The Night of Glass

Tonight being Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when so many storefront windows of Jewish businesses were shattered in Germany and Austria in 1938, I'm reminded of the mysterious amounts of broken glass strewn all over Stone Mountain. The brown, green, and clear shards, much of it thick and clearly from windshields and the lips of old Coke and beer bottles, seem concentrated in the craterous areas of sandy topfill, and no matter that a couple of regular stewards of the mountain routinely remove the glass, along with the usual litter and recyclable plastic bottles, more fragments always appear in its place and no one knows where it comes from. Here's a handful I collected during today's climb, and while there's probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for it, tonight I can't help imagining Jews shaking glass from holes in their pockets as they walk (almost like Andy Dufresne in "Shawshank Redemption" releasing material from his prison cell wall out in the prison yard).

Perhaps as a reminder of Leo Frank, the Jewish manager of a pencil factory accused of raping and strangling 13 year-old employee Mary Phagan in 1913. Suspicion also fell on a black man, Jim Conley, the factory's janitor, but Frank was sentenced to life in prison and was soon after kidnapped from prison and lynched on August 17, 1915, in Marietta, GA by a mob of 25 prominent citizens calling themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan, including a former governor. Months later they renamed themselves the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and many of the same men that killed Frank gathered at Stone Mountain on November 25, 1915, to declare it its 20th Century rebirth place by burning a 50-foot cross on top of the mountain while reading from the Bible. Frank was posthumously pardoned by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on March 11, 1986, on the grounds he could not appeal his sentence and that the state did not protect him or bring his killers to justice. A witness also came forward in 1982 in a sort of deathbed confession to refute Jim Conley's original trial testimony, introducing reasonable doubt. The enduring mystery surrounding Mary Phagan's death and finding her killer almost reminds me of the Black Dahlia case.