Friday, June 27, 2014

Baby, I'm Crazy About You

Detroit Free Press, February 14, 1877
I don't know if there was a Valentine's Day in 1877 but if there was the noonday calm on its eve of that year in Detroit was shattered by the antics of an insane old man. Gotfried Stenicke was his name and snagging a young tot and rushing down the street was his passion of that day. The four-year-old son of Charles Bresher was the object of his delusion and the young boy could be heard wailing as Stenicke whisked him away. Two men came to his aid and chased the man near the intersection of Watson and Riopelle where he ascended a lumber pile and threatened to kill anybody who tried to thwart his aim.

Which, of course, nobody could ascertain at the time as anything but a madman's folly to kidnap a child. Stenicke verified that assumption by playing monkey with the mob. When officers Blakely and Opfer arrived on the scene and tried to reason with him he covered his ears and grinned like a simian at his own antics. If any man tried to climb the wood mountain to save the child old Gotfried, in beast-like fashion, would begin to tear at his hair, beat his breast manically and swing a club in the pursuer's direction. All the while the young Bresher cried bitterly for his mum.

The keystone cops finally designed a plan to leave the scene of the unfurling crime and approach from behind to foil the old fool. It worked, of course, but not before the child teetered perilously close to falling from the mound. His mother managed to maneuver a rescue while the coppers hauled away the fighting mad German, retrieving fresh clothes from the man's home on Benton to replace the ripped and frayed outfit he donned in the scuffle, before transporting him to the Little Sisters of the Poor hospital en route to a final destination at Eloise.

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