One of my favorite colorful characters terrorized canine and chicken critters for a couple of decades around the turn of the 20th Century. Tom Goabout was a champion of stealing chickens and swiping dogs. Once police caught up with him after he’d stuffed two hens into a gunny sack in one yard and then jumped a fence to another yard, where he placed two ducks into another sack. The cops nabbed him and used the birds for evidence.
From 1885 to 1905, the Post-Dispatch devoted deep vats full of ink to Goabout’s various incarcerations in the city jail, the city workhouse, and state penitentiaries. Close to 70 stories in all.
But he always made his way out again to terrorize chickens, dogs, and owners of both. There were those who said Goabout had hypnotic power over dogs he pursued to purloin. “It is his boast that he can enter a strange yard or house on the darkest night and make away with the fiercest bulldog . . . or any breed of dog without arousing the suspicions of the owner and without arousing the suspicions of the owner and without permitting the animal to make the slightest noise or resistance,” the Post-Dispatch said. He’s one of 80 folks in my book The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, set for release in mid-September. To get one of the first autographed copies anywhere, mark your calendars and come to my book release party from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Royale, 3132 South Kingshighway in South St. Louis.