Cats in Art:
The free and easy Renaissance cats of Leonardo da Vinci…
Check out this excellent post from The French Hatching Cat about an eccentric old New Yorker…
Before there was a Seward Park on Essex Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, there was a square block of old wooden houses and crumbling brick tenements where hundreds of immigrants and alley cats made their home.
There once was a woman who lived in a dilapidated frame tenement house on the Lower East Side. She had so many cats – about 80 – there was no place for them to hide.
No, this is not a Mother Goose nursery rhyme. It’s a true story about Rosalie Goodman and her home for down-and-out cats in New York’s Lower East Side.
Rosalie Goodman was a cat hoarder, or what we’d call a crazy cat lady. For almost a decade, she offered food and shelter for all the abused, abandoned, and injured felines that lived in the neighborhood bordered by Orchard, Hester, and Clinton streets and East Broadway. The children in the neighborhood called her Catty Goodman.
Rosalie (nee Rose Waare), was born in the Kingdom of Prussia in 1836, give or take a few years. She and her husband, Henry, a cigar maker (spelled “segar” on the 1870 Census report), came to America in the late 1850s and had four children: Elizabeth, Regina, Hilde, and Oscar. In 1870, the family was residing in an apartment at 175 Madison Street (near where the Manhattan Bridge is today).
Shortly after Henry’s death in 1871, Rosalie purchased the 17th-century house at 170 Division Street from Moses Bonner (Moses operated a cigar store there, so perhaps Henry Goodman had worked with him.) In his book, “New York by Sunlight and Gaslight: A Work Descriptive of the Great American Metropolis,” published in 1882, James Dabney McCabe calls this house “one of the greatest curiosities in New York.”
In the winter of 1875, a reporter from the New York Sun paid Rosalie a visit to see if rumors of this crazy cat woman were true. Upon his arrival, he saw dozens of cats hanging out in the nearby alleys, and on the eaves and window sills of her ramshackle home. In his front-page story, which was picked up by several newspapers in New York and other states, he paints a very vivid picture of the house where Rosalie and her feline boarders lived:
“The house was a three-story wooden building, gambrel-roofed and withered with age, and dates back to the Dutch period of the city. The sides and roof have collapsed with the pressure of time, and the clapboards and shingles, mossed and blackened, hang in tatters from the decaying beams and rafters. Inside, the oaken stairs and hall floors are worn into hollows from the use of former generations, and the rooms are low-ceilinged, narrow, and dusty, lighted by high, small-paned windows, and still provided with wide, open, old-fashioned fireplaces.”
Outside, there was a courtyard about 15 feet deep, which was enclosed by a 10-foot fence. Scattered throughout the yard on that day in February 1875 were dozens of cats dining on soup and milk contained in white and yellow earthenware dishes. The reporter noted:
“The yard in the rear is a special playground of the museum. It is spacious, dirty and abounding in sly nooks that are just the thing for cats. At the back are a half-dozen patched wooden buildings similar to the one inhabited by Mrs. Goodman, each with an opening upon the enclosure.”
Literally translated as “South Pole Story” and also known as “Antarctica”, a remarkable tale of survival based on the real life events of the doomed 1957 Japanese Antarctic Expedition and the fates of fifteen Sakhalin Huskies inadvertently abandoned in the extreme wilderness of the South Pole. Directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara.
Not an episode of “Portlandia”…
A rampaging, 22-pound Oregon house cat with a “history of violence” attacked a baby and trapped a family and their dog in a bedroom at their Portland home before being captured by police, authorities said on Monday.
The Sunday evening incident began when the cat, a black-and-white Himalayan, scratched a 7-month-old baby in the face, according to Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson.
The baby’s father kicked the cat in the backside, which sent it into a rage, and the parents and baby, along with their dog, retreated into a bedroom as the father called police, Simpson said.
Meanwhile, the cat blocked the bedroom doorway and could be heard on the 911 call screeching loudly, Simpson said.
“He said that the cat has a history of violence,” Simpson said, referring to the father speaking to the 911 operator.
A series of 16th-century manuscripts that have been making waves on the Internet look like a Monty Python version of the Renaissance: They show cats outfitted with flaming backpacks, attacking castles and villages.
But the illustrations are legit. They’re intended to show how cats and birds could in theory be used to set fire to a besieged city, according to a University of Pennsylvania scholar.
Mitch Fraas, scholar in residence at the University of Pennsylvania—the university digitized the manuscripts last year—says that the drawings are from artillery manuals and are accompanied by notes explaining how to use animals as incendiary devices.
Fraas translated from the original German:
“Create a small sack like a fire-arrow… if you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw, it will be ignited.”
Fraas is skeptical that any army ever deployed what he calls a “pretty grisly” tactic: “It seems really hard to believe that would ever work.”