Ruby Hayworth: Would You Buy A Human Skull?

Ruby Hayworth asks the question, "Would YOU buy a human skull?" / Photo by Lina White on Unsplash

Can you imagine casually shopping at a thrift store, leisurely perusing the shelves, only to end up having to be the adult in the room to say, “Um, hey guys? This is an actual human skull.”

To be fair, this happened in Florida. Florida. I guess nothing coming out of Florida should be shocking or unexpected, just another goofy news bit to add to the list: On November 4, an anthropologist discovered the skull in a Fort Myers crystal shop.

I love pondering the chain of events that had to have occurred in order for the skull to make its way there. Or more, the real lack of observation or caring that went on for this thing to be floating around unquestioned. I feel like I could have easily spotted that, no anthropologist required.

When I read this article it instantly reminded me of the story of Elmer McCurdy. The abridged story goes like this: Elmer McCurdy was an old timey bandit who wasn’t so great at being a bandit and came to an untimely end during a police shootout in a barn. He had no family to claim him at the funeral parlor. The dodgy undertaker, proud of his preservation skills, decided to display McCurdy’s body for a fee, guests paid for the viewing by putting the money in the corpse’s mouth. Ew.

A few years later a couple of carnival owners became interested in this spectacle, though they had heard the undertaker wouldn’t sell the body to anyone, so they figured they had a better chance of acquiring it if they posed as ol’ Elmy’s relatives. The undertaker bought it, hook, line and sinker.

The carnival people then ended up selling the body and it changed hands several times over the following decades until 1976, when a film crew for the TV show The Six Million Dollar Man was utilizing a funhouse in an amusement park in Long Beach, Calif. A crew person went to go move what he thought was a mannequin hanging from a noose when one of its arms broke off. Only it wasn’t a mannequin. Imagine his shock when he saw actual human bone. Nightmare material.

It was then the crew learned the long and creepy tale of Elmer McCurdy.

I’m sure the Florida skull probably doesn’t have nearly as cool a story. But it would be cool if it was more than just the fact that it came in with a bunch of stuff from a storage locker. Was it from someone that got eaten by a gator? Several gators? A torrid love affair gone wrong? A wrestling accident? Tiger King victim?

We may never know, but at least the anthropologist had a story to tell her family after bringing home a mint vinyl record of Xanadu, some ill-fitting cargo shorts with ten percent knocked off the price due to a stain, and an only-half-the-time-working singing bass mounted on a wooden plaque, but she doesn’t care ’cause that right there is goddamn funny when you’re from Florida.