Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Friday, February 27, 2009

fireworks in Chinatown

Back on this date in 1908 a gunfight between warring Tong members broke out in Chinatown when ten members of the Hip Sing invaded a laundry that doubled as a hangout for the rival On Leong. The gunmen entered the shop with guns blazing sending their enemies out into the street, the owner, Lee Kay, escaped with bullets in the back and arm. Hearing the ruckus other On Leong came to the rescue with their guns a barkin' and chased the Hip Sings back to their territory dropping one of their foe with a bullet in the back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where's the "Brotherly love?"

Eighty-two years ago this morning at roughly 5:00am Philadelphia gangster Mickey Duffy exited a speakeasy with his wife and his body guard, John Bricker. As the club's doorman was helping Mrs. Duffy into their car a sedan sped by and machinegun fire erupted from the back seat. Mrs. Duffy hit the deck while the three men all took some lead. The doorman was slightly injured while Duffy took six not fatal shots to the body. Bricker caught a lethal dose in the neck and expired.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A sit down with Mob writer Tom Hunt

After much ado I was finally able to snag an interview with the prolific Mafia expert Thomas Hunt (first introduced to DGIS readers on August 19, 2008). Tom is the co-author of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia. He is the editor and publisher of Informer: The Journal of American Mafia History, he has three websites relating to the Mafia and has authored numerous articles on the subject.

This interview has taken awhile because, well to be blunt, Tom seemed a bit paranoid. For some reason he didn’t want to come out to the DGIS studio. So after much back and forth we agreed to meet at an old Italian restaurant in the Bronx. It was very quaint, even had one of those old fashion toilets with the pull chain. Feeling a little paranoid myself I had an old friend of mine, a cop name Captain McCluskey, tag along. Since I hate taking notes I, as usual, brought the tape recorder. Here is the transcript.

Captain McCluskey: How’s the Italian food in this restaurant?

Dead Guys In Suits: Good. Try the veal. It’s the best in the city.

CM: I’ll have it.

DGIS: I’m gonna speak Italian to Tom.

CM: Go ahead.

DGIS: Parla inglese?

Tom Hunt: Si. Parla inglese?

DGIS: Si. Ok, I guess we’ll speak English then. So Tom, books, articles, newsletter, websites. Haven’t you ever heard of YouTube, Guitar Hero II or the Game Show Network? There are other things to do with your time why the Mafia?

TH: Don’t ask me about my business. I’ve told you never to ask me about my business.

DGIS: Well then I’m afraid you’re going to have to pay for your own meal.

TH: Well, all right, I’ll talk to you about my business just this one time. I’ll have a cup of pasta fagiole and a glass of water. OK… “Why the Mafia?” A number of factors contributed to my interest in the subject. Being born two weeks before JFK’s assassination into a family that adored the Kennedys probably had something to do with it. By the way, I entered the world just a few blocks from here, over at Misericordia Hospital. My mother’s side of the family is a mix of Sicilian and Neapolitan, and stories passed through the generations of encounters with racketeers. It probably also helped that my dad regularly brought home copies of the New York Post. That tabloid’s coverage of the underworld often caught my eye. More recently, my interest has been fueled by the interest of others. Personally, I’m fascinated by all aspects of history, from the founding of civilization to last week’s weather. But I’ve come to grips with the fact that there’s very little market for last week’s weather. (I’m not sure there’s much of a market for the Game Show Network either.)

DGIS: Speaking of the Game Show network lets play a little Match Game. “Albert Anastasia was so crazy he once blanked a guy just for blanking.

TH: I can tell by the smiles on Brett Somers’ and MacLean Stevenson’s faces that either they know this answer or one of them has just passed wind. The answer is: Albert Anastasia was so crazy, he once pantsed a guy just for putting the wrong fingers in his mouth when whistling for a taxi.

DGIS: Let’s go to the panel,
Brett Somers? Pantsed for putting the wrong fingers…
Mclean Stevenson? Pantsed for putting the wrong fingers…
Fannie Flag? Pantsed for putting the wrong fingers…
Richard Dawson? Pantsed for putting the wrong fingers:
Charles Nelson Reilly? Pantsed for putting the wrong fingers…
John Wesley Hardin? Once shot a man just for snoring.
Five out of six, not bad.
Tell us about your book Deep Water. What is it about and how did you come to write it?

TH: Deep Water tells the story of 19th Century New Orleans businessman Joseph P. Macheca and his relationship to the fledgling American Mafia. It was written over a period of about four years in partnership with a descendant of the Macheca line, Martha Macheca Sheldon... Chandler’s Brothers in Blood first brought Macheca to my attention. There were a number of statements in that book that seemed terribly unlikely, so I started to investigate. I shared my work online through a website. Martha was doing some genealogical research online and bumped into the site. We exchanged emails and quickly decided to work together to set the Macheca historical record straight… I believe we were both surprised at the wealth of material we found in local, state and federal archives. As we pieced things together, we came to understand that organized crime and organized politics in late 19th Century New Orleans were very much the same thing… I’m very happy at how well Deep Water has been received and very proud of the silver medal we won in the regional nonfiction category of the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. At this point, Martha and I are looking for a publisher for a revised second edition of the book.

DGIS: Is there another book in the works?

TH: I recently completed a concise (21,000 words) history of the American Mafia for an organized crime reference work to be published by Millennium House. The book will also include sections on the Sicilian Mafia and other criminal societies… Researcher Michael Tona and I continue to work together. We have written a few well-received articles on Mafia history for the On the Spot journal and my website. Lately, we’ve been working on a more substantial project. Mike is an extraordinary researcher and also a frighteningly thorough editor... Louis Cafiero and I are in the research stages for a possible biography of New York Mafioso Saverio Pollaccia... Hey, that veal looks and smells terrific. I feel like an idiot with this little cup of soup. They didn’t even give me any crackers.

CM: In case anyone was wondering, I’ve frisked a thousand young punks.

TH: He did a very thorough job. I don’t think I’ve been checked out that closely since my last prostate exam. You really have to admire a guy who has so much enthusiasm for his work.

DGIS: Note to self: insist on being frisked on the way home. Now, for those who don’t want to wait for the periodic Mob book release you have Informer. Why don’t you tell us about that.

TH: Informer is a quarterly journal devoted to American Mafia history and current events. It exists primarily as an outlet for Mafia historians - there are very few publication options for responsible historians who wish to explore subjects in some depth. Of course, it’s helpful that people are interested in reading it and advertising in it… Rick Mattix, who publishes the On the Spot journal, inspired me to start the Mafia publication… I have a fairly extensive background in journalism and launched a short-lived weekly newspaper years ago. So the problems related to publishing have been in the back of my mind for a while. It occurred to me that the Internet, combined with electronic document formats, document sharing services and print-on-demand publishing, has resolved many of the old problems. And the September 2008 launch of Informer was far more successful than I had hoped.

DGIS: In the old days if the mob killed somebody they trussed them up and put them in barrels or stuffed them in sacks. We don’t really see the same commitment these days. How do you account for that?

TH: There will always be some homicidal maniacs who take pride in their craft. For example, Gambino Crime Family member Roy DeMeo got very involved in his work in the 1970s and 80s. I think a lot of these guys are committed... A lot of them should be committed.

DGIS: Speaking of barrels and sacks. I see that the Morello-Terranova clan scored their own website. Are they of special interest to you?

TH: Yes they are, though I am actually in the process of folding the cagedwolves.com website back into my broader Mafia history website at onewal.com. My specific interest is in Ciro Terranova. Targeted by underworld enemies and law enforcement for so many years, Terranova managed to avoid assassination and prison and to serve as a mentor to guys like Charlie Luciano... Thinking about Terranova’s 1938 death in relative obscurity calls to mind the end of that old gangster movie, The Roaring Twenties. Remember the line? A policeman asks Panama Smith about the dead guy on the church steps and she responds, “He used to be a big shot”… Before Deep Water came along, I hoped to write a book about Terranova and his extended family. But that project has been pushed repeatedly to a back burner. I’m glad to see that authors like Pat Downey, Dave Critchley and now Mike Dash are giving the Morello-Terranova family its due.

DGIS: One of my favorite mob nicknames is Hop Toad. Do you have any favorites?

TH: There are so many great ones: Three-Finger Brown, Abbadabba, Zopo, Louie Lump-Lump, Benny Eggs, Louie Bagels, Joe Bananas, Big Tuna, Johnny Sausage… Of all the nicknames, the one name that guys seem to admire most is “Matty the Horse.” If I had to have a gang nickname, I think I’d want to be known as “Tommy the Horse.” But I suspect I would end up as “Tommy Sneakers,” “Tommy Salami” (my nickname in grade school) or “Three-Finger Typist.”

DGIS: Did you ever notice that your initials are Hop Toad reversed?

TH: Yeah, and I’m sure that’s not a coincidence. “Hop Toad” also has the same number of letters as “Tom Hunt.” Something to think about.

DGIS: It is, we missed that one. Someone is getting fired.

CM: Ok, maybe it wasn’t thousands. Hundreds, definitely hundreds of young punks.

DGIS: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Mafia?

TH: Lately, I’m bothered more by blind revisionism than by all the gangland myths. We can at least be sure that there is a kernel of truth somewhere within a myth, no matter how deeply it’s buried. The revisionist tendency to discard these legends because of the presence of incorrect details does us all a disservice. Historians must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

DGIS: Just curious, why do you think so many authors lie about the death of Frank Nitti? They all say he killed himself but thanks to Hollywood we now know that Eliot Ness threw him off a Courthouse roof.

TH: Well, all seriousness aside, Nitti had it coming to him after he killed Sean Connery! … It’s obvious that Hollywood moviemakers, like many salesmen, politicians and news commentators, suffer from an inability to tell the unvarnished truth. It’s also obvious that Mafia moviemakers have access to vast quantities of varnish. Fortunately, in the case of the Untouchables movie, the script was so fictionalized that no reasonable person would expect any part of it to be true.

DGIS: It wasn’t? I mean, oh yeah, right…Ok, so book, websites, newsletter, articles. What media will Tom Hunt bring the mob to next?

TH: How does a Broadway musical sound? I see Nathan Lane as “Fat Tony” Salerno and Christopher Lloyd as “Vinny the Chin” Gigante in kind of an “Odd Couple” with bullets. The conflict is introduced as prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani (Rick Moranis) attempts to figure out which of them is actually the boss of the Genovese Crime Family.

DGIS: How do I invest? Well Tom, I guess that about covers it. Anything else you want to add before you excuse yourself and go to men’s room to get that gun?

TH: Yeah…, if McCluskey isn’t going to eat that last piece of veal, could I have it?

CM: Ok, I admit it. I never frisked a punk in my life. I was a desk jockey.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!


Eighty years ago this morning the aforementioned seven gents you met over the course of this past week, and Highball, all converged in the Northside gangs garage at 2122 North Clark Street. As the gang, and Schwimmer, hung out in the back by the trucks what looked like a police car pulled up front. Two uniformed cops got out and went inside. Assuming it was a simple police raid the Northsiders followed the order to line up against the wall. While facing the brick two more guys armed with machine guns entered and all four gunmen blew the Northsiders into history.
In honor of the 80th Anniversary of the St. Valentinetine’s Day massacre we thought we would celebrate by interviewing the one man who knows more about the massacre, and Chicago gangsters in general, than anyone else alive, Al Capone. But since he’s dead we got the next best thing, Mario Gomes. Mario is the owner and host of www.myalcaponemuseum.com and the internationally recognized authority on Prohibition Era Chicago gangland. Mario has appeared on the History Channel’s Home & Bunker/ Al Capone as well as Man, Moment, Machine/ Al Capone, numerous other programs and newspaper stories and made it three rounds in season four of American Idol.

Dead Guys In Suits. Thank you very much for stopping by the studio Mario. So let’s start at the beginning. About six billion years ago there was an explosion, six billion years later you are the go to guy for Al Capone and Chicago gangster information. How’d that happen?

Mario Gomes. Well, I went to see The Untouchables movie with Robert DeNiro and was amazed by his powerful screen presence so I thought what's the real Capone like? I went to the library and picked up Kenneth Allsop's the Bootleggers and here we are!

DGIS: Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. There have been numerous theories on who the killers were. Personally I believe it was the wives and girlfriends of the victims themselves, POed because, on what is supposed to be a day for lovers, they chose to hang out with Reinhart Schwimmer instead. Am I close?

MG: Could have been plausible as victim Frank Gusenberg was found to be married to two dames at the same time. Actually ,Capone's killers for hire were ballistically linked to the crime.

DGIS: Thanks to the soft rock band Paper Lace there has been much confusion about Capone and Chicago. The books say that Capone paid off the police and the politicians and therefore was able to operate, yet according to Paper Lace “…A man named Al Capone tried to make that town [Chicago] his own. And he called his gang to war with the forces of the law.” Who is right?

MG: Paper Lace were good musicians, but full of sh&* as historians. Capone never fought the law, just other gangsters.
Paper Lace also states "Daddy was a cop on the East side of Chicago"???? Where was his beat? in the freaking lake?

DGIS: You have quite a collection of Al Capone artifacts in your museum. Among other things, you have his phone, his fountain pen, a signature. I heard that you actually went out and contracted syphilis and left it untreated just so you could experience the “full Al” is that true?

Editors Note: After gazing forward for eight straight minutes with glassy eyes, lips slightly apart and gob of drool hanging down to the second button of his shirt Mario finally answered.

MG: DUUUUH? Who are you? I don't know no Potsy Downer!! Book Good! Me know how to read, PFFFFT!!! French Canadian bean soup aaaaaaaaahhhhhh Isn't that Dutch?
Okay, I'm better! Nothing a little bismuth can't fix. Now just what the hell were you talking about?

DGIS: Al Capone once said, “Nobodies gonna Zuta me.” I got Zuta’d once in Tijuana, it wasn’t that bad. What’d Al have against it?

MG: In Zuta's case it meant being plugged full of holes. This was the new term for Zuta.

DGIS: Back to the SVDM. Now that was the hit with the highest body count. What is the second largest body count from that era?

MG: Probably the Fox Lake massacre of 1930. Three gangsters in one swoop.

DGIS: Oh, before we continue, is it true that you Zuta everyone that signs your guest book?

MG: Only the negative reviews. I have everyone's ip and track them down.

DGIS: Let’s play word association. We will name some infamous Chicago characters and you say the first thing that comes into your head. Here we go- Frank McErlane

MG: Psychopathic nutcase!

DGIS: Spike O’Donnell

MG: Mr. Showman

DGIS: Hymie Weiss

MG: Mr. Spontenaiety

DGIS: Bob Newhart

MG: The Bob Newhart show. Did you know that the guy who played Michael on that show (Peter Scolari) was a porn star in the Swedish Erotica series??

DGIS: We did not know that. But now that we do he is our favorite Bosom Buddy. Ok, seeing that you are Mr. Chicago, the staff here at DGIS decided to put you to the test. So lets see how you do with our quiz.
The Four Deuces stood on South Wabash. What was the address?

MG: 2222 South wabash

DGIS: The next one is multiple choice. Complete the sentence. “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital you send one of theirs to the ____.”
A) Zoo
B) Movies
C) Morgue
D) Worlds Fair

MG: C- Morgue

DGIS: What song was Jack Zuta playing on the nickelodeon when he got Zuta’d?

MG: Good for me, bad for you

DGIS: What are the odds of a guy named Zuta getting Zuta’d?

MG: Very likely. He was a whoremaster and very disliked. Moran had to associate with him to fight Capone, but I'm sure good old George could have cared less when he heard of his demise.

DGIS: Last quiz question. Capone once killed a man with the last name Howard. What was his first name:
A) Moe
B) Curly
C) Shemp
D) Joseph

MG: Joseph L. Howard

DGIS: There was a third Gusenberg brother. Why do you think the Capone gang didn’t bother taking him out as well?

MG: Henry Gusenberg was low level hood and worked as a projectionist and dabbled a little in unions.
The Capone gang didn't bother you if you didn't threaten or speak of retaliation.
Did you know that one of the Gusenberg nephews was a peeping tom? He got caught because of his big feet.

DGIS:Sounds like a story for another blog. Is it true that whenever the Circus gang traveled somewhere they all crammed into one little car?

MG:Yes, and they wore clown outfits. They had KILLER gags!!!

DGIS: To your knowledge did Scarface ever see the film Scarface and if so, what did he think?

MG: Before it was in production, Al sent some goons to see what it was going to be about. They wanted to make sure it didn't ressemble to much like Al's life. He didn't get to see it when it was released in 1932, as Al was already in the Atlanta State pen.
He did okay Fred Pasley to write his bio. Al knew the public wasn't stupid. He knew they saw him as a gangster.

DGIS: Though known as Scarface to the public his real nickname amongst friends was “Snorky. It is our opinion that a gangster film called Snorky probably wouldn’t have worked. Your thoughts?

MG: No, people would confuse it with deep sea diving ala Jacques Cousteau.

DGIS: In your view, what is the biggest misconception about Al Capone?

MG: Hollywood has tagged alot of crap to Capone. In the Untouchables movie, there is a scene where a little girl gets blown up by a Capone gang bomb. This never happened! Al would personally kill any thug who would hurt a woman or child. I just hate when they lump him with the likes of Hitler, Dahmer, Jim Jones etc... He didn't kill women or children. He fought rival gangsters and they fought him. Both sides knew the rules. They had a certain respect back then. They didn't kill their foe, if he was with his family. Today they blow pretty much everyone up just to get their prey.

DGIS: And finally, does crime pay?

MG: As the great Bill Helmer once said "Crime does not pay, but it can lead to immortality." So there!
DGIS: Thank you Mario, here let me wipe that droop for you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Give a pat on the head to Highball


Highball was a Northsider by proximity. A german shepard owned by mechanic/truck driver John May whom you met previoulsy this week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Introduce yourself to Reinhart Schwimmer

Artist rendition

Reinhart wasn't a gangster. He was an optician, who inherited his fathers business then lost it. As of now he was being supported by his mother. Though not a gangster he sure loved hanging out with them. O'Banion, Moran, the Gusenbergs. The more the merrier.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shake hands with Al Kachellek


Al went by the name James Clark. Another North Sider, Al had a record dating back to 1905. He was also one of the gunmen with the Gusenberg brothers when they killed Pasquale Lolordo back on January 8, 1929.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Exchange greetings with Albert Weinshank

Al Weinshank(er) was a speakeasy proprietor as well as the North Side gang's man in the cleaning and dying racket.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Allow me to introduce Adam Heyer


Adam was a paroled robbery who acted as the Northside gangs business manager. In addition to running Bugs Moran's dog track he also held the lease on the gang's garage at 2122 North Clark Street.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Say hello to the Gusenbergs

Frank Gusenberg and Pete Gusenberg
The Gusenberg brothers were two of the Chicago Northside gangs top guns. Pete was the elder and had a record dating back to 1902. Frank followed in his big brothers foot steps with an arrest in 1909. More recently they had nearly killed Capone shooter "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn in a phone booth and succeeded in killing Capone friend Pasqualino Lolordo ---a house call none-the-less---, on January 8, 1929.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Meet John May


John was a failed robber and safe cracker who worked as a truck mechanic for Chicago's Northside gang. In addition to maintaining the gangs fleet of trucks for $50 a week, John would sometimes ride along on deliveries.