Myths and Mysteries of New York

Myths and Mysteries of New York

Author: Fran Capo


Fran Capo takes the reader inside many places most never heard or would dare to visit. Revealing the myths and mysteries of the greatest city in the world, New York, she entices the reader to stop working, what their doing read the book and maybe even take a few trips to see what she has vividly described and related in this book. From the introduction we become enveloped as she shares some of the wild and zany things she encountered and did to research four specific chapters, which I will highlight in this review.


Do you believe in time travel? Read the Montauk Project and learn about her meeting with Preston Nichols the foremost authority on the subject. Next, the Mysterious Leather Man will definitely intrigue the reader. Would you want to see someone dressed in heavy leather trudging along to test his endurance for 34 days? What would you think of this person? Imagine doing this for a 365-mile route for 34 days. Next, the Lake Champlain Monster her ideas and thoughts about hoping to see Champ and the original bait she used to try and lure him out.


Chapter 8 Tales of Buckout Road: Ghosts, murder, and suicide: Let’s get to the body of this book and learn more.


Reptiles always fascinated me but who would want one living in their sewers or water supply. Imagine going to the Bronx Zoo and having one escape as some have in the past and winding up in a sewer near your home. Take a trip back to 1935 to Harlem where some teens were trying to be helpful by shoveling snow. In perfect precision Salvatore, whose turn it was at manhole rim duty as described by the author was cleaning up the snow around the rim of the manhole when something he saw inside of it caused him to stop cold. Imagine thinking you saw an alligator inside of a manhole. Imagine wanting to get him out. What is he really was happy right where he was and did not want your help? With the help of his friends and a long rope the poor alligator was rescued until he got violent and decided to make his presence known. So, why does he wind up dead and what do these teens to go cover it up? Even the police who investigated it did not know what to do with the body so they called Sanitation to clean it up. The first details of alligators living in sewers took place in 1831 and many other sightings took place in different places throughout the years that followed. Is this truth, myth or legend? Did alligators really live in sewers? The answers are in Chapter One and only you can decide for yourself after the information is presented and the sightings described by the author are read and the end result will be yours to decide.


Chapter 2 tells about the Famous Ghosts of the Dakota followed by a spotlighted chapter The Montauk Project that takes place in 1943 in the month of August. The ship was the USS Eldridge the target of an experiment known as the Rainbow Project. The goal was the first attempt at stealth technology hoping to end WW2 but how? The Montauk Project was alleged to be a series of secret United States government projects conducted at Camp Hero or Montauk Air Force Station on Montauk, Long Island for the purpose of developing psychological warfare techniques and exotic research including time travel. Jacques Vallée[1] describes allegations of the Montauk Project as an outgrowth of stories about the Philadelphia Experiment” The description provided by Wikipedia the pictures are in the book for you to see and decide for yourself. Imagine what happened to the live subjects and the end result of this project. Would you want to be apart of something that would make you disappear and travel somewhere else in time? Just how this affected the bodies and minds of those that were used as human guinea pigs you have to read for yourself in Chapter 3 and decide: Myth, Legend of TRUTH!


The next story is quite frightening as the author tells us all about Typhoid Mary. Mary Mallon aka Typhoid Mary was the first person that was said to be the carrier of an asymptomatic pathogen linked with typhoid fever. What a great distinction. Presumed as the author relates to have infected over 51 people, three died as a result of her cooking, she was quarantined twice by health authorities and died after thirty years of being isolated.



Working in Oyster Bay as a cook for the New York banker Charles Henry Warren and his family was probably their first big mistake. From September 3 to the sixth 11 people in that house came down with the dreaded typhoid fever. This was not usual for Oyster pay and many other families had the same end result when hiring her to cook for them. George Soper a civil sanitary engineer was hired to investigate this situation. Publishing his findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association he stated that soft clams might have been the source of the outbreak. Since changing cooks this epidemic broke out in this family and remaining there fro three weeks was all it took for this to happen. When Soper approached and confronted Mary about her role in spreading this disease she refused to admit anything or submit to having herself tested. During an encounter with her when she was in the hospital he told her he would write a book about her and offered her the royalties, which she turned down. Trying to force her to take medication they claimed would cure her she refused. As it stands the medication Urotropin, just think about the prefix and the name was for kidney problems not typhoid. The rest is really quite compelling and sad as she is forced into exile or quarantine to save the city from more outbreaks and the end result you decide if you agree with it or not.


The Legends of Hell Gate follow and then The Mysterious Leather Man is next. For thirty-four days the children and housewives the author states from Hudson to the Connecticut River would hear the familiar sound of “squeaking leather.” A lone figure silent in his ways never speaking to anyone would appear out of the woods and walk silently toward their homes, the leather doing his talking. Leather Man was a homeless wander. He wore the discarded boots and leather and roamed Westchester County and Western Connecticut for decades in the 19th century. He slept in caves and lean-tos, and very rarely said anything to anyone. Once in a while he accepted food and them left wherever he was. A mysterious figure that fascinated many died on March 20, 1889. A man who understood and knew nature better than most would sleep in caves along his route. So well know the author states that he has been seen commemorated in portraits, magazines, news stories and books. Even the New York Times and New York Herald carried stories about this man. But, in 1953 the town of Ossining decided to put up a tombstone in his memory that you can see with his name and more on page 86 and the inscription on page 85. The next two chapters focus on the Lake Champlain Monster and the Bizarre Tales of Buckout Road. McGurk’s Suicide Bar is quite interesting but the story that I really want to spotlight next if The Beautiful Cigar Girl.

Mary Rogers was born in 1820 in Connecticut. Her father died in a steamboat explosion when she was just 17. Taking a job as a clerk in a tobacco shop that was owned by John Anderson in New York City would be where this tragic story continues. Men loved women that are attractive and he paid her quite a bit because of it. She was part of the reason why his sales went up and the customers kept coming into his shop. On many occasions writers and authors would frequent the shop spending time there and relating by word of mouth about her. Imagine meeting Edgar Allan Poe or James Fenimore Cooper that to me would be the ultimate experience. But, the New York Herald carried an article about her and stated that something needed to be done about placing girls like Mary in shops like that. But, she was independent and could handle herself. But, on October 5, 1838 the New York Sun reported her missing from her home. Her mother Phoebe claimed she found a suicide note which the coroner analyzed. The following day the Times and the Commercial Intelligence wrote that the incident was a hoax and phony and said she went to visit a friend in Brooklyn. Some thought it was a stunt created and overseen by Anderson. But, on July 25th of 1841 Rogers told her fiancé, a man that her mother disapproved of and who was a drunk and alcoholic, that she was visiting her aunt and other family members. Three days later her body washed up in the Hudson River. Nicknamed the Beautiful Cigar Girl the mystery of her death was definitely quite an attention getting in all of the papers, which suggested murder. After the autopsy the doctor concluded she had been violated. Thinking she was murdered of dumped by abortionist Madame Restell after a failed procedure, the inquest followed and her fiancé turned up dead. What really happened to her and how this story was covered proved the poor training and poor police work and corruption in the city’s watchman law enforcement system. Many thought that she was a victim of gang violence as the author relates or as Frederica Loss who came forward stated she was a victim of an abortion gone wrong. Police refused to believe this and the press released their own thoughts. Edgar Allan Poe published the story “The Mystery of Marie Roger,” which took place in Paris. The truth or what happened lies buried with her and the mystery of Mary Rogers is quite compelling and still unsolved. The Unlucky General Slocum the final story in this great book of myths and mysteries of our wonderful city follows the Friendly Ghost Hostess of Skene Manor. If you want to know more about each event you need to read this book for yourself. The stories are quite interesting, vividly depicted and told and the author’s account of each accurate. Imagine September 11, 2001 and the fall of the towers and the tragedy of General Slocum. Read it to learn more. Once again author, free lance writer, stand-up comic and television show co-host, pens a book that will keep the reader fixed to the printed myth or mystery until you learn the facts and decide for yourself: FACT: FICTION: MYTH OR MYSTERY!

Fran Lewis: reviewer