When Gayle Goad went to war in June, 1943, he was only sixteen—he added two years to his age at the recruiting station. He was sent to Europe to join General Patton’s Third Army, which killed a hundred and forty-four thousand Germans as it fought its way from Normandy to Bohemia, at a cost of over sixteen thousand of its own men. Gayle had served for no more than a few months before he told his officers that he was underage and asked to be sent home, but they saw no sense in losing a trained soldier. In a battle not long after he turned seventeen, Gayle was almost killed when his unit was pinned down by machine-gun fire from above. The bullets struck his gun, knocking it out of his hands. The man next to him was shot dead.
Gayle’s father, Hobert, a conductor on the B&O railroad, died while Gayle was overseas. Hobert’s father, and all the other Goads for the past two hundred years, had farmed tobacco in northern Virginia, on former swampland in the Rappahannock valley that Abraham Goad had bequeathed to his children in 1733, along with a small sum of cash and his Negro servant, Judith. Abraham had been over ninety when he died; Hobert was only forty-eight.
Hobert’s death brought Gayle back to New Castle, in January 1946. A few months later, on the night of his nineteenth birthday, he attacked Harry and Helen Fraschetti, the owners of an inn in Croton who had refused to sell him meat or liquor at three o’clock in the morning. He spent two days in jail before the Fraschettis took pity on him and withdrew the charges. Gayle was sent to the Aspinwall veterans hospital, where he spent thirteen months in psychiatric care. He fell in love with a female psychiatrist and followed her to the west coast when he was released. She did not share his feelings and Gayle returned to New Castle after a spell in Nevada, where he made a living by gambling.
On a Monday afternoon in 1953, Gayle was arrested on North Liberty street for driving an auto while intoxicated—the crime for which his mug shot was taken. He was sentenced to thirty days in jail, out in three if the $100 fine and costs were paid. He spent a great part of the following year in the company of a group of petty criminals—ex-soldiers and boys too young to have fought in the war—who broke into cars on the north hill and grocery stores across the city and tried unsuccessfully to rob a safe in a service station downtown. They were caught in February 1955, when their car broke down after they held up a gas station near Mount Jackson. Gayle fled, heading west, and was arrested in Arizona a week later. He pled guilty to robbing around $3,000-worth of merchandise and was sent to the Western penitentiary for one to two years. He was paroled after ten months.
Gayle got married in his early thirties, but it didn’t last. Gayle was difficult for anyone to be around. For the next twenty-five years, he was a professional gambler, moving constantly between the east and the west. He died in 1984 in a Las Vegas motel room. His body lay for six days before it was found. The funeral home used the $700 that was found in his wallet to pay for his cremation.
He was fifty-nine, according to his birth certificate, or sixty-one, according to the Army.Sources: New Castle News (19 June 1944,“Seventh Ward Personals”; 7 April 1945, “Seventh Ward Personals”; 21 Sep 1946, “Faces Charge After Morning Encounter”; 23 Sep 1946, “Withdraw Charges Against Gayle Goad”; 8 Sep 1953, “Under Arrest”; 4 Feb 1954, “Non-Support Court Held”; 1 Feb 1955, “Lengthy String Of Burglaries Thought Solved”; 7 Feb 1955, “Two Under Arrest”; 29 Nov 1955, “Goad Is Paroled”); Goad family website, mdnestor.com; email from Sheri Goad.
Another very sad story that would never be told, but for your good work. Thank you for digging up the stories of these people who might be said to be the “underside” of history. I just read an interview about a book you might find interesting: http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/rd10q/5126/retribution_v._reform_in_american_justice
I’m putting it on my reading list now.
Thanks, Kendall. And that book looks interesting, too. I’ve read some unbelievably horrible things about the prisons the people in some of these mug shots were sent to…
“Gayle fled, heading west, and was arrested in Arizona a week later.”
I always wonder how they could find people in a country that big. In some of the period films you do see cops routinely checking out anyone they didn’t recognise, perhaps that was it.
I know what you mean. I suspect that, in Gayle’s case, they had a pretty good idea of where to look, based on his habits. I suppose it’s easy to vanish if you change your life utterly and go off to be a salmon canner in Alaska or something; harder if you keep going to your old gambling haunts.
Have you ever considered doing some follow up to contact relatives for their reaction?
Hi Johnny – you mustn’t have read my reply to the comment you left on the previous post! I explained that I’ve been contacted by a few people’s relatives, and I’ve written to a few as well, just in case they are interested in passing on any stories about the person I’m researching. Sometimes they do – this one, Gayle Goad, for example, was helped enormously by an exchange of emails with his brother’s son’s wife. I hope to get in touch with more…
anychance you’ll be doing more in that vein? I wonder if the local paper would be interested in your website?
Way ahead of you! I went to New Castle in the summer and talked to all sorts of people, including the paper. Here’s the story: http://bit.ly/qMhtAQ
And I took a load of pictures of things of interest in town, too. Here’s the Flickr set: http://bit.ly/pSsISz
ha ha, yes you are way ahead of me!
as always, great stuff.
what was the reaction from the locals?
They were pretty cool. The local historical society people were incredibly helpful and showed me lots of amazing archive material, and a journalist from the News, Pat, took us around and showed us all the sights. It was great!