True Patriot: New York's 'Mad Bomber' Vowed To Pause Bombing, Throughout World War II
In the '40s and '50s, George Metesky kept planting bombs in major New York locations. As terrorist attacks go, George's weren't very deadly. He didn't kill a single person. Still, he planted dozens of bombs, bombing Penn Station five times, Grand Central five times too, and hitting the library, Port Authority, and Radio City Music Hall multiple times each.
George's story began in 1931, when he worked at Consolidated Edison, wiping down generators. A boiler burst, and steam entered his lungs, cooking him from the inside out. He spent a full six months collecting paychecks while too sick to work. When that ran out, he couldn't return to his job. Con Edison had made itself an enemy.
He placed his first pipe bomb against the window of the Con Ed building in 1940. Inside was a note: "Con Edison crooks – this is for you," and he signed it "F.P." (for "fair play," he later explained). The bomb never went off, and in fact if it had, the note would have been the first thing to blow up.
He set another bomb close to the building the following year. Then America entered World War II. And George sent the following message to the police: "I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war. My patriotic feelings have made me decide this. Later I will bring the Con Edison to justice. They will pay for their dastardly deeds." He kept his word and set no more bombs while war raged, and the police assumed he'd stopped permanently.
But when the war ended, George got back to it. (We're only jokingly praising this guy's patriotism; he was a criminal, and people were lucky he didn't do more damage.) This period was when he carried out the bulk of his bombing campaign. Often, the bombs injured no one. One exception was when he rigged the toilet bowl in a men's room to explode.
A Con Ed employee, not the police, finally figured the Mad Bomber was a disgruntled worker, and she picked his identity out of their files. George confessed, a judge ruled him insane, and the court sent him to a mental hospital. People assumed he'd die there, as he had severe lung disease and was now too weak to walk. Instead, George thrived under care, was released after some years, and lived till the age of 90.
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Top image: Cervin Robinson