Moe Vernon was the owner of an auto repair shop in New York around 1928; he was married with Beatrice. Fred Motz and Hollis Mason's father were his employees. His office had glass sides to watch his employees and a new gramophone in the corner that would play old seventy-eight recordings of opera as loud as it could manage.
His sense of humor was peculiar. Besides rubber bands, paper clips and receipts, he had one of the largest collections of tasteless novelty items he had picked up from gag shops or on visits to Coney Island: cheap blue gimmicks, ballpoint pens with girls on the side whose swimsuits vanished when turned upside down, salt and pepper crewet sets shaped like women's breasts, plastic dog messes, et cetera. When someone tried to enter his office he'd always try to startle them with his newest play thing.
One morning in 1933, his wife withdrew all money from their joint bank number and left with Motz for Tijuana. When Vernon realized this, he was utterly inconsolable in his office with his gramophone playing at maximum volume until he emerged wearing his gag breast harness to tell his employees that his wife committed adultery. Unfortunately, his staff misinterpreted this gesture and laughed uproariously at what seemed an inspired bit of humor. It was only later that they realized that their employer was earnest and they inadvertently humiliated him at his emotionally lowest point.
Although Vernon accepted their apology, he committed suicide that night. Hollis Mason would later note that he could not hear opera music without thinking about how he and the others inadvertently drove Vernon to his death.
Vernon was a man "around fifty-five or so" and had a retro look: three chins, a wiseacre cynical curl to his lower lip, a hollowness around the eyes, hair retreating.