Way back on this date in 1911, Tom(my) Lee, the unofficial “Mayor of Chinatown” and head of the On Leong Tong was arrested while eating his lunch. The charge? Gasp! Why there was gambling going on in that (at the time) tiny little district encompassing Mott, Doyers and Pell streets.
The police were given
evidence that, each week, Lee was paid tribute to the tune of $15 per gambling table in his
bailiwick. And that there were nintey-five tables. Not bad. Where did the police
get their info? Why none other than Mock Duck, Lee’s chief rival, and top dog in the Hip Sing
It also came out that Lee didn’t actually keep all of that gambling
loot either, that some of it was, surprise!, kicked upstairs to politicians. My,
my who’d a thunk it.
Mock Duck may have thought he was being pretty foxy
but he was also arrested. Turns out during a previous arrest for an old murder
charge he had promised to leave town if given bail. So he was released and came
back and apparently forgot about his promise.
Both Tong leaders were
forced to sit down for a forty-five minute lecture from the Police Commissioner
in which they were told that gambling in Chinatown had to stop and that the Tong members had
to stop carrying guns around as well. Both Tong men assured the Commissioner
that his wishes would be granted. After a moment's silence all three men started to snicker then laughter rolled out of the Commissioner's office and echoed throughout headquarters. Why nothing was gonna change you big sillies. To add to the charade Lee and Duck walked out together smiling as if they
were old chums.