How Vernon, Florida Became Known as "Nub City"

Though once a prosperous town, Vernon, Florida's economy and population dwindled in the Twentieth Century. During the 1950s and 60s, people got so desperate that they took out insurance policies, then cut off or shot off arms and legs. It became such a popular activity that this town of fewer than one thousand people became the dismemberment capital of the United States:

Quite literally, people in Vernon were shooting themselves, blowing off a limb, and collecting on the insurance. How the trend started, no one knows — perhaps it was an accident at a sawmill or with a plow, or perhaps it was a calculated effort to scam an insurance company out of tens of thousands of dollars (or more). Truly, it doesn’t matter. For when word got out that so-and-so just received a check for untold riches — and all it cost him was a hand or foot, perhaps even to the elbow or knee — well, the idea spread. By the time the early 1960s rolled around, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Vernon, Florida was responsible for roughly two-thirds of all loss-of-limb-related insurance claims in the United States.

Read about the end of the scam and the fate of Vernon at Dan Lewis's Now I Know.

Link | Image: IFC Films

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Great Movie. When Errol Morris went there he really didnt find much controversy about the "Nub City" part of things that he wanted. Thankfully in the end rather than stirring the pot, he just got some really good footage of some quirky people in Vernon, and I think it was much more interesting than the Nub City angle.
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