knock on the cafe counter requesting his prompt attention and frequently chased customers out the door with a butter knife threatening them bodily harm.

A lawyer who had cursed one of his cordials felt the wrath of his micro-sword and was chased from the premises. As was a politician who derided Bagard's hero Gen. Boulanger. Out the door he scampered with the flying Frenchman in tow with his renown butter knife.

Judge Gartner, on the other hand, was a willing participant in the diner dash and brought a small German band into the establishment and had them play "Die Wacht Am Rhein" (a German patriotic anthem) which sent both men running from the scene with Bagard chasing close behind his honor and wielding a butcher knife.

The antics were seemingly a show of sorts as he was well-liked by many Detroiters, was quite active in charitable endeavors and his restaurant was favored by the businessman of the area. I've been unable to ascertain what his pratfalls were but it sounds like he lost the restaurant and may have come into dire straits.

He died in a West Virginia retirement home in 1908 and was buried at Woodmere Cemetery among the Elks' Rest.

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