"RABBIT RISIN' "
Experiences of Some
Old-Time Dallas Police
Officers: The Woman Who Found the
Chickens That Had Been Stolen
BY W. S. ADAIR.
many experiences of which the public never hears, and old members
of the force tell of scores of queer happenings and odd occurrences,
which, at the time, tired their patience or stirred their risables,
or which were so full of human interest as to provide them with
stories worth relating more than once.
What could be finer than the conduct
of a woman living on Cabell street, who, rising one morning to
discover that her seven hens and rooster were missing, took the
first car to go to the police station and report the loss? At
the second street crossing from her home, a negro with a big
gunny sack on his back, boarded the car, and, after paying his
fare, deposited his sack on the floor of the car. As he
did so, the head of a hen emerged through a hole in the sack.
"There are my chickens, now!"
exclaimed the woman, at the same time calling upon the conductor
and motorman to prevent the negro from escaping until the car
reached the police station, which was then on the site of the
Adolphus Hotel. At the police station, she identified the
chickens, and had the satisfaction of recovering every one of
Felt the Rabbit Rising.
One of the old officers tells of starting
from the city prison to the county jail with a young negro who
had been transferred to the county on some misdemeanor charge.
He did not shackle the prisoner. The county jail
was then on South Houston street. When they turned into
Houston street from Commerce street, the prisoner said:
"Boss, please take hold of me."
"What do you want me to take hold
of you for?"
"Cause I feels the rabbit risin'
in me," was the reply. He felt that he could not resist
the impulse to run, and that if he attempted to escape, the officer
would shoot him. Some happenings in the days of saloons,
vagrants and street beggars and gambling are still rehearsed
by older members of the force. Ambrose Hughes, now on night
duty at the Interurban Station, tells of a raid on a saloon,
which was a rendezvous for all kind of "bums." There
were, in the round-up, twenty-one men, and only one whole man
in the lot. The rest were "shy," wholly, or in
part, arms, legs, ears or eyes, and with their crutches, rolling
chairs and other aids to locomotion, they made a full hoodlum-wagon
load. At the station, a search of their pockets brought
to light the total sum of just 16¢. Next morning,
the police Judge let them all go on condition that they get out
of town before night, a condition with which they, of course,
did not comply.
Hughes also tells of a raid for similar
folk on another saloon. The two officers on the beat had
watched the gathering of men from early in the evening. Vagrants
had steadily trickled in, until toward midnight, it had grown
to a congress of large proportions. When one of the officers
suggested that the place was ripe for a raid, the other, who
had had previous dealing with some of the members of the crowd,
expressed a doubt as to whether two men could handle the situation.
About that time, a young blacksmith of Herculean build,
and famed for his delight in a scrap, happened along. He
was highly pleased with the proffer of a special police commission
for the raid, as affording an opportunity for a fight without
an afterpiece in police court next morning. There were
three open doors to the saloon, one for each of the raiders.
As they entered, the fight began. The first pass,
a big fellow with his legs off at the hips, seized the blacksmith's
good right hand, of which the officers were expecting so much,
and bit his little finger off at the second joint, which caused
the blacksmith to make a hasty exit, yelling with pain. The
officers got out with many bruises and cuts and with only about
half their clothes, and called for help. The second battle
resulted in victory for the police department.
Barricade of Beer Kegs.
The old-time gambling houses resorted
to all sorts of ways of guarding against surprises. E.
C. Cornwell, for many years Deputy Chief of Police, tells that
one of these houses, which was reached by a steep, narrow stairway,
collected a number of empty beer kegs at the top of the staircase,
and instructed the negro porters, at a signal from the watch
below, to set the kegs to rolling down the steps when the officers
started to ascend, thus giving the players time to escape through
the windows and over the back porch roof. This, Cornwell
said, was successfully worked on several occasions.
W. M. Roberts, now warrant officer of
the city court, was one of several officers to raid a poker games,
long after midnight, in a down-town office. Upon breaking
into the room, the officers were surprised to find that the men
in sight were too few to constitute a quorum for a game, according
to their understanding of Hoyle, although there were three tables,
with cards and chips on them. As the officers were about
to retire, having caught nobody in the act of gambling, and having
failed to get sufficient evidence to warrant the arrest of the
men in sight, the mystery was all at once solved by a plaintive
appeal from behind the door of one of the lockers in the room,
for someone to open the door. It was a hot night, and when
the door of the locker was opened, three men fell out, gasping
"Let us out, too," came a voice
from another locker.
"And us, too," from a third,
and so on from the other lockers, until twelve men -- enough
to make up quite a respectable game -- confronted the officers.
"I'd rather pay the fine than
smother to death," said one, mopping the perspiration from
his face. "Me, too," said another. The
lockers fastened by catches, which could not be turned from the
Crap Games Stampeded.
There is no end of amusing incidents
connected with the putting down of crap-shooting among the negroes.
Charles M. Foraker tells of a raid in which he assisted
when he was on patrol duty. The officers gained admittance
to a room by using a negro who had the password. Suspecting
nothing, the negroes without looking up at the newcomers, kept
on rolling the dice on a quilt on the floor. Soon, one
of the players, becoming aware of the presence of the officers,
stealthily crept into the oven of a big range stove, closing
the door behind him. The stove, which had recently had
fire in it, had not yet cooled, and it was not long until the
occupant needed air. He could not open the door from the
inside, and in his lunges to get out, he upset the huge cooking
apparatus. The racket caused the players to look up. For
a moment, they stared in surprise at the officers. As soon
as they could believe their eyes, a stampede began. Out
the windows they went, taking glass and sash with them. One
got hung on a barbwire fence under the window he went through,
and there hung, until the officers released him. Two others,
who were the first to go through another window, failed to "light
running," and were so badly trampled by those who came after
and who did "light running," that they could not escape.
So, the raid yielded only three prisoners, out of a possible
Among the numerous freak incidents, was
that of a negro who thought he had been killed. Years ago,
there came a telephone call for police. The woman putting
in the call said that a negro was burglarizing the house of her
neighbor, who was away from home. Wood Ramsey and E. F. Gates
responded to the call. As they approached the house, a
negro came out the front door and took to his heels. Gates
shot at him, not to kill him, he said, but in the hope of making
him stop. At the report of the pistol, the negro fell,
as if shot through the heart. When the officers rolled
him over, he showed no signs of life, and Ramsey remarked, "You
have killed him." A moment later, the negro opened
his eyes, stared, and was some minutes in making out what had
happened. It turned out that the bullet had not touched
him. But, it must have passed so close to his head that
the concussion knocked him senseless.
- February 4, 1923,
The Dallas Morning News,
At 2 o'clock one bitter cold morning,
Ollie Rawlins and Ambrose Hughes, then on mounted duty, responded
to a burglar call in East Dallas. When they reached the
house, the owner of the place, a well-known man, in his slippers
and night shirt, was pacing the lawn in great excitement. He
said a burglar was trying to saw into his barn from the rear.
"Listen! you can hear him," said the almost hysterical
man. There was no mistaking the resemblance of the sound
to that of a saw in operation.
The explanation was that the man's
horse was what is known among horsemen as a "stumpsucker."
By taking a cob in his mouth, rubbing it against the side
of the trough, and breathing in a certain way, the horse made
a sound like that of a saw ripping a board. The man told
the officers to come to his place of business next morning and
get a new hat each.
Magazine Section, p. 6.
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