Benjamin Deiger, “Dis Conduct”, 12 March 1947

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Benjamin Deiger’s father delivered candy for J B Nessie’s confectionery for more than fifty years. He started in 1904, making deliveries across Lawrence County by horse-drawn wagon. He switched to a truck in 1918, a year after Benjamin’s birth and a few months before his wife’s death from pneumonia. The truck was a great help, although he missed the horses.

When Benjamin grew up and left school, he got a job in the Red and White restaurant on Jefferson street—spaghetti ravioli a specialty—where he met a waitress named Julia Marsh. They were married when Benjamin was twenty. Benjamin got work in the East Brook quarry and served in the army during world war two. Julia took a job in a school cafeteria in Union township. They set up home in a good-sized family house off Croton avenue, but never had children to fill it.

In June, 1952—the month Julia turned forty—Benjamin got drunk and crashed his car into a factory wall. He walked home and reported it stolen. The police discovered it by the factory. On the dashboard, they found Benjamin’s false teeth, lying where they had landed when they had been knocked out of his mouth. When they expressed doubt that the thief had stolen Benjamin’s dentures as well as his car, Benjamin admitted his ruse. The story was reported by a news syndicate and appeared as a novelty item in papers across America under headlines like “Teeth Play Him False” and “False Teeth Talk Driver Into Trouble”. The New Castle News chose to ignore it entirely, just as it had ignored Benjamin’s arrest for disorderly conduct in 1947. He was a volunteer fireman, a Sunday school teacher, a cub scout leader, a youth counsellor and a war veteran. No one needed to read that kind of thing about him.

Benjamin spent the last years of his life as a trackman with the Penn-Central railroad. In 1968, when he was fifty-one, he had a heart attack while driving a track maintenance truck. He was able to pull off the road, out of the way of traffic, before he died. Julia was killed in a car crash four years later. She was buried beside Benjamin in Castle View cemetery.

Sources: New Castle News (28 Oct 1918, “Deaths Of The Day”; 30 April 1937, “Red And White Restaurant”, advert; 21 Dec 1937, “Marsh-Deiger Wedding Takes Place Monday”; 18 Jan 1939, “Personal Mention”; 4 June 1943, “City Board One Men Are Listed”; 13 Feb 1947, “Delivers Candy For Same Company For 43 Years”; 3 April 1947, “Mayor Makes Police Report”; 3 Dec 1947, “Local Veterans Receive Medals”; 21 April 1952, “Cub Pack 21 Now Registered Here”; 24 Dec 1952, “Wesley Youth Sing Carols Over City”; 16 March 1965, “Deaths Of The Day”; 17 Sep 1968, “Deaths Of The Day”; 7 Oct 1972, “Deaths Of The Day”, “Two From City Killed In Crash”); Lowell Sun, 26 June 1952, “Teeth Play Him False”; Baytown Sun, 27 June 1952, “False Teeth Talk Driver Into Trouble”.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks! I’m a huge fan of your site! The experience is beyond words…thanks for all the insight into these otherwise lost memories! Such a crazy snap of time!

    • Thanks, Ted. Yep, it’s a TON of work, but trawling through old newspapers is one of my favourite things, so it’s not like it’s a ton of HARD work.

  2. johnny says

    nice story. i like the police detective work regarding the false teeth.

    • Yes – actual detective work must be pretty rare in the life of a small town cop, so I bet the guys who found the teeth were thrilled…

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