In 1928 the newly wed Glen and Bessie Hyde had honeymoon plans that would likely put yours to shame (definitely mine). You know how when your talking to your fiancee about your future wedding plans and one of you inevitably suggests trying to break the world speed record for traversing the Grand Canyon in a boat? In reality, this traditional fantasy never comes to pass, but six months after their marriage Glen and Bessie actually tried to walk the walk. Bessie would also become the first woman to run the canyon, so she was absolutely #girlbossing the shit out of everything.
On November 18th 1928, the couple visited photographer Emery Colb at his home and studio on the Grand Canyon rim to take some photos commemorating them setting off on their history making trip. And off they went. Forever! Dun dun duuuuuuun! A search party was launched about a month later, when the couple failed to make it to places along the Canyon as expected. They found the boat still full of the couples’ supplies, notebooks and equipment. Bassie had #girlbossed too close to the sun, and her and Glen were never seen again.
Or were they??
OK, fair warning: things get weird, and then even weirder.
Years after the Hydes’ disappearance, a group of common or garden hairy Boat Bros were sailing down the Colorado when they noticed an old woman sailing down the river alone. Probably realising that their supplies were low on rich tea biscuits and sticky old wrapped sweets probably brought twenty years ago, they imagined that the old lady would be well stocked and invited her to join them. The old woman agreed and introduced herself as Georgie Clark. Later, the crew were telling the legend of Glen and Bessie Hyde around the campfire, and Bessie rather abruptly revealed that, you know what? I’m Bessie Hyde, actually.
Bessie Hyde said that she wanted to leave the trip back in ’38 because it was starting to look far too dangerous. Glen passionately disagreed and started to beat her, so Bessie had no choice but to stab him to death. Obviously, you weren’t likely to get too much leniency as a woman killing her husband in the 1930s US, so Bessie was forced to go into hiding and start calling herself Georgie Clark. The group of sailors were shocked, but to a man believed everything she was saying because of the certainty in Bessie’s voice. Later on, one of the group managed to find Bessie’s home telephone number and gave her a ring to ask if she wanted to do an interview about the case. Bessie angrily told him that she had no idea what he was talking about, that she was Georgie Clark, and hung up the phone. But, y’know, fair enough, right? The old broad just admitted to murder, she’s not gonna want the New York Times stealing her biscuits.
There were still so many questions though, after Bessie killed her husband why did she then leave all of the couple’s supplies in the boat as she left to try and survive alone in the middle of the Grand Canyon, miles from any sort of civilisation and in the middle of winter?? It was later learned that Bessie had also confessed her true identity to her closest friends, but had never shown them any proof and – funnily enough – never once invited any of them to her house. After Bessie died her best friends – being the good nosy bastards that they are – asked to search her house to see if any answers lay there. In the house was a gun, a birth certificate in the name of Bessie DeRoss, and Bessie and Glen’s marriage certificate. Case closed.
Georgie Clark/White was actually a pretty celebrated explorer/rower/whatever you’d call it in her own right. She was actually the first woman to row the Grand Canyon in 1952. Because of this, there are multiple photos of Georgie Clark when she was younger and… that ain’t no Bessie Hyde. Her actual biographer Richard Westwood says that she definitely wasn’t Bessie Hyde, as so little of her story makes sense. Even her close friends admit that she probably got the marriage certificate made just so she could spark debate. Georgie Clark was, basically, an epic troll.Or just a standard old woman, don’t lie and say your batty old Gran hasn’t done similar things this very week.
OK, case reopened…
And then we get to Emery Kolb, that photographer the couple visited back in 1938 and who might have been the last person to see them. He sadly passed away in the 1970s. His relatives were extremely saddened but glad that their lovable old Grandpapa played a small part in a famous story of a lo – Holy shit why is there a full human skeleton in a canoe in Grandpapy’s boathouse?? Yeah the complete human skeleton of a six foot tall white male with a bullet in his skull. It all made so much sense now, why was the last person to see them not questioned more thoroughly? Looking back, it was obvious how… No, hang on, scientists studied the skull and compared the facial structure to photos of Glen Hyde and, nah bro, that ain’t him. Your Grandaddy just has an unknown skeleton of a murdered guy in his house. That is so cringe for you. No idea who he is.Complete rando. Do we start investigating that now?
In 1928, Glen and Bessie met their fate
From Twin Falls down the Colorado
In a handmade canoe, what happened to these two?
Is up to who you ask, but full of sorrow
It took twenty-six full days to find the heart of the maze
Deep in the canyon, they were swallowed
He dragged his new wife through his treacherous life
For cheap thrills, he took their tomorrows
Did you make it?
Did you make it?
Did you make it on your own?
Or did you fake it, fake it?
Leave someone else’s bones?
They were last seen alive by Emery Kolb
Who lived alone in the canyon
He put ’em up for the night, warmed ’em up by the stove
Sayin’, “At least let me save your companion”
The years flew by and Kolb passed on
They found some bones in his boathouse
A bullet in the skull from another dawn
Under the piles of his photos
“This boat looks like a coffin and the water is strong
If you go, you are gone, gone, gone
If you go, you are gone, (Gone, gone)”
Bessie, Did You Make It?
Fifty years later the tale turned to legend
A woman claimed to be Bess for a second
By the fire, she said without smiling
“I’m Bessie, I killed him, I was simply surviving”
“I’m Bessie, I killed him, I was simply surviving”
Marissa motherfucking Nadler, ladies and gentlemen and others. A kind of counterpoint to Soccer Mommy in that, yeah, she’s kind of doing the same stuff she’s always done (mildly Gothic acoustic and strings ballads), but I loved that stuff then, I love it now, and I’ll likely love it in the future. The difference on her latest album is it’s largely based around good ol’ fashioned murder ballads, after a case of writer’s block after she moved from Boston to Nashville saw her watch a lot of True Crime documentaries. Honestly? I kind of wanted to base this post around questioning both the ethics of True Crime and potentially the negative affects it could have on both the human psyche and the general political viewpoints of a nation. But, shit, I just got so into that Bessie Hyde case that I can kind of see the appeal now. Bollocks, I done outworked ma’self…
(with Stephen Brodsky)