August/September 1979 | Volume 30, Issue 5
The young man with the watch chain and handkerchief was photographed in the doorway of the American District Telegraph Company of Sioux City, Iowa, where he held the responsible position of day clerk. Despite his sober expression, Claude King might even then have been dreaming up the prank that led to his arrest.
The iron railing in front of the ADT window was apparently irresistible to passers-by, and on October 7 of 1890, Claude hooked up the office batteries to it. Alderman George Meyer appeared and, according to the Sioux City Journal , “sat on the railing and Claudius turned on the current. Mr. Meyer left the railing and went straight to the police station. There he filed informa- tion against the sportive youth for assault with battery.” King recalled years later that the outrage was compounded by the fact that he “found the whole thing … so funny I forgot to take my finger off the button, and the alderman was unable to release himself until I did so.” The judge fined him five dollars, more than half his nine-dollar weekly salary.
Claude overcame his disgrace to become what the Journal called “one of the best known travelling men out of Sioux City.” This photograph of the perpetrator was sent to us by his son, W. D. King of Lawrence, Kansas.