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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Episode 3 - A Single Olive

"You can order anything you want for your last meal. Ted Bundy had a steak medium-rare, hash browns, and coffee. Joan of Arc had Holy Communion.

And Victor Feguer had a single olive." - Bob Dylan

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This is the Dreamtime podcast - occasional commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour weekly show.

In the June 7th episode of Theme Time - Jail - Dylan, while riffing on famous last meals, mentions that Victor Feguer's last meal consisted of a single olive.

Until Timothy McVeigh's execution in 2001, Feguer was the last federal inmate executed in the U.S. In the summer of 1960, Feguer arrived in Dubuque, Iowa, renting a room at a boarding house. Feguer phoned Doctor Edward Bartels, claiming that a woman needed medical attention. When Dr. Bartels arrived, Feguer kidnapped him, later killing him in Illinois with a single gunshot to the head. Feguer apparently chose Dr. Bartels, a 34 year old father of two, at random from the local Yellow Pages, in an attempt to find drugs. Because he had crossed state lines, federal charges were filed against Feguer. He was tried and convicted, and held at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. He was brought back to Iowa because Leavenworth was not set up at the time to perform executions.

Feguer's attorney, contacted then-President John F. Kennedy to request clemency for Feguer. Kennedy’s reply in total was, "…Taking all factors into account, it is my decision that the petition should be and is hereby denied."

At dawn on March 15th 1963, Victor Feguer was hanged for murdering Dr. Bartels. Feguer had asked for the olive, with the pit still in it, as his last meal, reportedly telling prison authorities that he hoped an olive tree would sprout from his grave as a sign of peace. The pit was placed in the pocket of one of the two new suits that the government had provided for the execution.

No olive tree grows at Feguer's unmarked grave, in a corner of a cemetery at Fort Madison, Iowa.

This has been Fred Bals with the Dreamtime podcast - occasional commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour weekly show. Dreamtime is not associated with XM Radio, Bob Dylan, or much of anything else. Until next time… don’t let your dreams be troubled.

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