Sunday, August 23, 2009

CryptoWA #9 - Acursed Diamond!

When John Considine wasn't busy shooting Seattle's police chief (and getting away with it), he built lavish theaters and music halls. Considine was stunned to find former Vaudeville superstar May Yohe scrubbing floors in a shipyard office in 1918. Yohe was once the toast of four continents, and formerly Lady Francis Hope. The Hope family owned a really big diamond.

After years of lavish globetrotting, Yohe and her third husband ran out of money, ending up in a Seattle tenement. She attributed her lowly state to the curse of the Hope Diamond.

The death of a gem merchant who briefly owned the diamond made some headlines in 1908, but it was May's tale that really caught the imagination of the world.

May went on to tell her story -- and a highly fictional history of the diamond -- in a tell-all book, followed by a series of silent films in the 1920's (all flops). She tried repeatedly to relaunch her career as a stage diva, usually wearing a replica of the famous diamond, but theater critics must have been in on the curse. Further efforts to start an inn (bankrupt) and a chicken farm north of Seattle (burned) all failed.

But her PR efforts on behalf of the Hope Diamond were arguably a huge success. May Yohe created a story that persists today.


Monday, August 3, 2009

CryptoWA #8 - Jim Carter's Run

I'll say one thing for accounts of Washington's Bigfoot: they kick ass. This is no peaceful root munching pacifist, placidly wandering our remote forests. This Bigfoot will mess you up, and then some.

One such story is of an experienced mountaineer and skier name Jim Carter, who went up Mount St. Helens in May of 1950 and never came down.

Carter apparently told his climbing buddies he would wait for them downslope and take their picture when they went past near Dog's Head. When they came down the hill, Carter was gone. Only an empty film box and the tracks of Carter's skis were found. Carter had apparently taken off on a mad dash, jumping "2 or 3" crevasses, "taking chances no skier of his caliber would take." The tracks lead over the edge of Ape Canyon.

No trace of Carter was ever found. In an interview with the Longview Washington Times from 1963, one of the search team members concluded that "the apes got him."

I have two questions about all this. First, what ended up on the film in Carter's camera? Second, is the plural of Bigfoot "Bigfoots" or "Bigfeet?"