The Legend of Six-Toe Jones
You have undoubtedly never heard of Shadrach Duvalle Jones. His memory is long forgotten, or it would be if there were anyone who had been with him when he passed. For that matter, it is unknown exactly when he left this life. Shadrach Duvalle Jones became a vapor. He simply vanished.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that he departed from this world. He provided much evidence of his existence while alive. That evidence—rather the lack of it—testifies of his death.
Shadrach Duvalle Jones entered life on June 23, 1903. Sufficient documentation verifies this account.
He came to manhood during the Roaring Twenties, and he absorbed every ounce of pleasure from it. He also became quite wealthy, at least on paper. In the process, he became the antithesis of his favorite literary character from childhood, Robin Hood. Indeed, he had no scruples of ignoring or even dispossessing the poor, the down-on-his-luck man or woman. He looked down on them and showed no patience or extended no charity.
Shadrach Duvalle Jones was a self-made man, in his eyes only successful because of his own financial prowess, his own skills, his own mental acuity. To him, he was an example for all men for all time. “Anyone who can’t make money is unworthy of help,” he thought often. He had nothing but disdain for the poor. There was no greater sin in his eyes than poverty.
Two life-altering events changed his thinking and changed the direction of his life. The stock market crash of 1929 turned him overnight into a penniless soul. Initially, he assumed he would make it all back in a short time. That proved fruitless, of course. His fall back plan was to return to the family homestead in Oklahoma and temporarily return to farming, a vocation he loathed, yet found necessary.
The Dust Bowl sealed the fate of the family farm, so for the first time in his life, Shadrach Duvalle Jones found himself homeless, unemployed, destitute, and growing increasingly hopeless.
He took to the rail, living in Hooverville shacks, moving frequently in search of employment and a steady income. Over time, he began to understand the mindset of those like him. Introspection informed him he had been wrong in judging the poor. He felt ashamed for his own want, but more so for the cruel ways he had treated and thought about the poor. He vowed somehow to make amends.
Shadrach Duvalle Jones grew increasingly bitter. His despair grew along with compassion for others. He gradually learned to hate those with whom he had previously associated, especially those who retained their wealth after the Crash. They simply had been lucky. And they still, as far as he could discern, showed no compassion for the poor.
Shadrach put together a tentative plan to start to set things right. The wealthy would be his target. The downtrodden would be his beneficiaries.
He commenced b jumping on a train—as a non-paying passenger in a boxcar—to New York City. This provided him with a huge field to harvest. Two nights after he arrived, he broke into the opulent home of an investor with whom he had done business. His purpose was simply to burglarize the place. Something fractured in his psyche once inside the residence. The owner and his wife were present and asleep, and after bagging up the stolen booty, Shadrach stealthily crept into the master bedroom, pulled the covers from of the sleepers’ feet, and calmly cut of the man’s pinky toe with a bolt cutter he had brought. He fled without being recognized.
To demonstrate the condition of his tortured mind, Shadrach, upon returning to a shack where he had taken temporary residence, struck the detached toe on a chain he always wore around his neck. It had great sentimental value, having belonged to his mother’s mother.
He took the proceeds from the burglary and gave them to other homeless dwellers nearby. Having received an abundance of gratefulness from the recipients of his generosity, and also getting ample mental and emotional satisfaction from the execution of his crime, Shadrach embarked on an ambitious plan to produce greater results. He duplicated his first feat, and then he left another larger city, where he performed the same act. He never stayed in a location for more than one burglary, endeavoring to spread the bounty around as much as possible. Each time for the first six episodes, he extracted a toe from the victims and strung the toe around his neck on the chain.
Because of incessant moving about the country, authorities were never able to catch up with him or predict his next action. The poor always knew when he was in town, however. He never disappointed them, either. “Six Toe’s here,” was the whisper in the community of the lowest rank. He wore the chain always, but never visibly when not around his own kind.
Some in the poorest sectors say he died in Kansas City. Others tell it as New Orleans. In most large cities, the poorest believe he died there. No one knows for sure. The only certainty is that at some definite point, Six-Toe Jones quit contributing to their needs. Most people believe it was just after the end of World War II.
The chain with the toes was never located. Neither was his grave if there was one. Some people have hypothesized that Six-Toe Jones, the legend, never existed, just a man named Shadrach Duvalle Jones, who disappeared after the start of the Great Depression.
Left me wanting more. I am always a greedy reader.