February 9th, 1978 - by Danny Tibiasi, New York Minute.
Every morning for the last six, 72 year-old Edie Johnson of East Harlem woke up to another desperate cry from a neighbor seeking their lost family member. She listens from her armchair by the window of her small, 5th floor apartment overlooking a cluster of low-income rat holes. Every morning the laundry line telegraph hums with stories about another young man who never came home. This morning, it was 19 year-old Julio Cortez. Yesterday it was 14 year-old Mario "Popper" Huertos. Before that four others aged between 18 and 22.
People are disappearing in the night and, while mothers and fathers claim something sinister is happening, local cops contend that six missing men across twelve blocks were probably up to no good and are either lying dead under the rubble of the fires they set or will come home when they feel like it. Sgt. Nicholas White of Precinct X9 says police don't have the the resources to go after anyone of legal age who just doesn't come home one night. The Precinct, he says, has enough on its place with an explosion of robberies, burglaries, including an investigation of Edie Johnson's apartment building which reported parts of its elevator bank stolen last month, a crime which leaves Johnson, who cannot walk, trapped inside her crumbling apartment.
"We've had two arsons since January," White says. "fifteen deaths resulting, which is more of a priority to the city of New York than a couple guys who, frankly, should be living on their own by now."
Talk among the unemployed young men of East Harlem quickly turns to opportunities clearing lots and stripping properties in the derelict and condemned buildings around the neighborhood. They say it's a dangerous job because these buildings are often occupied by the homeless or serve as dens for drug users. Men who spoke on condition of anonymity tell The Minute that there's significant cash in it for those brave enough to run those people out by any means necessary.
Rats, Pigeons, and Dragon Bats?
February 19th, 1978 - by Fred Bassie, Alphabet Gazette
Every town has its urban legends. Every house in a mile radius has a friendly ghost story. New Yorkers are also famous for exaggerating stories about the local wildlife. Three-foot-long rats are reported. Pigeon attacks with the precision of a mob hit, herds of feral cats trying to steal babies from carriers, and other stories show up from time to time. But the Dragon Bats of Alphabet City, perhaps dreamt up by the creative minds living in the neighborhood, is a new addition to the city's cryptologist registry.
Three men and a woman escaping the subway one evening, emerged to street level to find what they describe as a "Black winged lizard the size of a horse" eating a leashed canine. The only sign of an owner on the empty street was the sound of a scream fading into the distance. Perhaps startled by the trio, this dragon took to the sky and flew off after the sound of the scream.
The trio, emboldened by the corroboration of nearby resident Familia Garcito, informed police who threatened to arrest them for drug possession and prank calling the police. Police dismissed the remains of the animal as the result of a dog fight and suggested the owner ran off to either pursue the animal or flee it.
Since then, residents have reported pulling in laundry to find soiled, torn, or bloodied items from the line. restaurant owners report their dumpsters, each hundreds of pounds when empty, toppled and gutted as if by something the size of a black bear.
One of the hapless trio who witnessed the attack on the dog said, "It was very shiny, like a horse in a rubber suit. It's wings were like leather and when out to its side wre twice as wide as it was long. It had steel claws and silver teeth. Eyes...like the inside of a lava lamp."