PG Wodehouse & Jefferson Market
Dying on Valentine's Day is a distinctly UNfunny final act for a laugh-master. Thus we come to praise P.G. Wodehouse in mid-February - - not to bury him. British born Pelham Grenville Wodehouse [15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975] was a prolific humorist best known for his Bertie Wooster novels. Wodehouse relocated to New York and was living in Remsenburg, Long Island when he was knighted, shortly before he died.
• • Of his 1915 novel Psmith, Journalist, whose plot points constellate around Jefferson Market Court, Wodehouse noted: The "gangs" of New York exist in fact. I have not invented them. Most of the incidents in this story are based on actual happenings."
• • Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse
• • • • Chapter XXIII. Reductions in the Staff • • • •
- - excerpt - -
• • He pointed to the door. A small boy was standing there, holding a note.
• • "Mr. Smith?"
• • "Sir to you," said Psmith.
• • "P. Smith?"
• • "The same. This is your lucky day."
• • "Cop at Jefferson Market give me dis to take to youse."
• • "A cop in Jefferson Market?" repeated Psmith. "I did not know I had friends among the constabulary there. Why, it's from Comrade Windsor." He opened the envelope and read the letter. "Thanks," he said, giving the boy a quarter-dollar.
• • It was apparent the Kid was politely endeavouring to veil his curiosity. Master Maloney had no such scruples.
• • "What's in de letter, boss?" he inquired.
• • "The letter, Comrade Maloney, is from our Mr. Windsor, and relates in terse language the following facts, that our editor last night hit a policeman in the eye, and that he was sentenced this morning to thirty days on Blackwell's Island."
• • "He's de guy!" admitted Master Maloney approvingly.
• • "What's that?" said the Kid. "Mr. Windsor bin punchin' cops! What's he bin doin' that for?"
• • "He gives no clue. I must go and find out. Could you help Comrade Maloney mind the shop for a few moments while I push round to Jefferson Market and make inquiries?"
• • "Sure. But say, fancy Mr. Windsor cuttin' loose that way!" said the Kid admiringly.
• • The Jefferson Market Police Court is a little way down town, near Washington Square. It did not take Psmith long to reach it, and by the judicious expenditure of a few dollars he was enabled to obtain an interview with Billy in a back room.
• • The chief editor of Cosy Moments was seated on a bench, looking upon the world through a pair of much blackened eyes. His general appearance was dishevelled. He had the air of a man who has been caught in the machinery.
• • "Hullo, Smith," he said. "You got my note all right then?"
• • Psmith looked at him, concerned.
• • "Comrade Windsor," he said, "what on earth has been happening to you?"
• • "Oh, that's all right," said Billy. "That's nothing."
• • "Nothing! You look as if you had been run over by a motor-car."
• • "The cops did that," said Billy, without any apparent resentment. "They always turn nasty if you put up a fight. I was a fool to do it, I suppose, but I got so mad. They knew perfectly well that I had nothing to do with any pool-room downstairs."
• • Psmith's eye-glass dropped from his eye.
• • "Pool-room, Comrade Windsor?"
• • "Yes. The house where I live was raided late last night. It seems that some gamblers have been running a pool-room on the ground floor. Why the cops should have thought I had anything to do with it, when I was sleeping peacefully upstairs, is more than I can understand. Anyway, at about three in the morning there was the dickens of a banging at my door. I got up to see what was doing, and found a couple of Policemen there. They told me to come along with them to the station. I asked what on earth for. I might have known it was no use arguing with a New York cop. They said they had been tipped off that there was a pool-room being run in the house, and that they were cleaning up the house, and if I wanted to say anything I'd better say it to the magistrate. . . .
Source: • • Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse
- - excerpt - -
• • Illustration: • Jefferson Market in 1895 •
New York Public Library