22 February 2012

The Brooklyn Bear Attack of 1932

I originally thought this New York Times story took place in the East Village. As several sharp-eyed readers informed me, it actually took place in Brooklyn. Still, it's a great story. So here it is in the right context.

It was April 26, 1932, when a big, brown bear invaded 84 Second Avenue in Brooklyn. Reported the NY Times:
A small boy with very red hair ran up to Patrolman Arthur Engh at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon at Second Avenue and Eighth Street in Brooklyn. His eyes were wide with fright and his red hair stood on end.
"There's a bear in a house up the street," he gasped. "He's eating everybody up."
"Tut, tut," said Patrolman Engh. "You're twenty-five days late. Roll your hoop."
But he suddenly cocked his head. From up the street came frenzied shouts; first a man's voice, then a woman's, then both together:
"Bear! Bear!"
Patrolman Engh raced for a telephone.
In due time, with clatter and shriek, Emergency Squad 13, headed by Sergeant Hugh McGuire, rolled up in front of a tiny, two-story frame dwelling at 84 Second Avenue where Emil Shubert Jr. was leaning out the window, shouting for help.
"There's a bear in the hall," he bellowed. "A great brown bear big as a buffalo. Help!"
It was all true. The invader was a real, 500-pound bear that had broken out of its pen in the backyard of the home of Richard Herrold, pet-shop man at 121 Ninth Street, which is just back of the Shubert's back yard.
The bear ate up the Shubert's butter, milk and chicken, and resisted all attempted to be lassoed and captured. The cops tried to lead him out with a trail of "sweet crackers," which finally worked, the bear led out of the house and back into its cage. The animal "belonged to a Coney Island show and was left with [Herrold] to board."

None of the houses where this took place exist today. The area is all low-lying warehouses.

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