The Bizarre Tale of the Missing Ambroses?

Ambrose Small
Ambrose Small

This story starts with a red herring, one Charles Fort, eccentric writer of yesteryear.  If you read to the end, the reason for the red herring will magically be revealed.  Charles Fort’s lifespan was from 1874 to 1932.  In young adulthood he was a newspaper reporter.  He craved even more excitement so he journeyed to the Dark Continent seeking fascinating stories to write about.  He got a horrendous fever and fell in love with the nurse that helped him recover there.  He was obsessed with unsolved mysteries and bizarre oddities of the world.  He became a free lance writer so he could write about these things, using his sharp sense of humor to explain them.  His Book of the Damned, published way back in 1919 is about aerial phenomena.  Some consider him the first UFOlogist.

The real subject of this story is Ambrose Small, a Canadian.  I can look at one certain photo of Ambrose Small and tend to get hypnotized.  I must look away.  His steely (presumably light blue) eyes are unsettling.  The irises are so light that they blend into their surroundings for a white-eyeball effect.  They are canopied by thick, black eyebrows which seem to be set in perpetual-frown mode.

Ambrose Small’s father, Daniel, moved his family to Toronto in the 1870s so that he could run a hotel-saloon.  They were Irish immigrant Catholics and Ambrose probably attended Catholic schools as a lad.  Daniel Small was a hard worker and his hotel-saloon business soon allowed him to move upward into the proprietorship of the Grand Hotel.  Another man who held interest in this same hotel was Ignatius Kormann, a renowned brewer of the area.  When Daniel’s wife Ellen died, Daniel eventually married Kormann’s daughter.

As Daniel’s son, Ambrose seemed to sponge up his father’s business sense.  He had steady work at the Grand Opera House, adjacent to the hotel.  He worked his way up quickly through the ranks and with in a few years he was partial owner of a Toronto-based theater chain of over thirty-four theaters.

Ambrose was popular with women.  Maybe it was his magnetic, Svengali-like eyes.  He often gave the chorus girls small, inexpensive gifts, such as sweets, but he actively wooed a younger sister of his stepmother and they married in 1902.

Because of pesky problems that were beginning to plague the theater business, Ambrose decided to sell his interest in the chain of theaters.  On the morning of December 2, 1919, Ambrose gave his wife Theresa the one million dollar check for the sale which she promptly deposited into their bank account.  While she was doing this, Ambrose was buying her a new Cadillac and an expensive fur to be delivered to their home.  After attending a scheduled afternoon appointment with his lawyer, Ambrose disappeared off the planet and was never seen or heard of again.

Theresa was not alarmed, at first, and thought he was merely out tomcatting around.  She did not report the disappearance for awhile as she thought he would return, and she did not want to risk a scandal.  She was a pious Catholic.  She and Ambrose had been exact opposites.  She was pious and altruistic, Ambrose was driven and calculatingly mercenary.

Many rumors floated about for years:  Theresa had a lover of her own in Europe and they had murdered Ambrose and incinerated his body, was one such rumor.  Perhaps Ambrose had been kidnapped for a large ransom.  Or, maybe Small, himself, had ridden off into the sunset with a lover of his own.  The finest detectives could never uncover the hint of foul play on the part of anyone, or find any other enlightening evidence.  He was eventually declared dead, mainly so Theresa could claim her inheritance, which she wished to donate to the Catholic Church. The ghost of Ambrose Small is said to have haunted many of the theaters he had once owned.

Six years earlier, Ambrose Bierce, an Ohioan and writer of macabre subject matter had disappeared on an adventure in Mexico, and he had also vanished without a trace.

The aforementioned Charles Fort, chronicler of bizarre oddities had been monitoring both of these disappearances with avid interest.  He posed one question to anyone who was listening:   “Was someone collecting Ambroses?”

ScavengersSongPlease click the book cover to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels on Amazon. She has produced a bizarre tale of her own.

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