Some people doubt the existence of St. Fishmonger.
They say that nobody would go through all that trouble for no reward. They say say he would have been spotted by someone. They have no imagination.
I will quote the Mad Fishmonger story from Charles Fort’s “Lo!”:
“Upon May 28th, 1881, near the city of Worcester, England, a fishmonger, with a procession of carts, loaded with several kinds of crabs and periwinkles, and with a dozen energetic assistants, appeared at a time when nobody on a busy road was looking. The fishmonger and his assistants grabbed sacks of periwinkles, and ran in a frenzy, slinging the things into fields on both sides of the road. They raced to gardens, and some assistants, standing on the shoulders of other assistants, had sacks lifted to them, and dumped sacks over the high walls. Meanwhile other assistants, in a dozen carts, were furiously shovelling out periwinkles, about a mile along the road. Also, meanwhile, several boys were busily mixing in crabs. They were not advertising anything. Above all there was secrecy. The cost must have been hundreds of dollars. They appeared without having been seen on the way, and they melted away equally mysteriously. There were houses all around, but nobody saw them.
Would I be so kind as to tell what, in the name of some slight approximation to sanity, I mean by telling such a story?
But it is not my story. The details are mine, but I have put them in, strictly in accordance with the circumstances. There was, upon May 28th, 1881, an occurrence near Worcester, and the conventional explanation was that a fishmonger did it. Inasmuch as he did it unobserved, if he did it, and inasmuch as he did it with tons upon acres, if he did it, he did it as I have described, if he did it.
In Land and Water, June 4, 1881, a correspondent writes that, in a violent thunderstorm, near Worcester, tons of periwinkles had come down from the sky, covering fields and a road, for about a mile. In the issue of June 11th, the Editor of Land and Water writes that specimens had been sent to him. He notes the mysterious circumstance, or the indication of a selection of living things, that appears in virtually all the accounts. He comments upon an enormous fall of sea creatures, unaccompanied by sand, pebbles, other shells, and sea weed.
In the Worcester Daily Times, May 30, it is said that, upon the 28th, news had reached Worcester of a wonderful fall from the sky, of periwinkles on Cromer Gardens Road, and spread far around in fields and gardens. Mostly, people of Worcester were incredulous, but some had gone to the place. Those who had faith returned with periwinkles.
Two correspondents then wrote that they had seen the periwinkles upon the road before the storm, where probably a fishmonger had got rid of them. So the occurrence conventionalised, and out of these surmises arose the story of the fishmonger, though it has never been told before, as I have told it.
Mr. J. Lloyd Bozward, a writer whose notes on meteorological subjects are familiar to readers of scientific periodicals of this time, was investigating, and his findings were published in the Worcester Evening Post, June 9th. As to the story of the fishmonger, note his statement that the value of periwinkles was 16 shillings a bushel. He says that a wide area on both sides of the road was strewn with periwinkles, hermit crabs, and small crabs of an unascertained species. Worcester is about 30 miles from the mouth of the River Severn, or say about 50 miles from the sea. Probably no fishmonger in the world ever had, at one time, so many periwinkles, but as to anybody having got rid of a stock, because of a glutted market, for instance, Mr. Bozward says: “Neither upon Saturday, the 28th, nor Friday, the 27th, was there such a thing procurable in Worcester as a live periwinkle.” Gardens as well as fields were strewn. There were high walls around these gardens. Mr. Bozward tells of about 10 sacks of periwinkles, of a value of about 20, in the markets of Worcester, that, to his knowledge, had been picked up. Crowds had filled pots and pans and bags and trunks before he got to the place. “In Mr. Maund’s garden, two sacks were filled with them.” It is his conclusion that the things fell from the sky during the thunderstorm. So his is the whirlwind-explanation.
There are extraordinary occurrences and conventionalization cloaks them, and the more commonplace the cloakery, the more satisfactory. Periwinkles appear upon a tract of land, through which there is a road. A fishmonger did it.
But the crabs and the fishmonger — and if the fishmonger did the periwinkles, did he do the crabs, if he did it?
Or the crabs and the whirlwind — and, if the periwinkles were segregated from pebbles and seaweed, why not from the crabs, if segregation did it?
The strongest point for the segregationists is in their own mental processes, which illustrate that segregations, whether by wind action, or not, do occur. If they have periwinkles and crabs to explain, and, say, that with a story of a fishmonger, or of a whirlwind, they can explain the periwinkles, though so they cannot explain the crabs, a separation of data occurs in their mentalities. They forget the crabs and tell of the periwinkles. “
I, however, choose to believe the Fishmonger did exist. I think he decided to liven up the world, and perpetuate more mystery.
For this reason I declare May 28th, from now until the Big Crunch, “St. Fishmonger Day”.