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Friday, June 22, 2012

Murder LA Installment 000001

Elmer McCurdy was a robber. Not a great one -- his final heist netted $46 and some booze, rather than the thousands he expected to find on a train -- but, hey, $40 and 40 ounces ain't a bad day. Except for the part where he got gunned down for it. His last words were reportedly “You'll never take me alive!” He should have been more concerned about where they'd take him dead.

Nobody came to collect Elmer's body so an enterprising undertaker turned him into an attraction: see the embalmed bandit for just a nickel. Did I mention this was 1911? There was no TV and honestly small-town Oklahoma doesn't sound that exciting in present day. It may seem like an odd and morbid leap now but those were the days when folks would mosey on down to nickelodeons to see them newfangled moving pictures which, appropriately, cost a nickel.

There were also heated debates going on about whether women should be allowed to vote -- but enough about my weekend! Back to the story!

Elmer became popular and eventually someone did come to pick up his profitable remains. Perhaps there wasn't a lot of scrutiny about identity at the time, because some guy from a carnival passed himself off as McCurdy's brother and took him on the road.

You've probably been wondering what this has to do with LA. It was very polite of you not to interrupt me with that question. Your patience is about to be rewarded. It's a virtue, after all, and should be encouraged.

Oh, so Brian Dewan wrote a dramatized song about McCurdy, called The Outlaw Cowboy.

So an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man was filmed in Long Beach at Queen's Park (now the Pike at Long Beach) in 1976 when a crewman broke a mannequin's arm and discovered bone. McCurdy had been used as a mere prop for a while, humanity forgotten. It wasn't long before he was identified and then laid to rest back in Oklahoma, with concrete placed over his presumably final resting place.

Commentary Time!

  1. A concrete slab seems like a waste of money. A corpse can't recognize reparations.
  2. If this kind of treatment warrants reparations like concrete to ensure undisturbation then should the Egyptian mummies be laid to rest as well?
  3. There was a time when the Pike was called Nu-Pike. And it was called that because they held a contest to rename it. A contest wherein the winning submission for renaming the Pike was Nu-Pike.
  4. Thanks for reading Nu-Murder in LA!
    McCurdy's last employer.
    Photo from the Long Beach Heritage Museum.