“FREE, WHITE AND OVER TWENTY-ONE”*
-- or was he?
How old was Victor Licata at the time? Or an even more important question; --
Why should anyone care?
The answer is simple, --- In the 1930’s, twenty-one was the magic age. If you were under that age, you were a juvenile. Meaning that if you wanted to buy a house, stock, anything of importance, your parents had to co-sign etc. BUT if you were over the magic age, you were an adult. You could register to vote (voting age was 21 at that time), handle your financial affairs, etc.
Putting it another way, if Victor Licata was over 21 years of age at the time, he would then be tried as an adult, quickly found guilty and [remembering that in the 1930’s executions took place within a few months of the trial] quickly executed and hopefully, quickly forgotten. HOWEVER, if he were a juvenile, then he would be awarded special rights, and fall under a completely different set of judicial laws, etc. Thus, it was important to the conspirators (those who wanted to frame him) to have Victor be an adult at the time.
As events unfolded however, the joke turned on them. Because Victor was found insane (right from the get-go), it turns out that having Victor be 21 was the last thing on earth that they would have wanted. Instead of his quick exit, it only prolonged the agony. One can almost see the conspirators worrying the night away thinking about what would happen if the truth came out. What if someone were to listen to him, what if it came out that they were the ones responsible for framing him? Etc.
* The expression, “I’m FREE, WHITE AND OVER TWENTY-ONE,” seems to date back to a time when Non-Caucasians (how shall we say it), didn’t have it so good. Today it’s considered a racist expression and not used very much. Here however, (because we are an historical museum) it sort of fits in with everything else associated with the origin of the anti-Medical Marihuana laws.
11.1 – VARIOUS VERSIONS ON HIS AGE:
Unfortunately, unlike most historical figures, just trying to verify his age via official documents has become an almost impossible act. Just looking at this photo indicates a young boy of around 19 years of age or so. But pictures (especially old black and white photo’s) can be misleading.
According to the 1930’s CENSUS (we believe taken in April of that year), his age is listed as being 16, which will make him either 19 or 20 during the time of the murders. However, the 1920’s CENSUS lists him as being 17, which in turn would make him either 20 or 21 at the time. Thus, depending on when the censuses were actually conducted (what exact month), he could technically have been anywhere from 18 to 21 years of age at the time of the murders.
According to Chief of Detectives W.D. Bush:
“There was an unspoken question in his large, widely staring eyes. He was, I judged, about twenty-one years old.” --- Inside Detective (Marihuana Maniac, article) July 1938This is probably where the newspaper articles obtained his stated age. [Note: All local newspaper stories we have seen so far (Tampa Times, Tampa Tribune, Evening Independent etc.) use or state Victor's age as being 21.] [11D]
However, the Official Police Report gives no indication of Victor’s true age, nor does anything else that we have seen. No mention of it is made in any surviving court records, nor anything else (official or otherwise) for that matter. Which to me would indicate that no one actually knew what it was, didn’t care enough to find out OR worse still, that someone deliberately went out of their way to block it out.
A good example can be found in his official DEATH CERTIFICATE; --- Florida State death certificates normally state the deceased's exact date of birth (listing month, day, year of birth), yet Victor’s simply states his supposed age at death – “38”. That’s it, no month, no date, not even a birth year was given.
Even (the few surviving) FLORIDA STATE HOSPITAL RECORDS simply state his age as being 21 at the time of admission and 38 at the time of death. That’s it, --- again, no birth month or date or even a birth year are given.
All of which begs the question: Why didn’t anyone simply ask Victor when he was born? It would have been an easy question to have asked, and a logical one as well. Just think of all the paperwork knowing his exact age would have cleaned up. And on Victor’s part, in all probability he would have been all too happy to have told them.
However, this very question, in turn brings up the obvious answer: That in all likelihood SOMEONE DID, and upon figuring out the legal ramifications decided it was best to just go along with the whole frame up.
11.2 – SEARCH SOURCES:
Obviously, not every reader will accept or sign on to a conspiracy theory. The thought that there was an organized group of people, out to get him sounds ridiculous to them. Still the fact that no one can establish something as simple as Victor’s age (via reliable documents), should at least raise a few eyebrows. In our search, this museum has tried to find out his age via the following:
However, let us look at the available census date:
11.3 – DETERMINING HIS AGE - VIA BIRTH CYCLES:
[MUSEUM NOTE: Both Mike and Rosalie Licata were Roman Catholics and as of the time of this writing, there is a big Brouha-ha about the Roman Catholic Church’s viewpoint on birth control, contraceptives, health care insurance, etc. Thus (not wanting to get caught up in the debate), we are forced to walk a bit carefully on this subject. Here, it is enough to say that much of what is being talked about in the news media, seems to be based on hearsay, mis-information, and some out and out weird agendas that people have. Thus, here we will deal solely with the mechanical facts.]We apologize here for insulting people's sensitivities, but because we are dealing with a very hideous crime, the issue of WHY were Mr. and Ms. Licata (quite literally) caught dead sleeping in separate bedrooms does come up. The answers are numerous, -- that the two were having a fight, that divorce was impossible at the time, . . etc. However, a quick look at Table 11-1 seems to provide, what at least to this author, is the obvious answer. That both Mike and Rosalie Licata were practicing the rhythm method of birth control, as a form of spacing out their children. Each child being spaced about five or so years from the previous one.
But notice that after Joe (the youngest one) was born, all that changed. Granted in the 1930’s, America was still an agricultural society where children were seen as a plus instead of an economic liability, still it seems that the Licata’s had said that five was enough. [11A]
Thus it seems logical to assume that Victor would have been spaced at least four years after the birth of Prudence, and about four years before Philip’s birth. Thus making him approximately 18 years of age at the time.
11.4 – DETERMINING HIS AGE - VIA OTHER FACTORS:
OLD PHOTOGRAPHS: Old Black & White photographs can be deceptive but from the few pictures that we have of him (his mug shot, and a couple of newspaper photographs), he appears to be somewhere between 18 to 22 years of age.
HUMAN BIOLOGICAL FACTORS: Come what may, it takes nine months for a woman to bear a child, thus if Prudence (Victor’s older sister) was born on Jan 1, 1911 (and there is a good chance that this date is not correct), then the soonest that Victor could have been born would have been on September of 1911 -which fixes Victor’s top age at no more than 22 at the time.
CENSUS RECORDS: The 1930 census shows Victor as being 16 years of age at the time (we believe it was taken in April of that year) -- Indicating that he would be 19 or 20 on October of 1933. While the 1920 census shows his age as being 7 at the time -- indicating that he would have been 20 or 21 on October of 1933. If accurate (and this is a big if), the census records would then indicate that Victor Licata was either 19, 20, or 21 years of age at the time of the crime.
MUSEUM OPINION: We believe that Victor was only 20 years of age on Oct. 17, 1933. We based this opinion on two factors.
- The census records - if the 1930 census was actually taken on April of 1930 (which we feel that it was) and assuming that Victor's birth date was somewhere between April and Oct, then that would make him 20 years of age at the time. Likewise, if the 1920 census was taken after April (and after Victor’s birth date), then that would also make him 20 years of age at the time.Thus Victor (in all probability) was 20 years of age, however, we don’t know this for a fact (he still could have been 19 for all we know) and we still don’t know his exact birth date.
11.4 – CONCLUSIONS:
Once again (despite the obvious), not every reader is ready to sign on to a conspiracy theory. So let us once again go over the obvious. A person's birth date, even way back in the 1930’s was needed to fill out numerous documents. So, are we expected to believe that this matter simply went unnoticed by all so many administrators, prison officials, doctors, nurses, court clerks, etc.? Logic and reason would dictate that this was not the case. Government bureaucrats have been known to hold up things for months and months until the paper work is done right. For them --- as a Klingon on Star trek would have put it, “This is No Small Thing.”
Obviously, some clerk, somewhere (probably a lot more than one), must have made an inquiry back to the Tampa area about this matter. A simple question that could easily have been answered by asking any relatives and friends of the Licata family. Or better yet, by asking Victor Licata himself. Are we to believe that Victor did not know his own birth date?
An unexplained mystery, which in turn brings up the obvious answer: That in all likelihood SOMEONE DID ASK, but for some reason the information simply just didn’t make itself onto paper. In fact, the paperwork seems to have been going the other way, it simply started to disappear.
[11A]- Normal menopause for the average woman today is somewhere between the late 40's or early 50's.
[11B]- Information was taken from Social Security Records (public access), and the website:
[11D]- At a later, many years after the fact, Victor’s age would be quoted as being 16 or there about, but ALL newspaper articles written in 1933 state his age as 21.
[11C]- We have obtained a document from the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics, indicating that they could NOT find Victor Licata’s birth certificate (yr. 1912),
VICTOR LICATA - A RUSH TO JUDGEMENT
Reefer Madness Era Comicbook, Courtesy Harry J. Anslinger
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