There was no other way to put it: Steve was pie-eyed. His pant-leg was caught on the fence and he hopped comically trying to free himself. He was flapping his arms like a goony-bird in an effort to keep his balance. Finally, his pants ripped and he reeled and fell flat on his back. Passersby gave him a wide birth as he lay there groaning, legs akimbo. His partner-in-crime stood over him, hands in his pockets, shaking his head.
“Forget it, Steve. Let’s just go have another drink. Call it even.”
But Steve wasn’t having it, a bet was a bet.
“Not a chance …”
Steve slowly rolled over to his side, pulled his knee under him, and grabbed hold of the wrought iron railing. He stayed in that position, swaying back and forth like a praying mantis, for a full minute before he staggered to his feet.
“Two hundred dollars,” he said to his friend and began to climb again.
This time he made it. He was on the other side now.
He stood there with his back against the fence, eyes closed, his hands in a death-grip around the railing. The color had drained from his face and he was perspiring.
His friend, seeing that he might actually go through with it, said “Hey, you don’t look so good … come on, you’ve proved your point.”
Steve turned his head and shot one bloodshot eye toward his pal, “You meet me back at the pub with my two hundred dollars,” he said, and took one giant step forward.
So it was on July 23rd, 1886, that Steve Brodie, an unknown bookie from the Bowery, made his claim to fame by living to collect his winnings after jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge, 135 feet down into the East River.