As part of a potential work project, I’ve been going through some old newspapers from 1916. Of course, there are plenty of odd anachronisms that catch one’s eye while reading papers from a century ago. But this story, which is absolutely true, really caught my eye. It’s from the February 11, 1916 Milwaukee Sentinel.
According to the article, Milwaukee police detectives Jacob Laubenheimer and Harry Ridenour were paging through the newspaper one day when they saw the following advertisement:
“Wanted: Strong, husky young men as private detectives. Opportunity to travel all over the world. Apply at Asiatic Pacific Detective agency, Room 713, Majestic Building.”
Thinking the ad was a bit too good to be true, Laubenheimer and Ridenour headed down to the agency to pose as potential enrollees. There they met Brightley Severinghaus, who claimed to be the head of the agency. “You look like a detective and where it usually takes us a month to train candidates for our private force, I think I can get you through in about three weeks,” Severinghaus told Laubenheimer.
“Fine,” said Laubenheimer. “When do I get my first lesson?”
“You will have to put up $5 and then the same amount every week,” said Severinghaus.
Laubenheimer fumbled around and found $2 in his pocket – Ridenour fronted him the remaining $3. Laubenheimer then paid Severinghaus, and after receiving a receipt, put him under arrest.
“I thought you would make a good detective when I first saw you,” said Severinghaus.
Later, a court sent him to an emergency room to have his sanity tested.
For some reason, this made me laugh for a good couple of hours. I’m sure Laubenheimer felt good about passing Severinghaus’ class so quickly.