From “Scumbabies”: The Legend of Liver Boyle

Liver Boyle was a film projectionist at Chicago’s legendary Biograph Theater from 1950 until his death from pancreatic cancer in 1967. He was 34 years old. The son of Irish immigrants, Liver lived his early years with his mother in Pilsen while his father served as a pilot in the air force. His father, Ashley, was a crewman aboard the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945.

Upon his father’s return, Liver watched the none-too-gradual decline of his father’s health. Ash’s mind collapsed under the strain of his own remorse and the adulterous actions of his wife while he was in the service. While Ashley Boyle watched a star fall over Japan, his wife, Izabel, was giving birth to another son by another man, and had abandoned little Liver in a southside foster home. Liver lived there, abused and ignored, for 10 months before his father returned from the war and claimed his son. Neither of them saw Liver’s mother again.

Liver’s father died in 1949, gunned down by Chicago Police as he attempted to detonate a crude homemade grenade beneath a crowded elevated train platform. Liver later told the police his father told him that the train was taking people to hell. Liver was 16 years old.

He escaped the state by lying about his age and finding a job sweeping floors at the Biograph after midnite shows. He quickly became a favorite with the bosses and soon was working in the booth; first as an assistant and eventually, a projectionist.

He lived an anonymous life until his death in 1967, when the landlord of his apartment building, where Liver had lived alone for over a decade, found a mountainous unpublished novel penned by Liver, himself. It was a children’s story, written manically with painful details taken nakedly from Liver’s own life. The story chronicled the adventures of a beautiful orphan girl named Tru Holliwood that meets a family of goblin-like demons in the basement of a haunted house. The title of the manuscript: “Little Tru and the Beautiful Scumbabies”.

The manuscript became a local legend, with excerpts circulating through local book stores and barber shops. Reviews and responses, both fictitious and not, began popping up in underground and pulp mags around the Midwest.

Though many transcribed excerpts of the book still exist, the manuscript itself is currently missing. Legend goes it was passed house to house around Southside Chicago neighborhoods; friends passing it friends. The Legend of Liver Boyle grew slowly. It’s rumored that the book still passes person to person, but those that have read it are sworn to secrecy as to who they got the book from and who they passed the book to next. And he who breaks this vow of secrecy will be cursed!! Urban legend gone amok, probably, but the superstition remains strong for those that have experienced the Legend of Liver Boyle firsthand, and for those that glimpse the sad madness that lies behind Liver Boyle’s eerie prose.

SCUMBABIES is an imaginary adaptation of Tru Holliwood’s life a decade after her adventure’s in Liver Boyle’s unpublished book.

(Republished from Scumbabies:THE MUSICAL blog. Original date: November 5, 2008 by Tru Holliwood)

 

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