Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday the 13th and the Bijou Opera House

Just about everybody knows that Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky, and that there's nothing to that superstition.

These days, of course, everybody knows there isn't anything to silly superstitions. There are plenty of 13th streets, and the Apollo 13 mission - - -. Bad example. All three astronauts made it back, though, so it couldn't have been all that unlucky.

In the 1880s, thirteen New Yorkers formed The Thirteen Club to debunk superstition, and kicked things off by walking under ladders into a room strewn with spilled salt.

That club was a big success, and soon had hundreds of members: including William McKinley, an honorary member who became president and was shot.

Inspired by the success of The Thirteen Club, a number of Loonfoot Falls' leading citizens formed their own Thirteen Club in the summer of 1908.

The Loonfoot Valley Thirteen Club held its first, and nearly its last, meeting in the old Bijou Opera House. Walking under ladders to a meeting hall on the second floor, the members spilled salt, broke seven mirrors, and started jumping on cracks in the floor. In unison.

The men were, as gentlemen of substance are wont to be, rather substantial. The Bijou's architect hadn't counted on something like one and a third gentlemanly tons bouncing on the meeting room's floor.

Which cracked under the strain, sending the clubmen rushing downstairs.

Knocking over a kerosene lamp on their way.

Setting fire to the Bijou Opera House.

Which burned to the ground.

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