I won't go into detail on the crime, as there is certainly enough for you to find yourself...and the tousled-topped national hero turned out to sorta be a creep anyway by nearly aligning himself with THE WRONG SIDE during World War Two. How the...? At so called America First Committee meetings, the airman apparently lambasted our impending involvement in the war by lecturing others on American Jews and their undue influence. Well...best left forgotten.
This post centers on a small aspect of the crime. The same one our tuff-dressed crime busters were centered on as well. They may look like the guys from "American Pickers" entering a honey-hole, but they were trying to find a connection to the central piece of evidence.
Bruno, or whoever, had to climb up to snatch the child, a horrible thing...and he built a ladder to do it. The ladder became what used to known as "The Macguffin" in Alfred Hitchcock movies. A recurring element which might mean nothing, but could just mean everything. Literally the O.J. gloves of the 1930s.
As the investigation progressed into trial, a spectacle unlike any before due to the nascent and emerging mass-media, slimy vendors sold miniature kidnap ladders outside the courthouse! That's right. Tiny souvenir wooden ladders, an early example of crime capitalism gone crazy! The tasteless newspapers ran tasteless photographs of tasteless spectators holding tiny tasteless ladders for the camera.
I have looked for one of those wee ladders off and on for a long time. I've owned a few miniature wooden handmade ladders, but had no way to tell if they were a legendary murder talisman representing the double horror of crime and unseemly opportunistic greed, or simply something a father made for his kid's Farmer Brown playset.
I even consulted a Lindberg Kidnapping expert at one time to see if he knew where I could get one. He brushed me off, clearly so as not to reveal his own pursuit of the holy grail of true crime novelties.
Guess who else was obsessed with the miniature ladder? No less than Maurice Sendak! He apparently traded one of his drawings for one, and used a similar image of a kidnapper's ladder leaned against a window in one of his works.
Once in a while I do a true crime story. You can see some of the others HERE.
Original 8 x 10 glossy press photograph March 7, 1932 with Handwritten description Collection Jim Linderman
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