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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Bozo Show

Twas this day in 1929 it twas when Chicago's cop Sgt. Murrin, was walking to work on the west side and came across three guys banging away at each other in Madison Street. He ran up just as one of the guys staggered into a car with a woman at the wheel and sped off.  Left at the scene were  bootlegger James "Bozo" Shupe and his partner George Riggins, proprietor of the cigar shop out front of which the shooting took place. Both men had been hit. George collapsed on the riding board of a parked car and Bozo simply collapsed.

The cop took the wounded gangsters to the hospital where a short time later a woman pulled up and dropped off Thomas "Big Six" McNichols, also said to be in the beer business. Big Six said he was standing on a corner when some guy whom he didn't know shot him. When asked about Bozo and George snarled, "Don't bother me".

Bozo was the first go followed a few hour later by Big Six. Before the latter gave up the ghost he told his mother that he had two grand in cash and a $3000 ring on his person when brought in. She brought this up with the Police who told her that he had nothing of the sort when he got to the hospital.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mad Max (Schreck)

Just in case you wondering if Hollywood was running out of remake ideas, there is this.
They are remaking classics silent horror film, Nosferatu. Seeing that Nosferatu is basically Dracula with a different name, I guess it means they are going to remake Dracula and copy the "Count Orlok" character. Or perhaps I'm just being cynical...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chicken run

Eighty-seven years ago this afternoon three St. Louis gangsters were keeping a rendezvous in what was called a "chicken yard" on the outskirts of the city in Wellston. The trio, James Russo, Mike Longo and Jack Griffin pulled into the yard at 2:00pm and waited. After a moment two cars pulled up and blocked the only way out.

The threesome seemed to realize they were on the spot and jumped from their auto with their guns out and began firing at the cars that just pulled up. From inside a nearby chicken coop a Thompson went off. Longo dropped by the car fatally wounded as Russo and Griffin ran for cover. The former caught an extra crispy dose of lead while heading for a tree and dropped dead.  The latter caught six bullets but managed to make it to a nearby house.

A witness to the shootout described the machine gunner to a police sketch artist:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sleep tight, don't let the ice-pick bite

On this day back in 1931 Chicago bootlegger John Bakovatz took a nap. Bootlegging generally means long nights so we can see why John would snooze during the day. Little did John know that his nap would last an eternity.

Since the young kiddies were napping in the same room as pop, Mrs. Bakovatz took the opportunity to go visit the neighbors leaving a quiet house with no one to raise an alarm should somebody like, I don't know, an underworld hitman come by. One wonders what John may have been dreaming about. Perhaps visions of his ex partner, Sherlock (yes Sherlock) Gasparino - who had recently fled the country because he was afraid that he was going to be put on the spot - danced in his head. By the way, as his name would imply, Sherlock was the smarter of the two for there was indeed danger afoot.

As John lay there sawing logs, into his room crept one of those fellows whom Sherlock feared. He approached the sleeping bootlegger and, wanting to do his deed in silence, plunged an ice-pick into John. Nothing wakes a man quicker than an ice pick in his person and now that John was awake there was no need to be quiet so the killer pulled a gun and sent a bullet into John's throat. John went back to sleep.

The melee didn't wake the kiddies, anyone who has had small children knows that the tykes can sleep through anything. Not until John's brother in-law showed up did anyone know something was amiss.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Job Opening

Phillip Plazza was said to be the top gangster of Chicago Heights with a couple of hundred guys on his payroll. He had "scores" of alky cookers working for him and in a raid on one of his "cafes", Prohibition agents uncovered one of the largest stills on record along with 10,000 gallons of hooch and another 1,000 gallons of wine.The wealthy gangster was also under indictment for his booze biz.

Plazza also owned two roadhouses where he sold his goods, the Milano cafe and the Derby Inn. A month and half earlier a jeweler and his date were killed in a drive-by as they walked out of the Derby. Police believed that the bullets were meant for Plazza.

On this date back in 1926 Plazza stepped outside of the Milano, which was only four short blocks from the police station. As he stood outside his cafe a sedan drove by and a number of guns went off. The next day the Chicago Heights newspaper help wanted section had an ad seeking a new underworld gang chief. Great pay but no job security.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Love Stinks

On this date back in 1928 Philadelphia gangster John Farrar alias Johnny the Wop was at the Black Horse tavern in Easton Pennsylvania having a swell time with a blonde. Johnny excused himself to use the phone. While Johnny conversed four guys toting sawed off shotguns entered the Black Horse. Patrons hit the dirt and the blonde commenced to screaming cause she put two and two together real quick and figured out the reason for the arrival of the hogleg quartet.

Johnny was still on the phone when the guns went off. After a series of loud noises what was left of Johnny slumped to the ground as the gunmen ran out to a car with New York license plates and sped off. Police said that Johnny was erased due to some gang feud in Brooklyn, but... Pssst, come closer...can you keep a secret? Good, just between us, word on the underworld grapevine was that the blonde Johnny was making time with, well she was the main squeeze of a Philadelphia big shot who didn't like the fact that Johnny took his sweetie away so he called in some fellows from New York to help mend his broken heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Choose your friends wisely

Eighty five years ago today marks the exit of one Peter "Ash Can Pete" Inserio from the Chicago underworld. Now before you go making assumptions about Pete's hygiene please know that he was known as Ash Can Pete because he was proprietor of the Ash Can club. Now if you would like to make assumptions about a drinking hole called the Ash Can, go ahead. Others possibly did because Pete changed the name to the Idle Hour club by this date in 1930.

So here we have Ash Can Pete, (Perhaps if he lived longer he would have become Idle Hour Pete, we'll never know) Sitting outside his club when somebody(ies) came up and fired six bullets into him. Police arrived and Pete was still kicking. They took him to the hospital and along the way asked who it was who shot him. "I don't know," said Pete, "but they did a good job." and so they did, Pete died a short time later.

When asked for a motive the police stated that Pete had recently aligned himself with the Moran-Aiello gang. They, by the way, were Al Capone's top enemies. If true, not a good move on Pete's part.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Goodbye Larry

At 2:00am on this date back in 1931 Cincinnati gangster Larry Coates had just left a camp on the outskirts of town. In the car with him was his father. They met outside of town because Larry was persona non grata in Cinncy. Why? Well for a number of reasons but mainly because a gun  found in his possession after an arrest in Florida was found by ballistic experts to have fired the bullets that killed another Southern Ohio gangster by the name of Jew John Marcus earlier that year.

After the campground rendezvous, Coates was giving the old man a ride home in his high dollar sedan complete with bullet proof windows. However, if bullet proof windows are to be effective they must be rolled up. Being that this was a warm July night, Larry had his window down.

As they approached the city limits another car pulled up alongside them. Larry looked over and didn't care for what he saw and hit the gas. The other car did like wise and caught up. A shotgun, and possibly other guns, went off and Larry slumped over the wheel with shot in the back of his head, neck and shoulder. The elder Coates grabbed the wheel and managed to steer the car into an embankment.

Coates was rushed to the hospital After the crash senior Coates stood around waiting for help. After some time a cab pulled over saw the dying gangster and took off. Once back in town he called the cops who sent an ambulance. Coates was taken to the hospital where he lingered until shedding his mortal coil on July 28.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


It was a good old fashion duel in Chicago's 19th ward  back in the USA, back in the bad old days.
It happened like this friends, In the heat of a summer night, in the land of the dollar bill...wait, that's a different Chicago story.

Those shooting it up cowboy style on this date in 1925 were James Vinci and Joseph "Machine gun Joe" Grannada. Chicagoans were already familiar with Vinci. He drove the car of shooters who murdered labor racketeer Mossy Enright in 1920. As for Grannada, well, his moniker says it all. Both men were in a saloon when a fight broke out between them and they took to the streets to let their guns finish the argument.

What were they fighting about? Apparently one of them was eating out of a tub of peanut butter while the other was eating a chocolate bar and they bumped into each other and said chocolate bar went into the peanut butter. While they were shooting each other, another guy, Willie "Candy Man" Reese took a bite of the peanut butter drenched chocolate bar and the world would never be the same again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Unholy Toledo

Today in 1931 the body of "Cleveland Beer Baron" Al Jaffee, (not to be confused with Mad Magazine artist Al Jaffee) was found on a lonely Toledo road just south of the Michigan border. He wasn't by himself either. the fellers who bound, gagged and fired a couple of .45 bullets into his head figured they should send him off with a companion and so did the same to his body guard Harry "The Carpenter" Gertzlin.

A couple reasons offered for the offing were that they were trying to muscle in on the Toledo alcohol scene and that they were there to settle a situation regarding the hijacking of one of their liquor trucks. If it was the latter then I doubt they were satisfied with resolution.

*Didn't come up with that one ourselves, it's a title of book about Toledo gangsters.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gas, Guns and Gus

Gus Buselaki owned a filling station in downtown St. Louis back when you didn't have to pump your own gas. You just sat back while some guy in an appropriate outfit filled your tank, washed your windshield and probably even thanked you for coming in.

Yes, Gus was a proprietor of just such a place. Gus was some other things too. Gus was also an organizer for the "Service Car Drivers Association". "Gangster" was also listed as one of Gus's occupations.

So there Gus was standing about his station just after midnight back on this date in 1931 when a sedan drove by and either two machine-guns with 25 round drums or one gun with a 50 round drum opened fire from a window spraying both Gus and his establishment with upwards of fifty bullets.

Nine other people were on hand and two woman were slightly wounded. As for Gus, a good percentage of the fifty bullets came to rest in him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Let us remember today one Edgar "Spiker" Smith who went the way of all gangster flesh on this date back in 1931.

Yes friends it was eighty-four years ago this evening that a citizen of Chicago's south side went to the coppers and reported that he saw, right in front of his own house mind you,  a man get shot in a sedan. Later that night, said car was found with "Spiker" (not to be confused with Edward "Spike" O'Donnell, another Chicago hoodlum and survivor of numerous assassination attempts) slumped over in the front passenger side.

Spiker was called both a Capone hoodlum as well as the body guard of Danny Stanton. Regarding the latter, both he and Spiker were wanted in Waukesha, Wisconsin for the murder of prominent Chicago nogoodnik Jack Zuta who got a fatal dose of lead while hiding out there in a resort. Together with Danny, Spiker was fighting extradition to Wisconsin to stand trial.

Police said that Spiker was bumped off because of a south side beer war or possibly for retaliation for killing a film projectionist in a labor feud. Being sentimentalists we here at the institute like to think he got it from his "friends". Maybe he was getting nervous about the Zuta business and they thought it would be better if he went on a one way vacation.