The day after Valentine’s Day 1909, atop the new Metropolitan Life building, a boy, just breeching adolescence, loses his life. Having just celebrated his 15th birthday, he is tossed out of this world into the ravages of eternity. It was a tragic event that made the front page of the New York Times the following Tuesday. Ten days after, the story reappeared in a court summary with the headline, “Escaped 45 Kisses.” Known as the boy who died of kisses, George S. Millet lost his life that fateful afternoon at the hands of three lovestruck stenographers. Determined to give the young lad a proper birthday send-off at the end of the day, they had no idea it would be his last time leaving the office. Forty-five kisses were promised for young Millet. One for each year he was alive, from three of his not-so-secret admirers. High above the upward-sprouting New York skyline, poor George Millet got his Valentine’s Day kiss and then some. US Ghost Adventures, feeling festive as always, brings you the story of The Boy Who Was Kissed to Death. In our latest feature on the darker side of Valentine’s Day.
New York in 1909
New York in 1909 was a rapidly changing landscape. The Metropolitan Life Building, where George Millet would soon lose his life, went up into the New York skyline in early 1909. As it went up, it was viewed in wonder by all New Yorkers, both of the old city and the new one quickly developing. It was a time of change in the Big Apple, and the old facade of the crowded metropolitan center was crumbling away. Many tenements that once held immigrants from all over the world crammed inside the tiny buildings like rats in a cage had been removed. In their place, buildings like the Metropolitan Life Building rose. Larger, more modern, and sophisticated, this was the way of the future. This was the world young George Millet was entering, hoping to make a name for himself. Although dismantling its past, New York was now becoming more connected than ever. The Queensboro Bridge, connecting the borough of Queens to Manhattan, had just opened. They were bringing more and more people into the city. People’s lives were changing, and with that, new qualities of living were demanded. In 1909 the first “suffragette cars” were opened. Subway cars that, during rush hour, were reserved for women only. Although opposed by many women’s suffrage groups, they were famous for a short while.
New York City Skyline in 1909. Met Life building is the tallest building in the picture. Source: Flickr
This is the world George Millet was entering. A young boy of 15, now working in the tallest building in New York City. When the Metropolitan Life Building was finally finished, construction started in 1890, and it dominated the New York City skyline. In fact, up until 1913, it was the tallest building in the world. Only to be replaced by the nearby Woolworth building. One of the many New York skyscrapers to take this title before the Great Depression put a stop to this great race to the sky. At 700 feet and 50 stories tall, the Met Life building was no small fish in this big sea. There were plans for a 100-story building where the Met North building now stands.
George Millet: The Boy Who Was Kissed To Death
Perhaps the sheer awesomeness of the building, with its luminous lantern atop the tower casting its hypnotic glow across the city, drew George Millet into the insurance workplace. The Venetian architecture, mimicking the Campanilla De St Marco of Venice, surely did not dissuade anyone from entering. This was a time when the middle class was rising, and more people found themselves able to afford life insurance. Insurance companies began constructing what was called “home offices,” and today, the Met Life building is one of the few remaining from this period. It is no wonder the attraction of beautiful architecture, a comfortable office life, and modern amenities lured George Millet in the way it did. He had only been working there a few months before the terrible incident. As the New York Times reported on February 16th, 1909, it had been Millet’s birthday on the 14th. Valentine’s Day is an assumedly lonely time to have a birthday. Millet was not alone, however. He had recently lost his father, Cornelius J. Millet, some years before but was working to help support his mother and brother with whom he still lived. He was a favorite of many of his female associates at the Met Life home office and a good-looking young lad.
Metropolitan Life Building. Source: Flickr
After declaring that it was the anniversary of the sinking of the USS Maine and that he only knew that because it happened on the day he was born, his day drastically changed. Who knew that by simply declaring such a slight fact as he did, his life was about to come to an end? Three stenographers took notice of this and announced they were to give him a kiss for each year he was alive in celebration. They were in their early 20s and had playfully taken a liking to George. At the end of the day, his special gift was to be delivered.
Forty-Five Kisses of Death
At 4:30 pm, the day came to an end, and the three women ran off to find George. Making a B-line towards him, they backed him into a corner. His big moment was soon to come, forty-five kisses, more than any boy could ever dream of. But their onset started him and he tried to break their lines. Attempting to rush through the three of them but to no avail. Their three bested his one and Millet fell to the ground. The frivolity quickly stop as a terrible scream was let out of George’s mouth. “I’m stabbed” he yelled. One of the admirers, 23-year-old Gertrude Robbins, fell to the ground beside him but shortly after fainted with the amount of blood coming from the boy’s body. George was rushed to the hospital but announced dead upon arrival. So what killed him? Was it Robbins who was the closest to him? She was later arrested but let go as the death was deemed by a jury to be accidental. The boy had indeed been killed by kisses, or more so by the six-inch ink eraser, he had in his hand at the time. Now you may be thinking how can one be stabbed by a rubber eraser? Well back then erasing was a different ball game entirely. One had to scrape the ink off a page with a metal point and these points could be quite dangerous. It appears young George Millet was not killed by kisses but by his unfortunate motor skills and a stroke of bad luck. His grave now rests in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Happy Valentine’s day to all the single people out there! Beware whose love you are accepting and how much of it you accept. Continue on with us to read more!
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons