6 August 1930

The judge, Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears never to be seen again.

NEW YORK — You can come back now, Judge Crater. Everybody’s dead.

Sixty-five years ago, on Aug. 6, New York State Judge Joseph Force Crater caught a cab in midtown Manhattan and completely vanished.

His disappearance captured the imagination of America, mired in the Great Depression and has never entirely let go.

Groucho Marx joked he was going to “step out and look for Judge Crater,” while nightclub comedians quipped, “Judge Crater, please call your office.”

Mad magazine ran a cartoon showing Lassie having finally found the missing judge, while on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” a judge reassured an anxious Rob and Laura Petrie that, no, he wasn’t “that” Crater – his name was spelled K-r-a-d-a.

Pulling a Crater, i.e. disappearing, became part of the lexicon.

Jokes aside, experts in the case have determined that the 41-year-old Crater spent the morning of Aug. 6, 1930, hastily packing up papers in his office and cashing large personal checks at two separate banks.

Named to the bench by then New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Crater had been a judge for just four months.

That evening, Crater ate dinner at a steakhouse on West 45th Street with friends, one of them a showgirl. He was last seen getting in a cab at 9:15 p.m., headed to the theater.

Was he silenced by the mob? Did he flee for his life? Did he leave his wife for another woman? Everyone had a theory.

“Every kid grew up wondering, where did Judge Crater go?” said Lincoln Diamant, author of books on New York history.

The Crater craze took hold less than a year after the stock market’s devastating crash, he noted.

“People were trying to steady themselves and get a grip on things and then somebody totally disappeared before their eyes,” he said.

Over the years, Crater was spotted, like Elvis, in the most unlikely places–running bingo games in Africa, prospecting for gold in California, herding sheep in the Northwest.

Most people suspected the mob had hired a hit man to silence Crater for what he supposedly knew about political corruption in New York. The historian for the city Police Department, John Podracky, said that’s become the semiofficial consensus.

Others thought the judge disappeared in fear. One theory had him fleeing to avoid forced to testify in a corruption probe.

Still others imagine his motives lay elsewhere. There’s a theory he was killed for dallying with a gangster’s girlfriend, and another that “Good Time Joe,” as he was known, took off with one of several mistresses.

As for Crater, he would be 106–a tough age for someone on the run for 65 years.

But New Yorkers still wonder. They ask after Crater at the New York Historical Society, the reference librarian said.

“We don’t have an update,” she said. “It’s the same old mystery.”

6 August 1825

Bolivia gets it independence from Spain.


The Bolivian war of independence began in 1809 with the establishment of Spanish American Independence. Sucre and La Paz, after the Chuquisaca Revolution. These Juntas were defeated shortly after, and the cities fell again under Spanish control. The May Revolution of 1810 ousted the viceroy in Buenos Aires, which established its own junta. Buenos Aires sent three military campaigns to the Charcas, headed by Juan José Castelli and José Rondeau”, but the royalists ultimately prevailed over each one. However, the conflict grew into a Guerrilla warfare, preventing the royalists from strengthening their presence. After Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre defeated the royalists in northern South America, Sucre led a campaign that was to defeat the royalists in Charcas for good when the last royalist general, Pedro Antonio Olañeta, suffered death and defeat at the hands of his own defected forces at the battle of Tumusla. Bolivian independence was proclaimed on August 6 of 1825.

The deliberating Assembly convened anew in Chuquisaca on 9 July 1825. It concluded with the determination of the complete independence of Upper Peru, in the form of a republic, for the sovereignty of its children. Finally, the president of the Assembly – José Mariano Serrano – and a commission wrote the “Act of Independence”, which bears the date 6 August 1825 in honor of the Battle of Junín won by Bolívar.

The Act of Independence’s introduction says, in a vibrant voice: The world knows that Upper Peru has been on the American continent, the altar on which was spilled the first blood of the free and the land where exists the tomb of the last of the tyrants…The provinces of Upper Peru, united in resolution, proclaim on the face of the whole earth, that their irrevocable resolution is to govern themselves.