Tuesday, August 14, 2012


There are a couple of moments in the movie Beetlejuice that always makes me think of Robert Gist, "Hey, these aren't my rules! Come to think of it, I don't have any rules!" and when Adam asks Beetlejuice his "qualifications", "Ah. Well...I attended Julliard...I'm a graduate of the Harvard Business school.  I travel quite extensively.  I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that.  I've seen the Exorcist 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it.  Not to mention the fact that you're talking to a dead guy!  Now what do you think!? You think I'm qualified?"  Why, you may well ask, do these remind me of Robert Gist?  Because my friends Robert and Beetlejuice have two very important things in common;
  1. They're both ass hats.
  2.  They both have no soul or conscience what so ever.

I have suspected for a long time that Gist was basically a beard, a bigamist and a gigolo.  Well today while running through my family trees and updating things with the 1940 census stuff I came across a little tidbit that left me gob smacked.  It turns out that Robert Gist's never discussed and never seen again first wife Louise Van Dyke is on the 1940 census in Chicago.  That isn't the gob smacked bit...don't want you to think I'm easily excitable.  This is the gob smacking bit of information...Louise is listed as a single woman of twenty years of age and head of her two person household and her partner, yes it says that on the census lest we think it is invention of the modern age, was a private nurse named E Lucinda Graves.  E Lucinda Graves has an occupation but Louise doesn't and Louise is the head of the household.  It seems that E Lucinda Graves was the sole earner in the apartment and Louise sat home doing what???  This set me off on a tangent to find both of these gals and see what they were about.

Edith Lucinda Graves was born in Iowa in 1916 and died in Texas in 1985.  She never married, ever.  Louise Van Dyke was born in Iowa around 1920.  I have yet to find an exact birth date because apparently once Louise married Robert Gist on August the 18th 1943 she vanished off of the face of the earth.  I found her on the 1930 census living in Chariton, Iowa with her parents and several sisters.  Doesn't it just make you scratch your head?  Aren't you just dying to know what ever became of Louise?  Don't you wonder why in the world she married Robert when she was so comfortably settled with Lucinda?  Me too! 

I will tell you this much that in 1943, just as it is today, the military pays you more if you're married and supporting a spouse.  We know from enlistment records that Robert joined the military on January 28, 1941 and that he had four years of college, was single and an actor.  We assume that Robert was a gunnery officer during the Guadalcanal campaign during World War II, at least he says so in an article in the Hayward Review of 1944 as he went to New York to join the cast of Harvey, and that he came down with malaria forcing his discharge due to ill health.  The battle at Guadalcanal ended February 8th, 1943. We also know that Agnes referred to Robert as the "Malaria Kid" in a communication with Paul Gregory which means either Robert did contract malaria or he was the consummate liar...take your pick and you'll likely be right either way. While wasting away from malaria Robert married Louise 6 months after the end of the battle of Guadalcanal.  Robert allegedly survived 3 major engagements at Guadalcanal without a scratch and was felled by the common mosquito. Three engagements at Guadalcanal?? Really Robert, three and you're sticking to that are you?  Kids, Guadalcanal lasted 6 months and basically was one long, very long engagement.  The incubation time for malaria is 8 to 25 days.  Six months is 180 days, give or take, and if he contracted malaria it would have most likely been toward the end of the battle.  Which means he would have been hospitalized for recuperation and then discharged.  Robert claims that he went from a weight of 175 to a weight of 128 while battling malaria and yet 6 months after the battle he marries Louise Van Dyke.  What a guy, what a miraculous recovery, what a load of horse manure.  I'm not saying he didn't contract the disease but do the math it just doesn't add up.  By November first of 1944 Robert was on his way to Broadway and his lovely wife, well she just isn't there any more, no mention, not one little blurb, nothing. What inquiring minds want to know is whatever happened to Louise Van Dyke Gist?? HMMMM??

There is no evidence of a divorce, yet, and there is no documentation of a death.  Louise just vanishes into air, into thin air.  Robert wanders off in or around 1948 to 1949 and begins his courtship of Agnes.  Hey know what I think?  I think Robert never divorced Louise and I think Louise went on living with Lucinda  and I think that Robert had stuff on Agnes and Agnes had stuff on him....explain away the five to six years it took for Agnes to divorce Robert if, as it was claimed during the proceedings, Robert urged Agnes to go to Mexico and obtain a quick divorce.  Never happened..did it because in no book anywhere is five to six years of back and forth arguing about property, money, and everything else quick!!!  It was scripted courtroom drama designed to distract the reader from the real question.  Robert was a consummate professional who went into the relationship knowing it would never be a long lasting one and believe that having had one questionable marriage under his ever broadening belt that Robert documented everything.  Agnes, on the other hand, was a little too trusting with this man and she got burned financially because of it but only because there was a whole lot more to her than anyone knew and Robert, gunnery officer at Guadalcanal, literally used it as a loaded weapon to hold her hostage until he got exactly what he wanted.  None of it slowed him down one bit.  Two "wives" and three children happened while he was still legally married to Agnes...not bad for a guy with malaria, huh?