"The lint trap is a trap!" Pretty Boy Floyd seems to be saying.

Death Mask Of Pretty Boy Floyd

Field review by the editors.

East Liverpool, Ohio

East Liverpool sits in a weird border notch, only a stone's throw from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for the stature of those states, Pretty Boy Floyd, Public Enemy #1, was in Ohio when he was gunned down by FBI agents on October 22, 1934, on a farm only a few miles north of town. All three gunshot wounds were in his back.

We know that last fact because Pretty Boy was brought to East Liverpool, the nearest town with a mortician, to be embalmed. The procedure took place in the morgue of the Sturgis Funeral Home. It's now the basement laundry room of the Sturgis House, a bed & breakfast, and Pretty Boy's death mask hangs over the washer and dryer.

Pretty Boy Floyd death mask.

Susan Anderson, who manages the place, leads us to the small Mortuary Museum in the laundry room and gives a low-key tour. Low-key because upstairs at this moment is one of the many celebrities who stay at Sturgis House, and she doesn't want anyone to know that "he" is here. What kind of quirky celebrity would want to stay in funeral-parlor-turned-bed & breakfast, we wonder? John Waters? Johnny Depp? Rob Zombie? Well, no, it turns out to be a college football coach. He may not know, or care, that Pretty Boy's pretty face is in the basement, and neither do most of the other people who stay here. To them, the Sturgis House is just a nice bed & breakfast. That, of course, would not motivate us to stay here at all.

Frank Dawson, the embalmer of Pretty Boy and the father of the man who now owns the place, made Pretty Boy's death mask out of "flip," which is normally used to make pottery. (This region was once a pottery-making center.) The idea that Pretty Boy could be set on his nose and used as a cereal bowl is intriguing, but we sense that Susan would probably not be receptive to it.

Mortuary tools and artifacts.
The Mortuary Museum displays a number of tools of the trade.

She earnestly shows us the embalming equipment, the little metal sling that propped up Pretty Boy's head, and the graduation photo of Frank Dawson's embalming class. She tells us that after Pretty Boy was pumped full of formaldehyde he was dragged upstairs and laid out in a bed in the dining room. Thousands of people came to see his corpse, with many getting back in line to see it again and again.

Susan makes the point that everyone associated with Pretty Boy Floyd is either dead or almost dead. His son is already gone, and his last surviving sister just went at age 100. We reflect that celebrityhood isn't forever. Interest in Pretty Boy may be lagging. After all, how many people do YOU know who know who Pretty Boy Floyd is?

We hope, however, that the folks in the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania triangle are still hep to Pretty Boy, and will keep making pilgrimages to the Sturgis House laundry room. Susan's excitement is certainly unflagging.

Death Mask Of Pretty Boy Floyd

Address:
122 W. 5th St., East Liverpool, OH
Directions:
Downtown. Exit US 30/Hwy 39 at Jackson St. Drive a few blocks north, then make a right on 5th St. The Sturgis House will be on the right, with the big green clock out front.
Hours:
By appointment. (Call to verify)
Phone:
330-382-0194
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

More Quirky Attractions in Ohio

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Ohio.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

August 27, 2014

My Sights

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Abita Mystery House, Abita Springs, Louisiana (Aug 25-31, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, East Liverpool, Ohio

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now