"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Dorothy Carlson McClure had reason to want to start her life anew. She had a somewhat disreputable past, featuring a string of marriages of dubious legality, so when yet another man entered her life--a man who threatened to reveal her troubled history to the world--she, like so many people, tried to make a clean break with her past.

The trouble is, she did it in one of the most inept ways imaginable.

Early in 1928, a young woman took a train to Cleveland, Ohio, and entered the local charity hospital. Ten days later, she gave birth to a daughter. She died the next day. The patient had refused to say anything about herself, other than that her name was "Mary Lou," which was probably an alias.  She admitted she was wearing a wedding ring only "so people would think I was married."  It was looking like the unfortunate young mother’s remains would find an obscure anonymous grave.

Before she could be buried, however, a woman who had read in the papers about the sad little mystery went to the police. “This girl was my sister,” she informed them. “Her name was Dorothy Carlson McClure.”

The woman was, accordingly, buried under that name.

Whoever she really was.

Yes, Dorothy, who had probably seen way too many film melodramas, decided she could only live anew by convincing the world she was dead.

What she wasn’t counting on was that when she “identified” the body, news photographers would be there to snap her picture. And put it in the papers when they announced the “solution” to the mystery. And that a neighbor of hers would see it. And that said neighbor would go to the police and spill the beans.

I have no idea what became of McClure after this episode hit the papers, but I hope she found some less creative, and more effective, means of making a new woman of herself.

As for "Mary Lou," she unfortunately went back to being nameless. Police were unable to find any clue who she was or where she came from.

The last reports of her baby daughter described the child as lying in a crib in the hospital, “healthy and happy, blandly indifferent to the tangled circumstances that accompanied her birth.”


  1. I don't know her name but I'm pretty sure the daughter is Rosalie Poe. At least that's what Susan told me.


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