23 year old Evelyn McHale, of Long Island, became engaged in early 1947. On April 30th, she took the train to Easton, PA to spend her fiance’s birthday with him at his college dorm. They planned to be married that June. She boarded a 7:00 AM train back to New York the following morning but never did make it home.
Upon her arrival in New York City, she checked into
the Governor Clinton Hotel on 31st Street, where she composed a note, and tucked it into her purse. From there, she went to the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. Just before 10:30 am, on May 1, she calmly, and neatly, folder her coat, placing it against the guard railing alongside her purse and her makeup bag. She then flung herself off the building, falling more than 1,000 feet and landing squarely on the roof of a 1947 Cadillac parked on the street below.
The note that Evelyn left in her purse read: “I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”
Ironically, for someone who wanted to throw herself into obscurity, never to be remembered, a nearby photographer captured this image within minutes of her demise, and by the following week it appeared as a full page print in Life Magazine. The image of her lifeless body lying gracefully, and peacefully, atop the wreckage, immortalized forever.
Sometimes you can simply never get what is that you want in life, even in death.