Posts Tagged ‘New York in 1947’

A New York bus driver takes a joy ride to Florida

March 7, 2016

CimillobusnewspapersCollect fares, hand out transfers, navigate traffic—like most jobs, driving a city bus is pretty routine.

That’s why William Cimillo, 37, a married father of two from the Bronx who had been driving a bus for 16 years, became fed up.

“Day in and day out it was the same old grind. He was a slave to a watch and a schedule,” reported the Brooklyn Eagle.

CimillonytBoredom led to daydreaming. Cimillo (left), who strangely looked like Ralph Kramden, wondered what it would be like if he “disobeyed the rules and forgot to look at his watch and did not get to that street corner at the right time,” wrote the Eagle.

One morning in March 1947, something came over him as he pulled away from the garage to start his shift on the BX15 route along Gun Hill Road.

“‘All of a sudden I was telling myself, baby, this is it. I left that town in a hurry. Somehow, I didn’t care where I went. I just turned the wheel to the left, and soon I was on Highway 1, bound for Florida.'”

So began Cimillo’s joy ride. Instead of taking nickels from passengers, he drove across the George Washington Bridge to Hollywood, Florida.

CimillobusheadlineHe parked the bus on a side street, called the bus company to ask them to wire him $50 so he could refuel and return home, and then went to a local racetrack. Police arrested him there and transported him back to New York in his bus (below).

Cimillo was indicted for grand larceny, but instead of throwing him in jail, the bus company seemed to be on his side. They paid his bail, after all.

CimillovideoOnce his busman’s holiday made the newspapers, he generated sympathy from the public. Even his fellow bus drivers held a fundraiser to pay for his legal fees.

Charges were later dropped. He became something of a mini-celebrity, with passengers asking for his autograph and plans for a movie about his adventure announced.

Cimillo continued driving a bus for years. When asked by one newspaper why he took his detour to the Sunshine State, he replied that he “just started out and kept going … the fellows at the bus company will understand, I’m sure.”

[Top iamge: AP; second, New York Times; third: Brooklyn Eagle headline; fourth: British Pathe film clip]

The Empire State Building’s “beautiful suicide”

April 16, 2012

Evelyn McHale appeared to have everything going for her. The 20-year-old bookkeeper was engaged, and she’d just returned to the city after visiting her fiance at his college in Pennsylvania.

But she must have been despondent. On May 1, 1947, instead of going home to Long Island, she checked into the Governor Clinton Hotel, on Seventh Avenue and 31st Street.

There she composed a suicide note, tucking it into her purse. She then left the hotel. At 10:30 a.m., she went to the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Against the railing she placed her folded coat, her purse, and a makeup kit filled with family photos.

At 10:40 a.m., pedestrians on 34th Street heard an explosive boom—what turned out to be the sound of Evelyn’s body crashing into a limousine.

A photographer happened to be nearby. He took several photos, one of which made it into Life magazine that week (right).

The caption read “At the bottom of the Empire State Building the body of Evelyn McHale reposes calmly in grotesque bier, her falling body punched into the top of a car.”

Still in her pearls, her legs crossed elegantly, Evelyn looked peaceful, as if she was asleep.

She was dubbed “the most beautiful suicide” because of the eerie way her face and body were unbroken on top of the twisted metal of the limousine, even after a 1,000-foot fall.

In 1963, Andy Warhol co-opted the photo for a piece he titled “Suicide (Fallen Body).