1910: A Cat, A Bulldog, and a Lobster Walk into a Harlem Restaurant…

Fay's Restaurant in New York City was the spot for a fight that made the papers in May of 1910. The eatery kept a container of lobsters on the sidewalk for diners to select for their dinner. A cat named Mattie lived at the restaurant for pest control, but she was always more fascinated with the lobsters. And Miss Rose Leland came in to eat with her bulldog Gus, who was allowed to stay as long as he behaved and his leash was wrapped about Leland's chair.

On this particular spring night, one of the lobsters fell on the sidewalk after the waiter had gone inside. Naturally, Mattie jumped at the opportunity. She had no idea what she was up against.

The lobster clamped its claw onto Mattie’s tail, sending her howling and scurrying through the front door and into the restaurant. Not about to be left out of the fun, Gus the bulldog pulled wildly at his leash–and Miss Leland’s chair–to join in the melee.

Down went Miss Leland, who screamed in horror and then reportedly fainted. Gus caught up with cat and lobster as they ran around the other diners. The lobster released its claw on Mattie and grabbed Gus by the hind leg.

The resulting melee and the punchline from the newspaper story can be found at The Hatching Cat, as well as the history of the Harlem neighborhood in which it took place.


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