May 4, 1908 (Monday)
HOTEL IN FORT WAYNE CONSUMED BY BLAZE; 11 REPORTED KILLED: A horrible fire swept through the New Aveline Hotel in Fort Wayne, Ind., in the early hours of May 3. The blaze, recalled in that city 100 years later, left 11 people dead, according to today's New York Times.
The blaze started in an elevator shaft about 3:30 a.m. and was discovered by the night clerk, Ralph Hipkins. He ran to the top of the hotel to warn as many residents as possible. He "saved many lives," the article says. The fire spread fast; the woodwork on the inside was "dry as tinder," according to the article.
One man climbed down five stories in an air shaft, holding onto an electric wire.
CLEVER SWINDLER VICTIMIZES JEWELERS WITH A NEW "SHORT-CHANGE" SCHEME, WHICH THE NEWSPAPER DESCRIBES IN DETAIL: Police have been on the lookout in numerous cities for a man and woman who have "worked nearly half a dozen cities" and made about $7,000 since December with a variation of a "short-change" tactic. In Jersey City they got $600 worth of diamonds for $21; in Minneapolis, they got $1,075 worth of diamonds for $15; in Philadelphia, they got $1,885 worth of diamonds for $25. The couple has swindled three stores in New York since April 2. In an ongoing effort to educate thieves HOW to do their job better, the New York Times helpfully described how the man -- sometimes accompanied by a woman -- pulled off the trick, once he has called on a store or pawnshop and asked to see some diamonds...
He selects a number of stones, handing over a roll of bills with a rubber band around them in payment, remarking that the proper amount, he believes, will be found in the roll. But he waits, ostensibly to make good if the roll happens to be dollar or two short. The seller finds in the roll a goodly number of bills of large denomination, with some small bills. The seller finds the roll $1 short. The swindler takes the roll back into his possession, and, after acknowledging the error, puts it down on the counter with a silver dollar on top of it. He then walks out.
On counting over the money a second time the seller finds that when the swindler took the money back to recount it he abstracted all the big bills, leaving only the bills of small denomination.
Police are looking for a man who's about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with a long and thin nose and with a sallow complexion. He usually wears eyeglasses and is about 27 years old. The woman, who is at his elbow sometimes, is 5 feet 2 inches and has dark eyes and hair. She looks to be about 30 years old.