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Description of Alaska, the Malay cook

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  • Description of Alaska, the Malay cook

    This one was new to me - a short article about the Malay cook Alaska with an physical description.
    This is by our old friend Walter McNulty


  • #2
    Hi Chris

    A similarly worded report is in the Casebook press section, New York Tribune, 5 October 1888, "He Thinks He Knows the Monster."

    Chris
    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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    • #3
      As someone who has spent serious time in Malaysia, I can tell you that a very popular dish over there is laksa. I have always wondered if Alaska was derived from someone mishearing that. The guy was a cook, after all....

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SirRobertAnderson View Post
        As someone who has spent serious time in Malaysia, I can tell you that a very popular dish over there is laksa. I have always wondered if Alaska was derived from someone mishearing that. The guy was a cook, after all....
        You might well be right, Bob. An interesting theory. It is also notable to see how these days we are getting news stories from all over the globe, many of them copies of reports that appeared elsewhere, but that sometimes add new tantalizing details. All good stuff.

        Chris
        Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
        https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
        Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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        • #5
          Chris Scott,sir....

          There's that McNulty guy again below


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          • #6
            The article belows gives a contemporary theory about the origin of the name "Alaska"
            A Mr Freeman who ran the Asiatic Sailors' Home, thought that Dodge had misheard the Malay described as "A Lascar" which he took to be a name "Alaska":
            "A lascar was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century." (Wikipedia)

            Lascars had an evil reputation and feature in a villainous role in a number of Sherlock Homes stories.

            The interview with Dodge gives additional info about this whole story:

            New Haven Register
            6 October 1888
            SEAMAN DODGE'S STORY.
            HE HAS AN EYE ON THE REWARD.
            New York, Oct. 6.
            The Herald prints an interview with George M. Dodge, the seaman, now in New York, who, in August last, met, as he believes, the Whitechapel assassin. Dodge says that this man, whom he suspects of being the hellish fiend who destroys feeble women with such atrocious ferocity, is a Malay sailor, whose name he cannot now recollect, if he ever knew it, but whose appearance he distinctly remembers.
            Dodge is a very intelligent young man, 24 years of age, a native of the United States, and a good type of the Yankee sailor. He has in his possession discharge papers showing that he sailed to Shanghai from this port in the ship Wandering Jew, of Camden, Ma., and left her on June 13 last at Shanghai. There he reshipped on the English tea steamer Glenorchy of Glasgow. He was paid off in London on August 18. One of his shipmates was a man named Scott, familiarly known as "Scotty."
            "He and I," said Dodge in an interview, "went down to the Queen's Music Hall, in High Street, Poplar, a part of London which is practically in Whitechapel. It is near the docks, you know. While we were at the music hall, which was full of common women, this Lascar came in and he recognised 'Scotty.' They had been shipmates together six or seven years before on various ships. 'Scotty,' the Lascar and myself had drinks together. The Lascar told 'Scotty' that he had been 'stripped' as they call it over there. He had just before received pay for two years' cruise in an English vessel amounting to about £100, and had fixed himself out with new clothing and a gold watch. Then he had met a Whitechapel girl and had become intimate and confidential with her. He had either gone home with her or they had gone together to a coffee house. Sailor like, he had shown her his money and the watch and chain and asked her if they would be safe till morning. Of course she answered that they would, so he went to sleep. The next morning he discovered that woman, money, watch and chain were all gone. You know those Malay fellows are very revengeful, and when they want revenge they care nothing for the consequences. This one was still in a great fury over his loss and when he grew excited in talking of it he acted like a man in a delirium. He was then searching for the woman. He told 'Scotty' confidentially, and I overheard him, that of he did not find her and get back his watch and money he would cut up every common woman in Whitechapel. After doing that, he said, he was willing that they should cut his throat or do whatever else they liked with him. He wanted revenge, and except for that life was no longer worth anything to him, as his money was all gone."
            "Did you believe him capable of carrying out these threats?"
            "Didn't I? I knew well that he meant it, every word. Those Malays will do what they say they will in the matter of killing. And they cut and slash exactly as it is said this London murderer has done. If you had ever been to Singapore you'd remember that offers of reward may always be seen posted everywhere in the place for the capture of Lascars who have cut white men to pieces. There is no one equal to the Malay in the use of the knife. I have seen some of their affrays myself and I know what they can do. There is nothing exaggerated in the stories about their running amok."
            "Can you describe this man?"
            "Mostly all Malays look alike to us; but he's of a very coppery complexion, about five feet seven and one half or eight inches in height, with high cheek bones, a small black mustache, black, straight hair, two or three inches long, and standing out from the head, and the dress of a European. He spoke pretty fair English - that is to say, it was quite broken, but could be easily understood. He took out his knife as he was talking to us and showed it. It was about a foot long and the handle was small. It was very keen and had two edges and a point. I never saw him after that, though 'Scotty' spoke of having seen him at another music hall in Whitechapel. I do not read the newspapers very much, as a rule, but when I chanced to see in them the accounts of those murders it flashed upon me at once that this fellow must have done them."
            "Do you know where the Malay was staying in London?"
            "Yes, I know the name of the street. I think I shall keep that to myself until I can find out whether there is a chance of getting the reward offered by the English government for information leading to the arrest of the murderer. The street is not far from the East India Dock Road. I think that I know the house, yet I am not altogether certain that I could pick it out. It would be perfectly easy for a sailor to hide himself in London, even if he had no money. For three or four months he could live without a penny in his pocket. The sailors' boarding house keepers trust men who have good discharges on speculation. I asked 'Scotty' some time after our meeting what had become of the Malay. He had seen him a day or two before on Commercial Road."
            A former seagoing man who knows the published facts about the Whitechapel murders has constructed a theory which coincides very closely with the details given above, and does not in any way conflict with them. He thinks the Malay did the deed, and that since its commission he has been alternately on land and sea. Thus has he entirely eluded the search instituted by the police. "I have a notion," said he yesterday, "that this man is now sailing on one of the many lines of steamers that ply in the North Sea. These vessels are absent from London for a week to ten days or two weeks at a time. Then they remain in the Thames for intervals of a few days while loading. It is during these few days that he has committed these crimes. If you have observed the cable accounts, periods about like those which would suffice for a North Sea voyage have elapsed between the murders."
            London, Oct. 6.
            A cable despatch to the effect that George M. Dodge, a seaman, had stated that in August last he met a Malay cook named Alaska in a London music hall, who had told him he had vowed to kill and mutilate all the women in Whitechapel in revenge for a robbery of some of his property, has aroused great interest in police circles and immediately on receipt of a copy of the cablegram, detectives were sent to make inquiries at the Glen Line Steamship company's sailors' home for Asiatics and other places. In the East End, where it was likely information respecting the Malay could be obtained, Mr. Freeman, manager and superintendent of the Asiatic home, stated that he had been at the home for 30 years and had never known a Malay of the name of Alaska. Malays, he said, are Mohammedans, and do not use European names. But "lascar" is the Mohammedan name for seaman, and Dodge might have been misled.
            Mr. Freeman, it appears, is much respected by Asiatics, who, indeed, look upon him as a friend and brother. His long connexion with the home has made his name well known in the far east, and such is the confidence which he inspires that Asiatics are in the habit of depositing money with him. Most men who have lodged at the home lately have used it for years, whenever their ships are in London; but recently crews of Japanese sailors have lodged there. Mr. Freeman admitted that one of these men was a desperate character, for upon one occasion he stabbed three of his comrades who were staying in the Home. He was arrested, but when his trial came on the injured men had taken ship and gone away.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Chris Scott View Post
              There is no one equal to the Malay in the use of the knife. I have seen some of their affrays myself and I know what they can do. There is nothing exaggerated in the stories about their running amok."
              OK I'm good with this part.....

              But.....

              Originally posted by Chris Scott View Post
              "Can you describe this man?"
              "Mostly all Malays look alike to us; but he's of a very coppery complexion, about five feet seven and one half or eight inches in height, with high cheek bones, a small black mustache, black, straight hair, two or three inches long, and standing out from the head, and the dress of a European. He spoke pretty fair English - that is to say, it was quite broken, but could be easily understood. He took out his knife as he was talking to us and showed it. It was about a foot long and the handle was small. It was very keen and had two edges and a point.
              That'd be tall for a Malay of the day. And like the Chinese, some can grow mustaches but they tend to be wispy, not like Pakistanis for example.

              I assure you I am not married to the laksa theory.....just that there are a few problems. And there is the further matter of the Malay knife being a kris, which is rather distinctive looking.

              http://www.geographia.com/malaysia/myth.html

              http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...1t:429,r:0,s:0

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              • #8
                Hi SRA

                You would know better than me having been to Malaysia - but Wikipaedia and other references do state that the kris knife is sometimes straight bladed

                There is a picture of a Malay knife dance on this thread...

                http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=6458&

                ...though those don't look like kris knives to me - more like short swords

                Here's some pictures of kris knives...

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kris_display.jpg

                I was interested in Chris G's comment on the above thread in which he states that a Malay would not stand out in a crowd in European cultures and would speak fluent English etc

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                • #9
                  I gotta tell you very few of them are truly fluent in English in 2010, and it's an ex-British colony.

                  But I think we can all agree that at some point every sex worker in the East End was asked: "You see anybody that doesn't quite fit in?" I think Alaska is precisely the kind of guy the cops had hoped the Ripper would be, not British and certainly not a gentleman. The Jews were the next best thing, but a Malay running amok would have been perfect. Lord knows the police worked the sailor angle hard.

                  Originally posted by Nemo View Post
                  Here's some pictures of kris knives...

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kris_display.jpg
                  The sheaths are straight. I don't doubt that some Malay knives are straight but when you talk about kris they're those wavey death dealers.

                  It is true that it is a knife obsessed culture. But remember you need to be pretty skilled with a pahang just to open some of the most popular fruits.

                  The local martial art is called Pencak Silat which means "Lightning Death". Uses carotid artery choke holds I might add, as well as kris.

                  http://hubpages.com/hub/Pencak-Silat...ay-Martial-Art

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                  • #10
                    I think Alaska is precisely the kind of guy the cops had hoped the Ripper would be, not British and certainly not a gentleman. The Jews were the next best thing -Sir Bob







                    Actually,I would disagree somewhat with that first one, Bob....and absolutely with the second underlined phrase.
                    If the murderer had been apprehended,convicted,sentenced and had been a non-White such as a Malay...there may well have been a backlash against sailors who were men of color. You can see disturbances materializing.
                    And..if it had been a Jew, who would have had to control the easy-to-concieve riots which would have followed ? That's right. The overworked and underpaid constable.
                    Last edited by Howard Brown; December 18, 2010, 06:31 PM. Reason: edited the unemboldened line...
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                    • #11
                      I should have been more precise, How. When I said "cops" I was thinking of the top brass, not the guys with their necks on the line out on the streets. You might still disagree but I think the "Insane Jew Posse" is but a reflection that this sort of thing just wasn't done by proper British citizens. And nailing a foreigner and a non-white to boot would have been even better.

                      Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                      I think Alaska is precisely the kind of guy the cops had hoped the Ripper would be, not British and certainly not a gentleman. The Jews were the next best thing -Sir Bob







                      Actually,I would disagree somewhat with that first one, Bob....and absolutely with the second underlined phrase.
                      If the murderer had been apprehended,convicted,sentenced and had been a non-White such as a Malay...there may well have been a backlash against sailors who were native born men of color. You can see disturbances materializing.
                      And..if it had been a Jew, who would have had to control the easy-to-concieve riots which would have followed ? That's right. The overworked and underpaid constable.

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                      • #12
                        I remember I think Chris G pointing out that the number of Malay/Lascar sailors employed and possibly ashore in London numbered in their thousands

                        I agree with SRA that this theory of a Malay cook is connected to the idea that the killer must be a foreigner

                        The Malay cook theory also tries to explain the savagery of the Ripper murders by allying it to the "running amok" knife frenzy of a Malay - Tabram was a good example as well as the C5

                        An interesting thing I found out about the Kris type of knife is that it has a very narrow, pencil-like tang and would not be used for any type of slashing move, it was always a stabbing weapon, even though it had an edge

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                        • #13
                          Bob:

                          Please go back and re-read my previous post because I edited four words which now are in order ( the unemboldened ones). My mistake.

                          I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on this point about whom the police would prefer seeing as the murderer. I don't think that any of the high ranking officials (desk jockeys) including superintendents or inspectors "wanted" the killer to be anything other than captured.

                          Let me give you a quick example of what I mean.


                          If a serial killer is loose...as one was...in Atlanta thirty years ago...and the individual committing the murders at hand has been theorized as an outsider ( in this case...a White Man...as all the victims were negroes) or theorized as being possibly sheltered by his kinsmen ( as in the Atlanta Child Murder case where the Georgia Klan was wildly and inaccurately theorized as being involved with in some way...which would constitute conspiracy...conspiracy obviously meaning more than one person being involved in some capacity )...the last thing the Atlanta police heirarchy would want is a White Man or White men being involved. We'd still be seeing pictures of burning buildings on Peachtree Street if a White man had been arrested,tried and convicted, if it would have gone through the three processes in the first place.

                          I believe the same holds true here 80 years before in London.

                          Stride,being a Swede, had lived in London for so long that she could be considered for this experiment as a native, despite her birth in Sweden. If Stride can't be considered a native, then why is Kelly...if you get my drift. ...and since all the victims were considered natives or at least, actual non-Eastern Europeans...then why would the brass in 1888 prefer the perpetrator to be of The Other ?
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                            ...and since all the victims were considered natives or at least, actual non-Eastern Europeans...then why would the brass in 1888 prefer the perpetrator to be of The Other ?

                            Doesn't every society wish its monsters to be Others ?

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                            • #15
                              Bob:

                              I set up a thread to discuss the issue elsewhere and took your last post along with it.
                              http://www.jtrforums.com/showthread....157#post123157
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