As much as I would like to say that I solved the mystery of the murder of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. The Black Dahlia, I cannot. But the man who did is a retired L.A. Homicide Detective. This is the back story of that mystery; directly connected to the alleged killer.
I discovered this infinitely more fascinating story, about 20 years ago by accident. This article is far too limiting to present the many details. But here are some highlights.
- The young mother is a descendant of Millard Fillmore on one side and the physician of Tzar Nicholas of Russia on the other.
- She was forced to move to Mexico to be away from her baby and her father after a widely publicized incest trial.
- The baby’s birth certificate states that the father was “Negro” (remember this is 1951).
- She named the baby Fauna after a Robinson Jeffers’ poem and insisted the name never be changed because of a large inheritance.
- Before the incest trial, she became pregnant by her father who wanted to keep the baby.
Now this may seem like a lot of odd circumstances about a mother and her baby. After all lots of children are from mixed families, but the key elements to this story really have to do with the relationship between the baby and her new mother – the woman who raised her to be who she is today.This black woman, under any circumstances is the last person one would want to entrust with a newborn child – at least on the surface. But at the time of the “give away” adoption, there was no concern for the welfare of the child. It was more about getting rid of a mixed race baby as quickly and quietly as possible. Here are some interesting notes about the black mother.
- The first thing she did was change the baby’s name to Patricia Ann Greenway.
- She worked as a restroom attendant at a segregated Nevada casino.
- Her common law marriage was to a full time shoe shine man and part time Pentecostal preacher.
- Not only could she not conceive a child; she never wanted children, particularly an adopted one.
- She was an alcoholic with little fear of any person or institution.
Of course that’s only a small part of her character and not the best part, but again, the story isn’t about her either. The real story revolves around the child growing up trying to find out how she became estranged from her biological family, and more importantly why.
The underlying motivation explores the complexities of not belonging to your natural tribe while trying to conform to their arbitrary rules. This story embodies survival and perseverance. Daunting psychological and emotional hurtles often produce permanent damage in an individual.
The story is about passion and prejudice; hatred and sex; violence and love. Conflicting elements we often acquire from our childhood and retain through our lives, rarely with resolution. It is never too late to take life lessons from the most challenged in our society.
This story is about hope and the color of love.