October 3, 1907
During tonight’s dinnertime—the fashionable hour for society at the Hotel Van Nuys at Fourth and Main (Morgan & Walls, 1896) a furry friend decided to hobnob with the upper crust. Strolling in through the Fourth Street entrance like the most gracious of chaps, of which there were many in the lobby, came a great husky sewer rat.
Pandemonium ensued: “Dainty Parisian lingerie and open-work stockings appeared on view. Gallant gentlemen dropped their cigars and ladies jumped on chairs, but still the rat stood his ground.”
Porters and elevator boys descended, and Mr. Rattus fled the scene through a hole in some missing wainscoting (the Van Nuys undergoing some changes to the lobby). Immediately the house ferret, kept in the engine room for just this sort of affair, was thrust into the opening.
A loud, chilling three-round bout ensued inside the wall, and the ferret emerged bloody and beaten. The rat stuck his nose out his hiding place as if to challenge all comers, and another ferret, this one less soft and over-weight, was sent in to dispatch the venturesome intruder.
The story headline says the rat was killed, but the actual tale makes no such mention. Without a body, I’d say Mr. Ferret merely bragged about besting his opponent, and Mr. Rat went off to the Rosslyn, or perhaps the King Edward.
(The Van Nuys became the Hotel Barclay in the 1930s [adding a magnificent art deco neon blade sign]. The Barclay is now one of the many “28-day-shuffle” transient hotels in the area, where monthly rent is $360.)