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Forty whacks…well, nearly twenty, anyway

Hey, I bought a Lizzie Borden hatchet! We went to a big nursery today, set in an old Victorian walled garden with beautiful ornate greenhouses. It was part of a gorgeous old estate, now a school. That would have been an awesome thing to post about but, ummm…I forgot to take pictures, so here’s the thing I bought from the antique tool shed.

I used to be a Lizzie Borden aficionado. I’m not usually a fan of (technically) unsolved cases, but you have to love a prim Sunday-school-teaching spinster who wakes up one fine August morning and takes a hatchet to the old folks.

I do think she did it, though she was acquitted. Everyone in Fall River thought she did it, too, which made her later life a misery. Though her father left her rich, she was nicked for shoplifting not long after the murders. And may or may not have had a fling with a famous actress of the day. What’s not to love?

Well, in the end, lots. I lost interest after many years readying when it dawned on me that most of the mystery surrounding the case was due to the extreme incompetence of the police. Even by the standards of the day, they sucked. They didn’t search the house or anybody in it for days, didn’t verify the whereabouts of the principals. The whole business would be a lot more fun if it weren’t full of stupid, unnecessary holes.

Still, the sheer lousiness of the investigation has made the Borden murders a healthy cottage industry for upwards of a hundred and twenty years. I was amazed when I did an images search just now, how much stuff has come to light just since I last looked into it just a few years ago…including an autopsy photo of Andrew Borden. You can search for yourself, if you’ve a mind-ta.

As for the hatchet, it was never proved to be the murder weapon. It was found in the basement, snapped off just below the blade, covered in ashes. Still, I’ve always had a hankering for one like it. And not to bury in any particular skull, neither.


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: September 2, 2013, 11:11 pm

The whole business would be a lot more fun if it weren’t full of stupid, unnecessary holes.

I’m truly happy that this post has nothing to do with making babies.

Comment from sandman in da howz…
Time: September 2, 2013, 11:21 pm

Yep. Looks like old mild steel. Sharpens with a file as well as any stone.

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,
She went all bull dyke and whatnot…

Or something…

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 2, 2013, 11:23 pm

Now those Viking battle axes, or the norman axes … that’s an axe!

Comment from drew458
Time: September 2, 2013, 11:44 pm

unless you’re a LOTR dwarf. Or Scottish. Or a Feegle. In which case, “that’s an achs!”

Comment from pupster
Time: September 3, 2013, 12:37 am


Comment from Some vegetable
Time: September 3, 2013, 12:48 am

Uhm, did you tell Uncle Badger about this purchase, or are you uhm, intending to surprise him with it?

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: September 3, 2013, 3:02 am

OT: R.I.P. Fred Pohl

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013)

Farewell to a fine, fine author with a fine, fine imagination.

Comment from dissent555
Time: September 3, 2013, 4:50 am

Hammer and an axe – useful tool.

Sorry to hear about Fred Pohl.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: September 3, 2013, 5:48 am

So, Uncle B… How soundly are you sleepin’ these days? 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 3, 2013, 12:17 pm

I hope Her Stoatliness hasn’t taken this badger cull nonsense too seriously…

Comment from Deborah
Time: September 3, 2013, 3:12 pm

Me thinks you’re safe, Uncle Badger. Where would Stoaty ever find another you?

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 3, 2013, 3:13 pm

Note To Self:

Be polite and always remain on your best behavior when visiting sweasel.com.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 3, 2013, 6:38 pm

For an interesting take on the Borden case, I recommend “The Deed of the Deft-Footed Dragon”, a short story by Avram Davidson.

It’s in Davidson’s collection The Other Nineteenth Century. (There are copies in libraries in Guildford, Maidstone, Brighton, and Gateshead.)

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: September 3, 2013, 10:53 pm

I wonder if Jim Butcher was thinking of Lizzy Borden when he created the ghost of Agatha Hagglethorne for the book GRAVE PERIL…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 3, 2013, 11:03 pm

I would like to point out that Rich Rostrom has looked up a book in the public library system of the South of England. That is all.

Comment from Mojo
Time: September 4, 2013, 5:15 pm

A “Roofers hatchet”

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 4, 2013, 8:45 pm

S. Weasel @ September 3, 2013, 11:03 pm:

I would like to point out that Rich Rostrom has looked up a book in the public library system of the South of England. That is all.

It occurred to me that it was sort of pointless to recommend an obscure book that probably wasn’t available, so I checked to see if it was. Took me all of a minute and a half with WorldCat, and then I copied the result over.

(BTW, WorldCat automatically lists the six or eight nearest copies of the requested book, wherever they are. More than once, the nearest copy has been in England or even Australia. That tickles me for some obscure reason, especially when it’s some small-town library.)

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