Saturday, 09 December 2006

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Archival Fun: Now with More Dead Children! From the New York Times, 31 August 1898: BURIED ALIVE BY PLAYMATES ————Bernard Owens of Troy a Victim of Mock Spanish-American War. TROY, N.Y., Aug. 30.—Bernard Owens, aged eight, was accidentally killed yesterday afternoon by playmates. With some other boys he had organized companies, representing the Americans and Spaniards. They attacked each other in a sham battle. Young Owens fell. Picked up as dead, he was buried in a quickly dug grave under several feet of earth. Subsequently he was forgotten and this morning, when the body was recovered, he was really dead. The alarming realism of turn-of-the-last-century play aside, the questioning of Owens' playmates must have been something else: Detective: So Bernard— Young Jimmy: —Bucky. He's Bucky. Detective: Bucky? What? Oh, I see ... so Bucky was killed at the Battle of San Juan Hill? Young Jimmy: Yessir. Detective: Then you and Stan (points to Stan) thought to bury Bucky alive? Young Jimmy and Young Stan: (in unison) Yessir. Detective: And then you left to eat dinner? Young Jimmy and Young Stan: (in unison) Yessir. Detective: And then you came back the next day and found him dead? Young Jimmy's Mom: (sobbing) What's to become of my Jimmy! Please, officer, you can't arrest him! He's all I got! Detective: Don't worry, pretty lady, this one's (puts hand on Jimmy's head and musses his hair) not going anywhere. Just havin' some harmless fun, you were, right boys? Young Jimmy and Young Stan: (nod silently in unison) Detective: Next time you two rascals bury someone alive—and you listen close now, as I don't aim to be coming back here in two weeks and finding another dead kid, you hear? Next time you bury someone alive, don't return to the scene of the crime. I know you want to, but you can't, hear, 'less you want them to catch you and break this sweet thing's (points to Young Jimmy's Mom) heart? Clear? Young Jimmy and Young Stan: (nod vigorously in unison) Yessir! Detective: Good. (turns to Young Jimmy's Mom) Now, what was that you said about your famous homemade apple pie? Young Jimmy's Mom: You must be mistaken, Officer! Why, apples ain't even in sea—oh, yes, of course, I see. Come on in then ...

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