Producer/Engineer: Bill Pollock
Editor: Sarah Rendo
Cover: Rob Mitchell
Nelle Peters was one of most prolific architects in Kansas City history. She designed over a 1,000 buildings including one of the city’s most iconic high-rises, the Mark Twain.
What most people don’t know is that the Mark Twain apartments have a dark secret. To understand that untold mystery, we need to first look at the moral tug of war between Peters and J.C. Nichols. Nichols was a famous real estate developer, but in the process of gobbling up land and spitting out commercial and residential properties, a radical concept began to dominate his mind.
As the plans for the Mark Twain apartments neared fruition, Nichols became more and more obsessed with the idea of secretly stealing Mark Twain’s body in hopes of burying him in the cornerstone of the building.
Nelle Peters pushed against this idea from the beginning, but it was like convincing a spider to clean up his own cobwebs.
“Drop this body-snatching nonsense. How could you even think about stealing Twain’s corpse,” Peters said. “I won’t allow it. And neither does the law.”
“If you say a word about it, you will be dead where you sleep. And besides, who would believe a dull pencil face like you?”
“Nichols, your threats are like mouse farts, they make noise but very little thunder. Even so, if you do your deed, lock the door behind you. You will never see me again and I will never smell you again.”
Two days later J.C. Nichols met up with famed grave robber Donnie Turtle at Mark Twain’s grave. It was midnight when Donnie Turtle threw away his first shovel full of dirt.
Nichols paced around the graveyard for hours and hours as Donnie Turtle struggled to loosen the coffin from the earth. When the coffin was raised from the ground it was clear that it was much bigger than Nichols’ anticipated.
“Boss Nichols, this here is Twain. He’s a dead big boy and his coffin is even bigger! Sneaking this coffin on to the train is going to be like trying to stuff a piglet in a jelly jar.”
J.C. Nichols became enraged.
“Donnie Turtle! Donnie Turtle! Donnie Turtle! You lack foresight!”
J.C. Nichols pulled out his bowling ball bag and grabbed the grave digger’s shovel striking Donnie Turtle on the head. Life and blood alike poured out of Turtle’s head and into the cold, cold turf of the graveyard. No one knows if remorse or regret ever filled Nichols’ heart over these unseemly acts, but seven days later a local dry cleaner published a small advertisement in the local paper:
WE DO NOT CLEAN BLOOD OUT OF BOWLING BALL BAGS. ESPECIALLY LEATHER ONES. ESPECIALLY LEATHER BOWLING BAGS FULL OF BLOOD AND TINY CHUNKS OF BRAINS. WE STILL OFFER TREMENDOUS CLEANING SERVICES FOR NORMAL CLOTHES LIKE TUXEDOS AND OVERALLS BUT PLEASE, NO MORE BOWLING BALL BAGS FULL OF BLOOD-YUCK!”
As if there were any further doubts as to the dastardly nature of the deed of defilement, they say that a mere 70 years later the Mark Twain Apartments were getting brand new Panasonic VCRs in every apartment, when the VCR installation specialist made quite a discovery. The VCR installation specialist spent a lot of long nights connecting the VCRs to the standard issue Zenith televisions and on multiple occasions he reported hearing the distinct sound of a river boat chant.
Don’t mind me and my fart butt
I’m floating down the river
as regular as the Hannibal rain
They call me Mark Twain
and they cut off my head
but it don’t matter none
because I was already dead.
Chop me and slice me
from my head to my toes
till the blood runs dry
all the good parts are gone
like a half eaten pie.
I wrote all my bits
I left big old shits
and I loved every day
that I saw your muddy eyes.