Sunday, February 13, 2011
Leopold & Trudy
A few days ago I posted an entry in which I listed some of the things I learned by reading a newspaper from 50 years ago.
I neglected to mention one of the most surprising stories I found in that newspaper.
That story was headlined "Parolee Leopold Marries Widow" and went on to tell me that "Nathan Leopold was married last Sunday to a San Juan widow who runs a flower shop. The bride [the former Mrs. Trudy Garcia de Quevedo] said yesterday that she is 'very, very happy.'"
I found this rather discombobulating.
The Leopold they're talking about here, after all, was the most notorious Leopold I'd ever heard of - the Leopold of Leopold & Loeb, two of the most famous American murderers of the 20th century.
I'm way too young to recall the OJ Simpson-like circus their trial generated in the 1920s - but I *do* remember watching on TV the 1959 movie entitled Compulsion that they inspired. Maybe you remember it, too. Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell played the murderers; Orson Welles played their defense attorney (based on Clarence Darrow).
I guess I just naturally assumed that Leopold and Loeb had both died in prison. It was a shock to learn that Leopold was actually released in 1958.
And then even more of a shock to learn that he'd found a woman willing to marry him.
I'm not sure how that happens.
"So, Leopold, I hear you once killed a 14-year-old boy just for kicks."
"Yes, Honey, it's true. But that was a long time ago and I promise that I'll never do it again."
"Oh, how nice! I'm not ashamed to say that I really admire a man who's willing to reveal he's no longer a cold-blooded murderer. Let's go meet my folks!"
Leopold was working at a hospital in Puerto Rico as a lab and X-ray technician at the time, so I suppose that made it a bit easier for everyone involved.
Still.... Learning that Loeb had been killed in prison in 1936 made perfect sense. Learning that Leopold's life had taken a much different turn was like reading that John Wilkes Booth had eventually settled down and become a country veterinarian, or that Charles Manson now has a wife and six kids in Cleveland.
Even if stories like Leopold's don't offend one's sense of justice, they do have a way of making life seem more random and dream-like than I'd like.
POSTSCRIPT: Leopold died of a diabetes-related heart attack in 1971. He was 66.
Charles Manson - now 76 - remains incarcerated in California's Corcoran State Prison.
He made the news himself last week when it was reported that an illegal cell phone had been discovered in his cell.
For the second time.
Authorities say he used his first illegal phone to make calls (and send text messages) to people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia. No word on who he may have called more recently, but....
I've been using an answering machine to screen my calls for a long time now because of annoying telemarketers. Stories like this make me want to get rid of my phone altogether.
After all, if Leopold's story makes life seem uncomfortably dream-like, the mere possibility of getting an unsolicited midnight call from ol' Chuckie Boy makes it seem like a nightmare just waiting to happen.
Isn't that what presidential election years are for??
Posted by DJ at 6:35 PM