One hundred and two years ago today, former pool room owner Henry Jacobs was preparing to open his own gambling joint in Harlem. He gave a guy named Hogan $1,500 and told him to meet him later at the house, which was already decked out with all kinds of gambling equipment. In the meantime Jacobs ventured to the Pilgrim café, located on the second floor of 28 West 116th Street, and ordered some lunch with a couple of pals.
At a nearby table sat another gambling sort by the name of Shorty Mansfield. Jacobs owed Shorty $250. Shorty called Henry over and asked for his money. Henry said he didn’t have it. Shorty didn't care for the answer so he drew a pistol and blew a hole in Jacob's belly.
Mansfield hit the door and made a successful get-away while Jacobs hit the floor. He was subsequently taken to Harlem hospital where one hundred and two years ago tomorrow he died.
The story doesn’t end there however. Remember Hogan? Well he wasn’t much of a hero. With Henry playing pinochle in purgatory he pocketed the $1,500 and took all the furniture and gear and opened a gambling house not to far away and did very well. In one month he made $17,000 and although the police knew about the house, it was never raided, so undoubtedly a good portion of that dough found it’s way into blue pockets.
Someone else who knew about the many clams rolling in was the Widow Jacobs who for six months tried to collect Henry’s money to no avail. So one day the following autumn she showed up at the gambling house and broke a window with her umbrella and then smashed two more with a hammer. She was arrested and blew the whistle on Hogan's operation, but with all that jack rolling in it’s hard to believe the police did anything about it.