Wednesday, January 9, 2013


"the douglasses come back" 3 x 3 inches, acrylic on photopaper.

In 1907 a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Douglass, were released from jail. They served almost two years for "conducting a disorderly house" and when they tried to find lodgings that night, they were turned away at every door.

When they were imprisoned the town of Cedar Falls thought they had finally gotten rid of this couple, but they returned, by this time his wife further paralyzed. They could not find a room, even in a local hotel. After searching through nightfall, they were reported to the authorities, who put them up in the city "calaboose".

The poor house would become their only refuge.
The newspaper men who covered the story two years early recalled the touching and remarkable scene. It was cold weather. Mrs. Douglass had been at the poor house awaiting indictment. Her husband was in the county jail. On the morning that it had been arranged to dispose of the cases Sheriff Caldwell went to the poor farm with a hack and brought in Mrs. Douglass. She could not walk, she could hardly stand... her husband hobbled there on crutches. When asked if they were ready to receive their sentence they announced without feeling that they were. Neither showed remorse. Both took their sentence as a matter of fact. The scene of that winter afternoon will long be retained in the memory of those who witnessed it.
(Sighting the advanced age and decrepitness of the couple they also wrote) Mrs. Douglass is not only paralyzed, she is 60 years old.
source: Thursday, October 17, 1907, Waterloo Daily Courier
In an unrelated story, on this same day a child had broken her arm.

View more Broken Stories on flickr.

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