SEPTEMBER 2017

SEPTEMBER  2017
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO - STANDARD OIL. Still dominating strangling the nation, a century later.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

AMERICAN NARCISSIST

I can see him clearly, as if he was standing next to me at this moment. And yet his image remains hazy. According to his drivers' license, he was five feet, nine inches tall, weighed 150 pounds and had gray hair. He was also described as “ ...a slight hollow-chested man”, of 46, with thin lips. And yet he remains an enigma. A neighbor, when shown several photographs of him, said, “ "I knew him well and he never looked like that.” And he was not just a physical enigma. Howard Kittle, the Clinton County agent and Farm Bureau manager, received a letter from him, and admitted that if anyone else had written it “I would have thought sure he was insane.'” But that was before - when he was an elected community leader, a trusted guardian of the communities' wealth and its future. Afterward - the Clinton County Republican-News was forced to wonder, “Is the building of a modern institution which equips children to meet the problems of the world a burden - or is it a privilege?” You see, the man at issue was a anti-tax warrior and an American narcissist.
Bath in 1927 was a little farm town of about 300 people 10 miles northeast of Lansing, Michigan. “(It) had a ( grain) elevator, a little drugstore, and you knew everybody within 20 miles” said a life long resident. In 1922 rural Clinton County closed its scattered one room school houses. They used $8,000 of their own hard earned money to buy five acres of ground just south of Bath. They borrowed $35,000 to build a two story Consolidated School building. Here, classes would be divided by ages, to protect the younger children from bullies. With fewer teachers, higher standards could be required if the instructors, even a college teaching degree. And amenities such as a library, lunch programs, athletics, music and art were added. And buses picked children up at their front doors and returned them safely home each night. It was the foundation for the secure world we grew up in. And it was not cheap.
The future always costs. You either invest in it, or if you refuse, it proves much more expensive trying to catch up.  In 1922 property taxes in Clinton county were $12.26 per thousand dollars of valuation ($160 today, or over $16%). In 1923 those taxes had gone up by half to $18.80 ($235 today). This was not the decision of a few liberals. This was debated for years within the community. And over time the decision was to invest in the future of Clinton County, in the counties' children, and spend the money. Three years later, eager to eliminate the debt quickly, the elected leaders of Clinton County paid off $7,200 of their obligation, and taxes topped out at one dollar higher (to $240 per thousand in today's dollars). It was expected taxes would now start to drop, but that did not take into account the rising inflation of the late 1920's, and the selfishness of one egomaniac who chose not to have a future.
I shall not use his name because of something Neil Kaye, forensic psychiatrist at Jefferson Medical College told Time Magazine in April of 2007. He said, “We glorify and revere these seemingly powerful people who take life. Meanwhile, I bet you couldn't tell me the name of even one of (serial killer) Ted Bundy's victims.” So let me just share headlines from the New York Times, dated Wednesday, May 18th, 1927, to explain what this man did. “Maniac blows up school, kills 42, mostly children; Had protested high taxes...He then kills himself and 3 others by Dynamiting Auto...Children Pinned in Debris. Others hurled against walls or out windows – Searchers still hunt for missing. Agonizing scenes in yard. Distraught parents find little ones dead beneath blankets...”. The early numbers were wrong, of course. The maniac killed eight adults and 34 children at the school, that day. The last little victim, nine year old Richard Fitz, would die of infection caused by his injuries, a week short of a year after the Bath School Disaster, and that was the name of one of this selfish bastard's victims.
Just before he murdered the children, the maniac had bludgeoned his wife to death, restrained all his animals in a burning barn, killed every fruit tree on his farm, and burned all his expensive farm equipment. Interestingly, it was figured by the cleanup crews, that he could have paid off his mortgage and his property taxes by selling most of his well maintained farm equipment, which, according to his neighbors, he rarely used. Neighbor M.J. “Monty” Ellsworth wrote later, “He was at the height of his glory when fixing machinery or tinkering...He spent so much time tinkering that he didn't prosper.” The maniac also stood out, as a farmer, for his meticulous appearance. He changed his shirt quickly should a spot of dirt appear on it and was often seen sitting on his front porch, in a smoking jacket, puffing on a cigar. But his primary interest, his obsession, was in cutting taxes.
The maniac had been elected to the school board in 1924, two years after the new school had opened and the first election after the new higher tax rate had been announced. In 1925, after the death of Maude Detluff, the board's treasure, he had been appointed to fill that position. His book keeping was, like his appearance, meticulous. After his suicide, his books showed “a long and detailed explination” of a 22 cent discrepancy. But in the spring of 1926, when he ran for election to the job, the voters had rejected him. Once again, the majority approved investment in the future About this time the maniac stopped paying the mortgage or insurance on his farm. The previous owner, his wife's relatives, eventually began foreclosure proceedings His crops began to rot in the fields.
There is a story that decades earlier, a promising career as an electrician in St. Louis had been cut short by a fall and a serious head injury. So farming was the maniac's second choice. He married and moved to Clinton county right after the First World War. He might have over paid for his farm, because land prices were inflated at time. And his wife was afflicted with tuberculosis, a wasting disease. The Klu Klux Klan would even alleged his Catholicism encouraged him to destroy the school because it was not a Catholic school. But even if all of that were true, none of it would justify the cold blooded murder of 36 innocent children, and eight adults. And all the maniac was focused on was his high taxes.
Before the school was built, he had opposed it. Once it was decided to build it, he insisted it should be a 10 grade institution, instead of 12. He opposed the inclusion of a library, or athletics or music. And he lost each argument. Once the building was constructed, he had enough supporters to win election to the school board, where his obstinacy continued. He even opposed giving the superintendent a paid vacation each year, and then argued it should only be one week, not two. And as he lost each of these arguments, his obsession grew, day by day. Words used to describe him during this time were “surly”, “obstinate”, “impatient” “arrogant” “closed mouth”. Eventually he began to invest his money not on his farm, or his wife, but on explosives, and to sneak them into the basement of the school house, rig them with a timer and set them to explode early on a Wednesday morning, just after classes had begun.
The day after the bombing while still in shock and grief, the Clinton Country Republican ran an editorial, which explains, far better than I ever could, the connection between the maniac's crime and his anti-tax fever. “That he was insane there is little doubt. But he was not always insane. To start with he was merely antagonistic. Then he became radical.. He was the victim of the progress of his own lack of balance...What a terrible price to pay for narrow-mindedness. What an awful calamity for one peaceful little community to bear for one man's lack of ordinary American ideals...Never before have we known of aversion of the cost of education taking such terrible form. There are, however, many people who unthinkingly hamper and discourage the progress of good schools and other institutions for the welfare and happiness of the public. What are we going to do about it?”
It is almost a century later, and the question begs to be asked of the Tea Party and the radicals who have taken over the Republican Party - those who object to investing in the future because they do not believe they have one. What are the rest of us going to do about it?
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MISSING PLANE

I find the two mysteries tragically familiar. It was after midnight, Sunday March eighth, local time when the Boeing jet roared down runway 32 right, before heading north toward the Gulf of Thailand. And it was just about midnight Tuesday July Second, Greenwich Mean Time, when the Lockheed Electra lifted off the grass airfield twelve time zones east of Greenwich, in the center of the village of Lae, Papua New Guinea, before climbing eastward out over the Solomon Sea.
Both machines were state of the art, the best available design, with years of dependable service behind them.  Both carried fuel enough for their intended 2,000 mile flights. Both pilots were well trained and experienced. And at first the two flights were routine, on course and on time. And then, suddenly, both planes were gone. Vanished. Poof! As if with the wave of a magician's hand. And if in retrospect neither search was as extensive and exhaustive as it originally seemed, this may not bode well for finding Malaysian flight 370, because almost eighty years later we still don't know what happened to Amelia Earhart.
Five hours after take off the thirty year old aviatrix reported back to Lea, via her 50 watt transmitter, that she was crossing 150 degrees east longitude, and 7 degrees south of the equator at 10,000 feet. The Electra's estimated ground speed was 140 knots (160 mph), the air temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit and visibility limited only by the humidity. She signed off with her call sign, KHAQQ. Three hours later, in the dark and right on time, Earhart's Electra flew over the United States Navy tug, Ontario. But it was here that things started to go wrong.

The tug was right where it was supposed to be, at 165 degrees 20 minutes east, and 2 degrees 59 minutes south, approximately the half way point for this leg of Earhart's round the world flight. The seas were calm, with the Ontario reporting visibility of at least 40 miles, cloud cover of only 20 - 40%. But Amelia was expecting the Ontario to broadcast the letter “N” in Morse code (dash -dot) for five minutes, beginning ten minutes after the hour, on 400 kilocycles. However the Ontario was instead broadcasting the letter” A” (dot-dash), every hour on the half hour, at 7500 kilocycles. They never contacted each other, but at 0800 GMT, Amelia reported back to Lea, that she was at 12,000 feet, on time and on course.

Despite the miscue, we know Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were on time and course because they overflew the tramp steamer Mytlebank, about a hundred miles northeast of the Ontario. The third mate heard the plane to his starboard, at just about the same time the ship's radio operator heard Amelia broadcast, “Ship in sight, ahead”. That encounter, ten hours out of Lea, had Earhart and Noonan flying into the rising sun of July 2, 1937, well over half way toward their destination across the international date line, where it was just Tuesday morning on tiny Howland Island.

It was a curious target. The coral atoll was just a mile long and about a half mile wide. It's highest point was just nine feet above the surf. To spot it from the air, you had to practically be parked on its crushed coral runway.  But it was United States territory, its bird droppings mined by American nitrate companies since the middle of the 19th century. 

Howland was occupied in three month rotations by four students of an Hawaiian boys school, and they called their tiny collection of huts Itascatown, after the 250 foot long Coast Guard cutter that supplied the outpost. And it was the Itasca, anchored just outside the western reef , commanded by Walter Thompson, that was supposed use it's two hundred foot mast to make radio contact and guide Earhart's plane to a safe landing.
The sun rose over Howland Island at 17:15 GMT. Forty-five minutes later, with Amelia reporting she was within 100 miles of the Itasca, radioman 3rd class William Galten heard Amelia' asking, “Please take bearings on us and report in half an hour."  It was a simple request, but Galten would be unable to comply, because the Itasca's CGR-321 transmitters did not have any directional capability or meters on 3105 frequency to indicate her signal strength.
Rather, Galten estimated the Electra's distance based on the volume of Amelia's voice, which Galten labeled as a four out of a possible five. She was close, but it was purely a subjective measurement. To get direction to her signal and thus a better distance, required the use of a separate unit on the Itasca's bridge, operated by radio man third class George Thompson. But he found Amelia's broadcasts were too short to give him a fix.  At its core, the problem was not merely technical, but generational.
The established military and shipping industry, traveling at ten to twenty miles an hour, still relied on Morse code, because it provided longer range at lower power (and lower frequencies). But aviators, like Earhart, traveling at over a hundred miles an hour, preferred the shorter range of higher frequency voice communications. This mismatch manifested itself when Galten was forced to tell Amelia, “Cannot take bearing on 3105 (kilocycles)...Please send on 500 (kilocycles) or do you wish take bearing on us?” At 18:58 GMT Amelia asked Itasca to send signals at 500, but three minutes later radioed, “We received your signals but unable to get a minimum. Please take bearing on us and answer 3105 with voice.”
Nothing was working, and panic began to mount on the Itasca. Forty minutes later Earhart was reduced to telling Galten, “We are on the line 157, 337. Will repeat this message on 6210”. Now she was introducing a third, even higher frequency, on which the Itasca equipment could not broadcast voice. The frustration was palpable. One five seven and three three seven were north, south compass headings, and both passed directly over Howland Island. Amelia seemed so close and yet out of reach.
Captain Thompson (above) felt the urge to do something, to move. At 22:10 GMT, when Thompson figured Amelia's fuel would have run out, Itasca raised anchor and made steam toward the north and west, where Thompson thought there was enough cloud cover that might have hidden Howland Island from Amelia's eyes. But after three fruitless days, he switched his search to the north and east of Howland Island. When that also failed, the USS Colorado was ordered to take over the search.
Joined by the aircraft carrier Lexington, and even two Japanese ships, the searchers spent 19 days covering some 94,800 square miles in a surface search, and another 167,481 square miles by air. It was a week after Amelia disappeared, that a search plane from the Colorado, piloted by Lt. John Lambrecht, flew over a small island on the 157 line, 360 miles south east of Howland. The pilot reported, “signs of recent habitation were clearly visible” despite the island having been uninhabited for forty years. However “repeated circling...failed to elicit any answering wave...” That tiny oasis was named Gardner Island, and no one inspected it on foot for another 30 months.
After 19 days, and $4 million (64 million in today's dollars), the search was called off. Amelia Earhart was legally declared dead on January 5, 1939. And on December 20th of that same year, 20 Gilbertese natives were landed on Gardner Island, for the same reason the Hawaiian students had occupied Howling - to establish an international legal claim.
It was the British government's last attempt at empire expansion, and was headed by colonial officer Gerald Gallagher. The next year (1940) Gallagher reported finding a partial skeleton “possibly that of a woman," and “an old-fashioned sextant box” on the island's southeast corner. Back in Britain, Nazi planes were bombing London, and the report was given little thought. The bones were shipped off to colonial offices on Fiji, where they were given a cursory examination and then lost.
Were the bones those of Amelia Earhart? Maybe. But unless the coral encrusted remains of her Electra reside 600 feet below the waves breaking along the reef surrounding Gardner Island, we will never know for certain.
There have been no humans living on Gardner Island since 1963, and after 1979 its name was changed to Nikumaroro, as the British Empire finally retreated from the Pacific. Its new native governors abandoned the atoll to its large land crabs and birds. And if they know what happened to Amelia Earhart, they are not talking, anymore than the creatures who survive in the dark compressed depths 12,000 feet under the southern Indian Ocean are sharing the fate of the passengers and crew of  Malaysian flight 307.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

APRIL FOOL


I don’t approve of practical jokes. I seen nothing humorous in having your shoes set afire while you are wearing them. And dribble glasses are not only not practical they are also not funny - especially on “April Fools Day”, when every glass is a dribble glass and every shoe is a potential combustion chamber. And it turns out that this celebration of sociopathic behavior was invented by the French, a nation without humorous inclinations since Moliere slipped on a banana peel in 1673. But the story of April Fool’s Day began over a century before that comedic-tragic event, when in 1564 King Charles IX decided to follow Pope Gregory’s suggestion and begin the calendar on January rather than April. Why the French originally celebrated New Years Day on April 1st, I have no idea.
Now, in the 16th century, France had only one road. It came out of Paris, turned left, looped all the way around the city and re-entered on the other side of town. This tragic design error,(the world’s first Traffic Circle) made communication with the majority of the nation difficult (and introduced the phrase “Out-of-the-Loop”), and when combined with the French telephone system - which was in no better shape in the 16th century than it is today - meant that a lot of peasants never got the King’s memo concerning the calendar adjustment.
So as they had every year, thousands of these ill-informed peasants journeyed to Paris during the last week of March and on what they thought was New Year’s Eve, gathered in Bastille Square to say bonjour to 1565 and watch the guillotine drop on 1566. In unison they gleefully chanted, “Cing, quartre, trios, deux, un” and…No guillotine. No satisfying plop of a head into the basket. No Campaign corks popping. No le Dick Clark. Instead of cheers and shouts of glee, mass ennui broke out among the masses. Now anyone who has experienced the Parisian version of “good manners” can imagine what came next; the locals mocked the bewildered peasants and made them feel like complete Americans,…ah, I mean,fools. But the way they did it makes the word “odd” seem inadequate.
For reasons beyond understanding the Parisians snuck up behind their confused country cousins, surreptitiously stuck a paper fish to the bumpkin’s backs and then shouted in a loud voice, “Poisson d’Avril!”, which translates as “April Fish!”, and then collapsed in raucous laughter and shouts of “tres bien.”
Why would they shout “April Fish!”? I have no idea. But, perhaps the first Parisian to label his victim an "April Fool” immediately received a mouth full of fist, while calling the victim an "April Fish” confused him just long enough so that the prankster could escape.
I have long thought that this uncharacteristic outbreak of French “humor” was actually inspired by Charles’ Italian Queen, Catherine de Medici, who was already famous throughout Europe for her gastronomical gags,  such as her duck a la cyanide with a hemlock sauce. Only a Medici could see the humor in humiliating the people who handled your food.
But however it started, the Parisians knew a good time when they saw it and they sent peasants on “fool’s errands”, and tricked peasants with “fool’s tales”, until every April 1st, France reverberated with gales of laughter and shouts of “Poisson d’Avril!” Good times. But eventually the Parisian bullies grew bored with taunting the unresponsive peasants and in 1572 they shifted their attentions to the Huguenots. But by then the tradition of humiliating people for your own amusement on the first day of April had become generally popular. And like Disco music and Special Federal Prosecutors, once invented some institutions have proven impossible to stop.
This holiday for the humor-impaired spread around the globe with the new calendar like a fungus, infecting and evolving a little in each afflicted nation. The Germans added the “Kick Me” sign, and a second day which they call “Taily Day”, to further enjoy the frivolity of bruised buttocks. Ahh, those Germans.
In Portugal, today’s innocent victim is hit with flour, sometimes while it is still in the bag - the flour not the victim. In Scotland the target is humiliatingly referred to as an “April Gawk” (?!), in England as a “Noodle” and in Canada as an “American.” I would have expected mental health professionals to call for a stop to this public insanity but evidently they are too busy setting their patients’ shoes on fire.
Not even a war could snap the world out of this cruel insanity. In what may have been the first time a practical joke qualified as a war crime, on April 1, 1915 a French pilot buzzed the German trenches and dropped a huge bomb, which bounced. Four years later the citizens of Venice awoke on April 1, to discover their sidewalks littered with cow manure, the "gag" of a visiting Englishman, Horace de Vere Cole, with too much time on his hands and too much money in his pockets. But then what can you expect from a man who would honeymoon on April Fool's day? Bad humor moved into the electronic age in 1957 when BBC Television News broadcast a report about the successful and bountiful Swiss harvest of spaghetti.  On April Fool's Day in 1992, National Public Radio in the United States, broadcast the announcement that Richard Nixon was coming out of retirement to run again for President, under the slogan, "I didn't do anything wrong and I won't do it again."
Some years later, ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Company, carried a report that the nation was about to switch to "Metric Time". The next morning would begin at midnight, but each minute would be made up of 100 milidays, each hour of 100 centedays, and each day would consist of 20 decadays. It is alleged that  the following morning nobody in Australia showed up for work on time, but it is unclear if that was because the April Fools joke worked, or merely because everybody in Australia still had a hangover, mate  
Admit it; there is no defense against April Fool tomfoolery, except a preemptive strike. So button up your top button, zip up your pants, tie your shoes and look out for that cat. Load up your water gun, warm up your fart cushion and repeat after me; “Poison d’Avril, sucker!”
Funny, huh?
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ETERNAL TRIANGLE Pt Three


I can’t think of a single love triangle that turned out productively for the participants, from King David who did not let morality stand between him and separating Bathsheba from her husband, Uriah the Hittite...
...through King Arthur, who let morality prevent him from separating his beloved Guinevere from her lusted after Lancelot....
, through the swelled egos of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Rielle Hunter...
...and winding down the Appalachian Trail with the romantically addled Maria Belen Chapur, Jenny Sanford and the man in the middle, Governor Mark Sanford. And the “ménage-a-fools” between “Big” Jim Fisk, Josie Mansfield and Edward Stokes repeated the same sad story, with an unfortunate familiar final twist.
These self destructive convergences usually leave the participants exhausted and mumbling some absurd self justification, like “The heart wants what the heart wants”, when, in truth, the more apt description might be, “Stupid is as stupid does.” It needs to be noted that none of these disasters, which we all are suffer from, from time to time, could occur without the active participation of all members. The truth is the participants may be helpless, but they are never blameless.
“Big” Jim’s friends, who knew his love letters to Josie to be harmless drivel, urged him to publish them first, and thereby remove their threat. But this “Prince of the Erie Railroad”, this master of Wall Street, this robber baron supreme, refused to do so. Instead he bemoaned his fate, “By the Lord, this is my heart that you want me to make a show of, and I won't.” He was, however, willing to make a lesser show of it, slower and more deliciously painful, and far more dramatically detailed, by not paying the $200,000 demanded by Stokes (which "Big Jim" could easily afford) or by publishing the letters himself, which might even have made a profit.  So, the curtain went up on the Third Act of the melodrama
About one on the afternoon of January 6, 1872, “Big” James Fisk got the word that a grand jury had indicted Josie and Edward Stokes for attempting to blackmail him. He was in the offices of the Erie Railroad, on the second floor of his own Grand Opera House, when he heard. At about 3:30 pm, a visiting friend, gambler John Chamberlain, was leaving the Opera House, when he saw a carriage crossing the intersection of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street. As the carriage clipped past him, Chamberlain saw, peeking out from the passenger compartment, and staring up at the Erie Corporate offices, Edward Stokes.
Ten minutes later “Big” Jim Fisk was in his own carriage, heading uptown, to 44th and Amity Street, later to be renamed 3rd Avenue, to the Grand Central Hotel, around the corner from “Commodore” Vanderbilt’s brand new Grand Central Railroad Station (above). As he entered the hotel “Big” Jim recognized a porter by the name of John Redmond, and asked him to contact one of the guests, a daughter of Samuel B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph. The lady was living at the hotel, and had recently suffered a death in her family. Big Jim wanted to inquire as to her condition.  Redmond followed “Big” Jim up to the stairs toward the second floor lobby.
As they turned the corner at the base of the stairwell they were confronted by Edward Stokes, waiting at the top of the stairs. Arm outstretched, he was pointing a handgun down the stairs - at them.  “Big” Jim Fisk stopped, halfway up. Edward said firmly, “I’ve got you now,” and fired twice. Bang! Bang! Both shots hit Fisk, who cried out, “For God’s sake, will anybody save me?” Redmond, the porter, dove for cover. Fisk staggered back to the foot of the stairs, where Redmond and other employees helped him back up the stairs and into an empty room. He never left it.
A bellboy followed Edward (above), and the shooter was arrested trying to leave the hotel a few minutes later. As the police were transporting Edward to jail, he asked if he could go into a bar for a drink. The answer was “no”. He later asked his jailer, “What do you think, is the man seriously injured?”
The man was. To one visitor, “Big” Jim explained he felt as if he had just eaten green apples. “I've got a belly-ache,”  he said. The gambler, John Chamberlain, did not believe it when he was told of the shooting. “I’ll lay $500 against $100 that it's false.” He would have lost that bet.
Josie, the self-centered center of this melodramatic triangle affair, had no such doubts. Shocked when a newspaperman told her of the shooting, she blurted out, “Edward must have been insane!” Then she immediately added, “I wish you to understand that I am in no way connected with this sad affair.” And finally she insisted, “I have only my reputation to maintain.” Yes, it was a little late for Josie's reputation, and to contend she had not connection to what had happened,  but she still had hopes. Josie always had hopes
“Big” Jim Fisk, who had long ago lost his reputation because of his love for Josie, died at 10:45p.m. the next night. They took his body back to his childhood home, in Brattleboro, Vermont, for burial.
The newspapers were endless in their praise of the man, as unrelenting as they had been, just days before, in their ridicule of him. His love letters, published a week after his death, were so banal, that they created barely a ripple.
As writer Edmund Stedman noted, “"Had Stokes been an illiterate laborer, he would have dangled in a noose two months later.” But Edmund's family was still wealthy enough that it took three trials to convict him of manslaughter, and even then he was sentenced to only six years in Sing Sing prison. He was a popular and entitled inmate, and served only four years. Once out he operated restaurants, and ended his life locked in lawsuits with the very people who had rescued him financially after prison. He died in 1901, at the age of 61.
For Josie Mansfield, the loss of “Big” Jim meant not just the loss of financial security, but, more importantly, the loss of drama in her life. Not that she didn't go looking for it. She testified at Edmund’s first trial, but was unavailable for the two that followed. She sued “Big” Jim’s widow, Lucy, for that $50,000 she still alleged "Big" Jim had invested for her, but that case was thrown out of court. She moved to Paris. She married a rich alcoholic in 1891, and divorced him six years later. In 1897 she moved to Boston to live with a sister, then to Philadelphia to live with another sister. In 1899 she moved to Watertown, South Dakota to live with her brother. She died, back in Paris at the American Hospital, in 1931, having out lived her sugar daddy James, “Big” Jim Fisk, by a lifetime - 60 years. She even outlived the man she had overthrown a fortune for, Edmund Stokes – by 20 years.
At times the three had been a national laughingstock, a pubic delinquency and a media soap opera on a par with Jesse James, Sandra Bullock and Michelle "Bombshell" McGee (et al), with the minor addendum that one member of this most recent triangle seems to have insisted upon being an actual adult. And that brought the entire drama to an early conclusion, much to the media's regret.
But fear not, it will not be long before another trio of thespians feels compelled to raise the curtain on another performance of the same play, and carry the character arc to its illogical and inevitable dramatic conclusion, again. And again. And again. To quote Charley Harper, from "Two and a-Half Men"; Love is not blind. It's retarded."
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