Masquerade Merrymaking – WIF Into History

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Infamous Impostors

in History

For most of us, the idea of pretending to be someone else day in and day out sounds exhausting, if not impossible. Not for everyone, though. Some people slip into a new identity as easily as you slip into a new pair of shoes. In fact, history is full of impostors who donned new guises and successfully pretended to be someone else entirely for money, power, or, in some cases, just for fun.

8. Lord Gordon-Gordon

The real name of Lord Gordon-Gordon is lost to history, but we know that he was a 19th century British con man who was successful in impersonating a Scottish landowner. He swindled many people, most notable being one of the richest men in America, the notorious railroad magnate Jay Gould.

When the con man decided to adopt the guise of a Scottish aristocrat around 1868, he became Lord Glencairn in London. With the right look and the proper demeanor, he slowly gained the trust of others and persuaded them to grant him money loans or services on credit. When the fraud was exposed in 1870, Lord Glencairn disappeared from London and Lord Gordon-Gordon emerged in America.

There, he was even more successful as real Scottish lords were few and far between. He was aided by the fact that Gordon-Gordon was able to deposit tens of thousands of dollars in a bank. It was the money left over from his British swindles, but it instantly gave him credibility.

He settled in Minnesota and announced his intention to invest in railroads. This way, he made the acquaintance of Jay Gould and convinced him that he owned a lot of stock in the Erie Railroad. Keen to do business together, Gould gave him half a million dollars as a sign of good faith – some in money, the rest in stock. This was intended as a guarantee – Lord Gordon-Gordon was only supposed to hold onto the money, not spend it. However, when he began selling stock shares, Gould realized he had been swindled. The industrialist tried to settle matters in court, but the “lord” fled to Canada.

This almost caused an international incident as Gould’s associates crossed the border and tried to kidnap Gordon-Gordon to bring him to justice. They were caught and arrested and a U.S. militia wanted to invade Canada to secure their release.

The con man thought himself safe in Canada, but authorities eventually decided to extradite him. Not wanting to face prison, Lord Gordon-Gordon shot himself on August 1, 1874.

7. Wilhelm Voigt

On October 16, 1906, a German captain walked into an army barracks in Berlin and commandeered ten soldiers who accompanied him by train to the town of Köpenick east of the capital. There, the captain placed the mayor and the treasurer under arrest for embezzlement and confiscated over 4,000 marks from the local treasury as evidence. At first, this sounded like a typical corruption bust, but there was a catch – the “army captain” was just some guy dressed in uniform who changed in his civilian clothes and left with the money.

His name was Wilhelm Voigt. In his late 50s at that time, he had spent half his adult life in and out of prison for various crimes. In 1906, he assembled a full captain’s uniform by buying various used parts from different shops around Berlin. He looked, walked and talked like an officer and, for German soldiers, that was enough apparently. They followed his orders without question, even the sergeant who allowed his men to travel with Voigt.

The impostor was caught ten days after his impersonation and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, unlike most other con men, Voigt’s brazen actions amused the public, both in the German Empire and abroad. He became regarded more as a folk hero than a criminal and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him after two years.

Voigt was keen to take advantage of his newfound popularity and began making appearances in theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and wherever else he was welcomed. Decades later, the memorable affair even became the subject of a play called “The Captain of Köpenick.”

6. John Deydras

One day in 1318, a one-eared man walked into Beaumont Palace in Oxford and declared himself to be the true Edward II and, therefore, the rightful King of England.

This man’s name was John Deydras, sometimes recorded as John of Powderham, and all we know about his past is that he worked as a clerk and may have been the son of a tanner. According to his story, though, he was actually the son of Edward I, better known as Edward Longshanks. However, when he was an infant, a sow bit off his ear while he was playing in the castle courtyard. Fearing that she would be severely punished for her carelessness, his nanny substituted him with another boy from the village who ended up becoming Edward II of England.

Of course, Deydras had no proof for this wild story and modern historians opine that the man was likely mentally ill since making such an accusation was basically a death sentence back then. However, Edward II was said to have been amused by Deydras and, given that nobody took the story seriously, the king may have even wanted to spare the man and keep him as his court jester.

Unfortunately, Deydras really picked the wrong time for his little stunt. Edward was deeply unpopular at that time for his military failures against the Scots led by Robert the Bruce. Moreover, his wife, Queen Isabella, was “unspeakably annoyed” by Deydras and wanted him gone. Not surprisingly, though, she wasn’t nicknamed the She-Wolf of France for nothing.

As a result, Deydras was arrested and tortured. He confessed that the whole thing had been a lie, claiming that he had been put up to it by his cat who was actually a demon. Both man and feline were executed.

5. Cassie Chadwick

Elizabeth Bigley was a 19th century Canadian swindler who ran cons ever since she was a teenager. She started off with some minor forgery before moving to the United States where she pretended to be a clairvoyant in several different cities. She also married twice, each time under a different pseudonym, but neither marriage lasted long and, eventually, Bigley was sentenced to nine years in prison for forgery in 1889.

She was paroled in 1893 and went to Cleveland where she adopted the name Cassie Hoover. A few years later, she became Cassie Chadwick after marrying again, this time to a wealthy, respected doctor named Leroy Chadwick. This new relationship granted Cassie access to some of Ohio’s richest and most influential people and, with the unwitting help of one of her husband’s friends, Chadwick embarked on her most ambitious con.

In 1897, she took a trip to New York City. There, she met an aquaintance of Dr. Chadwick, a lawyer named James Dillon. Cassie asked him to accompany her on an errand and the man obliged. Together, they traveled to Fifth Avenue and stopped in front of one of the most lavish buildings in the entire city. It was the mansion of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world. Chadwick went inside while Dillon waited in the carriage, puzzled over what business she could possibly have in there.

In reality, all Chadwick did was ask to speak with the head housekeeper under the pretense of checking the references of a maid she wanted to hire. She never met Carnegie, but that was irrelevant to the con – all that mattered was that she spent some time inside his house.

When she left, Dillon obviously asked about her business. Chadwick confessed that she was the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie and even showed the lawyer some promissory notes (forged, of course) worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, also mentioning that she stood to inherit millions more. She swore Dillon to secrecy, knowing full well that the attorney would tell everyone in Ohio.

Once her story was out, Chadwick found it easy to secure massive loans from every bank she walked into. She was counting on the fact that nobody would be so bold as to ask Carnegie about an illegitimate daughter and she was right…for a while. Chadwick kept her scam going for seven years. Then, in 1904, a banker demanded she pay back a loan worth almost $200,000. She was unable so the banker asked Carnegie who said he had no idea who Cassie Chadwick was. She was convicted of fraud and died in jail a few years later.

As far as Andrew Carnegie is concerned, we did an entire video about him on our sister channel, Biographics, so check the link in the description if you want to learn more about him.

4. Lambert Simnel

The death of King Edward IV of England in 1483 led to one of the most enduring mysteries in English history – the fate of his two sons, the so-called Princes in the Tower. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were locked inside the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who took the throne for himself and became King Richard III. He was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth Field, putting an end not only to his reign, but also to the House of York and the Wars of the Roses. After him came Henry VII, first king from the House of Tudor.

As for the two princes, it is generally accepted that the two died in the tower, but there have been people who emerged claiming to be one or the other and, therefore, the rightful heirs to the throne.

One of these people was Lambert Simnel who, curiously, was hailed as not one, but two different heirs. As a boy, Simnel was under the care of a priest named Richard Simon who became convinced that his pupil came from royalty. At first, he proclaimed that the boy was Richard of Shrewsbury, the younger of the two princes who survived his incarceration in the tower. Later, he amended his claim, saying that Simnel was actually Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, a different member of the House of York who had been imprisoned by King Henry VII as a young boy.

Unbeknownst to most people, Simon included, the real Edward Plantagenet was still alive inside the Tower of London and it would be over a decade until he was actually executed. However, Simon’s claim was convincing enough that Lambert Simnel was taken to Ireland where he was crowned King Edward VI and an army was raised to dethrone Henry. The two sides met in 1487 at the Battle of Stoke Field where Simnel’s supporters were decisively defeated.

Fortunately for Simnel, King Henry understood that the boy was simply a puppet used by people to rally Yorkist supporters. Therefore, he pardoned Simnel and allowed him to work in the royal kitchen. When he got older, he became a falconer before disappearing from the history record.

3. Fred Demara

Known as “the Great Impostor,” Fred Demara adopted numerous identities and spent most of his lifetime pretending to be someone else. Some of his alter egos included a psychologist, a biologist, a law student, a Trappist monk, a teacher, a dean of philosophy, a prison warden, and, most shocking of all, a naval surgeon who actually performed medical procedures during the Korean War.

It won’t surprise you to learn that we don’t know a lot of accurate information about the lifelong swindler as most of the details surrounding him were provided by Demara himself after he sold his story to Life magazine. He was born Ferdinand Waldo Demara in 1921 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Allegedly, he had a very high IQ and a photographic memory which helped him take on identities that often required a higher education. His family started off rich, but lost it all during the Great Depression which convinced a teenage Demara to run away from home and embark on his life as a professional impostor.

It would seem that the two career paths that genuinely appealed to Demara were as a monk and a military man. He joined several monasteries and military branches throughout his life, but never lasted more than a few years in each before running away and starting over again.

When Demara joined a religious educational group known as the Brothers of Christian Instruction, he met a Canadian doctor named Joseph Cyr. He later adopted Cyr’s identity and secured a position as trauma surgeon aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War. Apparently, he was successful in performing sutures, minor surgery, and, on one occasion, even extracting a bullet from a chest wound.

After Demara became a minor celebrity in the late 1950s, he found it much harder to assume new identities. Instead, he tried living as Fred Demara and parlayed his newfound fame into a few TV appearances and even one movie role in the 1960 horror film The Hypnotic Eye.

2. George Psalmanazar

George Psalmanazar is the only known alias of a Frenchman who purported to be a native of Formosa who both dazzled and horrified 18th century London with tales from his homeland.

The man was born sometime around 1679 in southern France. Whilst traveling through Europe, he adopted the guise of an Irish pilgrim. However, people could often tell he was lying, so he decided he needed something more exotic. He then pretended to be a Japanese heathen, but later switched to something even more far-flung and claimed to be a native of the island of Formosa, known today as Taiwan. He even began practicing strange rituals and eating unusual food which was enough to convince most Europeans that he was from someplace far, far away. On his travels, he met a Scottish chaplain named Alexander Innes who “converted” him to Christianity, christened him George Psalmanazar and brought him to London.

The stranger’s story proved popular in England. He claimed to have been kidnapped from his native land by Jesuits who then imprisoned him for refusing to convert to Catholicism. This played well in a country where anti-Catholic sentiment was high, only enhanced by Psalmanazar’s conversion to Anglicanism.

In 1704, the Formosan wrote and published a book titled “An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island Subject to the Emperor of Japan.” It was a hit, although most of the facts were either fabricated, exaggerated or taken from travel reports of other civilizations. It contained a fake language, a fake calendar, and fake religious ceremonies performed to worship the Sun and the Moon.

Most shocking were Psalmanazar’s claims of how common cannibalism and human sacrifice were in his society. According to him, the Formosan High Priest Gnotoy Bonzo commanded 18,000 boys under the age of 9 to be killed each year so that their hearts could be offered as sacrifices. The rest of their bodies were eaten. To ensure a steady supply of children, men were allowed to take on as many wives as they wanted.

Of course, the Formosan fascination only lasted a couple of years before people moved on to the next craze. This eventually prompted Psalmanazar to confess that the whole thing was a fraud, but he suffered no serious consequences for his deception. He even had admirers, most notably the playwright Samuel Johnson, who appreciated his success as an impostor.

1. The False Dmitris

The end of the 16th century brought a succession crisis in Russia known as the Time of Troubles. It started in 1598 after Fyodor I died without heirs. This prompted the appearance of several pretenders to the throne all known as False Dmitry because they all claimed to be the same person – Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible.

The real Dmitry died in 1591 when he was only 8 years old under controversial circumstances. He was killed by a stab wound – some say he was assassinated, others that the young prince accidentally stabbed himself during a seizure. A few years later, a third story arose purporting that the alleged assassins killed a different boy while the real Dmitry was hidden away, waiting for the opportune time to return. This version opened the door for people to come forward as the rightful heir to the throne.

The first False Dmitry appeared around 1603 in Poland-Lithuania. He was the most successful of the bunch. He gained the backing of the Polish lords and found plenty of Russian supporters as well. He raised an army and intended to challenge Tsar Boris Godunov, but there was no need for this. In 1605, Godunov died of an illness. His teenage son, Fyodor II, became the new tsar, but only lasted a couple of months before being assassinated and replaced with Dmitry.

False Dmitry reigned for almost a year, but he had his own enemies who plotted against him. One of them was Vasili Shuisky. He convinced the people of Moscow that Dmitry was planning to massacre them with the help of his Polish followers. They stormed the Kremlin and killed Dmitry and, according to legend, cremated his body and shot the ashes out of a cannon towards Poland.

Shuysky became Tsar Vasili IV. In 1607 came False Dmitry II who was accepted as the real Dmitry by Tsaritsa Marina, the wife of the first False Dmitry who, presumably, would have accepted anyone to gain back her power. He actually assembled a large army and had several military successes, but was killed in 1610 while drunk by one of his own followers.

Lastly came False Dmitry III. He gained the allegiance of the Cossacks, but was betrayed by a group who kidnapped him and took him to Moscow in 1612 where he was executed. The crisis, as well as the line of False Dmitris, ended a year later when Michael I became the new Tsar of Russia, thus beginning the 300-year reign of the House of Romanov.


Masquerade Merrymaking

WIF Into History

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #329

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #329

…Sodomy versus abortion…” Carolyn’s open palms represent the scales of justice; one lowers the other raises and back again. “Which is the greater offense?…

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“The door is locked,” Lyn states.

“Here, I can open it…”

  The four of them enter, getting a wide eyeful of Winthrop Joyce, in a compromising position with a man in a prison-striped jumpsuit, pulled down for all to see. There is a lag in time between the unexpected opening of the medical room door and the shocked expressions of the two men therein.

Harry Morrison is in the lead, he turns in haste, pushing the other three away. But the damage is already done.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, folks.”

Image result for lower case upper caseCarolyn Ford seizes the moment, “Aren’t there laws prohibiting sodomy?”

“…yes…” Lower case y, little e, small s.

“Don’t you think States Attorney Hopkins should know about what is going on in Leon County?”

NO!” Upper case N, big O.

In the vacuous silence of the cold concrete and steel hallway, Morrison is allowed to let the heat of the moment bring his blood to a boil. There isn’t much he can verbalize to explain away what they had just seen.

Lyn breaks the silence, in her own inimitable and anticipated way. “We are all adults here.” In between latobsd3-001words, you can hear the leaky faucet in the lavatory in the room release one more drip.

Sodomy versus abortion…” Her open palms represent the scales of justice; one lowers the other raises and back again. “Which is the greater offense?

“No difference,” admits Morrison. Cousin Curt nods.

“We haven’t seen Dr. A.O. Campbell yet. Where is he?”

“He’s in the Negro cell block downstairs, but I see where you’re going and you can back up a mite. A girl died after being treatment by him.”

“Come – come now. I read the deposition of one, Dr. Sapp and it seems he has been given a pass on the eventual fate of Audrie Franich. You have taken his word and thrown away the key concerning Alpha Campbell.”

“If I let Campbell walk, I don’t know whose head will roll.”

“Whose head will roll in a serial sodomy case against Sheriff Joyce? Just him, I doubt it. Wow, merely visualizing the newspaper headlines! Can you imagine… his wife… your wife… would-be Governor Hopkins… disgraced public officials?”

          “Fine, Miss Hanes, I get your drift.”

          “It’s Hanes-Ford and my reach goes far beyond the front page headlines of the Tallahassee Democrat.”

          “Go down and get Campbell, Deputy Curt. Make sure he has all his possessions.”

          “We don’t have his release papers,” states Curt, covering his own tracks with procedural detail.

          “I’ll take care of that.” He walks Curt to the service elevator while whispering, “Did you know what Joyce was doing?”

          “No, but he told me not to ask him why he made weekly visits… at the same time… in the same room. I know my place.”

          “I am leaving, now! Don’t screw up and by the way, you didn’t see anything, did you?”

          “Nope!”


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Released by Susan Swain

Episode #329


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #328

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #328

…we are proud of our enforcement of the laws of Florida, in fact, we have been assembling a case against a Negro doctor who we’ve been watching all summer…

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There is a black sedan bearing Leon County tags pulling through the service entrance to the Leon County Jail at half past the hour. When 5:00 approaches, another car, this time with Florida official license plates, enters the fortified gate. The guards allow passage for both, without question.

It is by way of the front gate that Carolyn and Bob Ford enter the jail, carrying a note signed by Cousin Curt, Head Jailer of Leon County. Curt has already welcomed the Assistant States Attorney, who will join them on a tour of the facility. carolyn-hanes-001

“It a pleasure to meet to you Miss Hanes. You are one of Tallahassee’s true treasures.”

“You are too kind, Attorney Morrison. I have been keeping an eye on my hometown for some time. California is so different and a world away from the Old South. Laws seem to be so liberal in comparison, you know, like abortion.”

“Yes Miss Hanes, we are proud of our enforcement of the laws of Florida. In fact, we have been assembling a case against a Negro doctor who we’ve been watching all summer. He is at this jail right now.”

“Is that Alpha O. Campbell?” Lyn asks, not so innocently.

          “Why, yes. How did you know about him?”

          “I had a good friend who was a witness, way back in ‘31, when his mother-in-law was killed.”

          Morrison raises his eyebrows.

          “He is such a dear man, helping folks who don’t have much money. Y’all need more doctors like him, instead of taking him out of the community. I plan to do an article on his life.”  She is layering on a thick blanket of underpin to aid her plan. “Say, is not your boss going to run for Governor?”

“I thought you wanted to observe our successes in the incarceration of criminals.”

          “Well yes, but wouldn’t that automatically make you States Attorney for the State of Florida?”

          “When or if Wilbert Hopkins is elected Governor, then I would run the Attorney’s office.”

          The seeds of ambition are scattered on the ground, for the seeing.

          the-sting-001“Oh, the tour, let’s continue. Is this the infirmary, Curt?” She winks at him with her far eye.

          The look on his face is screaming, ‘You are getting red hot!’

          “The door is locked,” she states.

          “Here, I can open it…”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Continued

Episode #328


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #327

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #327

…Racism aside, homophobia is a very tangible hatred. Keeping this sordid mess off the front page of The Tallahassee Democrat will supersede prosecuting a country doctor…

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Joe Slater’s car slows down well before the jail’s large city block. “Here we are, you’ll have to walk the rest of the way. Folks around here know my car, so I’m putting up the top and laying low. Come and get me if you run into trouble and don’t let that snake keep hold of you,” he warns. “Do you have another witness to Joyce’s escapades, like his wife?”

“His wife will find out soon enough, but I have someone else in mind.” Lyn Hanes knows merely exposing prisoner sexual abuse would not spring the doctor. “Assistant State’s Attorney Morrison will be there. He thinks that I am conducting an interview for a piece on model prisons.”

“Whoa, Harry Morrison… he is putting the case against Campbell together – never liked Doc Campbell much. I heard him call A.O. a little monkey one time.”

“That’s quite disgusting, but what he is going to see will make him think twice about using Winthrop Joyce for corroboration.” Racism aside, homophobia is a very tangible hatred. Keeping this sordid mess off the front page of The Tallahassee Democrat will supersede prosecuting a country doctor for doing the biding of connected parents. “Thank you so much, Joe. I cannot tell you what a huge favor you are doing for me. I know one doctor who will be eternally indebted as well.”last-chance

“I hardily suggest that he cease and desist from doing abortions. This happens to be “a onetime chance” to get off the hook. I will not do this again.”

“Understood,” as clear as the church bell chiming four times, time to put the plan into action.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #327


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #322

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #322

…This is out of my hands, Carolyn. The Leon County Sheriff is after him and he has aced me out of this case, flat out barring me from any input…

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In the midst of this playful banter, the telephone rings. It has its origins from a Florida exchange, as suggested by the type of ring.

“I’ll get it!” Lyn is hoping it is the call she has been waiting for. “Hello?”Image result for old telephone gif

“Miss Hanes, is that you? This is a voice from your past.”

“It is Mrs. Ford now, Joe Slater. How are you?”

“Its getting busy here, but I will always have time for you.” Detective Joe is a grizzled veteran of the Tallahassee community, including the ins and outs of everyone’s business, though not in a nosey way. He merely knows a lot.

“I’m glad for that because I’ve heard some scuttlebutt about Doc Campbell; manslaughter Joe? He couldn’t hurt a fly, you know that.”

This is out of my hands, Carolyn. The Leon County Sheriff is after him and he has aced me out of this case, flat out barring me from any input.”

“What did Campbell do?”

“He treated a girl or two from Jacksonville way, you know, got them out of trouble.”

“You know what I think about abortion, Joe, I do not approve of it morally, but making it a capital offense is wrong. Penalties should fit the crime.”

“Yeah, I understand that, but one of the girls died.”

“Oh,” period, end of sentence.

“But she had been seeing another doctor back east and she was allergic to penicillin.” Slater knows the details, but he is being trumped by a shadowy machination.

“It sounds like he is being railroaded, am I right?”

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“The Pensacola & East all the way!” He refers to the railway where a young Alfrey Campbell was nearly run over by in 1896. “Somebody wants him out of the way, gal. Some see him getting in the way of progress, if you know what I mean. He and Maggie still own some fine property, though some of it is slipping into curious hands.”

“Who is helping him, Joe? He must have representation.”

“Well, that is part of the problem. James Ferrell passed away a couple years back and R. Worth Moore is no James Ferrell.”

“Enough said. Bob will fly me in tomorrow. I will call from the airport.”

“You got it, Lyn and I wouldn’t waste any time getting here.”

“One more thing….Who is the Sheriff of Leon County??”

“W. P Joyce.”

  “Hummm,,,,,,,,, interesting.”

She knows something.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #322


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #316

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 316

…Well, he said that you had a reputation for helpin’ girls like me, you know, white girls not affording no more children and a husband out at sea….

Image result for merchant marine artwork

Out at Sea by Hans Breeman

“When did you notice that somethin’ wasn’t right?” Campbell had put his stethoscope to her lower belly earlier and came to an early conclusion. He wants to peel away the layers of her previous treatment. “And why did you come to me, ‘stead of Doc Wright?”

Well, he said that you had a reputation for helpin’ girls like me, you know, white girls not affording no more children and a husband out at sea.

  “Really… all the way from Jacksonville and he knows ‘bout a little ol’ black doctor in the Panhandle. Did he tell you I ain’t got a wing at my hospital for white folks? My doctor friends don’t think I have the right to fix up whites. I reckon you all must have different colored blood under that pale skin; Blue blood Confederates are you?” A.O. knows that the lies he was told as a youth, was that slaves were inferior to their white masters. He has left much of that emancipation baggage behind, though the memory of being rushed across the railroad trestle still is fresh in his 20th century mind. The saying of that time was, ‘Once a slave, white-folk-bingo-001always a slave.’

How ironic it is. White folks have the money to pay for his services, but they cannot occupy a single bed at LBMH. House calls and services rendered at FAMU Hospital do not put a dent in the $250,000 mortgage, now a mighty anchor tied around his ankle. His beds are occupied by people caught in the margins of society.

“You have to help me Doc Campbell, my baby ain’t movin’, I know it.”

“Do what’s right Mr. Campbell!” Enter Mrs. Mary Gray. She had been mulling around in the background, watching her daughter, Audrie Franich, twisting A.O.’s arm in an attempt to bring this nightmare to an end. “My little girl needs some way out of this mess.”

          Mary Gray’s tone was not at all kind, downright demanding. It was like she was making a deal with the Devil; the only way out, but distasteful none-the-less. She appears to not have much use for black folk, though it may be a fruitless prejudice, especially in northern Florida. But unavoidable does not translate into acceptance.

“Go in and see Nurse Lillie and tell her to take you to Room 205.” Down and down the slippery slope. A.O. Campbell has a soft spot for folks that have seemingly nowhere else to turn.

(Lera Lynn music featured on True Detective)


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Things That Kill, Not All from China – WIF Lists

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Urban Hazards

That Could

Kill You

The urban environment can be scary. While the dangers of the outdoors and wilderness survival are well publicized, city planners, businesses and the public alike struggle with how to mitigate the dangers with which the urban environment is fraught. Let us now explore the chilling survival dangers that may face us vulnerable humans in the wild, wild world that is the city. Eerily, some of the worst hazards come from attempts at charity, efficiency, or green innovation.

10. Monster Icicles

It is less well known than it should be that urban environments juxtapose walking areas for pedestrians with perfect places for icicles to drop from great heights. This can be deadly. In cities with cold winter climates, sufficient precipitation and the presence of tall buildings, such as St. Petersburg, Russia or New York, USA, a perfect storm exists that has, tragically, caused numerous injuries and in some cities, repeated fatalities. Environmental sustainability measures centered on making buildings more energy efficient have perversely created increased danger to the public in certain cases.

A 2010 article in the International Journal on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat describes how buildings built to be energy efficient (or renovated to be energy efficient) release less heat, saving energy but dramatically increasing the accumulation of potentially dangerous ice formations on the outside of skyscrapers. When temperatures rise, ice chunks fall to the city streets below. Icicles forming as water drips down the edges of buildings has caused tragic deaths, most notably in St. Petersburg, Russia where in a single year (2010) a shocking five people died and 150 were injured after being hit by huge falling icicles or ice chunks. Senseless carnage! Novosibirsk, the third most populated city in Russia, also saw a cold tragedy toward winter’s end in 2015 when a 20-year-old woman was killed by ice falling 14 stories from a canopy. Blame has been placed on officials for failing to ensure dangerous ice was removed.

9. Killer Dumpsters

Dumpster diving is a popular activity for the homeless, those trying to save a few dollars, or certain “freegans” trying to make a political or economic statement about thrown away food. Yet another kind of dumpster diving (for dumpster contents that are not garbage) have claimed several lives, prompting calls for a ban. These are the clothing donation bins that have caused seven deaths Canada-wide since 2015. The complicated mechanism of these bins, designed to prevent theft can crush people between metal plates aided by their own body weight as they reach into the bins in an attempt to retrieve clothing.

The problem is worst in Canada, for reasons still in question, but deaths have occurred elsewhere globally but in fewer numbers. People have been found dead in clothing donation bins, while in other cases, screams were heard but the victim died of crushing and suffocation before they could be helped. For example, help came too late to save one woman whose vehicle was still running beside a bin that she entered at night, only to get caught up and be left hanging from broken limbs. Efforts to curb the deaths include outright bans or voluntary removals of bins in certain jurisdictions, along with engineering team efforts to design a safer system.

8. Stray Bullet Strikes

Stray bullets can arise from surprising sources and travel in the strangest trajectories, killing people in cities who had nothing to do with either celebrations, gang violence, or warfare. Bullets travel farther than people commonly understand, less accurately than often believed, and can ricochet or achieve a lethal potential falling in an arc after being fired into the air. A growing number of people in the United States have lost their lives when a bullet entered their home or hit them in the street. Just one Baltimore street saw a three-year-old killed and then a nine-year-old girl injured by stray bullets in two separate incidents. These cases of accidental urban shootings are examples of a growing problem. Between March 2008 and February 2009, over 300 people were hit by stray bullets in the United States.

A variety of demographics were represented in an analysis of those hit, and those who were identified as responsible in stray bullet cases. Shockingly, children formed 30 percent of the victims. The urban threat is not primarily a street issue, as 68 percent of victims were struck indoors, including 40 percent being accidentally shot in their own homes. There is also an urgent need to stop the celebratory firing of live rounds at events such as New Years around the world. Senseless fatalities, such as the 2014 deaths of two children in the Philippines when bullets fired to celebrate New Years struck them in their home, serve as an example.

7. Airplane Crashes

Urban airplane crashes kill more people than you would think. Look out: the sky is not falling, but its contents just might. We might think of aircraft travel as safe, but when accidents happen, they are notably catastrophic a lot of the time. Furthermore, those on the ground are at risk, especially in cities. Tall buildings present easily struck obstacles, while lower buildings and roads may be hit if a runway is missed. Global aviation disaster records show around 200 crashes that caused fatalities on the ground. The single worst ground fatality event in aviation history resulting from an accident was the crash of an Air Africa Antonov-An-32B into a street market in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed at least 225 and injured.

In 1992, a notable disaster took place when approximately 100 people in an apartment building in Amsterdam lost their lives as an airliner flew into the building, causing an immense fireball. Terrorism caused the most serious incidents, the 9/11 terrorist attacks killing more than 2,500 people on the ground. Large aircraft are also known to shed heavy parts, but a more common danger comes from small planes crashing in suburbs, such as one recent case in Southern California where four people in a house died when an 8-seater Cessna broke up in mid-air and caused the house to explode into a fiery mass upon impact.

6. Accidental Drug Exposures

The use of illegal “recreational” drugs presents significant risks to users. However, as prohibited street drugs get more potent and deadly, the potential for collateral damage in urban areas to non-users rises. The appearance of fentanyl as an illegal substance often used to cut less potent drugs poses an extreme threat to law enforcement and the public. An increasingly abused substance on the streets that is of medical origin, fentanyl often comes in a fine powder. If inhaled, even a tiny amount of this drug (that is around 50 times stronger than most forms of heroin) may dangerously inhibit respiratory function, easily causing death. In one case, first responders assisting an overdose victim themselves experienced symptoms of an overdose, prompting emergency management authorities to highlight the risks of accidental exposure.

If this was not enough, another substance originating from fentanyl, carfentanil, is around 100 times more potent than regular fentanyl. Terrifying! In addition to the growing threat caused by these rogue opioids proliferating in world cities, drug use poses other threats. Discarded needles are becoming ubiquitous, showing up in garbage cans, at bus stops, and in playgrounds, parks, and even townhouse common grounds. Accidental sticking with discarded needles may lead to exposure to bloodborne diseases if accidentally touched in a way that the skin of the unwitting handler is broken. Means of exposure include handling garbage, walking in grass, or picking up clothing in which a needle is present.

5. Extreme Smog

Major urban centres like Los Angeles, Beijing, and London continue to provoke health conditions and contain significant quantities of toxic smog. Extreme incidents involving smog have marked some of the low points of urban history, the London Killer Fog of 1952 being one of the most notorious examples.  The fog only lasted five days, but the chemical reaction between sulfur dioxide, natural fog, and nitrogen dioxide, creating highly corrosive sulfuric acid fumes in the city. Poisoned badly, 12,000 people died, while 150,000 were so sick they required hospitalization. By 1956, the Clean Air Act was passed to get control of the deadly risks of urban coal burning.

Despite the improvements, London today still has air that has become comparable to New Delhi or Beijing, two large cities known for their frequent air quality advisories. London’s problem with nitrogen dioxide continues, exacerbated by sunlight, which produces ozone pollution. Cities such as New Delhi, however, suffer from worse particulate pollution, yet the levels of potentially life-shortening nitrogen dioxide in London are significantly worse than conditions in a city as large as New York, putting a strain on health services. Air pollution in China causes around 1.1 million premature deaths annually, part of a constellation of problems that prompted Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang to declare “war on pollution” in China, with the intention of “making our skies blue again.” Efforts are focused on reducing steel production and coal-fired energy generation, which are key polluters.

4. Freak Urban Floods

Cities are often built in low-lying areas, while the removal of vegetation and construction beside watercourses in urban areas exacerbates flooding. Urban floods are especially dangerous due to the presence of electrical wires, with electrocution a noteworthy result of certain urban floods. Even in areas that might be thought of as being more dry, flash floods can pose an extraordinary risk in urban locales. In the large Saudi Arabian city Jeddah, 2009 and 2011 saw floods roar through the desert city, killing over 100 people. A lack of proper drainage and flood absorbing vegetation presents a challenge that must be addressed through better installation of natural infrastructure such as constructed wetlands and drains to slow and absorb floodwaters.

Furthermore, urban industry poses the threat of some very strange floods. Eight deaths resulted when thousands of gallons of beer were accidentally released into the streets in the “London Beer Flood” of 1814, while the “Great Boston Molasses Flood” in the United States in 1919 killed 21 people and injured 150, when a huge tank full of molasses broke and let out a wave of molasses 15 feet tall that rushed through streets and buildings, creating a half mile long swathe of destruction and death as people were trapped and drowned in the sticky substance.

3. Infrastructure Failures

We typically trust bridges, power pylons, overpasses, and roads to be well constructed. But a surprising number of deaths take place in cities around the world when the stress of everyday use does not match up to engineering projections and design provisions. Infrastructure collapses in developing countries or political jurisdictions without sufficient engineering codes are expected, but it may surprise people how many disasters have occurred in jurisdictions where infrastructure is thought to be quality and safe.

Between 1989 and 2000, more than 500 bridge failure disasters occurred in the United States! It is often not the result of an earthquakes, but floods or the negligence of a single motorist colliding with critical bridge support structures that sets off a collapse. Other times, engineering mistakes fail to take into account the enormous cumulative load from traffic, settling, and torsion or settling forces, leading to gradual failure or a sudden, catastrophic collapse. Collapses of overpasses above traffic are also some of the worst types of infrastructure collapse risks in cities. So, when you are traveling on a bridge, or below underpasses, you might want to think about the merits of not getting stuck under an overpass or on a bridge that possibly leads nowhere.

2. Asbestos Exposure

Urban exploring, where enthusiasts often illicitly traverse old factories, office towers, and tunnels, enjoys popularity but it can be very risky due to the chance of encountering asbestos. Asbestos, once welcomed as a problem solving “wonder material” with its fireproof insulator properties, is proof that the worst hazards are not always man-made, but natural in origin. Massive quantities of asbestos were once incorporated into urban structures of all kinds. Asbestos formed of minute, dangerous fibers can get into the lungs, where they cause serious inflammation and, eventually, lung cancer.

In the urban environment, almost any older building could be a dangerous storehouse of asbestos fibers. Even careful acts of urban exploration may cause ceilings, walls, stairwells, or old insulation panels to give way, releasing asbestos. No wonder asbestos exposure constitutes the number one threat to the urban explorer, according to Jason Robinson, who founded the Ohio Exploration Society. Not only urban explorers, but renovators and construction workers are confounded by the asbestos threat. Many urban construction projects have the potential to unleash massive quantities of asbestos when past construction work is disturbed. Dealing with asbestos is a liability but also a significant business activity, with workers suiting up until they resemble astronauts in a bid to get rid of the danger.

1. Gas Leaks & Carbon Monoxide

Colorless, odorless, and hard to notice, carbon monoxide remains an insidious and quick killer responsible for numerous deaths from small and large scale equipment failures and also installation mistakes. The substance is a dangerous, but formed of two completely harmless substances that make up your food, your body, and the air around you, albeit in a different molecular order. One molecule of carbon binds to one molecule of oxygen in a byproduct of certain combustion reactions, but the danger is much greater than the sum of the parts. Carbon monoxide is capable of physically replacing the oxygen in your bloodstream.

While taking the place of oxygen, this impostor chemical fails to provide the life sustaining support that oxygen lends. Eerily, the chemical has no taste, smell or color and is often not detected until death results, particularly if the victim is asleep. Many deaths have resulted from blocked chimneys, use of fuel burning machines indoors, or leaving a car running in an enclosed space. A number of deaths result every year, while lower levels of poisoning that cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness — or even seizures — may be misdiagnosed. Maintenance of equipment and avoidance of unsafe practices, followed by installation of monitors, are key ways to avoid fatal incidents.


Things That Kill,

Not All from China

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #255

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #255

Chapter Fourteen

LESSONS NOT LEARNED

…Maggie Lou Campbell is proud of how she has raised her girls; much like a breeder of horses feels about a champion thoroughbred, though horses do not sleep as much…

Zillah, Laura, A.O. & Alpha Campbell

L-R = Zillah, Laura, A.O. & Alpha Campbell

“But Mother, my tennis lessons don’t start until twelve o’clock. What time is it now?” asks a groggy Zillah Campbell.

“It is almost eleven and your breakfast is cold. You said you were coming down an hour ago.” Maggie Country Clubgoes through this struggle on a daily basis, not that the problem isn’t any of her doing. Zillah is the youngest of her three daughters and the most spoiled, without question.

“All right already. I just don’t know why I have to learn a sport I am no good at.”

“If you want to fit in at the country club, playing tennis is a must.  Look what it did for Alpha? She married a doctor.” Mom is proud of how she has raised her girls; much like a breeder of horses feels about a champion thoroughbred, though horses do not sleep as much.

“Tennis didn’t get her, Vaughn Mizzell spreadin’ her legs did.”

“You best take that back, young lady. How can you be so cruel?”

“I’m only sayin’ what Laura told me. She says she plans on doin’ the same with real estate guy, McLoud.”

Just what Maggie wants to hear? “We’ll see about that! I will not have my daughters gettin’ a reputation for sleepin’ their way into a marriage.” The scariest part of the courting of Laura Campbell is that Franklin McLoud is as close to white as a black can be. That is not so bad, if it isn’t for whom his associates are.

1937 CC P.I.-001

They could be the very villains that Carolyn Hanes writes about in her singeing novel about murder and other shenanigans in fictitious Atlanta. It was most cleverly done, with Constance Caraway and Fanny Renwick first investigating the death and disappearance of an old woman, then discovering the smelly undercurrent of blatant racism and corruption. As the people of Leon County began to read, as is customary when the author is a local, the hum on the streets becomes deafening.

The book came out earlier in 1937. Currently, near the end of the same year, certain anonymous folks have launched a campaign to ban the book in Florida, for what they claim is its homosexual undertone. Curiously, they are not about to bring it to litigation, likely fearing that the authorities would read the book and relate her story to the dark days of 1931 Frenchtown.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #255


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

…And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!…

Meanwhile Caption-001“I think you are taking a huge gamble, Lyn. Even if you change the setting from Tallahassee to Timbuktu, someone around here will surely figure it out,” Sara Fenwick warns her partner, who has been researching the possibility of using the death of Laura Bell/Princess Olla as the subject of her next novel.

“A story like this begs to be told, Sara, besides that, it is time I take on a serious subject. And it is also a way to portray a female heroine in a positive light. I want, Constance Caraway – Private Eye, to be the first of a series of crime/mystery books.” Carolyn Hanes has chosen a career path based on the loyalty of her readership. Which is well and good, but she has tackled one sensitive storyline for Constance Caraway’s first-told case. “And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!”

“Yeah, sure, an eccentric photographer with a knack for identifying suspects from witness descriptions and stray hairs.”  Sara has not been wild about her being a rough model for one of Lyn’s main characters. At least in this case, Fanny is not a seamstress. And I was wondering whether the name “Fanny” has anything to do with my bottom.” She twists her torso to view her backside, not quite as firm and high as it once was.

“Oh, sweetie, you know that a good character is really a combination of more than one person. I only give Fanny the best of your ass—ets,” she barbs.

“You and your words! I wish my needles were that sharp!”

Cobblestone (olla)-001

Carolyn Hanes is the daughter of author, Emerson Hough, who wrote many stories about the American West. He was a bit of a crusader in his own right, largely responsible for saving the shrinking buffalo population in Yellowstone National Park. Before dying, while Lyn and Sara were in Europe on holiday, which haunts her to this day, he had planted the seeds of creativity deep inside his precious little girl.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #250


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #249

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 249

…If’n a Negro had done that to a white, someone would’a been hanged by now,..

Hanging from a Tree in Fog- by Lee-Avison

Hanging from a Tree in Fog by Lee Avison

“Masta Docta! Come quick!” screams the Campbell houseman as he runs through the back door of the Virginia Street home. “Da Princess is out back and she’s hurt real bad.”

This alarming news was the first they had heard of Olla’s whereabouts for more than a day and it wasn’t good news. Laura Bell would die in her own bed, getting to A.O.’s care too late to do anything for her. She had lost too much blood. James Ferrell was there when she died, as was Cyril Odz, in vain attempt to garner a positive identification of her attackers. There was only time for the grandgirls to give her a final hug, as she drifted away to the care of her Lord in the year 1931.

My Project 9-001

That was four years ago and the hurt and outrage has not faded. “This ain’t right, Sheriff. You ain’t Justice2-001Justice2-001gonna let those pups get away with it, are you?” Maggie had lost her mother too soon.

“We’ve been hopin’ one of them would slip up and tell someone about what they did. You would think they would have blabbed about it by now.”

If’n a Negro had done that to a white, someone would’a been hanged by now, even if they din’t do it. Any one of us’ll do jus fine.”

“That’s right, Maggie and ain’t it coincidence that young Wilson was sent out of the country right after? He was helpin’ his daddy one day, goin’ to a fancy Europe school the next. Can’t you drag his woman-beatin’-ass back to ax some questions?” A.O. has no place in his life for violence.

“If we could show a motive or probable cause, the answer is yes. Until then we have to wait for him to come back to Leon County.” Attorney Ferrell is frustrated for sure, but the whole mess has taken the heat off the doctor in some other matters, namely performing an occasional abortion for white families, who want to keep their affairs private.

In recent years, it seems he is being treated with kid gloves, allowing him to operate freely in both the black and white worlds, just as easy as the other. What he doesn’t know is that one is real and the other is smoke & mirrors. The trick is recognizing the smoke for what it genuinely is.

Cobblestone (olla)-001


Alpha Omega M.D.

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