The Conshohocken Methodist Church located at West Sixth Avenue and Fayette Street is proudly celebrating their 175th Anniversary.November 29, 2023
Christmas in Conshy – Looking Back 60 Years!December 22, 2023
Another Useless File
This one involves an Indian Chief, a Train and a Sanitorium
By Jack Coll
For those of you who regularly follow my columns on Conshystuff.com you might be familiar with the term “Useless File.” With time on my hands, I’ve been spending a little bit of time cleaning out my files that I’ve spent a half a century assembling. Every once in a while, I come across a file thinking what the heck was I thinking when I wasted a file-folder to file this subject!
So nearly fifty years later as I come across it for the second time in my life, I’m pretty confident about dropping the file in the recycling bin. Although more than a few times I’ve decided to share my useless file with you because I enjoy filing your brain with this useless S#!t. So, with all that being said welcome to this version of “Another Useless File.”
So, 85 years ago, an article appeared on the front page of the Conshohocken Recorder newspaper from July 22, 1938, right there on the front page:
“Indian Chief” Stops Train, Does War Dance, Police Take Him” The article starts out by saying, “If you believe in ghosts, you might have thought you were seeing the spirit of a Leni Lenape Indian, between Miquon and Spring Mill Train Stations on Wednesday morning.”
The engineer of the Reading Train said he was gliding along the tracks thinking whether or not it would rain when he was suddenly confronted with a strange apparition in the middle of the railroad tracks between Miquon and Spring Mill stations.
“The figure was the exact opposite of an example of what the well-dressed man should wear. His only habiliment was a few pounds of mud scattered in hit-or-miss design over his anatomy.”
The engineer slammed on the emergency brake, and just managed to escape striking the tall, nude figure as he jumped agilely from the track to the river bank. Proceeding to the Spring Mill Station, the engineer reported the strange track walker. With the aid of police including Edgar Mitchell, Whitemarsh Township and Lloyd Frankenfield of Spring Mill, James Kelly of Conshohocken, the men hurried toward Miquon in pursuit of the nudist.
As the men started walking the tracks at Spring Mill and headed towards Miquon they sighted him. As the men approached the nudist, he stated that he was an Indian Chief, and broke-out into a tribal dance, holding a large stone on his head. His head and body were daubed with black river-mud.
As the newspaper stated, “finally, the nudist consented to try a ride in the Palefaces automobile,” in which he was taken to the Whitemarsh Township Police Station. An investigation disclosed that a young man had just escaped from a sanitarium at Gladwyne. He gave his name as Stephen Anderson of Norfolk Va. He had been a patient at the sanitarium only three days, when he left the sanitarium, he told the police he swam across the Schuylkill River.
And That folks, was the end of the article, but wait, there’s more!
Just four days later, in the very next edition of the paper, (The Conshohocken Recorder Newspaper was printed twice a week back then) there was another headline that caught my eye. “Nude “Indian Chief” In Second Escape.” It turned out that he escaped the sanitorium without clothing for the second time just two days later. He swam the swirling, black water of the Schuylkill River, climbed up the bank and with mud smeared over him from head to foot made his way up Walnut Street to Hector Street where he squatted on the sidewalk.
Conshohocken Police were notified that a naked man was roaming around the lower end of the borough. Officer Stallone answered the call and arriving at Hector and Walnut Streets saw the man behind a smoke-screen thrown up from a full-sized cigar which he was apparently enjoying immensely. The officer provided the man with a raincoat from the police car and brought him to the police station on West Hector Street and notified the authorities of the sanitorium who came to Conshohocken and took him back. During his time at the police station the man talked about someone trying to shoot him with a machine gun.
Well, there you have it, as the saying goes, I couldn’t make this stuff-up. As I slip this file into the recycle bin, I’m enjoying the fact that when your head hits the pillow tonight, some of you will be thinking about Jack’s useless file, along with a few of the visuals stuck inside your head. Sweet Dreams!!!
Quick note, the Conshohocken Adult Prom is coming up on February 24th, 2024. Here is a link to buy tickets online, or get yours in person at Coll’s Custom Framing. Thank you.