Harold Hart Crane vanished from the S.S. Orizaba on April 24, 1932. Crane was born in Garretsville, Ohio to Clarence H. and Grace Hart Crane on July 21, 1899. Clarence Crane, son of a bank director and maple syrup baron, had built a chocolate and confectionary company into a national operation with it's headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. He dealt in sugar and was the inventor of Lifesavers Candy. Hart's mother was sister to Zell Hart Deming, a Warren, Ohio newspaper publisher.

Harold Hart Crane began writing poetry as a boy. He was heavily influenced by the works of French poets such as Baudelaire, Malarme, and Verlaine. He published his first poem at age 17 called C33, named for the prison cell number of Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and writer who was inprisoned for gross indecency with men in 1897. Hart developed a personal philosophy of the pursuit of beauty at any hazard, much like Wilde, which he would practice until the day he died.

When Crane was in high school, his parents divorced and this caused him great emotional turmoil. He left Ohio and moved to New York to stay with a family friend who was an artist. While in New York he met Waldo Frank, Padraic Colum, poet of the Irish revolution and other early denizens of Greenwich Village.

While New York, at that time and now, was the place for students of the arts to be then and now, it didn't pay much when you were a beginner. He was forced to return to Cleveland in 1918 to live with his mother on east 115th st. and work for his father in the Crane warehouse, at a store in Akron, Ohio and eventually as a salesperson in the Baltimore/Washington area. He did not like this work and desired deeply to be back in New York.

Crane's first published works appeared in various magazines in 1918 and 1919. He wrote his first two long poems, "The Marriage of Faustus and Helen" and "Porphyro in Akron" during his time of working for his father and longing to once again return to the company of his artist friends in New York.

During this time, Crane also tried various other jobs unsuccessfully, including a job as a copy writer for the Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland, but nothing he did felt as satisfying to him as living "the life." He also worked as a riveter and worked at a business for his father named Crane's Canary Cottage, a restaurant his father opened and his step-mother, A.C. Crane's third wife, managed. In 1923, Crane's father helped him get a job in New York at an advertising agency and he finally returned there for good.

Before departing Cleveland, Crane had, to use a cliche I don't necessarily prefer, "came out of the closet" with his basic preference for males vs. females, although he did have a couple of bad relationships with women lovers as well. Back in New York he quickly fell under the spell of alcoholism and was living from penny to penny just trying to keep his habit fulfilled.

He spent most of his time in New York writing a poem which was to become of epic proportions of fame and put him, even after his death among the ranks of Poe, Eliot, Whitman and Longfellow. The publication of this epic poem, The Bridge, was subsidized by philanthropist Otto H. Kahn and Eugene O'Neill wrote a foreward for it when it appeared in 1930. Crane won a Guggenheim fellowship for this work and he traveled to Mexico where he planned to write another epic, but the inspiration just wasn't there and he fell into further alcoholism and depression, attempting suicide several times and blowing through his fellowship money.

On one occasion he attempted to kill himself by drinking iodine and was jailed for this offense in Mexico after he survived the attempt. He traveled home to Ohio briefly and then returned to Mixcoac, a community of writers, painters and other artists near Mexico City.

In 1932, he wrote to his mother in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, informing her that he was coming to stay with her. On this fateful trip on the S.S. Orizaba is when Harold Hart Crane vanished into thin air. There were witnesses aboard the ship that said Crane was extremely intoxicated, so whether he fell overboard accidentally or purposefully will forever remain a mystery.

Crane's life ended at a little before noon on Wednesday, April 27, 1932 nearly 300 miles north of Havana enroute to New York from Mexico. He was 32 years old. When Crane boarded the S.S. Orizaba, he had with him Peggy Cowley, a friend who had came to visit him in Mexico. Peggy told the press later that she and Harold had planned on getting married when they returned to the states. She told of Crane locking himself in his stateroom for four days during the trip and then walking onto the deck, he climbed the stern and leaped to his death.

Some witnesses say he waved goodbye, others say he put his hands up as a final plea for help. No one can ever really know.

"The bottom of the sea is cruel..."
Harold Hart Crane