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1885: Coney Island Merman Sighting

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THINK ABOUTIT SIGHTING REPORT

Date:  November December 02, 1885

Sighting Time:  

Day/Night:  

Location:  Coney Island

Urban or Rural: – 

No. of Entity(‘s):  1

Entity Type:  mermen

Entity Description:  The hair on his head reaches to his waist, and the yellow hair on his body is as long as a horse’s mane.

Hynek Classification:  CE-III (Close Encounter III) Close observation with animate beings associated with the object.

Duration:  

No. of Object(s):  

Height & Speed:  

Size of Object(s):  

Distance to Object(s):  

Shape of Object(s):  

Color/Description of Object(s):  

Number of Witnesses:  Multiple

Source:   ‘Broadbrim’s New York Letter’ printed in The Carbon Advocate (Lehightown, PA) for Saturday, December 12, 1885

Summary/Description:  Our sister city, Brooklyn, is greatly exercised about a wild man of the sea, which, if the story is to be believed, would show that the mermen of the sea are not all dead. For ten days past a man has been seen on Coney Island beach, disporting himself in the briny waves as if they were his native element. The hair on his head reaches to his waist, and the yellow hair on his body is as long as a horse’s mane. Many people have seen him at night walking along the sand, but as soon as he was approached he dashed into the breakers, and no one has seen him come out. But that he does come out is evident, for he has been seen by many, men and women. Towards night men go armed with hatchets and clubs for fear the wild man might grab them up and carry them into tho sea. Women and children keep close indoors, and a reign of terror of this submarine hairy man has shaken New York’s favorite watering place from turret to foundation stone. People are afraid to shoot him for fear they might possibly be indicted for killing a harmless lunatic. Hundreds are watching for the wild man of the sea, and I should not be surprised when he is caught to find that it was another ingenious device of that aquatic blatherskite, Captain Paul Boyton, to advertise his life-saving suit. If it is not Boyton it is the —-. The word ‘blatherskite’ means ‘a person who talks at great length without making much sense’ ‘foolish talk; nonsense’. The description was used in reference to Captain Paul Boyton, known as the Fearless Frogman, who was a showman and adventurer who some credit as having spurred worldwide interest in water sports as a hobby, particularly open-water swimming. Boyton is best known for his water stunts that captivated the world, including crossing the English Channel in a novel rubber suit that functioned similarly to a kayak. Just prior to the publishing of story, Boyton was involved in the fatal leap from Brooklyn Bridge of Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women’s rights activist Charlotte Odlum Smith. Catherine Odlum, mother of Robert and Charlotte, blamed Boyton for her son’s death. Boyton wrote Mrs. Odlum a letter disclaiming responsibility, which he also published in The New York Times and other periodicals. Mrs. Odlum subsequently traveled to New York City to see Boyton. According to her account, Boyton sent two men to see her who claimed to be a lawyer and a judge, and who warned her not to say anything against Boyton to avoid prosecution for slander. Catherine Odlum claimed in the biography she wrote of her son that Boyton hid or destroyed letters and telegrams from himself to Robert Odlum urging him to travel to New York and make the Brooklyn Bridge jump.

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