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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the Waterfront

Ah the good old days, friends I'm talkin' back before gangsters wore fedoras and fancy coats with velvet collars, before they drove big six-cylinder cars and sprayed streets with Tommy-guns, before they made millions in booze and labor rackets. Yeah, brothers and sisters I’m talking about the hazy lazydays of yesteryear, when the clippity clop of horse hooves could be heard on cobblestone, when dames with parasols paraded up and down Fifth Ave., when a Westside mob known as the “Growler Gang” pilfered the docks for something that could be sold for beer money. The simplicity of it. Goons want beer but have no money. Goons go to docks and steal. Goons sell merchandise. Goons get beer. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

Who were the Growlers? Well they were the motley crew that replaced the “Slaughter House Gang” that’s who the Growlers were and that should be good enough for you. What did the Slaughter House gang do? They used to rob the captains of the many scows and barges that docked on the Westside for beer money. (See a pattern forming?)

So as I was saying 110 years ago today the Growlers were hanging out by the river when they saw a lumber scow stacked with, you guessed it, lumber, and jumped aboard. The Growlers grabbed a single board and attempted to make off with it. An employee of said scow tried to stop them and ended up going for a swim.

Seeing this, a number of barge captains charged the Growlers as they were making their way down the dock but ended up being turned back under a hail of rocks and anything else the Growlers could find to throw at them.

One of the would be heroes, Andrew Evensen, the captain of a Norwegian barge, drew a pistol and fired into the air. Loud noises only angered the Growlers however, and they chased Evensen back to his scow where the captain ran into his cabin. The Growlers tried to enter Evensen’s quarters and he fired a shot that hit one of the lead Growlers, Ed Shine, in the shoulder. Eager for beer money Shine informed his comrades that the captain was indeed only firing blanks and that they should continue with there Growlery. They continued their push forward and Evensen fired again hitting Growler, Bill Martin, in the leg. Bill wasn’t made of the same stuff as Shine and he went down without pushing the blanks charade.

Seeing that the captain meant business the remaining Growlers picked up Martin and beat a hasty retreat but left him to his fate when a cop came running up. Shine and Martin were sent to the hospital and Captain Evensen was tossed in jail. After all we can’t have any Norwegians shooting our beer deprived thugs now can we?

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