December 3, 1927
Financial woes had driven 23 year old Clarence Martin to his breaking point. He rented a room at 555 East Seaside Blvd. in Long Beach, and resolved to end his life.
The young man turned on the gas and waited in the dark for the Big Sleep. Moments before he lost consciousness, he had a sudden change of heart and shut off the lethal fumes. Was Clarence’s epiphany the result of a glimpse into his family’s future without him, such as George Bailey experienced in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
Did Clarence breathe a sigh of relief at his escape from death and begin to make plans for the upcoming holidays? Did he think about the wife he’d left in Gardena? She was probably worried sick because he hadn’t come home. Maybe he was going to phone her and let her know he would be with her soon, but decided to sit and smoke a cigarette first.
Lighting the cigarette was Clarence’s last act in this world. There was a terrific explosion which blew the door and windows out of the room. He was horribly burned, and later succumbed to his injuries at Seaside Hospital.