"He must have done something. They don't kill you for nothing." - Chicago Gangster Ted Newberry. Rubbed out January 7, 1933

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last Summer Fling

The Dead Guys in Suits office staff is off for their final summer fling.
We will be back to the grindstone Tuesday September 2.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Todd Browning's nightmare

We here at the DGIS studio would like to remember another DGIC (dead guy in cape) that left us in August. On this date in 1930 Lon Chaney Sr. the man of a thousand faces, like the man of a thousand voices, kept perfectly still. Old timers will tell you that it was his make-up that killed him. His autopsy report however will say it was throat cancer.
Chaney was a big proponent of prison reform, feeling that the institutions of his day did not rehabilitate criminals they only made them harder.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bill O

There was an upper west side feud on between the “Midway Mob” and the “White Roses” the latter being an uptown faction of the Gophers and ninety-five years ago tonight the boys of the “Midway Mob” were holding a dance at the Midway clubhouse with about one hundred couples in attendance. After a while a bouncer noticed that two members of the “White Roses” were in attendance and he and some “Midway Mob” boys threw them out of the club house in a less than polite manner. The “White Roses” pledged vengeance as they walked away.
A few hours later the two gangsters returned with five friends in a large touring sedan. The driver dropped them off and then drove away as the seven gangsters pushed the doorman aside and entered the clubhouse. When they reached the dance floor they whipped out their shooting irons and blasted away. A “Midway Mobster” quickly doused the lights and everyone scattered whilst a gunfight erupted. When the lights came back on William O’Shaughnessy was lying on the dance floor and while the rest of the “White Roses” covered the crowd two of them grabbed him by the collar and dragged him outside just as another car was pulling up. They tossed the dead or dying gangster into the car, which then took off leaving two of the gang members stranded. The car proceeded to Roosevelt Hospital where the gansters propped O’Shaughnessy’s body up in sitting position against the door and beeped the horn until a doctor came out and stumbled over the corpse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

pics & books

This is the last full week to submit a picture for the first annual Dead Guys in Suits art "contest". We currently have four entries so if you've been hemming or hawing now is the time to draw, paint, scribble a dead guy in a hat and send it off to dgis1931@yahoo.com winner gets a free copy of my new book Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York City 1920-1940. Celebrity judges will be introduced in September. Though hosting the extravaganza I will not be a member of the judging panel.

In other news the paperback version of Gangster City will be available in March of 2009. That is only seven months away so you may want to put in your order now to beat the multitudes who will no doubt dress up like their favorite character and campout in front of the local bookstore so they can snatch up the first copies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Diamonds weren't Harry's best friend

10:00 p.m. tonight will mark the 78th anniversary that Greene County, NY inn-keeper Harry Western received a phone call from Legs Diamond. The celestial gods have worked it out that the calendar for 1930 is the same as that of this year. So it was also a Friday. I love when things work out like that. Anyhoo, Legs was in the process of trying to monopolize the Catskills beer and alky racket and Western just wasn't playing ball. Western was at his inn, called the Chateau, near Lake Katrine when the call came saying get on over to Acra (Legs's house) pronto. Harry got in his car and headed over. Nobody ever saw Harry again. They saw his car with some blood in it, but nobody ever saw Harry again. One of Diamond's associates went to jail because he was caught with the car, but nobody ever saw Harry again. Authorities and the public both knew that Harry was killed by Diamond, but nobody ever saw Harry again. Nobody ever paid for what was done to Harry because no body no case. But some of the old timers say, especially after a few Ballantines, that some nights, especially August 22nd's that land on Friday, some people have seen a spectral figure wandering the cat roads of Greene County looking for his car. But the way I figures it, it can't be Harry cause nobody ever saw Harry again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Freddy's dead

On this morning back in 1920 Staten Island motorist passed a car with what appeared to be guy sleeping in the front passenger seat. Car after car passed assuming that the figure was tired driver who had pulled over to get some rest. One more observant passerby noticed some blood on sleepy Pete's face and called the cops. Turns out the exhausted driver was Frederick Eckert. The leader of a New Jersey car theft ring who had become booze hijacker extraordinaire. On his last ride someone in the back seat (this was the early days of Prohibition when you could still have someone sit behind you without worry) placed a gun to the base of Fred's head and pulled the trigger. The gun was then placed in his left ear and the trigger again pulled. The job complete the car pulled over, but what the hell, lets give him another. Bang a third and final pill to the forehead. Mr. Eckert's demise was quite a story at the time as it involved dirty cops and political intrigue. If you would like to learn more about Eckert I wrote an article about him that can be obtain ed at the On The Spot quarterly journal's past issues.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mustache Petes

I seem to be getting some mobofiles stopping by lately so will chat about that. Contrary to popular belief the mafia wasn't a 20th century invention. One need only to look at a sensational Mafia trial from back in the summer of '96, 1896 that is. One Salvator Serio was shot and killed in Brooklyn by a guy named Antonino Cincotta and a few other guys. During the trial terms like omerta and mafia were tossed around. Cincotta was even asked if he was a "captain" of a group of men. Of course he denied it. Like the mafia trials to follow in the 2oth Century Cincotta & co. walked on Nov. 23, 1896, the headline reading Mafia Suspects Acquitted, but it wasn't the last NYC heard of him. The following June 1, Cincotta was again involved in a shooting -Talk of Mafia Conspiracy- the media reported.

Cincotta would have a long reign in Brooklyn, his crime of note was trying to shake down opera star Enrico Caruso for thousands of dollars and ending up in jail. Like any good mafia boss (technically he was called a black-hander) Ol' Cincotta got his comeuppance on February, 16, 1915, at the ripe old age of 47, when he was shot down while exiting a theatre. In the article disucssing his murder the New York Times described him as having, "a wide influence among the Italian residents of that borough (Brooklyn) and his power was almost absolute." Sounds like a mob boss to me. 1915-1916 were big years for mob hits there was a couple of LoMontes, a Terranova, the Gallucci's. Perhaps Cincotta was the first of the series. Lets have a seance and ask Ciro Terranova.

Anyways this is a long winded way to say that if you are into early mafia than you will want to know Tom Hunt he is the premier mob historian and in addition to his newsletter be sure to check out his site on the Morello-Terranova clan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Greased is the word

Summmer killing eighteen loud bla-a-a-ast, summer killing it happened so fa-a-ast... Death cruised into Little Italy on this day back in 1931 when Joseph Cigna and Anthony Justiano were brought down in a hail of lead. Wellawellawell Huh tell me more, tell me more. How old was each guy. Tell me more tell me more. Are they both gonna die? Uh huh, uh huh...Twenty-one year old Cigna and twenty-five year old Justiano were standing on a corner with about eight other guys when four men approached the group and drew pistols. Both Cigna and Justiano seemed to know that they were the targets because they both took off down the street followed by the gunmen who let loose a barrage of gunfire. Wellawellawella huh, tell me more tell me more. Did they get very far? Tell me more tell me more. Was there a getaway car?..uh huh uh huh. One of the victims tried to make it into a tenement but dropped dead while the other was felled in front of another building. The gunmen were exceptional shots because the autopsies showed that Cigna was hit by eight bullets and Justiano by ten. The shooters disappeared on foot. But oh, those hot summer Ni-hiiiites....Tell me more, tell me more tell me mo-o-o-ore....

Friday, August 15, 2008

DGIS Weekend Extra

Tomorrow, August 16, marks the passing of two iconic figures and we here at the DGIS studio would like to take a moment to remember the two most important DGIC (Dead Guys in Capes ) of the 20th Century. As most people know Elvis died on this date thirty one years ago but what most people don’t know is that twenty one years before that the world lost its original most famous caped icon; Bela Lugosi. That’s right Dracula himself cashed in his chips August 16, 1956.

The similarities between the two stars doesn’t end there either. You thought that the Lincoln –Kennedy coincidences were eerie just examine these facts:

1- Bela Lugosi was the king of horror until he was usurped by a Brit. One William Henry Pratt, better known as Boris Karloff. Elvis was the king of rock until usurped by four Brits*, those lovely lads from Liverpool , Freddie & The Dreamers.
2- Bela died in 1956. Elvis’s career was born in 1956.
3- Bela was born in Hungary and in his last years Elvis was always hungry
4- They both wore capes.
5- Bela played a carny in Murders in the Rue Morgue, Elvis played a carny in Roustabout.
6- Both have two vowels in their first name
7- Both had sex with Marilyn Monroe in the White house
8- Bela drove a Presley and Elvis drove a Lugosi
9- Bela shot heroin. Elvis shot tvs
10- Bela made “the Black Cat”. Elvis was a Black Belt

You can’t make this Dead Guys in Suits copyrighted material up folks. Just try to sleep tonight knowing what you now know.

* BTW, shave and a hair cut? Thats two Brits.

I'm Pat Downey and I approve this message

In 1915 there was a battle between two small time pols in lower Manhattan named Foley and Driscoll. On August 15, of that year, thirty-year old Timothy Sullivan, a member of Foley’s Downtown Democratic Club, was walking past the Home Rule Democratic Club, a hangout for Driscoll supporters, with Benjamin Metzger, a thirty-one year old follower of a pol in the Driscoll machine.
Whether or not Sullivan realized Metzger was in the Driscoll camp is unknown but as the two men passed the club five shots rang out and Sullivan dropped to the sidewalk mortally wounded. Metzger ran off with slight wounds to his stomach and wrist.
Police were quick to arrest the gunman, Patrick Murphy and although he had no political affiliations with anyone he was known down town as a never-do-well.
While Sullivan was in the hospital Murphy was brought in but the dying man said he didn’t recognize him. The Police suspected Metzger of leading Sullivan into the trap and when he came in to have his wounds treated they arrested him and placed him in the same cell as Murphy.
Like a number of gangsters at the time both Murphy and Metzger were Italians who adopted Americanized names and Metzger was heard scolding Murphy in their native tongue for being a lousy shot and wounding him.

post script
Scroll down to see entry #4 in art contest

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Up to three art pics

Scroll down to see #3. Keep 'em coming folks. Don't be shy. Remember its all for fun no such thing as a bad entry.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What to much starch?

One hundred and three years ago today one of the most perverse murders took place when five members of the On Leong tong stopped in to visit Hop Lee, a Hip Sing tong member, in his laundry shop. Lee was asleep in his den when his five adversaries surprised him early in the morning. They dragged him to his ironing table and as four of the men held him while the fifth went to work on him with a hatchet. First he cut off Lee's nose and then began swiping at the rest of his face and body all the while the two men holding Lee’s legs tickled his bare feet with feathers. Before they had a chance to finish him off however they were interrupted by a policeman who had been informed that five members of the On Leong were on mission of murder. When the Tong members saw the cop they ran up to the roof where two of them managed to escape after a chase. Lee was able to indentify two before cashing in later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Death Wish VI: The prequel

Just as Charles Bronson got fed up with crime and decided to mete out his own brand of justice so to did Gaetano Cricchio, a 5o-year old proprietor of a family pastry shop, take the law into his own hands. On August 7, 1934 the baker received a letter from a small time racketeer named Joe Caputo that said he would be stopping in the coming Saturday August 11, to collect $40 and that if he didn't have it it would "land you or some of your family in the cemetery." On the appointed day Caputo arrived, Cricchio's 25-year old daughter was in the shop and the hoodlum made some improper advances towards her while her father nervously tried to explain that he couldn't afford the shake down. Turning his attention to the elder Cricchio, Caputo stuck his hand in his pocket and demanded the money. With shaky hands the baker handed over the dough. Caputo took it and turned his back on the baker and began counting. While he did so Cricchio drew a .25 pistol and fired four shots in the thugs back. That was the last thing Caputo expected which was evident by the shocked look on his face when he turned to look his executioner who fired another shot into his chest. Five slugs heavier Caputo collapsed on his face. Not yet satisfied the baker leaned over the counter and fired a sixth shot into the back Caputo's head. The police showed up and found the dazed baker standing over the dead gangster while his daughter sobbed. The police said that Cricchio deserved medal for ridding society of a character like Caputo but laws being what they are instead of celebrated he was arrested for both homicide and gun possession.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Entry #2

We have our second entry to the Dead Guys in Suits art competition. Scroll down to check out an outstanding pic of The Brady Gang and their car. Pic saved kinda small. Click on it to see it and more of the artist work in a size that does it justice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rooming house blues

Former members of the “Forty Thieves” gang, that operated in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, Vincent Pisano, twenty, and Oresta DeRobertis, twenty-one, had lived in various places in that area and ended up a short time before August 7, 1934 at small rooming house. They each had a room on the top floor flanking the room of Mrs. Kathleen Wagermann and her children. At 4:00 a.m. two killers, each armed with a revolver, managed to gain entrance to the house. Then, climbing up the stairs they split up. One entered Pisano’s room and the other DeRobertis’s. All the inhabitants of the boarding house were suddenly woken up when the gunmen simultaneously emptied their guns into their targets. Five of the six bullets fired at Pisano lodged in his abdomen while three out of the six fired at DeRobertis pierced his head

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Happy birfday to youse

Happy birfday to youse

Happy birfday dear Dutch

Happy birfday to youse!

Aw Boys, you should'nta! Who wants cake!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Boxing Harry

Welcome to Hugh Quinn's saloon fight fans. The number one place in Queens for a good brawl on this balmy 1917 evening.
In this corner Long Island City resident, boxer and election day goon Harry Alexander (Yay! Yay!)
In this corner six guys who wanna take Harry out. (Boo boo hiss)
There's the bell
Harry comes out swinging. His boxing and strong arm skills are coming in handy...down goes one of his opponents, another, yet another it looks like Harry might actually clean the place up with all six of his attackers!!! It's amazing one against six who would of thought...uh oh whats this...one of the six just drew a gun...Harry doesn't see it as the man is behind him...he wouldn't actually shoot would he?...Yep he would. Harry goes down with a bullet in the back.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 It's all over for Harry...literally.

Edit: Got my dates mixed up. This actually happened on Aug. 6, so forget it and come back and read it on Wednesday