Friday, September 21, 2012

The City: St. Louis #6


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Frankie Baker revisits the site of the scene of the crime, 1942.

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 20, 1899, 22-year-old Frankie Baker, "an ebony-hued cake-walker" shot two-timer "Johnnie" - 17-year-old Albert Britt - at 22 Targee Street on October 15, 1899. The "other woman" was Alice Pryor. Baker claimed that she used self-defense in fending off a knife attack and was acquitted of the murder of Britt. Though released by the authorities, the ballad, "Frankie and Johnnie," allowed Frankie Baker no peace of mind. She left St. Louis, hounded by the song, and settled first in Omaha, Nebraska, and finally in Portland, Oregon. Her attempts at legal remedies to quiet the song and film portrayals were in vain. Baker died in a Portland mental institution in 1950.


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