It was December 3rd, 1890 and a fuzzy layer of frost covered the grave markers at the Mt Lebanon Cemetery in Iselin, New Jersey. Two boys stalked slowly past a freshly-prepared grave, their heads down, looking for prints on the frozen dew of the undisturbed morning grass.
“He went in there,” Billy said as a cloud of escaping steam wafted above him like a feather falling in reverse. He tip-toed his way around a rubbish pile and pointed, “... stay around that side with the bag... on three.”
Tommy nodded and opened wide a thick canvas sack as he squatted down at the mouth of a little tunnel created by some broken lumber. He peeked in but didn’t see anything except a skinny shaft of light from the other side.
“Okay, ready,” he croaked as his heart picked up a little speed.
“THREE! YAHHH!” Billy screamed into the hole and slapped the wood hard enough to bring it tumbling down.
A spine-tingling shriek echoed off the headstones, and Tommy nearly missed the terrified cat as it bolted out of its collapsing shelter.
“Cat’s in the bag!” he shouted joyfully.
The pair ran back to Oak Tree Avenue, where a wooden crate was waiting. The lid was slid open just far enough to shove the bag in. A chorus of hisses and cries spewed forth.
“How many is that?” asked Tommy.
“Eight!” exclaimed a delighted Billy, “That’s two whole dollars! One for each of us!”
“I wonder what he does with these cats anyway,” Tommy wondered.
What Thomas Edison did with the cats and dogs collected by the neighborhood children was made well-known thirteen years later when he electrocuted an elephant, trying to sell to the world his “safe” direct current, as opposed to the “deadly” alternating current of his rival.