One of my favorite columns from the Milwaukee Daily News was the Police Court Scenes. Reporters from several dailies at the time always found interesting stories at the Police Court every day. Sometimes they were sad stories of abuse and sometimes odd and funny stories unfolded in the courtroom. This story was one of the latter. Enjoy!
Milwaukee Daily News, June 24, 1915
The wheels of justice were grinding out their grist of verdicts and decisions and fines; the courtroom was silent but for the drone of low-voiced witnesses and the occasional sharp rap of the deputy’s hammer. Suddenly the spectators, the attorney and the judge were astonished to hear irrelevant words apparently spring from the lips of a witness who had just been sworn.
“Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub; the cow jumped over the moon,” was what it sounded like.
The judge glanced up sharply. The lips of the witness twitched and he looked startled.
“Honest. I didn’t say a word!” he stammered.
The court was framing a reprimand when another interruption came. This time a solemn, gray-haired police sergeant, who was sitting in one of the front rows, seemed to shout:
“I’m getting tired of hanging around this blamed court. If something doesn’t happen soon, I’ll pull my revolver and start something!”
Everybody turned his way. The sergeant almost fell off the bench. But attention was distracted when from underneath one of the benches came sounds indicating a dog fight. There were whines, barks and yelps of pain. The deputies made for the spot and nearly collapsed when they found no trace of a canine.
“Spooks!” they gasped.
“Right-o!” cried a dapper little fellow who popped out of the bull pen, hat in hand and smiling blandly. “Reginald Spooks of Spokane, that’s me. Cops nabbed me last night for being drunk. Didn’t know who I was. Here’s my card,” and he handed a pasteboard to the judge.
“‘Reginald Spooks, ventriloquist,'” read the judge. “Oh!” he exclaimed as an afterthought, “that explains it.”
“I can throw my voice forty ways,” grinned Spooks. “Some dog fight that was, eh? Ha! Ha! I’m clever – what?”
“You may entertain the prisoners at the workhouse for fifteen days,” said the judge.