Odds are that Tiki restaurateur Stephen Crane — professional gambler, serial husband, and owner of The Luau, a raucous midcentury movie-star hangout — didn’t own a library card. But that doesn’t faze Emily Griffin of the Crawfordsville, Indiana, District Public Library.
Since September, the reference librarian has been researching Crane’s life for a library exhibit (pictured above). “Crane was born and raised in Crawfordsville, before moving to Hollywood in 1939,” Ms. Griffin told the Bum. “At first, the project was simply to research one week when he brought his wife, Lana Turner, to Crawfordsville, and the focus of our project was definitely on Lana Turner.” But after reading about him in Lana’s autobiography and his daughter Cheryl’s memoir, “I realized what a fascinating life Stephen Crane led and focused my project solely on his life.” Along the way, Ms. Griffin was bitten by the Tiki bug: “I’ve even purchased some Kon Tiki and Luau items for my own collection.”
She’s also collected oral histories: “I have interviewed former school classmates, locals who met Steve and Lana in October 1943, and just recently, I had the pleasure to talk with Bob Esmino and Ray Barrientos, former bar managers of Steve Crane.”
Bob and Ray also feature prominently in Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari, which tells Crane’s story in Chapter Seven. But Ms. Griffin has dug far deeper than the Bum. Her exhibit includes Crane’s high school report cards and college yearbook; best of all, she somehow managed to unearth a clip of Crane acting in the 1944 film Cry Of The Werewolf.
You can see all this and more at the Crawfordsville District Public Library website: