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Digging Deeper: Elmer Ardeeser, the Driver From 1930 Dupont Circle Car Crash

This blog post investigates Elmer Ardeeser, the driver at the center of a 1930 Dupont Circle car crash. Elmer had an interesting past, including ties to Babe Ruth's orphanage. Learn more about the event and the people involved.
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I guess D.C. has always had bad drivers. This one is from December 7th, 1930.

A dizzy clockwise circle of an automobile around Dupont Circle, which caused several crashed last night, was climaxed when the driver, arrested and jailed at the Third Precinct Station, attempted to hang himself in his cell.Leon Woodrow Rice, 21 of Shepherdstown, W. Va., was removed to Gallinger Hospital for observation after being charged with leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and lacking a District driving permit.The game began when Rice ran into a truck, says Elmer Ardeeser, the driver, who lives at 901 Varum street northwest. Ardeeser declares he requested Rice to pull over to a side street, but that Rice instead stepped on the gas and began describing a circle about the fountain in the wrong direction.

Excellent. I love the articles that give me a full name and place of residence. I’m going to look into this guy Elmer.

Policeman E. S. Mast, of the park police ,stepped in at this juncture and forced Rice to a stop. Determined, however, not be caught so easily, Rice tried to back his way to safety and in doing rammed three street cars.Taken to the Third Precinct Police Station and placed in a cell, Rice then attempted suicide, first by hanging and then by drowning in the washroom by putting his head in the toilet. Police frustrated both attempts.

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Okay, this is just a story about some wacky traffic accident and guy that goes a little crazy. But, I dug a little deeper on some of the folks in this story and Elmer was an interesting one to look into. So we know he lived at 9th and Varnum St NW and, digging through the 1930 census, it looks like it was his mother-in-law’s house.

He lived there with his three children, and his wife’s three brothers and sister — very much a full house — I don’t see his wife listed, so maybe she had passed away by then.What’s even more interesting is that I came across this genealogy page that states he grew up in the same orphanage as Babe Ruth … that would be the St. Mark’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore, MD. Now, that’s a pretty interesting bit of information.

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Ghosts of DC stories.