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This Week in History: Laundry worker narrowly missed losing arm

120 years ago, 1901

Taken directly from The Vindicator:

“Caught in Machinery. Miss Lizzie Vaughn has a narrow escape at Fithian’s Laundry from being mangled to death.”

Miss Lizzie Vaughn met with an accident at Fithian’s Laundry on the South Side yesterday, which nearly resulted in the loss of an arm. The escape of Miss Vaughn from sustaining more serious injuries than what she did is looked upon in the light of a miracle. Miss Vaughn is employed as a bookkeeper at the laundry and yesterday morning when she came to work and laid away her wraps, she walked back into the work room to warm her hands. She placed them over the collar machine, which had just been started up in motion, but only a slight pressure of power had been turned on. While paying attention to something else, her hands were permitted to go too close to the machine and one of them caught in the roller.

She screamed in pain and just by chance the foreman happened to be standing near and in an instant stopped the motion of the machine. However, one of Miss Vaughn’s hands was pulled through and was badly squeezed. If the machine had been running at the usual speed, there is no doubt that she would have lost it entirely. As it was, the arm was injured, but not seriously.

One thing that was in favor of Miss Vaughn was that she has an exceptionally small hand and that fact prevented it from getting squeezed and necessarily mutilated. Miss Vaughn lives on Essex Street and is now receiving congratulations upon her lucky escape.

40 years ago, 1981

With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, a group of Irish beauties took center stage. They weren’t exactly graceful as they often knocked coffee cups onto the floor. They also lacked that shy quality that some found enticing. Some even called them “colt-sized” because at only 16-months old, they were known to weigh nearly 175 pounds. Coming face to face with one of them was a treat, especially for dog lovers who were lucky enough to meet one of this ancient breed, the Irish Wolfhound.

Their lore goes back to 391 AD, when Roman statesman Quintus Aurelius Symmachus received seven Irish Wolfhounds as a gift from his brother. The hounds were used in a sort of circus-like setting and “all Rome viewed them with wonder.” Legend also states that St. Patrick himself was known to use the soothing nature of these large canines to help calm and eventually convert folks to Christianity. It is even said that while St. Patrick was the one who rid Ireland of snakes, it was the wolfhound who rid the island of wolves.

Over the next 1,600 years, the Irish Wolfhound worked its way into the hearts of the Irish. Such was the case for Bill and Lucille Cunahan and their hounds. Youngstown Vindicator reporter Janie S. Jenkins visited the Youngstown family and was a bit overwhelmed during the introductions. First up was a visiting guest named Dragonwyck’s Thunder Wolf, a wee 16-month-old pup weighing a mere 175 pounds. Though he lived with Jim and Barbie Blubaugh, Thunder was right at home as his father, Windy Hills Sweeney, and siblings Killybegs Bells and Greenbrier Irish Moose all lived with the Cunahans.

Thunder loved the attention he received while his siblings were kept behind a baby gate in an effort to ensure a proper portrait of the young hound. “Their whiskery brindle heads completely fill the doorway and while the gate would topple with just a nudge, these titans of dogdom accept the restraint meekly.” The dogs were about 36 inches high at their shoulders and their long tails were known to take out any item in its path with just one wag. Their keen eyesight, though, is one of the major traits which set them apart over the centuries. One of these massive hunters could track a wolf, catch it by the back, and dispatch it with little effort.

Over the years, the fierce nature of these dogs was not lost. Another of Windy’s pups, Bo, who lived with Jay Kennelty of Champion, had once jumped through a window in order to chase a potential prowler. The man was simply jogging by when Jay heard the glass crash and saw the shocking scene. The poor jogger, “if he ever stopped running, told a wild tale about being chased by a canine version of the incredible hulk.” Both jogger and Bo were just fine after the incident. Windy was known to get in on the act, too, having once gently, but firmly, taken a delivery man’s arm in his mouth and held him against the wall until the family came to the rescue. Most modern wolfhounds, though, use that might to coax their way into the hearts of their humans, living as loyal, and giant, lap dogs.

• Compiled from the archives of The Vindicator by Traci Manning, MVHS curator of education.

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