Friday, January 27, 2012

So many creative ways to die: the story of George Millet and the ink eraser

Iowahawk put an interesting link up yesterday on Twitter. It was to photo of a gravestone in New York City upon which was engraved the story of how the person died.

Here is the photo:


George Millet was a fifteen year old boy who had just begun working at the Department of Applications of Metropolitan Life Insurance in New York City two months before. By all accounts, he was a diligent, shy, pleasant boy whom the office stenographer ladies liked. On the day after Valentine's Day 1909 he admitted that it was his 15th birthday. The young ladies teased him and said that when the work day ended they would chase him to give him his birthday kisses. Millet said they should not do that.

The ladies would have been smart to heed his words. When the time came to chase him, several of the ladies did catch George and planted the birthday kisses upon him. In an attempt to run away from the next kissing office mate, George tripped and fell. Unfortunately the ink eraser he carried in his pocket as part of his office regalia pierced his artery near the heart and he died shortly after.

The story was pretty big news, being unusual method of death, the suddenness of it, and the tender youth of the likable boy. The NY Newspapers carried reports, as well as newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Papers today even take note of it. Below are photos of ink erasers from that part of the century. Here is a pdf of the NY Times account. I love the language.

"Stabbed to death in office frolic"... "stabbed as a result of skylarking at the office"... The Trenton True American's headline "Boy meets death while running away from kisses of a pretty girl". The Gettysburg Times' headline was "Killed while escaping kissers: While eluding girls lad fell upon ink eraser".

Death can come evilly; from a shank in prison, at the hands of a murderer, a violent domestic situation...or it can come innocently. Playful romps do not normally result in nearly instant, bloody death, but they can and they do. In 2006 Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was doing what he did every day, observing or filming marine wildlife when he was instantly killed by a stingray's barb to the heart.

Life is short. You've heard that. It was short for George Millet. He didn't think he could or would die in an office job at an insurance company. But he did. The bible tells us, "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”" (James 4:13-15).

It is unwise to put off plans to reconcile to Jesus. It is foolish to think you will be granted a tomorrow. Your life is but a breath and then evaporates. One breath separates you from life on earth and eternity at your final destination. Job 7:7, Psalm 39:5, Psalm 78:39, Psalm 144:4, Proverbs 27:1, Isaiah 2:22 ALL remind us that life is a breath and then it is gone. The Isaiah verse reads, "Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils." What does God hold? Eternity. He holds your life. He holds your future. Put your trust in HIM. You may not have a tomorrow. George didn't.

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