Thursday, September 19, 2013

1913 - Not Yet Dead, Practical Jokes and Politics

The Sun, New York
September 19 1913

"Joker" Spreads Story
That Metz Was Dead

Dozen Undertakers Await Congressman's Train--He Escapes Them
Herman A. Metz

When Congressman Herman A Metz stepped off the Pennsylvania Railroad's Washington express at 8: 07 o'clock last night he passed two rolling chairs, two stretchers, a mattress, pillows and four uniformed undertaker's assistants, who had been waiting to take his body to their establishment.

The attendants and stretchers were there because some would-be joker called up Mrs. Metz at her home in Brooklyn and the Congressman's office and said the he had been stricken with heart disease on the train.

When Mr. Metz got off the train he was met by men from the office of his company, the Farbwercke-Hoechst Company, at 122 Hudson street, who grabbed him and wanted to know how he felt.

When Mr. Metz learned of the rumors he hurried to Brooklyn to reassure his wife and thus escapted questioning by twenty or more reporters and several undertakers.

The undertaker's assistants and J.F. McGowan, assistant manager of the Frank E. Campbell Undertaking Company in West Twenty-Third street, went to the Pennsylvania station in response to a telephone message received about 6:30 o'clock to the effect that Mr. Metz was dead or dying on a train which would arrive from Washington.

So they dashed up to the station in an automobile ambulance with stretchers and rolling chairs.  Before the Congressional Limited came at 9:30 o'clock six more undertakers along Tenth avenue had heard the rumor and sent men to the station.

When he was not found on the Congressional Limited all waited for the Washington Express, which got in at 11:15.  Still no Mr. Metz.  Then with one accord the undertakers, who had been growing uneasy, walked out of the station with their hands behind their backs, admiring the ceiling.  that broke up Mr. Metz's reception party and everybody left.

Mrs. Metz said last night that the Congressman arrived on the 8 o'clock and was perfectly well.  She said that Mr. Metz was surprised to seen so many persons waiting for him at the station, but did not stop to find out what they wanted, as he had hurried home to reassure her that he was well.

"I think it was carrying a joke too far," said Mrs. Metz indignantly, "and I think the person who would do such a thing and shock a whole family so badly should be shot."

**The wife referred to in the article is Metz's first wife, Laura, who he later divorced to marry his childhood sweetheart, Alice M. Norman.

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