Mar 16 2014

Despondency On Ellis Avenue

It's worth remembering that America's current struggle with unemployment and the lack of socialized medicine was an even BIGGER problem in the pre-Social Security, pre-Medicare years of the Great Depression.  And as we know, desperation leads to some very tragic decisions.  Take the decision made by Herman Marcus on December 11, 1933.


Parent Despondent Over Cost of Medical Care.

Harris Marcus, an unemployed tailor, shot his ailing son, Herman, yesterday in their home at 6130 Ellis avenue, and then fatally wounded himself with the same weapon.


The apartment building at 6130 S. Ellis Avenue where the Marcus family resided.

Marcus had been brooding over his own unemployment and the fact that expenditures for the son's medical care made it difficult to provide for other members of the family, police were told.  Members of the family said, however, that the father's worries were largely imaginary, since another son and a son-in-law, both living in the household, are employed and contributing to the family budget.

Marcus, who was 57 years old, and the son, who is 21, were both taken to the Woodlawn hospital.  The father's death occurred several hours later from a bullet wound in the right temple.  Physicians believe Herman will live, although a bullet from his father's revolver is imbedded in the mastoid area near his right ear.

Staggers from Apartment.

Herman was able to give a statement to police shortly after he was given first aid.  He had staggered out of the apartment and was seated on a stair landing when a detective squad, summoned by neighbors, reached the building.  He suffers from an intestinal ailment which made it impossible for him to find work.  The son said his father upbraided him for not working and because the expense of his care was "taking bread from the mouths" of other members of the family.

"My father threatened several times to commit suicide," Herman told police.  "Just yesterday he made the threat that we both would jump in the lake."

"Are you working?" the youth was asked.

"No," he replied.  "I have been sick and haven't worked for three or four years.  In fact, I've never worked.  This was the cause of our many arguments."

Mother and Sister Out.

Herman was reading in the front room of the home when his father shot him.  His mother, Mrs. Anna Marcus, and his sister, Rosalind, had gone to a motion picture show.  A brother, Louis, who is a druggist and lives with the family, and a married sister, Mrs. Samuel Fenk, wife of an osteopath, and her child, who live in the same apartment, were also absent.

Marcus had arrived home about 45 minutes before the shooting, the son said.  He made no remark to his son before shooting him, Herman said, and the youth was unable to remember whether his father had said anything afterward.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 11, 1933

The next day another wee article appeared relating to the shooting, which corrected Harris' age as well:

Father Who Shot Son and Killed Self Held Insane

A coroner's jurty found yesterday that Harris Marcus, 87 years old, 6130 Ellis avenue, who shot his ailing son, Herman, 21 years old, on Sunday night and then ended his own life, acted while temporarily insane.  An older son, Louis, told the jury that his father had been unbalanced since an automobile accident three years ago.  Herman, who was shot in the head, probably will recover, it was said yesterday at the Woodlawn hospital

Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 12, 1933

I'm not sure if Herman survived since I couldn't find any additional information on him after this, but I trust that he did.