Death in the Long Hot Summer


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

July 15, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 38

Long Hot Village Summer

By Lou Ellen Davis

The scene was Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue on July 7 and 4:30 in the morning.

A girl was lying on the sidewalk, obviously bleeding to death from multiple wounds. A young Army private was trying to stanch the flow of blood with bandages torn from a shirt he had just stripped off.

Another girl, her face and arms cut, was watching numbly. “Oh, save me.” She dropped down onto a nearby doorstep and sobbed: “I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it.”

A few minutes earlier she, Eileen White, 20, a waitress, and the girl on the ground, Elizabeth Jane Bourne, 26, had been in a fight which ended with both of them crashing through the plate-glass window of Gleam Cleaning Inc.

“A reporter,” cried the other one. [He looked at] old eyed Miss White and began yelling: “What do you mean, you didn’t mean?” He raised his fist to hit her. Two of the onlookers held him off until he calmed down, but he stayed at the scene. “You did it, didn’t you?”

“Let me alone…I don’t know you. Who are you? Let me alone!”

An ambulance from St. Vincent’s came and took both girls away. The burglar alarm, set off when the window was smashed, continued ringing. A police guard was placed in front of the store.

This reporter, while questioning the guard, was accosted by two youths.

“Hey, you a reporter? You want to know what happened? I did it!”

“A reporter,” cried the other one. “Here! Take my picture!” He ran to where the girl had fallen through the window, and posed with his foot on some blood smeared glass, while his friend doubled up with laughter.

The witnesses had been taken to the waiting room at St. Vincent’s. Annie Brennan, roommate of the girl who had been seriously hurt, left to check “emergency” on her condition. When she returned she was asked by one of the other witnesses: “How is she?”

“They just gave her the last rites.”

Elizabeth Bourne died about a half hour later, and Eileen White has been booked on a homicide charge. All the girls involved had come over from Jersey City for a night on the town. No one was sure what the fight was about. Jealousy? It was all very vague.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]