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Issue Date: August 2011


Erick Trickey

Mercedes Hurley, wearing an elegant curved-brim hat, and William McManus, her future husband, were on a date at the 1932 National Air Races. Hurley, one of Cleveland's first policewomen, and McManus, a police detective, had come to see Al Williams' red and gray Curtiss Hawk shoot straight down toward the stands and then straight up, fly upside down, loop and roll. Or maybe they came to watch 57 Army fighter planes buzz through the sky and scream down at four 5-ton bombers in mock aerial combat.

Good thing Hurley's sister, Loretta Devine, and Devine's friend Mary Gallagher, on the left, brought those parasols. The temperature reached 94 degrees at Cleveland's airport on Aug. 30, and the emergency field hospital treated more than 30 of the 25,000 spectators for heat exhaustion.

Hurley's beats as a policewoman included juvenile cases — an abandoned baby, runaway teenage elopers — and visiting the burlesque revue near East Ninth Street to decide if it should be censored. Three years after this picture, McManus shot and killed a robber behind the Cleveland Museum of Art. He rose to the rank of sergeant before his career ended. The couple were together for 48 more years, until they passed away within a month of each other in 1980.

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