The third and revised printing of David Rehak’s 270 page softcover book, Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?, contains a never before seen note written in Lizzie’s hand shortly after the sinking of the Titanic. This book is now available (along with Mr. Rehak’s other books) thru Lulu Press as seen by clicking HERE.
This is a different kind of Lizzie book. Traditionally, the Lizzie books have a sequential, narrative progression, spilling forth the saga of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden against the backdrop of Fall River, Massachusetts and peppered with some new (and often outrageous) theory of who dunnit. Not this book. No long, flowing narratives here. No in-depth research filling chapter after chapter. Instead Dave takes us on a thoroughly enjoyable Mr. Toad’s wild ride weaving in and out, up and down, over and around and back again, giving us punches of “in your face” data to quickly absorb, question, and quickly move on.
In the Introduction he says he deals with the facts “as we know them”. Well, not entirely. For example, an early error is in the constricted Timeline that has John Morse visiting his niece and nephew, “the Emerys” on Weybosset street. Nonetheless, with almost bullet-point speed he whisks us through “Lizzie didn’t do it”, then rebounds with “Lizzie did it” having laid out the basics and offers conclusions – not opinionated but taken from reportings of the day.
Then we are off and flying again into the skies of “whys”. Why was Lizzie thought to be a lesbian – featuring Nance O’Neil; why does Lizzie linger; why was Lizzie a romantic being, and so on. Along the read-ride we bump into Lizzie’s alledged boyfriend (David Anthony), the alleged illegitimate son of Andrew (William S. Borden), her disloyal friend (Alice Russell), her loyal supporter (Mary Livermore). If television’s TMZ and “Access Hollywood” were turned into a book on Lizzie, this would be it. Fast flashes that move from one salacious tidbit to another, the reader learns something new, re-processes something already known, and finds points to question and challenge – depending upon the level of expertise of the reader.
While Mr. Rehak asserts he makes no claim as to her guilt or innocence, it is clear he has a real affection for the inscrutable Miss Borden and sways from an unbiased hand more than once. For this we can forgive him. Most authors attempting to maintain neutrality often write with a slight transparency allowing the reader to draw the correct conclusion.
There are two things that have never been published in any book on the Borden case before and they appear in this book only. One is revealed to the public in printed form for the first time.
First, this portrait of Andrew J. Borden as a young man – perhaps taken at the time he married Sarah Morse Borden. Neither this image or similar image has appeared in a book up to this time. Second, and more importantly, something “new” in Lizzie’s own hand: a note she wrote not long after the sinking of the Titantic wanting the initial “B” placed on toiletry items for her matching case. It gives us insight into Lizzie’s own vanity, her keen eye for quality, and maybe even tells us how much that “B” as in B O R D E N meant to her.
I have permission from author Dave Rehak to include that note in this blog so here it is as introduced in his book.
I would recommend to any Bordenia collector to purchase Dave’s book for these images alone. However, as the reader traverses through the uneven flow of these pages, he/she will come upon many new images not published previously except in his own editions. In addition, one can’t help but chuckle at some of the fantasy in the form of poems, psychic contacts with meeting Lizzie, and particularly “Lizzie’s New Hat”, all the more solidifying the fact this is like no other Lizzie book and stands as an “Anomaly of Audacity” to put a twisted contemporary pun on it.
David Rehak has done us all a favor, regardless of the factual accuracy and lack of scholarly research and citations. He has given us a marvelous compendium representative of the orbit that spins around our Miss Lizzie, and he’s done it with originality, good humor, and a fast track ride wholly entertaining and worthy of our attention.
I wrote about this new edition coming out in a previous blog entry where I explained the facts of why a second edition was “rushed to print.” This third edition has corrected the abysmal editing errors that were an unfortunate result. You can read why this happened HERE. If you have the first edition – hold on to that baby – it’s value just soared! And having a collection of all 3 is what the true Borden collector aspires.
It was my pleasure to provide Dave with several of the images in the book, some not published before. In the 7 years I have known him, I’ve found him to be a kind man – a sensitive man, and one I’m proud to call a friend. I recommend you purchase this unique collectible and treat yourself to that wild ride! 🙂
Twenty years in the making, this promises to be the next best thing to the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie Andrew Borden and Her Fall River.
Cara Warschaw Robertson
You can pre-order (as I did weeks ago) on Amazon. Cara has been a great and long-time contributor to the FRHS’s Borden collection. Her background is absolutely stellar. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1997 – but here’s a brief recap:
“Ms. Robertson earned her B.A. from Harvard College (summa cum laude), her Ph.D. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School (with distinction). After law school, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable John Paul Stevens and the Honorable Byron White of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ms. Robertson has been an associate legal officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a visiting scholar at Stanford Law School and a fellow at the National Humanities Center.”
I knew of Ms. Robertson because in my own research on the case I had come across her work published in the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (Summer 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2) entitled: “Representing Miss Lizzie: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden”.
However, I actually met her during one of my twice annual visits to Fall River through an introduction by Curator Michael Martins. It was in 2001, in the basement of the FRHS where she was engaged in deep research for this book. A few days later we chatted outdoors on the FRHS property (inside the gazebo) about all things Lizzie. She struck me as a lovely person and a most serious scholar. She also struck me as off-the-charts smart. Thus, I have been awaiting this book ever since.
Here’s the promo text from the Amazon site – enough to get all Borden case enthusiasts salivating:
“The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?
The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.”
Oh, goody, goody, goody. New stuff. New author. BUT NOT A NEW RESEARCHER. And there’s the difference my friends. This woman knows her stuff inside and out. I’m certain one will be hard pressed in the reading of her book to find misquotes or misinformation.
And don’t forget: She’s smart – really, really smart. And, oh, so nice.
Buy the book.
(Recycled from November 25, 2009 – still plays.)
Lizzie has sat down and made out a list for what she is thankful for on Thanksgiving, 1891:
I’m thankful for all the things I get to do at Central Congregational Church. (They like me! They really, really like me!)
I’m thankful I got accepted as Secretary to the Women’s Board of the Fall River Hospital. (They all like my penmanship).
I’m thankful Emma knows how to keep her mouth shut.
I’m thankful I’m a Borden.
I’m thankful father pays my bills at McWhirrs, Gifford’s and other places for things I “got”.
I’m thankful Dr. Bowen lives nearby. (He is so handsome!)
I’m thankful I don’t have to do any housework, except the care of my room – which Emma does mostly anyway.
I’m thankful Abby has no shoes with good tread when she clumsily…
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Dallas Conference (reposted)
Leaving tomorrow morning for a 3-day conference in Dallas, Texas. Plan on having some R&R there on Friday and Saturday. In previous trips I usually hooked up with Jean Hill, known as “The Lady in Red”, who was standing next to Mary Muchmore in that very famous President Kennedy assassination photograph. I wrote to Jean in 1976 when I was doing some serious research on the case and met her in person 3 years later when I went to Dallas to interview a few police officers who were still on the Dallas Police Department. Jean and I stayed in touch and exchanged Christmas cards each year. We posed for this picture at the 1993 JFK Assassination Symposium. She died about 7 years ago. Jean was a lovely lady and was often maligned about that “little white dog” in the back of the car JFK rode in….but thankfully she was vindicated before she died.
Neeley St. Apartment
I also plan to go by the Neeley Street apartment and see if it’s still standing. I had this picture taken in the same year standing in the spot Lee Harvey Oswald stood posing with the Manlicker Carcano (sp) rifle in one hand (which he used to shoot President Kennedy), and a communist publication in the other. I used to imagine Marina lumbering down those stairs with a load of wash to hang on the line, pregnant with her second child. It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Dallas so I’m looking forward to seeing that skyline and visiting the West End again – one of my favorite areas of the city. Since this event is similar to that held recently at Raytheon in Massachusetts, maybe some of the same people I met interested in Lizzie will be there.
I began studying the JFK assassination in the early 1970’s and still have my own complete 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Report. Tedious reading those volumes. No indexed paragraphs whatsoever; the pages just spill over one after another in block form, and all the photographs are exhibited all in the last volume. The amazing thing that struck me over three decades ago was how much information was gathered by the FBI in such a short period….and with 1960’s technology.
The Picket Fence
And yes, I believe LHO acted alone. And that O.J. acted alone. As did Lizzie.