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They were on the train, alone, in their own private berth. In Charlevoix, they got up to mischief. They stole some things. They hid them. Dickie talked about the University of Michigan, and they agreed to go together. Dickie invited Babe to Charlevoix for the Summer and Babe accepted.
Dickie had a boat. Mr. Loeb even had a boathouse built for him.
But in the Fall, Nathan got sick. Repeatedly.
He wasn’t able to get to Michigan for the start of classes. But Dickie was there.
Mother was sick again as well. More complications from the Bright’s Disease.
He and Dickie were going to room together.
He hated being sick.
When he finally arrived in Michigan, the Dean was sarcastic. He told him to go home to his cradle. Nathan ignored the comment.
He went for his physical. His blood pressure was unusually high.
Dickie seemed to be avoiding him.
He confronted him. "What’s going on?"
There was some talk about them. It was awful. Rumors. Letters. Dickie was trying to get into Zeta Beta Tau,. Max Shrayer from his U High days was pledging him. But there was a problem. The President of the Fraternity had received a letter. Someone, they both knew who, had claimed things. Dickie denied them, of course. But they couldn’t be seen alone together.
That’s what Allen said; Dickie’s brother. He’d gotten a letter, too.
But they wouldn’t stop being friends. They’d be careful. They’d be secretive. Nobody would know.
And then Nathan’s mother died.
He went home for the funeral.
God died at that funeral. He was never resurrected.
He killed a lot of things in his mind that year. Like God had killed his Mother.
He killed feelings. Because they hurt you. He killed sympathy. Because it was irrational.
Life became something akin to unbearable. A stupid joke.
When he went back to Michigan he was alone.
Dick was gone. He had come to Michigan to be with him. And he left.
In Michigan, far from Kenwood, he learned the meaning of real anti-
He was led on by a frat. They decided not to pledge him.
He spent time with a small group of self satisfied individuals. He studied ornithology. He did school work for friends. He wrote reports for books he hadn't read. Just because.
He wasn't supposed to do anything. He was in mourning. He wasn't supposed to play cards. But Dad lifted that eventually.
Whenever Dickie and he wanted to do anything, they bought along a chaperone. It was Allen's advice. Because of the rumors. Never be seen alone together.
Sometimes they went to cat houses with other guys. He didn't like it. But he had to. It was like that. The secret was to pretend the situation was entirely different. Sometimes he pretended that the girl was tied to a table, that he was raping her. Sometimes he pretended it wasn't a girl at all.
Nathan transferred back to Chicago the following year. Alone.
Dick stayed in Michigan.
Nathan wanted to go to Europe. He wanted to get away. Dad wasn’t too keen on the idea. Eighteen months was a long time, Dad said.
He saw Dick on weekends. But not all weekends.
He graduated in March, a year early, and Phi Beta Kappa, merely because Mother had wanted him to. Still, one couldn’t help but be a little proud.
He'd beaten Dickie.
The Leopold family took a trip to Hawaii. Nathan was impressed with the surfers. He sampled lots of strange foods, including bamboo shoots and dog meat.
He decided to do Post graduate work at the University of Chicago. Dad wasn’t going to budge on the Europe trip.
But Dick had graduated from Michigan in June. And he was back.
Dickie’s friends found him changed. He wasn’t so keen on hanging around with the old crowd. He didn't go out with the girls he'd grown up with. He always seemed to be with Nathan Leopold, now. They were always together. Nathan seemed to tell Dick what to do.
Together they would sneak out of their homes late at night. Together they would wreak secret havoc all over Chicago.
They were college graduates. But they were still boys. Nathan had nights where he had to stay in. He was scolded for being late for dinner. Dickie’s Mother had never stopped thinking of him as just a baby.
Their families knew nothing of their secret adventures. The routine was to come home at nine or ten, maybe eleven. Say goodnight to the family. Make as if they were going to bed. Make considerable noise. Gurgle loudly in the bathroom. Wait for the folks to fall asleep. Sneak out at around 1 A.M. Meet up somewhere. Have an adventure. Slip back in before dawn.
Sometimes they'd be out til three or four in the morning, with classes the next day.
Sometimes Nathan would drive around and Dick would throw bricks through store or car windows. Dick smashed the window of a Walgreens once. And once he threw a brick through the windshield of a car. Apparently, a man and woman were making out in the back and the guy jumped up and shot at them! That one sure left an impression.
They covered up the tail lights when they went out on adventures.
Sometimes they set things on fire, things like buildings.
Sometimes they made prank phone calls. Other times they made false fire alarms.
Dick loved their adventures. He was crazy about them.
They made Nathan nervous. But he went along with them because Dick liked them. That’s just how it was. He didn’t feel bad about the things they did. He just didn’t want to get caught. Was the game worth the candle. That was the question.
It made Dick happy. And that was enough.
Sometimes Dick would get pretty bummed. He’d get all quiet. He talked about death.
Late at night, out in secret, it was their world. They owned the streets of Chicago at 3AM. They drove around the Loop. They were invisible and anonymous. And nobody, nobody knew where they were or what they were doing. Their friends didn’t have a clue.
In the day time, at school or after, at dances or on double dates, at parties, people laughed. They drank their illicit alcohol. But they didn’t have a single idea.
Together, alone. At night. "What if our friends knew what we really were?"
It was great fun.
He knew Dick lied to him. But it just wasn't important. There was the time with the booze, when Dickie said it cost twice as much so Nathan would have to pay it all. There were his grades at school. "All A's my foot!"
But if Dickie gave a solumn word, he stuck to it. He truly believed in a promise. He was very mature about it.
Maybe that's why the New Year's thing was such a big deal.
They'd made an agreement about New Years. They were going to be together. They had no plans, but whatever they did, they would be together. Maybe go over to the Drake. They didn't know.
They made the plan last summer. Then Dick Rubel, "the bastard Jew" had to get involved.
And it all fell apart.
Dickie and Dick Rubel made plans behind Nathan's back-
And then Dickie lied, in that way he had. He tried to squirm out of it. And it all blew up.
Dick picked Nathan up at school and they drove and fought and fought and drove, and Dickie wouldn't let him out of the car.
Back at Nathan's, Nathan locked Dickie in his room.
The whole thing blew up at a really bad time. Almost like it was planned-
The Goddamn Bastard. The trip was important. He was to give a talk at the American Ornithological Union about the Kirtland's Warbler. He was nervous. Excited. Proud. And Dick fucked it all up.
Dick accused Nathan of betraying a confidence, because Nathan said something to Dick Rubel. Dickie said Nathan had told Rubel confidences. Nathan denied it. They called Rubel. They dragged him right into it.
"Dick, when we were together yesterday, did I tell you that Dick Loeb had told me the things which I then told you, or that it was merely my opinion that I believed them to be so?"
"No," Rubel said, "you did not tell me that Dick told you these things, but said that they were in your opinion true."
After Dick left, alone in his room, Nathan wrote him a letter.
October 9th, 1923
In view of our former relations, I take it for granted that it is unnecessary to make any excuse for writing to you at this time, and still am going to state my reasons for doing so, as this may turn out to be a long letter, and I don't want to cause you the inconvenience of reading it all to find out what it contains if you are not interested in the subjects dealt with.
First, I am enclosing the document which I mentioned to you today, and which I will explain later. Second, I am going to tell you of a new fact which has come up since our discussion. And third, I am going to put in writing what my attitude is toward our present relations, with a view of avoiding future misunderstandings, and in the hope (which I think is rather vain) that possibly we may have misunderstood each other, and can yet clear this matter up.
Now, as to the first, I wanted you this afternoon, and still want you, to feel that we are on equal footing legally, and, therefore, I purposely commited the same tort of which you were guilty, the only difference being that in your case the facts would be harder to prove than in mine, should I deny them. The enclosed document should secure you against changing my mind in admitting the facts, if the matter should come up, as it would prove to any court that they were true.
As to the second. On your suggestion I immediately phoned Dick Rubel, and speaking from a paper prepared beforehand (to be sure of exact wording) said: "Dick, when we were together yesterday, did I tell you that Dick (Loeb) had told me the things which I then told you, or that it was merely my opinion that I believed them to be so?" I asked this twice to be sure he understood and on the same answer both times (which I took down as he spoke) felt that he did understand. He replied: "No, you did not tell me that Dick told you these things, but said that they were in your opinion true."
He further denied telling you subsequently that I had said that they were gleaned from conversation with you, and I then told him that he was quite right, that you never had told me. I further told him that this was merely your suggestion of how to settle a question of fact, that he was in no way implicated, and that neither of us would be angry with him at his reply. (I imply your ascent to this.) This of course proves that you were mistaken this afternoon in the question of my having actually and technically broken confidence, and voids my apology, which I made contingent on proof of this matter.
Now, as to the third, last, and most important question. When you came to my home this afternoon I expected either to break friendship with you or attempt to kill you unless you told me why you acted as you did yesterday. You did, however, tell me, and hence the question shifted to the fact that I would act as before if you persisted in thinking me treacherous, either in act (which you waived if Dick's opinion went with mine) or in intention.
Now, I apprehend, though here I am not quite sure, that you said that you did not think me treacherous in intent, nor ever have, but that you considered me in the wrong and expected such a statement from me. This statement I unconditionally refused to make until such time as I may have become convinced of its truth.
However, the question of our relation I think must be in your hands (unless the above conceptions are mistaken) inasmuch as you have satisfied first one and then the other requirement, upon which I agreed to refrain from attempting to kill you or refusing to continue our friendship. Hence I have no reason not to continue to be on friendly terms with you, and would under ordinary conditions continue as before.
The only question, then, is with you. You demand me to perform an act, namely, state
that I acted wrongly. This I refuse. Now it is up to you to inflict the penalty for
Now comes a practical question. I think that I would ordinarily be expected to, and in fact do expect to continue my attitude toward you, as before, until I learn either by direct words or by conduct on your part which way your decision has been formed. This I shall do.
Now a word of advice. I do not wish to influence your decision either way, but I do want to warn you that in case you deem it advisable to discontinue our friendship, that in both out interests extreme care must be had. The motif of "A falling out of a pair of cocksuckers" would be sure to be popular, which is patently undesirable and forms an irksome but unavoidable bond between us. Therefore, it is, in my humble opinion, expedient, though our breech need be no less real in fact, yet to observe the conventionalities, such as salutation on the street and a general appearance of at least not unfriendly relations on all occasions when we may be thrown together in public.
Now, Dick,. I am going to make a request to which I have perhaps no right, and yet which I dare to make also for "Auld Lang Syne." Will you, if not too inconvenient, let me know your answer (before I leave tomorrow) on the last count? This, to which I have no right, would greatly help my peace of mind in the next few days when it is most neccessary to me. You can if you will merely call up my home before 12 noon and leave a message saying "Dick says yes," if you wish our relations to continue as before, and "Dick says no," if not.
It is unnecessary to add that your decision will of course have no effect on my keeping to myself our confidences of the past, and that I regret the whole affair more than I can say.
Hoping not to have caused you too much trouble in reading this, I am (for the present) as ever,
I, Nathan F Leopold Jr., being under no duress or compulsion, do hereby affirm and
declare that on this, the 9th day of October 1923, I for reasons of my own locked
the door of the room in which I was with one Richard A. Loeb, with the intent of
blocking his only feasable mode of egress, and that I further indicated my intention
of applying physical force upon the person of said Richard A Loeb if necessary to
carry out my design, to-
Dick says Yes
The Forgiveness Letter.
Toledo, Ohio, October 10, 1923, addressed to
Mr. Richard A. Loeb, 5107 Ellis Avenue, Chicago, a special delivery letter.
A "October 10, 20th Century Limited, 1:45 P.M.
I want to thank you first of all for your kindness in granting my request of yesterday. I was highly gratified to hear from you for two reasons, the first sentimental and the second practical. The first of these is that your prompt reply conclusively proved my previous idea that the whole matter really did mean something to you, and that you respected my wishes, even though we were not very friendly. This is a great satisfaction, but the second is even greater, in that I imply from the general tenor of your letter that there is a good chance of a reconciliation between us, which I ardently desire, and this belief will give me a peace of mind on which I based my request.
But I fear, Dick, that your letter has failed to settle the controversy itself, as
two points are still left open. These I will now attack. As I wrote you yesterday,
the decision of our relations was in your hands, because it depended entirely on
how you wished to treat my refusal to admit that I acted wrongly. This request you
did not answer. You imply merely that because of my statement that, `I regret the
whole matter' I am in part at least admitting what you desire. I thought twice before
putting that phrase in my letter, for fear you might misconstrue it, as in fact you
have done. First, you will note that I said that `I regret the whole matter' (not
any single part of it). By this I meant that I regretted the crime you originally
committed (your mistake in judgment) from which the whole consequences flow. But
I did not mean and do not wish to understood as meaning that once this act had been
done, I regret anything subsequent. I do not in fact regret it, because I feel sure,
as I felt from the beginning, that should we again become friends, it will be on
a basis of better mutual understanding as a result of these unpleasant consequences
which I deliberately planned and precipitated. Furtherm even if I did not regret
those consequences, it would not follow at all that I consider myself to have acted
wrongly. I may regret that it is necessary to go downtown to the dentist, and still
not feel that I am acting wrongly in so doing. Quite the contrary. So if you insist
on my stating that I acted wrongly, as a prerequisite to our renewal of friendship,
I feel it duty bound to point out to you that this is not the meaning of what I wrote.
In this do not think that I am trying to avoid a renewal of these relations. You
know how much I desire a renewal but I still feel that I must point this out to you,
as I could not consider re-
The whole question must be divided into two, namely, treachery in act and treachery in intention. On your suggestion, the first was to be settled by phoning Dick, as I did, I apologizing verbally on condition that you were right, and implying the same apology from you in case you were wrong.
You were proved wrong, and I am sure you are a good enough sport to stick by your
statement, unless you question whether I did all you suggested in good faith. Hence,
you remove any previous charge of treachery in act. If there was such. But the second
is not so simple. I stated, and still hold, that if you still held me to have acted
treacherously in intent, our friendship must cease. You circumvent that by saying
you never could have held this opinion because you believe me to have acted hastily,
etc. I did my best in stating I was wholly responsible for all I said and did, since
I had planned it all, and if there were malice at all it would be malice afterthought.
You refuse to believe me. Now, that is not my fault. I have done my best to tell
you the true facts, (since they were in my disadvantage) and hence have discharged
my obligation. I still insist that I have planned all I did. You can believe this
or not as you like or come to your own decision, or whether you still think I acted
treacherously. If you say you do not, then I shall infer either that you never thought
so (although you accuse me of it) or that you have changed your mind (and imply these
as an apology for ever thinking so) and continue to be your friend. All I want from
you then is a statement; that you do not now think me to have acted treacherously
in intent, which I will construe as above. Then it is up to you whether you will
forego my statement of wrong action or will on your part break up our friendship.
Please wire me at my expense to the Biltmore Hotel, New York, immediately on receipt,
stating, one, whether you wish to "break our friendship or to forego my statement,
or, two, whether or not you still think me to have acted treacherously. If you want
further discussion on either point merely wire me that you must see me to discuss
it before you decide. Now, that is all that is in point to our controversy but I
am going to ask a little more in an effort to explain my system of a Neitzschien
philosophy with regard to you. It may have occurred to you why a mere mistake in
judgment on your part should be treated as a crime, when on the part of another it
should not be so considered. Here are the reasons. In formulating a superman, he
is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him exempted from the ordinary
laws which govern ordinary men. He is not liable for anything he may do. Whereas
others would be, except for the crime that it is possible for him to commit-
Now, Dick, just one more word to sum up. Supposing you fulfill both conditions necessary for reconciliation. One, waive claim to my statement, and, two, state yourself that you no longer think me to have acted treacherously. We are going to be as good or better friends as before.
I want that to come about very much, but not at the expense of your thinking that I have backed down in any way from my stand, as I am sure of that in my mind and want you to be.
Well, Dick, the best of luck if I do not see you again and thanks in advance for the wire, I am sure you will be good enough to send. Hoping you will be able to decide in the way I obviously want,
P.S. Excuse scrawl. Train is moving. Your spelling, young man, is abominable, and
I for one should advocate that Tomeie-
|July 23 (cont)|
|July 25 (cont)|
|Aug 1 (cont)|
|Aug 4 (cont)|
|Aug 4 (3)|
|Defense Closing Arguments|