Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Four Drank The Kool-Aid, Three Imbibed In Spirits & One Swallowed The Here-After

Eloise patient Hugh McCallum, a down-and-out chemist, mixed a cocktail of methyl alcohol and whatever the drink of the day was at the time, killing himself and three fellow patients Edward Carsons, Anthony Pferrer and Henry Ramlow. Ramlow identified McCallum as the drink mixer before he died. McCallum, a Youngstown, Ohio native, had access to the laboratory due to his job as a glassware washer, an assignment most likely given to him because of previous experience in the scientific field.


A succinct byline cradled in rhyme and tragedy is apropos for a 1903 novel but seems a little cold for a news article. But sensitivity didn't rule the day and cold hard facts were as omnipresent as the turmoil throughout the hazardous century.

Laura Ruppert Partirdge was most likely less a victim of circumstance than of her own frenzied thoughts. As a 23 year old bride and former schoolteacher she had already done a stint in the sanitarium at Grosse Pointe after showing signs of dementia. After her marriage in January 1903 she began showing signs of insanity once more and was taken to Eloise for further treatment. On April 25 she escaped from the asylum and drowned herself in the lake in front of the hospital. She is buried in the Ruppert family plot at Riverside Cemetery in Plymouth, Michigan.

In 1932 Big Peg's Place sat "right opposite" the infirmary at Eloise. It was manned by Jesse Holly and when the proprietor went to the big house three of his loyal customers and Eloise residents Frank Wojewoda, Joseph Gallagher and Joe Petronik had to find other means of procuring their spirits. A case of robbery brought before a local court reunited the four men as each testified against Harrison Young, a fellow Eloise inmate, accused of robbing them all at various times. During his statement Holly also testified that the three co-defendants were his best customers, much to the chagrin of Judge DeWitt H. Merriam who suggested that an investigation should be pursued concerning the hospital resident's extracurricular activity. Young was found not guilty by a jury of his peers but the Eloise three likely faced sanctions for their ambling, gambling ways.

No comments: