Saturday, February 02, 2013

This Week on the Island 02/03/2013

‘This week on the Island' is written by Doug Bennett and is an update to friends about happenings in Key West last week. Everything is true except for those parts that are lies.
Weather: Another cold front this week. Beautiful again by the weekend.

No book this week.

The (really gross) Story of Count Carl Von Cosel (Carl Tanzler)

On April 22, 1930, while working at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Tanzler met Maria Elena Milagro "Helen" de Hoyos (1909–1931), a local Cuban-American woman who had been brought to the hospital for an examination by her mother. Tanzler immediately recognized her as the beautiful dark-haired woman that had been revealed to him in his earlier "visions." By all accounts, Hoyos was viewed as a local beauty in Key West.

Hoyos was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, a typically fatal disease at the time that eventually claimed the lives of almost her entire immediate family. Tanzler, with his self-professed medical knowledge, attempted to treat and cure Hoyos with a variety of medicines, as well as x-ray and electrical equipment that were brought to the Hoyoses' home. Tanzler showered Hoyos with gifts of jewelry and clothing, and allegedly professed his love to her, but no evidence has surfaced to show that any of his affection was reciprocated by Hoyos.

One evening in April, 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Hoyos was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Elena's spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favorite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave. Tanzler attached the corpse's bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos's hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler not long after her burial in 1931. Tanzler filled the corpse's abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Hoyos's remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse's decomposition.

Shortly after the corpse's discovery by authorities, Hoyos's body was examined by physicians and pathologists, and put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by as many as 6,800 people. Hoyos's body was eventually returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave, in a secret location, to prevent further tampering

Separated from his obsession, Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Hoyos, and lived with it until his death on July 3, 1952. His body was discovered on the floor of his home three weeks after his death. He died under the name "Carl Tanzler".

It has also been written that Tanzler had the bodies switched (or that Hoyos's remains were secretly returned to him), and that he died with the real body of Elena.

Read more about it here

Or watch it here

------Other happenings this week------------------

I had some tourist, standing next to Schooner Wharf; ask for directions to No Name Bar. I said it was at mile marker 30 (MM30). They told me they had been to the bar and it was right around here someplace and I didn’t know what I was talking about. I told them that I hoped they found it and had a good time.

There was a nice parade for Fred Cabanas (the biplane pilot) on Duval Street Tuesday night.

Friends from Cincinnati sat with Boca and me at Schooner on Saturday. We had a good time.

Key West, You have got to love it
'Close to Perfect - Far From Normal'
Doug Bennett
Lat 24.5591N, Long 81.8016W

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