Month: September 2010

Elizabeth Miller, “Liquor Violation”, 5 June 1948

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In January 1948, a young woman called Anna Grace Robertson suffered fatal brain injuries when she fell from a moving truck – or was pushed out; no one knew for sure. What was certain was that she had been drunk when her skull cracked on the road, and that the man who she had been with, Martin Fobes, had been drunker still, as had most of the witnesses who testified that they’d seen Fobes and […]

William Robert Taylor, “Attemp Rape”, 9 June 1947

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The arresting officer typed “Attemp Rape” on William Robert Taylor’s file card; William signed a statement admitting “molestation”; and the court charged him with “intent to commit morals offense”. Each phrase, from the blunt, abbreviated police term to the expansive, lawyerly phrasing, is stronger and says more than the one that follows it. As the charge becomes formalised, the words contain less and less meaning and take us further away from the night when a […]

Helen Carter, “Inter With Officer”, 22 July 1934

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The New Castle police department’s catalogue of arrests for the last weekend in July, 1934 – the weekend, incidentally, of John Dillinger’s death in Chicago – ran as follows: fighting 1; drunkenness 4; violating parking law 3; drunkenness and disorderly conduct 2; interfering with officer 1. Helen Carter’s case was the last on the list. The circumstances of her arrest are unknown but may have something to do with a man. Helen’s troubles usually did. Helen married […]

Frank Siegel, “intox driver”, 25 September 1946

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Six years into prohibition, Frank Siegel was arrested for possessing liquor. He was a farmer who had come to America from Austria before the first world war, and he tried to explain that he was strictly teetotal and that the alcohol that had been found in his house had been meant for medical purposes – his wife was suffering from some malady that required a local application of the stuff. His attorney backed him up, […]

Paul Leroy Gold, “Rape”, 27 March 1942

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Hemlock street was a dead-end road on a wooded hillside to the west of the Shenango river, occupied by only a few small family homes. Paul Leroy Gold didn’t live there; he had a room a mile away in the centre of town. Yet, on a Friday afternoon in March, 1942, he just happened to be on Hemlock street when a nine-year-old girl named Eileen came by, with a younger boy. Paul struck up a […]