Public Character #8: Sid the Rat Man, c. 1890

From a short 1962 memoir of Minneapolis, "I Remember Minneapolis", talking about life in the 1890s written by Henry Broderick of Seattle, WA:

But, back to Fourth Street and Newspaper Row. Comedy was there too, in many forms and guises. One character in particular will be recalled by many Minneapolitans now living. He was known widely as “Sid the Rat Man”. He had suffered some sort of domestic tragedy which slightly affected his mental equilibrium. Always bareheaded, with a lone wisp of very curly hair - a bright, friendly twinkle in his azure-blue eyes - he would approach any stranger and very politely ask he had heard his story. With any encouragement, he would launch forth into a disconnected jargon, never varying the harangue by as much as one word. Rats received honorable mention at many points. The so-called story lasted about three minutes and wound up with this line: “Rattle his bones over the tones for he is nothing but a lying porpoise.” The crowd always listened attentively, waiting for their cue at the beginning of “Rattle his bones”, whereupon they would all join in, with great gusto, and the ending, shouted in thunderous tones, could be heard a block away. Sid was present wherever a crowd assembled, and thousands of Minneapolitans memorized his “story”.

[The offices of the Minneapolis Journal on Newspaper Row, about 1890.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This could be a cool piece of public art if you paired it with a good illistration of "Sid"". Lost stories of MPLS.