61st-precinct

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.

View the 1915 clipping (Click to enlarge)

View the 1915 clipping (Click to enlarge)

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:

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    I’d say this was quite an important story. Since that time we have been free of the nuisance of rampaging goats.

  • BrooklynBus

    Ned, you said you were a little late in bringing us the news about Vittoro Restaurant. I think you are even later in bring us this news about the goats. Why didn’t we hear about this when it happened?

    Anyway, in answer to your question, I do not know when the building was torn down, but it still was here in 1977 when I moved into this neighborhood and was torn down to make way for the bank which stands there now near East 15 Street when the present precinct on Coney Island Avenue was completed. Having been neglected for a long time, it did not look as great as it does in the picture and had become an eyesore.

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      It would not be hard to figure out when it was built and demolished, and I’ll do so at a later time. But, as I wrote, when I found this story, I just stopped giving a damn. KI-YA!

    • anon

      The bank is long gone. Duane Reade is now at Ave U and E 15 St.

      • BrooklynBus

        Shows you how often I pass by there.

  • Joseph Ditta

    According to Joseph Ditta’s THEN & NOW: GRAVESEND, BROOKLYN, the precinct building was erected in 1904 and demolished sometime after 1979. Even the author was unable to determine the exact demolition date.

    • sadeyes

      Thanks Joseph. I know I remember seeing this building many times in the past.

  • MrArtTuro

    When you say ‘goat’ – are we talking about ‘goat’?
    Would it be okay if we replace ‘goat’ and substitute a nationality, gender role, creed, religion, body type, hair color, disability or some other non-politically correct descriptor – just to spice the story up a little bit? Juss askin’, ya hurd?

  • Joseph Ditta
    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      Wow, it’s like two totally different stories. And this is the boring one. ;)

      According to this, Doody was injured.

  • https://www.facebook.com/peggy.gavan Peggy Gavan

    The station was built in 1904, according to the Annual Report of the State Commission of Prisons, Volume 26. However, I do see reference to a Sheepshead Bay police station as early as 1894 — there is mention that there was a station on Voorhies Avenue also.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=jd4XAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA219&lpg=PA219&dq=%22Sheepshead+Bay%22+police+station+Avenue+U+15th+Street&source=bl&ots=aI0QyDbhpg&sig=NavgPkk6X-o12U5wdxmPvziJqHA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DKnVU6DdPM6pyASe4YH4Ag&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=%22Sheepshead%20Bay%22%20police%20station%20Avenue%20U%2015th%20Street&f=false

    • https://www.facebook.com/peggy.gavan Peggy Gavan

      Yes, I confirmed. The original station
      was on the north side of Voorhees Avenue, 150 west of Shore Road
      (today’s Sheepshead Bay Road). The department leased the property for
      $1200 a year. It was a two-story mansard and cellar frame
      building, about 40 x 40, on high brick foundation, and had 20 rooms and a
      bathroom, and three brick cells in the cellar. In the rear of the lot
      was a
      one-story frame barn, 20 x 30, and two other smaller frame buildings, 12
      x 12
      and 10 x 10. The old station often flooded during high tide, and
      prisoners in the cells had to stand on the benches to stay dry. On October 29, 1905,
      the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that the new station would be ready by
      December 1905, although there were some delays.