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Texas | Features | Small Town Sagas

THE DAY EASTLAND, TEXAS
HANGED SANTA CLAUS

"... And to think that it happened on Mulberry Street!"

by John Troesser

Book Hotel Here > Eastland Hotels
Eastland TX Mulberry Street
"The utility pole used to lynch the Bank Robbery's Mastermind (we use the term loosely) in back of the Majestic Theater on the corner of Mulberry Street."
Photo by John Troesser
Eastland citizens are faced with a common dilemma. What parts of history do we preserve, and which do we sweep under the carpet?

While in Germany they place a plaque: "In ----, Goethe vomited from this window" and the Louisiana State Capital displays the bullet holes from Huey Long's Assassination, what do we do with the site of the Eastland lynching in 1932?

We don't cut down hanging trees (they simply facilitated the deed) and the same argument could be used for the electrical pole in Eastland. It was only handy. But put up a marker and a picket fence? Texas Escapes says yes. Because we need to know what happened, ugly as it was.

Is it a deterrent to Eastland Youth? Who knows? It is a fact that since that day, not one Texas bank robbery has occurred wherein the perpetrator dressed as Santa.

The marker bought the stonecutter's family groceries, and the picket fence is simply a nice touch, reflecting the tidiness of Eastland.

It could also be looked upon as a monument to ineptitude, since the incident, which ended with this lynching, was a textbook case of how not to rob a bank*. Even where mistakes couldn't be made, they were. Marshall (not a lawman) Ratliff was a notorious neer-do-well around Cisco. His notoriety was the reason for the disguise. As "master-mind" of the robbery, he forgot such cardinal rules as: get plenty of sleep the night before; make sure the police station is more than one block away; and fill up your tank before the robbery starts. In fact the only credit that could be given to this December 23 robbery is that Marshall didn't dress like the Easter Bunny.


John Troesser
Jan 2002 column

Related Topics:
Texas Historic Trees - Hanging trees, etc.
Small Town Sagas
Texas

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