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 casual conversation with them. He asked the boy if he would like some sweets, and gave him 50 cents to go to the store to get some. He told the girl about a baby doll that he had, and offered to take her to see it. He led her into the woods until they were some way from the road. Then he raped her.

The little girl went home and told her mother what had happened, and her mother called the police, who picked Paul up in his room an hour later. They took him to detective headquarters, where the girl and the boy identified him. He admitted what he had done and pled guilty in court the next morning. There is no record of his sentence.

Eileen was the youngest child of four. Her father, who worked in a steel mill, had died not long after she was born, having been ill for most of the few months that she had been alive. Her mother, a Sunday school teacher, struggled to raise the three children on her own, and had to send Eileen’s oldest brother to a Government-run work camp when he was sixteen.

Paul Leroy Gold did not know any of that, of course. It would probably have made no difference if he had.

In the later forties, when she was in her teens, Eileen became an enthusiastic girl guide. Although she failed to rise to the rank of patrol leader, she was always happy to organise wiener roasts and meetings at her house. She met a boy scout troop leader called Kenneth, and they married when they were eighteen. They set up home with Eileen’s mother in Hemlock street and named their first child James, after Eileen’s brother, who was a pilot in the air force by that time. The following year, they had a daughter, but she died when she was five months old—the same age that Eileen was when her father died.

Years later, Eileen’s husband took aviation training and, in 1968, became a flight instructor at New Castle airport. His choice of career might have been influenced by Eileen’s pilot brother. The two families had, after all, grown remarkably close over the years and had ended up spending more time around each other than might have seemed likely when they had first met. That was largely due to the fact that, in 1958, Eileen’s older sister, Mina, had married Eileen’s husband’s recently widowed father, which would have meant that Kenneth’s step-mother was also his sister-in-law, and Eileen’s sister was also her step-mother-in-law.

Paul Leroy Gold would not have known about any of that either. When he thought about Eileen, he probably pictured her as a child, perhaps still in among the trees off Hemlock street. And how did she picture him, all those years later, once she had a family of her own? With any luck, she wasted no time thinking about him at all.

Sources: New Castle News (15 July 1933 “Births”; 2 Jan 1934 “Deaths of the Day”; 21 March 1938 “Personal Mention”; 28 March 1942 “Quick Arrest of Girl’s Assailant”; 10 Oct 1947 “Girl Scouts”; 10 July 1950 “Hoover-Sickels Exchange Of Vows; 10 June 1968, “Instructs Pilots”; 11 August 1958 “W H Stickels [sic] Will Reside On 4th St After Wedding Trip”)

2 Comments

  1. Kendall says

    Beautifully written and meticulously researched, as always, and I would like to add a bit about Eileen, and about other children, male or female, who are raped. Let’s say “she,” and say with your story. For weeks after the rape, she vomited; she was often nauseated; she often felt dizzy and confused; she lost her ability to concentrate in school and her grades went down. She had nightmares and flashbacks. She was afraid to walk on the streets near where it happened. Certain smells, forest smells or perhaps the smell of semen or of metal, would set off anxiety attacks for the rest of her life. As puberty set in, she had irrational and terrifying fears of sexuality. Her sexual relations with boys and later with men were tentative, frightened, or distrustful. Perhaps, if her husband was very gentle and understanding, and if she was able to talk about the rape with people who could hear and reflect her feelings to her, she may have recovered by the time she was menopausal. Maybe. But she would have been troubled all her life by fears, anxieties, and memories she could not quite identify. She would have waked up in her forties and fifties, even in her sixties, from nightmares, sobbing and out of control.

    I worked for some years as a rape crisis counselor. These are the symptoms we saw, and for me the saddest calls came from older women, even women in their 70s and 80s, who had been raped as children, often by a father or a brother (much more common than stranger-rape), who were still troubled with nausea, eating disorders, anxiety, and flashbacks; who told us that their whole lives had been scarred–their relations with their children suffered, their marriages fell apart (whether or not they divorced), they carried the scars with them to their graves. There’s a helpful article on rape trauma syndrome here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_trauma_syndrome

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