Saturday, December 13, 2003


It is that "list" time of year. You can't turn around without someone shoving a "Top Ten" this or a "Top Ten" that in your face. So, rather than fighting the trend, we have embraced it.

A couple of notes: This list would not have been possible without the invaluable aid of Michelle Vernon, the delightful co-author of the delightful and informative "Last Suppers; Famous Final Meals from Death Row". The book sits in a place of honor, on the back of my toilet, along with "Charlotte's Web" and "Vixens of Vinyl". It is only $10.47 and a perfect stocking stuffer for those whose stockings run a bit askew. Many of the following descriptions come straight from that book.

And here's the list, starting with No. 10....

10. GARY GILMORE, UTAH, 1977--The alpha. The first person executed when the death penalty was reinstated. Hamburger, eggs, potatoes and contraband bourbon. Happy about winning his legal battle for immediate execution, Gilmore spent his last evening dancing with relatives and tossing back a few mini-bottles of smuggled bourbon.

9. THOMAS GRASSO, OKLAHOMA, 1995--The signature meal in "Last Suppers". Mr. Grasso devoured a dozen steamed mussels, a Burger King double cheeseburger with mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, a can of Franco-American spaghetti with meatballs, a mango, half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and a strawberry milkshake. But, there was a problem. Mr. Grasso had been served spaghetti and meatballs, but had actually requested Spaghetti-O's. He did not take this slight lightly, his last words included this complaint, "I did not get my Spaghetti-O's. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this!"

8. TED BUNDY, FLORIDA, 1989--The scourge of Chi-O's across America, Bundy didn't eat a special last meal. His dinner the night before was a burrito and Mexican rice.

7. EVERYONE LOVES CANDY! GERALD MITCHELL, TEXAS, 2001--one bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers & LEWIS GILBERT, OKLAHOMA, 2003--a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, a box of assorted cones and a box of Whoppers.

6. TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, THE FEDS, 2001--2 pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Federal criminals are limited to a frugal $20 tab for their last meal requests. During the time leading up to his execution, the radical, self-serving, asinine, propagandizing, deluded animal rights group, PETA, spent time corresponding with McVeigh, imploring him to order a meatless last meal.

5. THE IDEALISTS--ROBERT MADDEN, TEXAS, 1997--He asked that his final meal be provided to a homeless person. His request was denied. & ODELL BARNES, JR., TEXAS, 2000--Justice, Equality, World Peace. His request was denied.

4. AILEEN WUORNOS, FLORIDA, 2002-- One from the softer side of death row. Wuornos didn't order a last meal and skipped the regular fare of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, apple crisp and tea but had a cup of coffee about 12:30 a.m. Instead, ate a hamburger and other snack food from the prison's canteen. Later, she drank a cup of coffee. Her story has been portrayed in two movies, three books and an opera.

3. WALTER LAGRAND, ARIZONA, 1999-- LaGrand asked for six fried eggs, 16 strips of bacon, one large serving of hash browns, a pint of pineapple sherbet, a breakfast steak, a cup of ice, 7-Up, Dr Pepper, Coke, hot sauce, coffee, two sugar packs. And, as a final item: four Rolaids.

2. JOHN WAYNE GACY, ILLINOIS, 1994--Kentucky Fried Chicken, fried shrimp, french fries, strawberries and Diet Coke. Once you get the Colonel's recipe of secret herbs and spices in your blood, it's pretty tough to shake. Gacy, the killer of at least 33 young men, was a former manager of a KFC.

1. ROBERT BUELL, OHIO, 2002--A single black, unpitted olive. Actually, Buell was paying homage to to Victor Ferguer, the last prisoner executed by the federal government until Timothy McVeigh. Ferguer was hanged in 1963. His last meal--an olive with the pit still in it. He told prison officials that he hoped it would sprout from his body an olive tree -- a sign of peace. Ferguer's body was unclaimed by family and was quickly taken away by a funeral home after the execution and buried. His unmarked grave in a barren corner of a public cemetery bears no olive tree.