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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spaghetti Eastern

If you thought Dean Martin was the only Italian cowboy then read on my friends.

Seventy-two years ago today New Yorkers were reading about the capture of the “East’s Most Vicious Bank Bandit” Peter “Cowboy” Colavecchio. What makes the anniversary special is that Colavecchio boasted that he would never be taken alive. However once surrounded by a handful of well armed G-Men at Second Ave and 29th Street he began to sing a different tune (apparently one way or another all Italian cowboys sing) Yes, and the new cantata [That’s right, I said cantata] was titled, “I’ll tell everything if you don’t hurt me.”

And tell everything Colavecchio did. Cowboy and a pal, Guido D’Allesandro (possibly known as Hoss) who was arrested earlier, knocked over a number of New Jersey banks from 1935-1937. Cowboy admitted to the jobs and just to show the Feds what a good guy he was took them to an apartment and showed them the gang's arsenal which consisted of a Thompson machine-gun, a few sawed off shotguns, rifles, tear gas gun, and a .45 with an elongated clip that held thirty shots.

The other gang members Louis Scotti, Sam Curcio, Dan Guida, Tony Cutro (also known as the Four Seasons or the Belmonts depending on your musical taste) were subsequently picked up along with another guy named Dan Bloom. How Bloom got in with them who knows, maybe his mother was Italian.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Diamonds are a girl's bad end

At approximately 11:00p.m. on this night back in 1931 titian haired (that’s fancy talk for redheaded) Vivian Gordon sashayed out of her apartment draped in a fur coat and adorned with fine jewelry. Being the sort who suckered many men out of many dollars in the past -“Had a lovely time Saturday night. In fact it was so special I wrote it all down and am thinking of sending it to your wife…”- she believed she was on her way to add one more notch on her cigarette case to the tune of a quarter mil in diamonds.

What she didn’t realize was that she was the sap in this set up. The whole thing about the stones was just a ruse to get her into the back seat of a Cadillac where she was strangled to death with some clothesline.

Her killers croaked her as a favor to someone they owed money to so hoping to come out ahead they stripped Viv of her fur and jewelry and ditched her in a ravine where she was found early the next morning by someone whose resume didn’t include murder or extortion.

Did I mention you can read all about it in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple? No? Oh, you can read all about it in Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bourdon & Bourbon

Let’s go on a trip, everybody in the wayback machine. I’ll set the coordinates. Time: 2:58 a.m. November 18, 1925. Destination: 65 Seventy Ninth Street Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Ok, hold on.

Ok, here we are, everyone make it? Good. Take a look across the street, that’s where Frank Bourdon lives. On the books he’s a real estate agent but lately he’s been dabbling in bootlegging. More than dabbling really, actually he has about $10,000 worth of hooch in his cellar…ok, now that guy over there creeping up to the house. He knows about the stuff and he wants it. How exactly him and Frank are hooked up who knows? Watch, first he’s gonna go for the side door which is locked….told you. Not very discrete is he, I heard the door rattle all the way over here. Guess who else heard it? Frank’s wife, right now she is sitting up in bed trying to determine if something is going on. Now Mr. Conspicuous is going to shine his flash light into the second story bedroom window to see if anyone is awake. Moron, now Mrs. Bourdon is really on edge, Right now she is wondering if she should wake Frank. Next Mr. Ten Thumbs is gonna try breaking in through the garage….Jeez, did you hear that? I’m surprised the whole neighborhood isn’t awake. Ok Mrs. B is scared and is at this moment waking her husband. Time for the bedroom light to come on. Bingo! Right now Frank is getting his pistol, we’ll see him stick his head out of the window in a second. Aha, there he is! Not quite how I pictured him. Little does he know he’s gonna be dead in four seconds, we get to hear his last words listen ….

“Who is there?”
Wait for the gunshot….

Frank’s about to fall back in the window and collapse next to his wife so take your last look. And that’s that. Frank didn’t realize what a great target he made with the light from his bedroom illuminating the area around him.

Ok, let’s return to the wayback machine. Return coordinates set and


Ah, back home. Now wasn’t that fun…Uh oh, where’s that one guy?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dead guys in frocks, capes and whatever else they wore in the 1820's

Up the close and down the stair
in the house with Burke & Hare
Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief,
Knox the boy who buys the beef.

Though we normally discuss DGISs from the early 20th Century the DGIS staff also enjoys some good old fashioned grisly 19th Century crime as well. Always on the look out for something of the macbre I came across a new book on the infamous Burke and Hare murders called The Anatomy Murders. Checking out Lisa Rosner's Amazon author's page I learned she was doing a presentation a mere 90 or so miles away so headed on over.
It was both a fun and informative event. Ms. Rosner spoke on the murderers, victims and early 19th Century life in Edinburgh for a little over an hour with a nice slide show to boot. She was very genial and obviously has a passion for the subject and loves to discuss it. She also hung around afterwards to answer any and all questions. The fact that she to is a fan of Boris Karloff's, The Body Snatcher makes her an honorary DGIS... uh, umm well honoree.

For anyone in NYC who may be interested she will be doing a presentation at the
Brooklyn Observatory on March 18, 2010 @ 8:00pm. Mention this blog and receive... an odd look because she won't know what you're talking about.
Unfortunately she doesn't sell books at her events so you may want to pick one up before hand. The subtitle is worth the price alone.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Two Gun rising

This weekend marks the 79th anniversary of A no.1 punk Francis Two Gun Crowley getting his first real blip on NYC police radar. Crowley wasn't totally unknown to the police he had been picked up a handful of times two years earlier for car theft but was always released.

They also knew him because his older brother was killed in a shootout with a cop whom also died. The boys in blue weren't to happy with any Crowley kids after that so chances are Frances received a few elbows during questioning about the cars.

On February 21, 1931 Crowley and three pals stopped in at a dance at the American Legion hall in the Bronx. They were not welcome and were forcefully removed. Since punk egos are easily bruised a couple of the boys pulled out their gats and let a few rounds fly before high tailing it out of there.

The diminutive Crowley liked the gun business so ventured over to Philadelphia and bought a few. Over the course of the next few weeks a Bronx detective named George Schaedel managed to pick up Crowley's three playmates but didn't want to rest until he had the whole collection.

And that is the cut off point until next month... If you can't wait and want the full story complete with pics pick up a copy of Bad Seeds in the Big Apple.