Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1903.
This item has been attracting quite a bit of traffic over at The Hope Chest
, thanks primarily to an incoming link in a post on The Straight Dope Message Boards
. The author of the latter writes: "What the hell are they talking about? A 'padlock bet'? An explosion? An automobile plunging into Lake Michigan, instead of an explosion? Confidence men? And all of it...an 'old story'"?
I believe I've now actually got this cryptic little text completely figured out, and I was about to post an update explaining it when I noticed the uptick in traffic. But for the nonce, it seems like more fun to let it drive people nuts.