Chicago gangster Ted Newberry says: "He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." Ted was rubbed out on January 7, 1933

Arrest of Francis 'Two Gun' Crowley

Meet Kiki

Sunday, January 31, 2010

McLaughlin Group

One gangster, or one gangster's death I should say, that has always stuck with me was Chicago's
Eugene "Red" McLaughlin. I first read about him in Fred Pasley's Capone biography probably fifteen or more years ago. It was the way that Red was found. The passage reads, in part: " the drainage canal at Summit...a passing tugboat churned up the body of Eugene Red McLaughlin..."

Now, I've read about the demise of probably a thousand gangsters or so but this one has always made me feel squeamish. I don't know why, I suspect it is the two words "drainage" and "churned". Two words that really shouldn't be associated with the human body. Had he simply been found in a canal by a fisherman I doubt it would have had the same impact, but no, he was "churned" out from the bottom of a "drainage" canal like an old boot. I doubt Red is due any sympathy but eeww.

Red received a paragraph or two in the Pasley book and seemed to be a small time guy who met a grisly fate. So what does that have to do with us? You say. Well some authors say that Legs Diamond was the guy who put Red in the canal (Oh, by the way, Red had his hands and legs tied, and a sack tied over his head, which may have contained two bullets) with some iron to keep him on the bottom.

The story goes that Arnold Rothstein got word that Red was coming in from Chicago to snatch him for a kings ransom. A.R. then sicked Legs on him and Legs went to Chi-town and SPLASH!

I was always a little wary of the story and didn't put much creedence in it but just for laughs I googled Red to if there was anything out there. I'm pleased to report that Red was a bigger deal than I knew. Turns out he was involved in Chicago's taxi cab wars Here you will find a fun read on the war and Red's part.

In a nutshell he killed the president of a cab company and then his brother took over the number one spot. It also mentions he was a bandit who robbed a New York jeweler of $85,000 and was also involved in kidnappings, murders and other nefarious activities on a national scale. Just the type of guy who might want to put the snatch on A.R. So could it be that maybe Legs did...nope, Red went canal diving in late May early June of 1930. A good twenty months after A.R. took his final bow. So no Diamond connection but nice to read a little more on the victim of the hit that creeps me out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Casting call

So I took a break from writing Saturday night and decided I needed a bad monster movie. Turning on the Syfy channel I get Snakes on a Sub, er, I mean Sea Snakes which is about a bunch of snakes that get loose on a submarine. Anyways its terrible but the captain of the sub is Luke Perry and I have to say, if I were casting a movie about Legs Diamond right now I would want him to come in just on physical appearance. I don't know how good/bad of an actor he is as the only thing I've seen him in is Snakes on a Sub, I mean Sea Snakes and nothing could save that.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stick 'em up

Eighty years ago tonight a Cadillac containing six men drove into the town of Matawan, New Jersey and pulled up in front of the Matawan bank. Five men wearing caps and carrying two pistols each, (thats a total of ten guns for the mathimatically challenged) entered the establishiment just before the doors closed at 8:00pm.

One of the bandits informed the customers and employees that they were there to rob the bank. Assistant cashier Theodore Stickles inturn informed them that they would receive no money. Assistant cashier Theodore Stickles then took a pistol blow to the head and saw things their way.

The patrons and employees were lined up against a wall and guarded by two of the banditti while the other three made a $20,000 withdrawal. Money in a sack, they returned to the waiting Caddy and the gitaway driver done gottem away.

The amazing thing about this bank robbery is not the robbery itself as those were a dime a dozen back then. The amazing thing is that it took place at closing time, 8:00pm on a Saturday. When was the last time a bank was open at those hours? Customer service at its best.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Friends of the deceased get fleeced

Came across an interesting article. After reading about yet another expensive underworld funeral where a gangster was planted in a coffin costing between $15,000 and $20,000 a reporter did some investigating. Do caskets really cost that much? The answer he found was, no. Most coffins went for $400-$600 in rare cases up to $3000.

According to those in the funeral biz, there was no such thing as a solid silver casket, apparently the material of choice, for the simple reason that silver, being silver, is valuable and A)no one is gonna tie up that kind of dough in the hopes that someone walks in off the street looking to buy a solid silver box. and B) The amount of silver needed to make a coffin would be worth more than $10-$20K.

According to grim retailers the most expensive overcoat was a cast bronze that went for twelve thou and these went to moguls and tycoons of the legitimate sort not gunslinging alky pushers who liked their cans nice and shiny.

The fact that silver caskets didn't exist didn't stop the big boys from buying them however. Here's how the racket worked.

Tommy Salami Huntero gets drilled. His boys are determined to send him off in style. They enter Zacherly Funeral home and say "See that Tommy gets the best." The staff says "Of course" they take a silver metal casing, which they either own or rent from another undertaker, and place it over a cast iron coffin. Tommy Salami is laid out in a big flashy box, all his boys get to see their reflections while paying their respects, one sees a reporter he knows from a speak and says, "See that, solid silver. $20,000 that cost." and it did. But later when everybody is gone. The silver case is lifted off and Tommy goes six feet deep in a potato crate that is actual worth 400 clams. Zacherly & Co. laugh all the way to the bank and wait for the next gang war.

A quick look to see who the crooked undertakers may have undertook:

Giuseppi Piraino said to have been buried in $7000 German Silver casket. Depending on what German silver is/was he may be a victim
Danny Iamascia $10,000 casket make unknown
Frankie Uale $10,000 casket make unknown
Frankie Yale ditto
Frankie Iole ibid

Is the casket racket true? Let's get some shovels and find out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hunting the elephant

Were this the 1880's and you were in NYC and invited to hunt the elephant it would not involve guns and safaris. Well safaris anyways. Hunting the elephant was slang for going to the "bad" parts of town, lower eastside, Bowery, Chinatown, my brother's apartment, etc. to take part in the fun, er, decadence that every other building seemed to offer. Drinking, gambling, carousing, can-can dances and all that other stuff we're not supposed to want to do.

Good, we each learned something today.