march 1927

Born in 1878, Eva Dugan worked in cabaret before being hired as a housekeeper by Andrew J. Mathis, a Pima County, Arizona, resident. For reasons unknown, Mathis fired Dugan and shortly afterwards, he disappeared, seemingly into thin air. While his home was not in disarray, his cash box as well as his car were missing. Neighbours of Mathis reported that Dugan had recently been selling some of his belongings, however, when investigators went to question her, she was nowhere to be found. An investigation into her background revealed that she had been married five times. All five husbands had inexplicably disappeared. Eventually investigators tracked Dugan down - she was working in a hospital in White Plains. On 4 March, 1927, she was extradited back to Arizona. Months later, Mathis’ slain body was discovered in a shallow grave on his land.

Dugan denied any involvement in the murder and all evidence entered into trial was purely circumstantial. The prosecution claimed that Dugan had been assisted by a teenage boy named Jack. However, Jack was never identified or found. Despite the lack of evidence, she was found guilty and sentenced to hang. While incarcerated, she permitted interviews for $1 and knitted handkerchiefs which she sold. With the money earned, she purchased her own coffin. As her execution date loomed, a rumour began to circulate that Dugan was going to end her own life as opposed to die at the gallows. The morning before her execution, a search of her cell turned up a bottle of raw ammonia as well as three razor blades. She was led to the gallows at 5AM on 21 February, 1930. The noose was tied around her neck and the trap was sprung. The executioner had misjudged the distance and the snap of the rope decapitated Dugan, with her head rolling into the group of spectators.

Following the gruesome execution, the gallows were replaced by the gas chamber, making Eva Dugan the only woman to be executed by hanging in Arizona.

This letter gets interrupted all the time, but I love you, Virginia - so there - and your letters make it worse - are you pleased? I want to get home to you - please, when you are in the south, think of me, and of the fun we should have, shall have, if you stick to your plan of going abroad with me in October, - sun and cafes all day and ? all night. My darling … please let this plan come off. I live for it.
—  Vita Sackville-West, in a letter to Virginia Woolf, dated 30 March 1927.

December 26, 1893: Birthday of Comrade Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Revolution, great teacher of the world’s working class and oppressed peoples.

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

“Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 28.

Betty Allen (17 March 1927 – 22 June 2009) 

Renowned American operatic mezzo-soprano who had an active international singing career during the 1950s through the 1970s. Allen was part of the first generation of black opera singers to achieve wide success and is viewed as part of an instrumental group of performers who helped break down the barriers of racial prejudice in the opera world. She was greatly admired by Bernstein and the conductor notably chose her to be the featured soloist for his final performances as music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1973. After her singing career ended, she became a lauded voice teacher and arts administrator. (Wikipedia)

Portrait of mezzo-soprano Betty Allen. Stamped on back: “Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
3

Babs was the land speed record car built and driven by John Parry-Thomas. It was powered by a 27-litre Liberty aero-engine.

Babs began as ‘Chitty 4’, one of Count Louis Zborowski’s series of aero-engined cars named 'Chitty Bang Bang’. As it was built at Zborowski’s estate of Higham Park near Canterbury, it was also known as the Higham Special.

Parry-Thomas rechristened the car Babs and rebuilt it with four Zenith carburettors and his own design of pistons. In April 1926, Parry-Thomas used the car to break the land speed record at 171.02 mph (273.6 km/h).

During a later record attempt at Pendine Sands, Wales on 3 March 1927, the car went out of control at speeds in excess of 100 mph. The car rolled over and Thomas was killed. Following the inquest into Thomas’s death, Babs was buried in the sand dunes at Pendine.

In 1969, After 40 years, the car was exhumed and restored to running order over several years by Owen Wyn Owen.

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Remember
Paul-César Helleu was a friend of Whistler and Sargent before he met Monet during the second impressionist exhibition. 

He died after an operation on 23 March 1927.

John Singer Sargent, Paul Helleu Sketching his wife, 1889. Oil on canvas, 65,9 x 80,7 cm. The Brooklyn, New York
Paul-César Helleu: La Gare Saint-Lazare; Vitraux de la cathédrale de Reims; Intérieur de la cathédrale de Reims; Versailles, statue de Diane;  Le jardin du docteur Blanche; Les régates à Deauville; Voiliers; Alice et le Paon

To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
—  Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel García Márquez (6th March, 1927 - 17th April, 2014)
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Rest in peace Slyvia Anderson
March 27, 1927 - March 16, 2016

“I created Lady Penelope as something that would appeal to the Americans, and to Lew Grade, who’d given us so much. They thought everyone over here was either a Cockney or a lady living in her manor house. Well, Lady Penelope was both and neither. One of my favourite characters growing up was the Scarlet Pimpernel, someone who was very different by day – a bit of a fop – and a spy by night. So that was her back-story and Parker, the safe-cracker, was a part of that”