Cassius M. Clay in his later years.
A few weeks ago, I put up a post, "Who Owns Cassius M. Clay's Bowie Knives?" I just got a message from alert reader Bob Dickerson, who recalled a reference to that question in the Clay biography The Last Gladiator, by Roberta Carlee. It describes the 84-year-old Clay's foolish romance with a 15-year-old servant girl, Dora Richardson, whom he ended up marrying briefly. Determined to educate and "polish" young Dora, Clay attempted to hire a teacher, Lula Tudor to (well) tutor Dora. Carlee wrote:
Cassius, in an apparent attempt to interest her [Tudor] in Dora, sent her two gifts by his wife. One was a picture of himself in his fifties and the other was a two edged bowie knife with a stag handle in a silver mounted leather case. Cassius sent her word by Dora that it was the knife with which he had mortally wounded Cyrus Turner and that she should carry it with her at all times. (Page 245.)The footnote for the quotation reads: Fields, Randall, article, Richmond, Kentucky Sunday Herald Leader, January 8, 1961.
As always, one wonders what to make of this. Clay got quite daffy in his old age, and sending a prospective employee a knife with which he claimed to have killed a man certainly qualifies as odd behavior.
Bat Masterson, sly fellow that he was, was known to buy cheap, worn-out Colt revolvers at pawn shops and then letting admirers notice them on his desk. Certain that the gun they saw was the one with which he reputedly killed 26 men, they might happily pay him $50 for it. Could Clay too have passed around bowie knives, assuring recipients that each was, in fact, "the one"?