Nothing like a public hanging. Brings neighbors and friends out from miles around. Exciting free entertainment.
Sort of like the days of the Christians and Coliseum. Everyone thrilled. Especially if those who died did it well.
Long time since there has been a public hanging in the United States. The last one was August 14, 1936 in Owensboro, Kentucky. It involved racism, prejudice and sadism. The crowd estimated at 10,000 to 20,000.
The weather good. The aura of death in the air.
Back in the days when public hangings were common place, it was thought by government officials that the hangings would teach the onlookers to avoid crime, not commit evil, etc.
Public executions were not common to the U.S. alone. Then and even to this day they frequently occur in the Middle East. The crowd roars at a beheading or stoning.
Back to Owensboro.
Rainey Bethea was a 22 year old black man. He raped and choked Lischia Edwards, a wealthy 70 year old white woman. He robbed a piece of her jewelry during the happening.
His fate was sealed. Pled guilty . He thought what the hell. Hang me and lets get this over. His problems were only just beginning.
He was still forced to undergo a trial and jury determination. Determination of what? His sentence. Under Kentucky law, a conviction for murder and robbery mandated execution at a State penitentiary. The prosecutor wanted the execution in Owensboro. The public lusted for vengeance re Ms. Edwards death.
The way to get around the problem was to try Bethea for murder alone. Ergo, the need for an actual trial.
A crazy law. However, that is what it was. To follow it would permit an execution in Owensboro.
Black justice prevailed. No reason to determine guilt or innocence. Bethea had already pled guilty to murder and robbery. Under State law, the jury still had to decide punishment for the commission of a single crime. Murder in this instance. State law mandated 10-20 years or death.
It took the jury 5 minutes to come in with a guilty verdict.
Everyone happy, except Bethea and a Florence Thompson. Thompson was the Sheriff. Her husband had been, but died 3 months earlier. She was appointed to complete his term.
Thompson would have been the first woman in the U.S. to have legally executed someone. She did not want the honor.
Her function actually would have been simple. All she had to do was spring the trap so the floor would give way and Bethea would fall to his death.
The populace was not happy with Mrs. Thompson. Her reluctance could mean no public hanging. She received death threats.
It was decided she could appoint someone.
That someone was G. Phil Hanna. Hanna was an Illinois resident. He was an experienced hang man. He had overseen 70 hangings in his life time.
Hanna was a big shot in the hanging business. Top of the pecking order. It was not his responsibility to spring the trap. His function ended when he put the noose around Bethea’s neck.
Hash was brought onto the execution crew. It became Hash’s responsibility to spring the trap.
Party time arrived! The crowd excited. Actually, blood thirsty.
After Hanna made sure the noose was properly affixed, he signaled to Hash to pull the lever. Hash was drunk and did not notice Hanna’s order. Hanna finally yelled “Do it now!” He did. Bethea died. The execution was over. The thousands who had gathered to watch it cheered.
Not all were pleased with the execution. One newspaper described it as a “carnival of sadism.” The reporter covering the story thought the crowd enjoyed Bethea’s death too much.
So did the State of Kentucky. Two years later, the State abolished public executions.
Black Bethea had no chance. In 1936 Kentucky, the moment he killed the white Ms.Edwards he was dead. Only the machinations to get him to the point of his punishment remained.
Last night. My first stop Donna and Terri’s for dinner. An outstanding meal. Donna could have been a celebrity cook. Scallops.
Bear seemed bigger. I asked. He was. Bear is only 18 months old. He’s huge! The vet says he has more growing to do.
My next stop was Captain Tony’s for his 103rd birthday party. The bar tourists. Tables and chairs in the back for the party.
I could not find Captain Tony’s daughter Toni. I left. Toni, I was there!
Captain Tony’s is right in the middle of Lobsterfest. Decided to do it. Walked several blocks. Stands selling cooked lobsters. Done every which way. Plus stands selling hand made items.
Duval a mess of people. Almost like trying to move the night of the Fantasy Fest Parade.
In the street next to Sloppy Joe’s was a bandstand. I was there at the right time. A trio playing and singing. People of all ages going crazy. Some fathers with small kids on their shoulders. Everyone moving to the beat of the music. Even me.
The Keys Weekly reported Lobsterfest as “A Crustacean Celebration.” Describes the event well.
I chatted with some people I knew along the way. Even with Donna and Terri. The photo that was everywhere to be seen. The photo of Trump and Melania at the El Paso hospital. Melania holding a baby. Trump was giving the shot a thumbs up.
The conversations I had. Really not conversations. Grievances. Grievances about Trump’s conduct.
The baby was Paul Anchondo. Paul and his parents will forever be remembered because of what happened to their family during the El Paso shooting.
Paul’s mother fell on Paul to protect him. His father fell on Paul’s mother to protect her. Both were killed.
Paul has no parents. The sadness deep. Hard to imagine. Fortunately, it appears his family is large and Paul will be raised as his parents might have raised him.
So what is wrong with the photo shoot and story behind it?
The baby Paul was not at the hospital. Trump asked that he be brought to the hospital so he and Melania could take a picture with him. Someone went and got Paul and brought him to the hospital.
My conversations last night turned on the appropriateness of the request that the baby be brought to the hospital for a photo shoot. Does not seem right to me. Nor to anyone I spoke with last night. This was not a Trump event. This was his visit to extend sympathy to those alive but hospitalized.
John left very early this morning for Columbia. He is there now. Have fun, my friend
Enjoy your Sunday!