Saturday, April 11, 2015

Will the Real Marion Delgado Please Stand Up?

"Marion Delgado" was a name the quaint folk in the Weathermen (Weatherwomen, Weatherpeople, Weather Underground) used to invoke every now and again.  For example, terrorist Jeff Jones invoked the name to kick off the Days of Rage riots in Chicago, 1969:
"Bringing the War Home" 2004
Here is another version:
"The War Within" 2005
Here too:
"The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage" By Todd Gitlin
They put Delgado in the Students for a Democratic Society newspaper, New Left Notes vol. 4, Number 29 August 29, 1969:

Without attribution or even a hint of the story's origins.

The caption reads: With a defiant smile, 5-year-old Marion Delgado shows how he placed a 25-pound concrete slab on the tracks and wrecked a passenger train.

The International Socialist, No. 14 December 1969, covered it like this on page four:
i.s. #14, December 1969
Possibly I am not the only person who had doubts of the authenticity of this Weather Saint, or maybe I am one of the few who paid attention, and had the time to waste in running it down.  So, here be the origin of Marion Delgado, 'Revolutionary:'
LIFE Jun 2, 1947, p, 40


Express is upset and five people are injured by a childish prank

     Five-year-old Marion Delgado lives close to the Western Pacific’s railroad tracks in Decoto, Calif. On May 20 Marion was trying to smash a concrete slab.  But it would not break.  The slab weighed 25 pounds.  Marion lugged it over to the tracks and bounced it on the rails, but it still would not break.  Then Marion had an idea. 
     At 11:10 a.m. the Feather River Express boomed into Decoto at 50 mph.  There was a crash.  The engine jumped the rails, tore up 300 feet of track, hit a switch and turned over.  The engineer and four other people were injured. 
     “Why did you do it, boy?”  said the police to Marion.  Marion shrugged, “I couldn't break that big rock by myself,” he said, “so I decided to let the train do it.”  Police, unable to punish 5-year-old Marion, could only hope that parents of equally ingenious children would keep them under control.
I have no idea what happened to Marion in later years.  He is about five years older than terrorist Jeff Jones, as Jones was born the same year as this prank derailment.

Update 4/12/2015:

Billy Ayers in Fugitive Days, his novel cloaked as a memoir, could not be outdone on this one.  Young Marion was transported in space and time to Italy and the late 1960s in a "hot off the AP wire" story.  Also, he erased the injured engineer and passengers from the scene (p.149):

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ