I have a new book coming out in June. It is entitled Sabotage: A Chronicle of the Chesterton Crash. I became fascinated about this case when I was doing research for an entirely different book and decided this one needed its own. What follows is not an excerpt from the book. These series of articles is just to educate people about the crash.
One of the passengers was a man named Emil Smith. Smith was from the Chicago area. He and his mother had run a very successful general store in the Oak Park area. They had eventually sold the store and Smith had been living comfortably on the money earned from that. His favorite hobby was duck hunting and it was confirmed that he often packed his own shotgun shells (although that is hardly uncommon among avid hunters).
He had gone to New York alone. He told his family he was going to see a few games of the World Series. While in New York, he was a quiet guest in the hotel, tried to set up a date with a woman he met on the street, and attended a couple of games. He then sent a telegram the night before the crash that he was headed home on a flight the next day. Strangely, according to the cabbie, he was waiting on the sidewalk for the taxi rather than inside in the waiting area.
There was nothing about his past that indicated he was involved in anything illegal. Apparently he liked to drink, and this was the time of Prohibition, but most adult men had found ways around that law and continued to drink. His family kept hoping that he would find a new job and new purpose to his life, but he seemed content to hunt and enjoy watching sports.
Still, some of his behavior the afternoon and night of the explosion and crash was a little odd…