Tombstone: Phil Geauque


Image above: another shot from the Mechanics’ signing, Nathan Ward inscribing a copy of his Hammett bio while I look on; standing to left, Vince Emery in blue, John Law — of The Suicide Club, Cacophony Society, primal Burning Man, etc. & etc. — in hat with toothpicks in the band.

No image: the tombstone, if any, for Phil Geauque.

You may recall a mention of Geauque in the review Terry Zobeck did for The Lost Detective, where he notes that Nathan “speculates that the real model for the Op may have been Hammett’s San Francisco boss, Phil Geauque, who was short, fortyish, balding and a heavy smoker, and who ended up being on FDR’s secret service detail.”

Backtracking through the Pinkerton’s jungle — that’s one of the big things that bio does.

Nathan has a particularly nice sequence involving Geauque and a robbery that brings the California Street cable car line into the action.

Last month I went on a little Geauque hunt. Leo Grin surfed the net and learned that he had been interred in a cemetery in Colma, near the boneyard holding the remains of Blackjack Jerome (Blackjack and Geauque would have known each other, probably even worked together from time to time). He tipped me off, so I could land another Tombstone post.

But the Internet is only so good. Geauque died on January 4, 1951 — and his remains were hauled to Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma.

Further inquiry at Cypress Lawn led to some files being pulled out, which recorded that Geauque was cremated on January 6. The cremains were shipped to Kendallville Cemetery in Indiana. Apparently that’s where Geauque was from, or had some family left.

Some Op fan closer to the scene can determine if the ashes were placed with a headstone above them — and if so, maybe next time we’ll have an image of the stone.

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