The year was 1926, Charles McAdams was a husband and medical student living in the university area with dreams of becoming a brilliant surgeon. He had married young and his wife, Marjorie Gilmore, had ventured to Paris to study art while McAdams completed his studies.
In 1925, McAdams had enrolled in Syracuse University’s College of Medicine and was interning at Crouse-Irving Hospital. One evening, he invited two nurses from the school’s dormitory out for a night on the town. McAdams promised to return before 9:30pm but was spotted by William Wallace, director of the hospital, returning the next morning.
Wallace immediately dismissed both McAdams and the two nurses from the program. With a heavy heart, Wallace made a deal with McAdams. Wallace found him an internship at a nearby hospital in Auburn, New York and promised re-admittance to the program if he earned high marks.
The following April, while working in Auburn, McAdams received a letter from Paris. The letter was from Marjorie, asking for a divorce. It is not known if she heard of his behavior or fell out of love. Disappointed with himself, professionally and personally, McAdams decided this was the ‘final nail in the coffin.’ That very day, McAdams returned to Syracuse with whiskey in hand.
The Pittsburgh Press reported that McAdams spent the day and night rounding up friends and asking each one to “drink to my death.” McAdams allegedly told each person that he would die the next day at 4:00am. He drank with a friend in Solvay, nurses at the dormitory, his brothers at a local fraternity, strangers on Salina Street, and even his tailor. Each of them was alarmed by his message but ultimately ignored his farewell tour as drunken thoughts.
McAdams ended the night at a bar downtown before taking a taxi to Hotel Syracuse. On the elevator ride to his room, staff noted he was munching on what seemed to be peanuts, but later turned out to be a powerful sleeping tablet. Once in his room, McAdams consumed half the bottle of tablets before falling unconscious.
Around 4:00am, his friends called the night clerk at Hotel Syracuse, urging him to check on McAdams. The clerk found him near death with several suicide notes nearby. He wrote to his wife, friends and aunt.
One message simply stated, “If I am found soon enough to make it necessary for hospital treatment please take me to the Crouse-Irving. It will be a great joke on Wallace, for he will be unable to save me.”
Nonetheless, McAdams was taken to Good Shepherd Hospital where he was pronounced dead.