AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY

Spent the evening at home yesterday. I was watching  TV from the comfort of my bed. The Turner Classic Channel ran the 1951 hit movie A Place in the Sun. The movie starred Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Cliff and Shirley Winters. A great movie! Cliff and Winters received Academy Award nominations for their performances.

However from my perspective, it was not the movie itself that was important. It was what had given birth to it. Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

It was 1906. Chester Gillette had impregnated a young lady of lesser means. He was in love with another. A woman of means. He took the poor girl friend out in a rowboat on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The boat capsized. The young lady drowned. Gillette was tried for her murder and found guilty. He was electrocuted in 1908.

The events of the tragedy occurred in places I am very familiar with. The Adirondack Mountains are an hour’s drive from my home town of Utica. I have visited Big Moose Lake many times. The trip to Big Moose Lake was an overnight one for Gillette and his lady friend. They stayed that night in Utica.

Big Moose Lake was/is located in Herkimer County. Herkimer County adjoins my home county of Oneida. The Herkimer County Court House is located in Herkimer. Herkimer is all of a 15 mile drive from Utica.

The court room where the trial took place still stands. The same as in 1908 when the trial took place, except for the ceiling. I have been told the ceiling was a colorful masterpiece. For whatever reason, it was covered over.

I tried many cases in my  forty plus years career as an attorney in that court room.

Gillette was electrocuted in the Auburn State Penitentiary in Auburn. I tried some cases in Auburn, also. Auburn is the city where my Syracuse basketball friends Dan and Lisa grew up.

While in prison, Gillette kept a diary and wrote letters to his sister. The diary and letters were donated to the Hamilton College Library. Hamilton College is in Clinton. A mere 15 mile drive from Utica, also.

Many were my connections with Hamilton College. A first class liberal arts institution. I was privileged to represent Hamilton College in several significant lawsuits. I attended many weddings, parties, lectures and special dinners at the College over the years.

Yesterday was another open house. I had to disappear for several hours.

My weekly KONK Life column was due to be sent to the editor. I took my computer and notes with me to the Plantation Coffee House. The column was previously researched during the week. It only remained to be written. It took just under four hours to put together.

The article is about St. Valentine’s Day. A bit of the beginning and a bit of the end. How it got started and where it is in Saudi Arabia today. Its beginnings may surprise you.

I lunched while at the Coffee House. A toasted bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Good!

Then to Don’s Place for some Sunday afternoon fun. I was looking for Toni. She is a die hard Kentucky fan. I wanted to commiserate with her. Kentucky lost Saturday night. Toni was not there.

A good crowd. Chatted  a bit with Don, David, Stan, and Dougie while watching some Olympic hockey. Everyone giving me a hard time about Syracuse. Lucky, lucky, lucky! Who was I to argue with them. I let them talk. Everyone is waiting for that first defeat. Me, too.

Needed some groceries. Stopped at Publix on the way home. Ran into Susan. A former St. Paul’s Church choir/musical person and Thursday night bocce player. A lovely Key West woman inside and out!

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

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