What do you get when you create a genetic cross between Coco Chanel and Ed Gein?
Why, Miss Myrtle E. Downing, of course. (The Montgomery Advertiser, November 13, 1900)
Miss Myrtle E. Downing, a pretty Madison girl just out of the high school, has brought upon herself and her family no end of comment and upon herself not a little envy on the part of her schoolmates. And all this was because Myrtle came downtown one day and gleefully exhibited upon her little feet a pretty pair of slippers which, she explained to her shocked friends, were made of human leather. Since that day she has been talked about until now she finds her notoriety quite embarrassing.Myrtle may have been a "general favorite," but I'm betting that when she felt her wardrobe needed replenishing or her bedroom decor updated, her friends and family all ran for their lives.
Myrtle could see nothing wrong in wearing the slippers, for indeed they are beauties, being of a light tan color and very pliable and durable. The slippers tell a tale both of tragedy and comedy, and the story of the grewsome particulars of it led a local paper to devote a long editorial to them deprecating the tendency toward regarding life as a joke.
Last winter an unknown man was found shot to death in Chicago. The body found its way into a medical college, where Myrtle has a student friend. Knowing her fondness for the bizarre, he "skinned" one of the man's legs, had the hide tanned and sent the piece to Miss Downing. She took it to a local Crisipin and ordered a pair of slippers made. After they were ready she calmly informed him that it was human leather that he had been working upon. She wears the slippers now and takes delight in frightening her more sensitive friends by their touch. She still has a large piece of the leather left and is "thinking up" something to make of it, perhaps a pocketbook.
But these slippers of human leather are only a part of an interesting museum of Miss Downing's, whose owner seems to be absolutely devoid of the superstitious fear connected with anything human that has been touched by the hand of death. Her collecting penchant seems to run to the daring one of human odds and ends, for a human ear perks gayly upon the wall of her bedroom, while a grinning skull looks down upon her from her dresser.
Miss Downing's sensibility and refinement are as marked as her beauty despite all this, and she is a general favorite. With her parents she belongs to the Presbyterian Church. Her father is a traveling man. She is the idol of her mother, who says she is a good student and a good church worker. She sees nothing wrong in anything her daughter has done and regrets the publicity which has been given it.
[Note: Miss Downing and Dr. John Osborne were clearly made for each other.]