The Accident of the Decade

By Brandon Sheets

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On June 21, 1922, a 35 year old woman named Myrtle Wilson was struck by a car at the Valley of Ashes in Long Island, New York. She died on the spot.

The events that led up to her complete abandon of self, which caused her untimely death, were scandalous indeed. Apparently an affair was going on between Myrtle and an unknown man, which upset her husband George greatly. He was paranoid that she would run away, so he locked Myrtle in the upstairs room of their garage shop. This act of insanity only added fuel to the flames of her hatred for her husband, which caused her to go over the edge.

Most of this information was gathered via a vital eye-witness named Michaelis. Michaelis had walked idly over to Mr. Wilson’s shop due to boredom and found a sick George. He tried to get George to rest, but he refused. George told Michaelis about how he had his wife locked upstairs, which was quite shocking to him. Michaelis left after trying to get George to tell him why he had his wife locked up. George didn’t answer, and instead started interrogating him. Michaelis came outside later and heard Myrtle arguing with George. Myrtle ran out into the street, where she was struck and killed by an automobile.

Michaelis told me that “she rushed out into the dusk, waving her hands and shouting; before he [Wilson] could move from his door the business was over” (Fitzgerald 144).