Welcome to Interesting If True, a weekly comedy podcast that will hold your interest, if not water… I'm your host this week, Steve, and with me are our panel, Shea & Aaron.
I'm Shea, and this week I learned how much my wife truly loves me. I woke up last night with her pushing a pillow against my face to keep COVID-19 at bay. I'm #blessed
I’m Aaron, and this week I learned that being invisible would also make you blind because light would pass through your retina… I’ve been watching a lot of quarantine-anime…
I’ve also been boning up on true crime, so…
Wouldn't Say I've Been Missing Him...
Diving into this story, first, I need to set the stage.
The year is 1929—which started on a Tuesday, that's a true—it was the end of the Roaring Twenties. Soon Wall Street would kerplunk ushering in the Great Depression, Hooverville, and of course the Dalek occupation of the Empire State Building. Followed shortly thereafter by the invention of the color TV by H. E. Ives at Bell Telephone Laboratories, which totally wasn't playing with recovered alien technology.
Meanwhile, the American south was... sweaty and smelled of Elder berries and gin stills. Also bigotry. It smelled like bigotry.
Amid the hustle and bustle of the southland [cough], there was a man. A myth. A Legend. Ok, a legend of a ghostly man who might be a myth, but that's close to the same thing.
Connie Franklin was his name and splitting lumber was his game. Apparently.
Born in 1895—which started on a Wednesday, just FYI—he would grow up in obscurity. The first real mention of Connie was January of 1929 when the now #SourthernMath 22-year-old (by his own account) set out toward the town of St. James in Stone County, R-Kansas.
Now, the interesting thing about Connie Franklin is that he either played the harp or was brutally murdered.
Setting into town Connie found employment as a hired hand splitting wood and doing manual labor. As was his way. He soon met 16-year-old Tiller Ruminer...-ish.
There's some disagreement on her name. It could have been Tillar, Tiller, Tiler, or Tillie. Stories vary. I'm going to use Tiller because that's how she's called in the March 11 edition of the 1942 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the nearest-to-contemporary sources I could find.
Connie quickly fell for Tiller. She was sixteen, had great—milk-free—legs, and was polio-free. What more could you want? The two quickly fell in love and for a while life was as less-terrible as it could be in 1929.
On the 9th of March, they eloped. Or tried to, anyway. They'd gone to see the local magistrate... or umm... lord, high hibildy-piboly maybe. He who had the most teeth and therefore wed people. But alas, he was out woo-ing Jenn's Great-Gran mother with that very same pearly white. Singular.
Just kidding Jenn, we miss you!
Anyway, Connie and Tiller, having never made it to the altar began the long, and I assume swampy, journey home.
But he would never arrive!
Local Sharif Sam Johnson investigated but found nothing. Most folks just assumed Connie got cold feet and fled Arkansas.
We need to take a moment out of this entirely reality based rom-com and introduce a woman actually named Bertha. Bertha Burns. She fancied herself a detective and, not having any of that cold-footed malarky, set out to find some of that ee-loo-seev ev-e-donce.
Fast forward a few months and she found a bloodied hat on her land. Her near-the-trail-to-the-justice-of-the-peace land even! Using the hat and the impassioned pleas of some lady who claimed to be Connie's sister she dragged the Sheriff away from whatever fried-sadness passed as a doughnut back then and presented him with a small patch of scorched earth and a heaping helping of charred bones.