Lost in Tradition

As the old way of doing things is lost, traditions suffer, Body-cement-shoes-hands-tied-discovered-Brooklyn-shoreline.

 The New York Times, in a related article, points out the nuances of how to do things in a traditional manner is lost to time.Police found a body washed up on the beach.  Police the world over are always finding bodies on beaches, so that in itself wasn’t unusual.  This body was wearing “cement overshoes”, that is the feet were in a five gallon bucket filled with concrete. 

Legend has it, that when the mob didn’t want a body to be found they placed the miscreant’s feet in a washtub, filled it with concrete and then dumped washtub and body in the bay.  Everybody knows this because the method was referred to in books and movies of the thirties, not because there was a sudden run on washtubs and concrete. While legions of gangsters may have disappeared during that era, few were found with “cement overshoes.” I suspect that like classic gunfights at high noon on main street, the concept was more a romantic notion than reality.  Yuppers western fans most “gunfights” had nothing to do with quick draw, face off, main street or wandering gunslingers.

Consider the practical difficulty in the whole “cement overshoes” venture. Is the victim dead or alive?  If the victim is alive what does one do while waiting for the cement to set up? Playing Gin just doesn’t seem practical. If the victim is dead then waiting the twelve hours for the cement to set up isn’t as critical. However, once the cement is ready chances are the body is in full rigor mortis, which means it doesn’t bend well.  A problem for transport.  Then again maybe all it would take is one guy and a hand truck.  Can you say cigar store Indian?

As the crooks in the modern day story discovered, a five gallon bucket doesn’t make it.  Just where does one find a washtub these days? I will give them credit for trying to follow tradition, a chain and small block Chevy engine probably would have done the trick. It seems appropriate to point out here that had the perpetrators had even a rudimentary introduction to physics in high school, they would have known that Boyle’s Law would be working against them.

Basically, Boyle’s Law tells us that if pressure and temperature remain constant then gas will remain at a constant volume.  Once temperature or pressure or both change then the gas volume will change also.  The dearly departed was first missed in February and made his reappearance in May.  Hmmm what changed?  The bay started getting warmer.  Which means the body got warmer, which means the gas volume was allowed to expand.  As the body began to float, bumping along the bottom, the depth decreased with a decrease in depth came a decrease in pressure which means a further expansion of gas. Round and round it goes, this guy could have looked like the Michelin tire man by the time he hit the surface.

At any rate the event gives assorted scribes the opportunity to have fun and the only one not enjoying the joke is the dearly departed.