Sheepshead Bay Police Precinct – now the NYPD’s 61st Precinct – was once located on Avenue U and East 15th Street. I stumbled across the photo above and set about doing some research.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t learn when it was built or torn down and, quite frankly, stopped giving a damn once I found this amazing account of the extraordinary bravery and heroism of the local police force that occupied that stately building.
The date was July 13, 1915. The scene was West 5th Street and Avenue U – now on the border of the current day 61st Precinct, but then firmly within its command.
Our valiant hero is named Cowboy Doody. Cowboy James Doody.
Some time prior to the incident to be recounted below, one James Murdock who resided at the scene set forth, had “been for a long time addicted to the habit of rearing goats.”
Indeed. His neighbors, no more understanding in those sepia-tinged days than they are today, complained to authorities. A lot. Mainly about the “near -fragrance” – and no, we haven’t gotten to Doody yet – “and plaintive sounds emanating from a barn on Murdock’s place.”
The courts fined him and fined him again, ultimately offering a choice – pay yet another hefty fine or go to jail. The crazy cat lady of his time, Murdock chose jail. He was principled. Why should he not own as many damned goats as he likes? Is this not America?
The authorities disagreed and off to the clink Murdock went, leaving “sixty-five goats of indiscriminate ages … practically without any guardianship watsoever.”
What happened next is best described by those intrepid reporters of The Washington Herald (yes, this made national news, and on page two no less):
He had lived alone and none of his neighbors thought it necessary to investigate the pleadings of the goats which resounded throughout Gravesend the whole night long.
With the coming of daylight the goats, having devoured all the interior fittings of the barn, walked right out through the wall on one side and permeated the entire neighborhood.
With ba-a-a-a and bleats of joy the goats proceeded on their work of devastation. The reidents were powerless. Many who sought to prevent the invasion of their premises were butted all over the place.
Butted all over the place! The carnage! The mayhem! Kings Plaza had nothing on the Gravesend streets of 1915.
What were the residents to do? Worry not, for this is the cue for our hero, Mounted Policeman James Doody, who appeared on the horizon and bellowed a mighty “Ki-ya!”
“Ki-ya!” he said. “Ki-ya!” as he “rode his fiery steed up and down and across the placid confines of Gravesend today, twirling his lasso above his head and ever and anon lassoing a goat.”
Our brave hero was not alone. Cowboy Doody – he was indeed a former cowboy, having “acquired said efficiency on the plains in the southwestern part of our country,” was assisted by “his associate centaurs of the Sheepshead Bay police precinct.”
But, alas, our Herald reports, “none of them could zip out ‘ki-ya’ with the penetra[ting] efficiency of James Doody.”
By noon the strange-eyed nuisance had abated. Doody and his centaurs corralled 42 goats into a barn behind the station photographed above.
Doody, with his “Ki-ya” and his no less valorous but less vocal assistants, were scattering out toward Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge in search of the most nimble and adventurous of the flock.
The legend of Cowboy Doody is new to us. But, this reporter has learned, his name to this day strikes fear into the black, freakish hearts of goats everywhere, and his mighty “Ki-ya!” brings, without exception, the following reaction from goats citywide: