Even in death, Edgar Allan Poe remains a mystery
Every week, The Thread tackles your book questions, big and small. Ask a question now.
This week's question: What killed Edgar Allan Poe?
Oct. 7 marks the 166th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death. How he died, however, remains a mystery.
On Oct. 3, 1849, the poet was found lying in the gutter outside of a Baltimore pub. The pub also served as a polling place for local elections, and people were streaming in and out past the collapsed literary legend, without any idea who he was.
Edgar Allan Poe Public domain via Wikipedia
Poe was incoherent, unable to move and wearing someone else's dirty clothes. The last time he'd been seen was a week earlier in Richmond, Va., on his way to Philadelphia.
Something led him off his path to Baltimore, however — and what it was may never be known.
A typesetter for The Baltimore Sun recognized Poe in the gutter. He was once a famous face in town, having lived there for several years a decade before. The typesetter, at Poe's rambling request, wrote to a local magazine editor for assistance.
There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan's 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, he is in need of immediate assistance.
After being rescued from the gutter, Poe spent four days in a delirious haze, wracked by hallucinations. He was unable to explain how he'd come to Baltimore, or what had happened to his belongings.
In his last hours, he called out for "Reynolds" — no such person has even been identified. On the fourth day, Oct. 7, Poe died.
Poe's death certificate lists the cause of death as swelling of the brain — phrenitis — but many scholars have not been content with that explanation. While "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and other eerie tales from Poe continue to delight readers, some fans keep circling around the morbid question of his death.
A portrait of Edgar Allan Poe hangs on the wall of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, located in the writer's former home in Baltimore. Saul Loeb | Getty Images 2011
One theory holds that Poe was caught up in a voting scheme. In the 19th century, men would be kidnapped and forced to vote multiple times in disguise in a practice known as cooping. That would explain Poe's disheveled clothing and his resting place outside the polling station. Other theories of his death include a street mugging, murder — or even rabies.
Dr. R. Michael Benitez put forth the rabies theories 20 years ago after reviewing the notes of the doctor who attended to Poe in his last days. At first, Benitez didn't know he was reviewing Poe's file, he thought he was simply reviewing the symptoms of an anonymous patient — "a writer from Richmond."
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, Benitez connected the patient's symptoms — delirium, hallucinations, rapid pulse — with rabies before he realized who he was studying: Edgar Allan Poe.
Without DNA evidence and an examination of Poe's body, Benitez's theory is impossible to confirm.
So what about the body?
Poe was buried in an unmarked grave in Baltimore. It took another 26 years for the city to decide to honor its local literary legend with a proper funeral. (They've now fully embraced him; see their NFL team, The Ravens, for proof.)
Workers dug up the coffin to move Poe's remains to a new location, but decomposition had left little to move. What the workers did find, however, led to still another theory of Poe's death.
One worker remarked on "a mass rolling around inside" Poe's skull, according to the Smithsonian. It could not have been his brain, which would have decomposed immediately, but it could have been a calcified brain tumor.
A brain tumor could explain Poe's erratic behavior and final decline, but again, it's still just a theory.
Poe's poetry and mystery stories continue to be widely read, and modern-day visitors to Baltimore can visit the writer's grave and the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.
Fittingly, his grave comes with another mystery entirely: For more than half a century, an unknown person placed three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at the grave every Jan. 19 — Poe's birthday.
In 2010, however, the Poe Toaster did not show up. Poe fans have kept watch in the years since, but the cognac and rose have not appeared again.
What happened to the generous graveside visitor — and to Poe himself — remains unknown.
Chris Semtner, curator of the Poe Museum in Richmond, Va., told the Smithsonian: "Maybe it's fitting that since he invented the detective story, he left us with a real-life mystery."
Incidence \IN-suh-dunss\ 1 a: angle of incidence b: the arrival of something (such as a projectile or a ray of light) at a surface 2 A: n act or the fact or manner of falling upon or affecting: occurrence B: rate of occurrence or influence. The words incident, incidence, and instance may seem similar (and, in fact, incident and incidence are closely related), but they are not used identically. In current use, incidence usually means "rate of occurrence" and is often qualified in some way ("a high incidence of diabetes"). Incident usually refers to a particular event, often something unusual or unpleasant ("many such incidents go unreported"). Instance suggests a particular occurrence that is offered as an example ("another instance of bureaucratic bumbling"); it can also be synonymous with case ("many instances in which the wrong form was submitted"). The plural incidences sometimes occurs in such contexts as "several recent incidences of crime," but this use is often criticized as incorrect.
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
Claes Oldenburg, “Glass Case with Pies (Assorted Pies in a Case),” 1962, burlap soaked in plaster, painted with enamel, with pie tins, in glass-and-metal case, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Leo Castelli, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1991.54.1
Claes Oldenburg, for instance, wanted to demolish conventional boundaries between art and life, collapsing one into the other while insisting on the aesthetic autonomy of both. Look at his work of art, “Glass Case with Pies (Assorted Pies in a Case).” What is the first thing you notice about this object?
The work consists of six life-size pies made from plaster-soaked burlap and cheap commercial oil enamel. They are displayed in real pie tins and a metal vitrine that the artist had purchased from a restaurant supplier. “Glass Case with Pies” suspends the intangible division between reality and art, belief and disbelief, humor and irony. What do you think seems artificial about Olderburg’s pies? What seems real? #ArtAtoZ
HERE'S MY LATEST BOOK.....
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
Excerpt from my book "No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care.
I used to be Irish Catholic.
I used to be Irish Catholic. Now I’m an American—you grow. George Carlin
The single greatest influence in our lives was the church. The Catholic Church in the 1960s differs from what it is today, especially in the Naugatuck Valley, in those days an overwhelmingly conservative Catholic place.
I was part of what might have been the last generation of American Catholic children who completely and unquestioningly accepted the supernatural as real. Miracles happened. Virgin birth and transubstantiation made perfect sense. Mere humans did in fact, become saints. There was a Holy Ghost. Guardian angels walked beside us and our patron saints really did put in a good word for us every now and then.
Church was at the center of our lives. Being a Roman Catholic back then was no small chore. In fact, it was a lot of work. The Mass was in Latin, conducted with the priest’s back to the flock. (We were a flock. Protestant were the more democratically named “congregation.”)
Aside from Sunday Mass there were also eleven Holy Days of Obligation that we had to attend, and then there were the all-important sacraments of First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation, all ornate and dramatic affairs that happened within a few years of each other.
We dressed properly in a suit coat and tie for Sunday mass. Fridays were meatless as a means of penance. At school, there was prayer in the morning before classes began, prayer before lunch, prayer after lunch and prayer before we went home. There was also a half-hour of religion class every day. And there was fasting. In those days, Catholics fasted eight hours before receiving communion.
Then there was confession on Saturday, mandatory because Sunday Mass was also mandatory and so was taking Holy Communion, which could not be accepted without first going to confession. We had to go to confession twice in a week: once on Fridays, since the nuns were convinced none of us would go on our own over the weekend, and then once again on Saturday afternoons when Helen made us go.
When I made my first confession at age seven, we were taught that there were two types of sin: mortal sins, which were serious sins, and venial sins, which were lesser sins, lying and disobedience. The nuns said that we would have to narrow our selection to venial sins since we were far too young to have any mortal sins against our soul.
One of little girls in the group raised her hand and asked, “What’s adultery?”
“Nothing to worry yourself over, dear,” the nun answered, “It’s for adults, and it is a most grievous offense against God.” I liked the sound of that, “most grievous offense against God.” Sounded serious.
Confession was a big deal and involved a lot of formality—kneeling in darkness, foreign languages, and solemnity—and I didn’t waste all that somberness with unworthy sins, so when the priest slid open the little wooden door that separated us in the dark I began my prayer.
“Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum—” In full, the words meant “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.”
Then the sins were confessed. I told the priest I had committed adultery.
“Adultery, huh?” the priest said.
“Yes, Father,” I answered as solemnly as I could. “Adultery.”
“So, how’d that work out for you?” he asked.
“Ah,” I answered, “you know.”
“No,” he said, “actually I don’t. So how many times did you do this, this adultery?”
“Like, I think, three times, Father.”
“I see,” he said. “And during those times, were you alone or with others?”
“No, Father, I was alone.”
“And do you think you’ll be committing this sin again in the near future?”
“Naw, Father,” I answered. “I’m pretty much over it.”
As the years went and I became more confessional-savvy, I learned that the dumber the sin, the lighter the penance, the prayer for forgiveness that one was required to say up at the altar after the confession had ended.
So in the name of efficiency, I developed a pre-packaged list of dumb sins, like “I disobeyed my mother,” or “I fought with my brother,” or “I failed to say my nightly prayer.”
Through trial and error, I learned that every now and then I would have to toss a more serious sin into the mix or the priests might get testy and tax me with a big penance. So I tossed in the fail-safe sex sin, “I had evil thoughts about _____” and would fill in the name of the girl who struck me at the moment. I rotated the sins and the priests, and, overall, the system worked.
One Saturday, Denny and his gang of desperadoes showed up for confession and slid into the pew with me and waited for our turn at the confessional.
Denny turned to me and said, “Johnny, you got any good sins?”
Feeling magnanimous, I shared my formula for a hassle-free confession, and in closing said, “And then you say ‘I had evil thoughts about Mary Puravich,’ or whatever,’” using the name of a pretty girl from my class.
Denny shared my sin system with his friends, who were always in a hurry to cut their way to the front of the line, have their confessions heard, and leave without saying their penance. I went in to the confessional and said my piece, ending with, “and I had evil thoughts about Mary Puravich.”
“You know,” said the priest, “I gotta meet this Mary Puravich. She must be some kind of knockout, because the last four guys in here said the same thing about her.”
For all purposes, school was an extension of church, and unlike the way we lived in Waterbury, school was no longer optional. We were to be at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School, in uniform, Monday through Friday from eight a.m. until three p.m. No excuses.
Because I lacked almost any formal education at that point, I couldn’t read or write, so it was decided that I should start school from the beginning—first grade—making me roughly two years older than my classmates.
Assumption was already over fifty years old. Walter and his sisters had been schooled there in the 1930s and the building , basically unchanged, had nothing sleek or new. It had sixteen classrooms for two hundred and fifty students, no gymnasium or cafeteria, highly polished wooden floors, and enormously large windows that each had to be opened and closed with a long pole with a hook on the end of it.
Our teachers were members of the Sisters of Mercy, an order formed in Ireland in 1831 to aid the poor, arriving in America in 1843 to minister to the famished Irish flocking to the states. Several of the nuns who had taught Walter were still living at the convent and filling in as substitute teachers, and one or two of them were still teaching full-time.
Classes began with the ringing of an enormous brass handbell by a nun who was strong enough to pick it up and move it around. Boys and girls played apart from each other on different sides of the school yard. The boys were clad in white shirts and green ties with the letter A sewn into the middle of them, black slacks, black socks, and black lace-up shoes. Loafers and pointed-toe shoes, then all the rage because of the Beatles, were forbidden. The girls were required to wear black Mary Janes, white or green knee socks, and a green dress uniform with an under slip, and a white, button-down shirt. They were also issued green beanies to wear in church, although I can’t recall that any of the girls ever wore one.
Just beneath the schoolyard was Farrell’s Foundry. At different times of the day, the mill released its afterburn from the enormous smokestacks that dotted the skyline. Tens of thousands of black specks shot into the air, making it look like a black-snow blizzard had hit our little town. The specks rained down on our white shirts, ruining them forever with ink-black spots of burned iron.
Every school day started with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and then religion class. Sometimes one of the priests stopped by during religion class and opened the floor to discussions, wrongly assuming the questions would be deep and theological. What he got was, “Father, all right, look, if the Russians fired an atomic bomb at us and Jesus flies out of heaven and swallows it and it explodes in his stomach—will he be dead?”
The best one came from Peggy Sullivan, who asked, “If Jesus shaves off his beard, will he lose all his magical powers?” and then, pausing to catch her breath, “and if so, how screwed are we?”
One kid in the class, Patsy Sheehan, resented having to learn certain things about our religion the difference between venial sins and mortal sins, the Act of Contrition and so on. When the priest told us we that we had to choose a middle name for our confirmation, Patsy complained, “I got enough on my plate already.”
The priest insisted she pick a new middle name. Patsy asked, “What’s Jesus’s middle name?”
“He’s Jesus. He doesn’t have one,” the priest answered.
“So, what’s he, special?” Patsy asked.
Then there was Martin O’Toole, a wonderful, magnificent liar. He lied in such awesome, Herculean fashion that his tales were artful, Homeric. Our nun once asked, “Mr. O’Toole, why have you not turned in your homework?”
Martin waited until he had everyone’s attention and then stood slowly and dramatically from his desk, put his hands on his tiny waist and said, “Sister, last night I was in my back yard playing when I picked up a rock from the ground.” He then recounted the scene of him picking up what must have been a boulder the size of Rhode Island, “and as soon as I picked it up, oil! Bubbling crude came bursting out of the ground, millions of gallons of it! I was soaked in oil.” He paused and looked around the room and added, in hushed tones, “It took me hours to put that rock back on that oil and save this entire city.”
He returned to his seat and said, “And that’s why I didn’t time to do my homework, Sister.”
The nun’s jaw had dropped, and the silence of the moment was broken only when Micky Sullivan, a dense and gullible child, asked, “What kind of oil was it, Martin?”
“Esso,” he replied. “It was Esso oil.”
Many years later, Johnny became mayor of a small town in the Valley. An investigation of the town’s finances showed fifty thousand dollars missing from the treasury and all the evidence pointed to Martin. When asked to produce the town’s books, Martin said, that “The books are gone. Mice ate them.” He served two years in federal prison.
Then there was Ilene Flynn, a little red-haired, freckled-faced, fair-skinned girl who was more pious than the Pope. I knew a lot about her because the nuns thought we looked alike and paired me with her for all religious functions.
At our First Holy Communion, Ilene was so nervous her mouth went dry. Unable to swallow the host and forbidden to touch it—only a priest could do that—she ran around in circles crying hysterically, “Jesus is stuck in my mouth! Jesus is stuck in my mouth!” while the nuns flocked around her shouting instructions about swallowing, “Go like this, Ilene, go like this!” and then they did a swallowing demonstration that made them look a lot like penguins eating long fish.
Ilene’s Friday afternoon confessions were epic. She confessed to everything, I mean absolutely everything, and she actually said all of her penance, unlike the rest of us who negotiated a lighter-sentence deal with God before we got to the rail. My policy on penance was one for five. If I were given thirty Hail Marys as penance, in the deal God and I worked out, I said six.
Once, Ilene came out of the confessional in tears, wailing loud enough to wake the dead.
“What is it, Ilene?” Sister asked. “What happened?”
“Father O’Leary told me I’m going to hell on a lying rap,” she wailed, “and I don’t know what a rap is!”
Excerpt from my book “On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film”
THE ROLE OF EDIE DOYLE
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein
Edie Doyle, the films leading lady is Kazan’s primary vehicle to propel the story through by her determination to find her brothers killers. She is the films catalyst for action.
Edie, although her poverty was near equal to Terry Malloy’s, comes from a protective and nurturing environment. Her dockworker father and his deceased wife struggled to collect coins for their daughter’s education. As a result of that nurturing Edie character is not the brainless one-dimensional female character role women were so often relegated to in the 1950’s and her part flirts with creating a strong feminist character. She is college educated with professional aspirations. She speaks out. She demands to know who killed her brother why they killed him. She demands action from the Priest and the community. She is as forceful as she is brave and confronts Terry’s moral ambivalence by demanding he take a stand in his life.
Conversely, Kazan does not allow the character to go too far. She wants to run away after Terry’s brother is killed leaving the impression of the standard Hollywood female character, a powerless woman who will run from confrontation rather than face it. However Edie’s doesn’t want to flee because she is frightened. Rather, her character sees the hopelessness of the situation on the docks that the docks will never change. Instead of being weaker than Terry, she simply smarter than he is.
Terry is a far less complicated character then Edie Doyle. He is a likable, ageless Neanderthal, a man-child completely uneducated and from a tough poverty-stricken childhood. It is evident he sees more in her then a beautiful face, he sees in her a morally clean soul, a way out. Edie has class, which is what he wants.
Edie Doyle’s innocence and purity helps Terry to reclaim his conscience and her acceptance of him for what he is, opens his heart to a flurry of new emotions and thoughts. Her devotion to her dead brother’s memory, which is the driving force behind all of her actions
is actually her own demand for respect of human life, is a new world to Terry.
At first, for Terry, Edie offers a way out of the docks, a new life somewhere else but it becomes apparent to him that his moral cowardice will always be what it is and her moral strength will always be what it is, unless he takes a stand in the here and now. Before Terry decides to finally cross the moral and take a stand, he decides to test Edie’s faith of good will in others by telling her the truth about his role in her brother’s murder. Although disturbed by the information about Terry’s part in the murder, Edie eventually holds true to her ideals, her faith in humanity. The story line elevates her moral grounding above everyone else in the film and it is only fitting then,
in the bar scene, that when Terry pours out his feeling for Edie, she turns the conversation to conscience. At that point, the films cinematographer Boris Kaufman, shots an angelic close up of her face in the upper right hand corner of the screen, lowering Terry to the center of the screen, a guardian angel dangling slightly above him.
The idea that Edie offers more than just physical beauty is told again in the playground scene when it appears as if Terry is actually speaking more to himself then to Edie when he reminds her that she was once “A real mess” He is not teasing her, he admires that she is now beautiful. Although it is obviously the remark of a man in love, it is, equally, the remark of a man who admires the will power and determination it takes to transform one-self into a person of dignity. She is no longer “a real mess” Edie has self-respect, Terry had no self- respect. Things have changed since the schoolyard. Now he is the one who is “a real mess.” Terry feels he gave up his self-respect when he allowed himself to take the dive in the title contender fight. Terry wants what Edie has, dignity and self-respect, something he is trying to reclaim but does not know where to start.
The crucial role of Edie Doyle was for Kazan, signifying "The deepest of human needs, redemption” and logically, the sympathetic Edie Doyle is Terry Malloy's father confessor unlike the films priest who refuses to hear Terry’s confession and is almost completely unsympathetic to Terry throughout the film.
Schulberg denied that the role of Edie Doyle was as the redeemer, for him the character was little more than the films required love sequence, however, he was shrewd enough to insist that the relationship between Edie and Terry take center stage in the film.
If Edie and Father Barry are the films religious authority, the Tweedy, waspy Crime Commission investigators are the secular moral authority and the roles are played with an evenhanded, even icy delivery by actors Martin Balsam and Leif Erikson. The Crime Commission investigators are truth seekers. Like Edie and Father Barry, it is their job to push Terry closer to the light of truth.
HERE IS AN EXCEPT FROM MY BOOK "THE BOOK OF AMERICAN-JEWISH GANGSTERS"
(Max Zellner is a pen name, it was my grandfather's born name. During World War 1 he changed it to the less German sounding Paul Selner)
Arnold Rothstein, Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach of the Eastman gang and Johnny Torrio are born.
Monk Eastman is born in Brooklyn, NY.
January 17, Arnold Rothstein is born in NYC
Max "Kid Twist" Zwerbach is born.
May 13, Big Jack Zelig is born on the Lower East Side.
Jacob Riis publishes, How the Other Half Lives, exposing the wretched living conditions of people in the slums of New York City.
Mobster Joey Zucker, a mob Liaison, is born
Abe Zwillman is born in New York
Eddie Vogel, future Chicago mobster and gambler is born in Illinois
Jack Guzik's father was naturalized on November 5, 1898. His sons Jake and Harry would go on to become Chicago’s leading pimps for four decades.
Willie Bioff is born. Monk Eastman, of the East Gang, claims all of the East Side of Manhattan as his territory. This eventually causes a war between the Eastman’s and Paul Kelly’s Five Pointers
The Eastman’s claim their membership at 1,100
Joseph “Doc” Stacher is born. Meyer Lansky is born on July 4th
Backed up by the might of the Monk Eastman gang, the Cherry Hill gang and the Whyos, now under the command of Billy The Brute Sanger, begin armed warfare. Hundreds take part in pitched battles in the middle of the city. Petty crime increases 50%
In August, a gun battle erupts between the Eastman’s and the Five Pointers after the Five Points try to take over a struss (card) game. Over 100 thugs take part in the battle that follows. Tammany is forced to step in and demand that Eastman and Paul Kelly (of the Five Pointers) make peace. The truce ends after a barroom brawl breaks out in a Bowery bar. Tammany has to step in again and threatens to withdraw police protection from the gangs of they don’t cooperate.
Future mobsters Sam Levine (of Brooklyn) and David Berman (of the Las Vegas syndicate) are born
September 16, The Eastman Gang goes on a shooting and stabbing rampage through the Lower East Side over a five hour period, leaving one man dead and dozens injured. Eastman is arrested but charges are dropped due to "lack of witnesses".
September 17, The Rivington Street Gun Battle took place between the 5 Points Gang and the Eastman Gang.
September 19, The "Paul Kelly Association" headquarters on Stanton Street are raided by police. Evidence is confiscated, and several men are arrested.
Gustave Marks, (Sometimes spelled Marcks) age 21, of 306 Belmont Avenue, co-leader of the Car Barn Bandits in Chicago, dies on April 22
February 2, 1904 Monk Eastman and an associate are arrested for felonious assault and intent to kill, after they rob an beat a man on the West Side who police were secretly tailing.
April 14 Monk Eastman is sentenced to Sing- Sing prison where he will serve a 5 year sentence. This is Eastman's first conviction after dozens of arrests largely because Tammany has pulled its protection from him and his gang
November 1 While negotiating who will take control of the Eastman Gang, Ritchie Fitzpatrick is gunned down by a Max Zwerbach associate, giving Zwerbach full reign of the Gang.
Richie FitzPatrick is killed by Kid Twist Zwerbach during peace negotiations between the two rival factions of the Eastman’s. Several weeks later, the remainder of Fitzpatrick’s men are killed off by Vach Lewis
Benny Fein arrested for Grand Larceny; sentenced to work detail.
Feb 28.Benjamin Hyman Seigel AKA Bugsy, is born, probably in Brownsville, Brooklyn
Kid Twist Reles is born on the Lower East Side of New York
The Eastman’s and the Five Pointers go to war on the streets of New York. The Eastman’s are now run by Max Kid Twist Zwerbach
Harry Maione of Murder Inc. is born
May 14, 1908 Max Zwerbach and Cyclone Louie are gunned down in Coney Island by Louis Pioggi.
May 19, Benny Fein arrested for disorderly conduct; Pays $3 fine.
July 2, Benny Fein arrested for assault; paroled.
July 30, Benny Fein arrested for assault; paroled.
October 29, Benny Fein arrested for burglary; sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in Sing-Sing prison.
June. Monk Eastman is released from prison and finds that his gangs no longer exists and what parts of it that do go on are locked in civil war.
June Monk Eastman is released from prison on good behavior after serving a 5-year term. Local authorities are caught off-guard, because the State did not notify local police of Eastman's early release
August 12 Arnold Rothstein marries Carolyn Green at Saratoga Springs; pawns her jewelry. That same month, he borrows $2,000 from father-in-law to open his West 46th Street gambling house.
October 8, Paul Kelly is arrested, along with several other men, for committing voter fraud in Hoboken, NJ.
On November 18, Rothstein wins $4,000 against Jack Conaway at John McGraw’s pool hall on Herald Square
July 28, Harry Strauss AKA Pittsburgh Phil is born
The Chicago American and the Chicago Tribune newspapers contract Moses Annenberg to hire armies of street thugs to intimidate newspaper dealers to carry their newspapers. Annenberg hires Ragen’s Colt, a fierce group of mostly American-Irish street thugs. A circulation war begins that lasts for three years.
The City of New York closes The Park Row Saloon owned by Eastman gang leader Chick Tricker. He simply reopens in the vice district known as Satan’s Circus and buys the San the Dude’s Stag Café on West 28th Street (Later renamed the Café Maryland)
December 2, Jack Zelig shoots and kills Jules Morello on a dance floor on 2nd Ave.
Ed Weiss AKA Jew Kid A levee pimp and partner with Big Jim Colosimo is active in Chicago. His nephew, Louis, was also a pimp in the Levee.
June 3, Jack Zelig is shot in the neck d by Charles Torti on the steps of the Criminal Courts building downtown.
June 8, Lt. Charles Becker leads a series of raids on known gang-hang outs; 19 men are arrested for weapons and drug possession. Becker will later be executed on murder charges related to Jack Zelig.
July 16 Murder of gambler Herman Rosenthal at the Metropole Hotel on W. 43rd
July 15: Members of the Lennox Avenue gang, including its leaders Harry Horowitz, (AKA Gyp the blood) Jacob Seidenscher and Lou Rosenberg murder gambler and police informant Herman Rosenthal.
August 1, Benny Fein arrested for grand larceny; case dismissed.
August 3, "Lefty Louie" Rosenberg, a Zelig gang member, is tracked down and captured in upstate New York, and arrested for the murder of Herman Rosenthal.
August 15, "Big" Jack Zelig is arrested in Rhode Island for robbing $65 from a man who was "stepping off an electric car".
August 21, "Big" Jack Zelig slips out of Rhode Island police custody by giving a fake name and posting bail, while he was being sought for the murder of Herman Rosenthal.
October 5, Jack Zelig is shot and killed by Phil Davidson while riding a street car.
October 6, Jack Zelig's body is identified by his wife and sister, then moved to his home on Broome St.
October 7, Trial begins for Lt. Charles Becker; accused of hiring Jack Zelig's gang to kill businessman Herman Rosenthal. The trial goes on despite the key witness in the case, Jack Zelig, murdered two days prior.
October 15: Jake Zelig, leader of the Eastman gang is murdered by Red Davidson.
November 6, Phil Davidson is sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for the murder of Jack Zelig on October 5.
November 7: Dave Yaras is born in Chicago
November. Dopey Benny Fein and his labor goons are attacked by a combination of smaller street gang on Greenwich Street in Manhattan. This is the first of the so-called Labor’s slugger’s war.
March 26: Victor Riesel, organized crime reporter, is born
October 6: Lenny Patrick is born in Chicago
Timothy Sullivan, a former member of the Eastman gang and Tammany Hall politician dies.
February 27, Jack Zelig's widowed wife of ten years, Henrietta Zelig, wins a $600 settlement from the courts. She contended that she posted bail for her husband that was never returned, months before he was killed.
July 10, Abe Reich, a small time criminal better known as "Moshe the Strong Man" is shot and stabbed to death by two men in the middle of the street on Avenue B
July 21, Benny Fein arrested for Interfering with an officer; case suspended.
September 19, Benny Fein arrested for felonious assault; released on $2000 bail.
August 29, Merchants and residents of the Lower East Side who are fed up with being extorted and bullied meet at a Synagogue on Rivington Street to discuss the formation of an anti-gang Vigilance Committee.
October 9, Benny Fein arrested for assault; case dismissed.
October 16, Benny Fein arrested for violation of the Sullivan Law; released on $5000 bail
Dopey Benny Fein, indicted for attempted murder aggress to testify
against several gangsters and union leaders. In exchange for a reduced sentence, Fein reveals details of labor slugging operations from over five-year period resulting in the indictment of eleven gangsters and twenty-two union officials.
January 9, 1914 Jack Sirocco and his gang survive an ambush by the Benny Fein gang at 21-25 St. Marks Place
April 13 Dago Frank Cirofici, Whitey Lewis (Jacob Seidenschner), Lefty Louie (Louis
Rosenberg), and Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz executed for murder of Herman
Rosenberg), and Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz executed for murder of Herman
November 29, 1914 Benny Fein's gang meets Jack Sirocco's gang during a labor dispute at a hat factory on Greene Street. Max Green is killed in the gun fire.
Micky Cohen is born in New York City
Police Lieutenant Becker executed at Sing-Sing for ordering murder of Herman Rosenthal
Benny Snyder, a partner with gangster Greasy Joe Rosenzweig is convicted of murder and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Police Captain Charles Becker is convicted of planning the murder of police informant Herman Rosenthal and is executed in Sing-Sing prison.
July 1, Monk Eastman is sentenced to 2 years in prison on grand larceny charges.
Monk Eastman volunteers for service in the US Army during WWII.
July 19, Johnny "Spanish" is gunned down in front of his headquarters at 19 2nd Avenue by rival Nathan Kaplan gang.
Arnold Rothstein faces a Grand Jury on charges that he paid the Chicago White Sox to throw the 1919 World Series.
Monk Eastman is discharged from the US Army after WWI where he fought with the 106th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 27th Division in Europe.
Nathan Kaplan and two others are probably responsible for the murder of street gangster Johnny Spanish on July 29
Arnold Rothstein intervenes in garment industry labor disputes; places Little Augie Orgen in charge.
Monk Eastman is murdered by a prohibition agent on December 26.
October 26 Arnold Rothstein testifies before Chicago grand jury investigating World Series
December 26, Monk Eastman is shot and killed on 14th Street by business partner Jerry Bohan
Waxey Gordon and Arnold Rothstein form a bootlegging partnership which will last for about a year before Gordon makes enough money and connections to branch out on his own.
Max Podolsky, Chicago hood is arrested. In 1952, just before the Kefauver committee requested it, Podolsky’s extensive police record would disappear. His boss, Red Dorfman, would also make his record disappear as well.
Moses Annenberg buys the Daily Racing Form gaining a virtual monopoly over the distribution of racetrack information in the US.
Louis Buchalter, later of Murder Inc., is sent to prison for burglary
December 5: New York hood Benny Levinski is murdered by William Lipshitz.
Harry and Alma Guzik, both pimps and white slavers in Chicago’s Levee, are pardoned by Governor Len Small for white slavery conviction as favor to Torrio
August: The labors slugger war is in full swing after Jacob Little Augie Orgen and his gang, the Little Augies and his alley Solomon Shapiro line up against Nat “Kid Dropper” Kaplan and his Rough Riders Gang. They meet in a massive battle on Essex Street in which tow innocent bystanders are killed.
August 23: Hat Kaplan is murdered by Louis Cohen
Al Capone probably contacted the strain of gonorrhea that would eventually kill him, at the Roemer Inn, which is under the direction of Harry Guzik, the brother of Levee super pimp Jake Guzik.
April 10, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby is published, featuring a character (Meyer Wolfsheim) based on Arnold Rothstein.
November 18: Edward Zion, Samuzzo Amatuna associate and former bodyguard is born
November 20: Former Amatuna bodyguard, Abe Goldstein is shot and killed by unidentified gunmen while in a drug store.
Arnold Rothstein’s partner Irving Sobel arrested on charge of selling heroin.
Lou Elfman, a former lieutenant of Philadelphia bootlegger Max Hoff, turns state's evidence.
Mobster Sam Stein is charged with murdering Kansas City policeman Happy Smith
Arnold Rothstein in virtual control of U.S. drug trade.
November 4, Arnold Rothstein was shot at Park Centre Hotel and died 2 days later.
March 14. The New York State Appellate Court orders the removal of Magistrate Albert Vitale due to his ties to organized crime figures Arnold Rothstein (and an unexplained $10,000 deposited in his bank account.)
Chicago Levee gangsters Ike Bloom and Julius Rosenheim die
Costello and Kastel open the firm Alliance Distributors, monopolizing the “legal” whisky market.
Joe Peskin (Resided at 1506 East 67th Street.) AKA Sugar (A nickname meaning a pimp) A hood who started in the mob under Johnny Torrio. In 1931, he was indicted for selling more than $1 million worth of corn sugar to alky cookers on the south side from his wholesale grocery business at 4446 South State Street. He was a leading jukebox distributor in Chicago with outlets in Kansas City and Detroit, which he ran through a front company called The Universal Automatic Music Corporation.
September: Meyer Shapiro is murdered in Brooklyn
Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky feed information to the IRS, which leads to the arrest and conviction of rival, "Waxey" Gordon.
April 15, Joe "The Boss" Masseria is gunned down by Bugsy Siegel, Vito Genovese, and Joe Adonis, as orchestrated by Lucky Luciano, on the orders of Sal Maranzano.
April 20: Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano were arrested in Chicago with Paul Ricca (The residing at 901 South Halstead Street, Harry Brown, former Genna hood Sylvester Agoglia and former Bugs Moran gangster John Senna, (2300 South Michigan). Police found a gambling slip in Luciano’s pockets (“accounts receivable $46,655.00”)
September. Meyer Lansky gets permission from Batista, President of Cuba, to open up casinos in Cuba. Also getting permission to run the already operational Hotel Nacional.
November. Lansky gets the Molaska Corporation up and running.
December 1, Waxey Gordon is sent to prison for tax evasion. This is the first high profile case for Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey.
January 1, Fiorello H. LaGuardia was sworn in as Mayor of New York City and immediately declared war on organized crime. Between February and May, more than 2,000 slot machines controlled by LCN member Frank Costello and his partner, "Dandy Phil" Kastel, were seized by local police, with LaGuardia serving as a committing magistrate. Costello and Kastel decided to move the center of their slot machine operations and, in August, 1935, founded the Bayou Novelty Company in New Orleans.
Ed Fletcher leader of the Purple gang dies, Water Sage , Brooklyn mobster and associate of Abe Reles-Harry Maione gang and on January 24, Charles King Solomon dies in Boston.
In Chicago, Max Podolsky takes over the Poultry Handlers union
March: Willie Bioff, the Chicago mob behind him, was almost in control of the Hollywood studios.
Davie Berman gets arrested for kidnapping Abe Scharlin. Sharlin was a known bootlegger and Berman gets a twelve-year sentence of which he would serve seven years in Sing-Sing penitentiary. Later Berman would become the gambling king of Minneapolis.
The Cleveland mob opens The Plantation casino in Miami.
September 9: Abe Weinberg, a lieutenant of Dutch Schultz, disappears and is presumed murdered.
October 23: Dutch Schultz is killed. Marty Krompier, Dutch Schultz’s man in the Harlem policy operations is severely wounded by rival gunmen. This attack comes just hours after Schultz and his other associates are gunned down in Newark. Krompier ultimately survives the attack.
Gurrah Shapiro is successfully prosecuted by DA Dewey for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Shapiro receives a two-year sentence.
September: Joe Rosen is murdered by Lepke Buchalter, Harry Strauss and Mendy Weiss
Jack Ruby returned to Chicago, having grown tired of the west and at this point become involved with the Scrap iron and Junk Handlers Union, local 20467, working as an organizer.
January 8, The Cuban Cabinet approved plans to place certain gambling operations under control of the army, headed by Colonel (later President) Fulgencio Batista. Shortly thereafter, New York City gambling czar Meyer Lansky led a vanguard of American hoodlums imported to help operate the major Cuban casinos. Although World War II and Batista's removal from office during the latter part of the beginning to blossom in the Nevada desert), Batista returned to power in March, 1952, and soon asked Lansky to come back and "add a touch of class" to the Cuban operations.
August 1 Hyman Yuran, a former associate of Lepke Buchalter is killed, the body will be found in a lime pit in Loch Sheldrake New York.
Micky McBride buys the Continental Press, a racing wire service from Moses Annenberg
January 28: Louis Cohen and Isadore Friedman, (AKA Danny Field) witnesses scheduled to testify against Lepke Buchalter, are murdered
January 29: George Weinberg of the Dutch Schultz gang commits suicide while under police protection.
April 28: Abe ‘Whitey’ Freidman is killed by Murder Inc.
May 10: Irving Tootsie Feinstein, a one-time partner with Lepke Buchalter, is murdered
May 25: New York Teamster boss Morris Diamond is murdered on orders of Lepke Buchalter
August 24: Buchalter turns himself in to federal authorities
September 6: Irving ‘Puggy’ Feinstein is killed
Seymour Magoon agrees to cooperate with the government as does Max Rubin, (Born 1888) a New Jersey gangster and union official. Sam Gappel, another union official was killed as he walked into home.
Feburary 2: Kid Twist Reles is arrested on robbery, assault, possession of narcotics, burglary, disorderly conduct, and eight charges of murder. Reles agrees to cooperate with the government.
July 31: Whitey Krakower is killed in New York
Red Dorfman is suspected of murdering Leon R. Cooke and attorney who organized the Material Waste Handlers Union. His organizer is Jack Ruby. Ruby will stay on in the union after Dorfman takes over. The union was expelled from the AFL-CIO in 1957 because it was run for the benefit of mobsters
Waxey Gordon is released from prison. He moves to California
James J. Hines, the leader of Tammany Hall, the New York City Democratic organization, goes to prison for arranging political protection for Dutch Schultz's policy and numbers rackets in Harlem, New York.
After a failed attempt on his life, New Jersey racketeer Max Rubin agrees to cooperate with law enforcement.
Blue eyed, curly haired, Abe “Pretty” Levine, who had killed at least 15 men before he was 23 years old, was one of the first members of Murder Inc. to agree to cooperate with the DA’s office. Newly married, he and his wife Helen had tried to break away form the underworld. Levine took a job driving a truck but when their first child was born, he could not muster the payment for his hospital. He went to Pittsburgh Phil Strauss for help, but Strauss charged him “ 6 for 5” interest, meaning a one dollar charge for every five dollars borrowed. It was an insult. After he testified, Levine was granted a suspended sentence, released and disappeared from public view forever.
On September 23, in Chicago, Joe Peskin was indicted for severely beating (with a baseball bat) Lionel Nathan, one of his former employees, in front of Nathan’s home at 2737 Clyde Ave. The attackers also fired a shot at Nathan’s father as he ran to help his son. Nathan and another of Peskin’s former employees, Albert Chapman, opened their own Juke Box distribution company and took away several of Peskin’s customers. Nathan was in a comma for three months because of the beating. Peskin denied he had anything to do with the beating telling the court “Look Judge, if I had anything to do with this I would tell you. This thing is bad publicity for the industry and for me. However, I want you to know these men took fifty spots away from me and I got them all back”
Max Caldwell AKA Max Pollack. An ex-convict and former Capone organization thug, in 1943 he helped Frank Nitti loot the treasury of the Retail Clerks International Protective Association, Local 1248. Caldwell was the union treasurer. He was thought to have stolen $910,000 in funds although Caldwell claimed the treasury never held more than $62.00. On August 21, 1941, the State's attorney's office in Chicago charged that Caldwell, Rocco De Stefano, Harry V. Russell, Peter Tremont, Patrick Manno, Milton Schwartz, and others looted the treasury. However, no legal action was taken. At the same time Caldwell also provided free airline tickets for Ralph Buglio, Harry Russell, Rocco De Stefano, Peter Tremont, Pat Manno, and others, from Chicago to Miami, police allege the money came from the union tills. Caldwell moved to Miami in the 1950s.
Charles The Bug Workman is sent to prison for murdering Dutch Schultz
February: Emil Nizich (Born 1915) a labor racketeer (Of 426 West Forty Eight Street)
was shot three times from behind and left in a gutter in front of 410 West Forty Eight Street, while on his way home form the gym.
Feburary 6: Benny Tannenbaum is killed
June 12: Harry Strauss and Marty Goldstein are executed by the state of New York.
November 12: Abe Reles dies on Coney Island.
December 7: Pearl Harbor Day. While temporarily interrupting American gambling operations in Cuba and forcing certain hoodlums into military service, World War II also opened up new areas of illicit profits through black-marketeering and the theft and counterfeiting of Government ration stamps.
Chicago mobster Lenny Yaras (jr) is born
In Chicago, Red Dorfman (7347 Sheridan Road) was indicted after he had a telephone argument with the chairman of the Waste Handlers Union Employees association. Dorfman, a one time prize fighter, quietly put down the phone, took his brass knuckles out of his desk walked the several blocks to the mans office and beat him senseless with the brass knuckles. The victim walked to the police station with his two eyes beaten shut but refused to press charges.
May 9 In Chicago, Arthur Gold was arrested for rigging the phone wires at mob casinos in the Blum Building at 624 South Michigan to avoid paying a monthly bill
Jake Guzik, Capone former business manager in the mob, visited the dying Capone at his Florida estate. The effects of untreated syphilis had worn away at him. Guzik, who had not seen Capone since his heydays as Boss of the Chicago mob, was appalled at Capone’s condition. On his way out of the estate, when asked how Capone was, Guzik replied, in terms harsher then he intended “Al is nuttier then a fruitcake”
Moses Annenberg, no longer an associate of gangsters, dies
Murder Inc. killers Harry Maione and Frank Abbandando are executed by the state of New York. Frank Abbandando AKA Dasher, was born on July 11, 1910 Died February 19, 1942. The nickname, Dasher, was gotten when he chased a victim around a house several times before gunning him down. Abbandando, a rapist and pervert, was a member of Murder Incorporated. As a teen, he worked as an extortionist and gambler for Harry Maione in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. He was also instrumental in the 1932 Maione gang war against the Shapiro Brothers in 1932 for ownership over the Brownsville, Brooklyn, rackets. Abe Reles informed on Abbandando for the May 25, 1937 murder of loan shark George Rudnick.
While the country was rationing during WWII, Waxey Gordon is arrested and convicted of selling sugar illegally. He spends one year in prison.
Zwillman sells his share of the Reinfeld importing company
April Sam Giancana kidnapped Jake Guzik and held him in an empty building and gave him a choice. The 42’s would give Guzik and the high command a gift of $250,000.00 in exchange for support and acceptance from the outfit. Otherwise they would kill Guzik then and there. Guzik accepted the offer for the money, vowed his support and was driven to West Roosevelt Road and released. Right after he was kidnapped, the ageing Jake Guzik brought in Gus Alex, a Greek American was brought into the organization. Originally, Guzik was hired as a bodyguard, but soon Alex became Guzik’s driver, confident and top lieutenant.
Siegel’s “hit squad” goes to the Bahamas to murder Sir Harry Oakes for botching a casino deal.
The Wofford Hotel opens in Miami, where Frank Costello and Lansky often meet. Al Polizzi (mob boss of Cleveland) and Tatum Wofford are the owners.
March 18 Chicago mob bosses Frank Nitti, Paul Ricca, Phil D’Andrea, Charlie Gioe, Lou Kaufman, Louis Campagna and Johnny Roselli are indicted for their role in the Bioff scandal.
In Chicago, Gus Alex, Hymie Levin, Gus Liebe, and others were connected with the Dome casino at 7466 West Irving Park Road.
Siegel starts to build The Flamingo in Las Vegas; Lansky, Luciano and others gave money.
Emmanuel Mendy Weiss is executed by the state of New York for his role in Murder Inc.
Benjamin Zookie the Bookie Zuckerman a member of the Chicago syndicate involved in illegal gambling, is killed.
March 4 Louis Buchalter is executed by the state of New York.
From 1945 until 1950, Joe Corngold was a partner with gangsters Willie Heeney, a former Capone gunman, Joey Auippa and Louis Campagna, a former Capone bodyguard, and Claude Moore, also a former Capone gunner, in a series of large and very profitable casinos, including the Turf Club on Cermak Road, the El Patio and the Austin Club. Pressures brought on from the Kefauver Committee closed the clubs. Campagna admitted before the Kefauver Committee that between 1937 and 1940 that his share of the profits from El Patio and the Austin Club casinos in Chicago amounted to $204,000 which allowed him to purchase an 800 acre estate near Fowler Indiana which federal investigators valued at $175,000. A second estate near Berrien Springs was valued at about $75,000. The Committee also found out that Paul Ricca owned 2200 acres near Kendall County Ill. about 25 miles outside Chicago, an estate in River Forrest and another estate in Long Beach Indiana, which burned down under questionable circumstances shortly after the Kefauver Committee discovered Ricca’s ownership
Willie Tarsch, AKA Wilie Kolatch. Born 1900. Residence 1855 South Kominsky Once a mob insider and one of Chicago’s biggest gamblers and a partner to Zuckie the Bookie, Tarsch refused to knuckle under when the Chicago mob decided to control all gambling in the city in the mid 1940s. Tarsch was gunned down in the rear of a vacant building at 3710 West Roosevelt Road on April 7, 1945. he was shot through the head by a shotgun blast and died immediately. He had been lured to a nearby restaurant by an unidentified man who strolled with him to the gear of the building where the gunman was waiting.
December. The Beverly County Club casino opens in New Orleans. The owners are Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky
December 22: Havana convention of the U.S. crime Syndicate is held at Havana's Hotel Nacional
April Chicago hood Sam Hare died. (Lived at 415 Aldine Avenue.) Manager of the Victoria, A Colosimo brothel where girls were brought in from St. Louis and broken in. He later managed the Dells, a massive casino in Morton Grove in partnership with Lou Silversmith.(2797 North Pine Grove). Silversmith was the owner of the high-powered rifle that killed Red Barker in 1932. The Touhy gang was said to have taken over the Dells in 1931 and took credit for killing Barker. The Dells (Named for a waiter named Dell Jones) was robbed several times and fire bombed twice, the last bombing coming on October 8, 1934. Another of Hare’s clubs, the Moulin Rouge on 511 Diversey Highway had mysteriously caught fire earlier in the year. Hare held a $25,000 policy on the property. In 1931, the Touhy gang tracked Capone killer Fred Pacelli to the Dells and killed him. That same year, while at least 300 people watch, Touhy gunmen marched into the Dells and shot and killed Fred DiGiovanni, a suspected Barker spy within the Touhy organization. Hare was rumored to paid reporter Jake Lingle as much as $20,000 in bribes to keep him from writing stories on his gambling dens/night spots.
Feburary 24 : Nathan "Nate" Weisenberg was called the "King of the Slots" of Northeastern Ohio although others assumed that he was nothing more than a figurehead for member of the Mayfield Road Mob. Weisenberg had been called to his slot machine warehouse just after 1:00 am that morning because of a break in. On his way home and was shot to death in his car just before midnight. Mafia member James Licavoli was the prime suspect but was never charged.
June 24: Race-wire operator James M. Ragen was shot from a truck while driving in rush-hour traffic on a Chicago street. Reportedly attacked for refusing to sell out to the hoodlum element, he died of his wounds on August 14, 1946. Lenny Patrick and Lenny Yaras are accused of the crime.
October Lucky Luciano flies to Cuba to meet with Meyer Lansky to discuss casinos and other interests.
Dec. 22, The "Havana Conference" takes place in Cuba; Luciano invites major mobsters from America and Italy, who attend this historic meeting.
December 26: The formal opening of the Flamingo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas--backed by such hoodlum figures as Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel, Meyer Lanky, Frank Costello, and Joe Adonis-- marked the infiltration of Nevada gambling by the organized criminal element. The formal opening of the hotel itself took place on March 1, 1947.
The Flamingo opens under heavy expectations by the mob investors.
El Cortez in Las Vegas is purchased by Charles Berman and his partners are Siegel, Moe Sedway, Gus Greenbaum, and Lansky.
In Chicago, Lenny Patrick and two others were implicated in a sensational murder case, the shotgun shooting of James Ragen, the owner of a racing news service who opposed mob efforts to take over his business.
William Goldstein was Chicago gangster Billy Skidmore’s partner and lawyer, but turned witness against him when he faced perjury charges in an income tax case
When the mob kidnapped Chicago’s black rackets boss Edward P. Jones in May, it was widely assumed that Joe Peskin was a major factor behind the crime. Jones had just invested $100,000 in Juke Boxes that he intended to distribute across Bronzeville, an area controlled by Peskin’s Juke Box rackets.
Jacob Gurrah Shapiro dies in prison while serving a life sentence. Shapiro had been a leader of the Murder Inc. organization in New York.
Louis Lipschultz, Jake Guzik’s brother in law, according to the chief of police of Cicero, Ill., contacted him and offered him $100,000 to permit gambling to operate in Cicero. The offer was turned down. Lipschultz at that time said he was merely a spokesman for friends.
June 20: Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel was shot to death through a living-room window while sitting in the Beverly Hills mansion of his paramour, Virginia Hill.
Jack Entratter, the one time doorman-bouncer at the Stork Club in Manhattan before moving over to the Copacabana. Myer Lansky’s Mafia protector, Jimmy “Blue Eyes” Alo offered him a job in Vegas overlooking the Sands Casino with a 12- point interest in the place, or at least on the books. In all probability Entratter was a placeholder for Mafia bosses.
It was estimated that Joe Peskin of Universal Automatic Music Corp. had about 900 jukeboxes placed on location across the city. He also controlled locations in Cicero, Argo, Calumet City, in Illinois, Hammond, Indiana Harbor, and Whiting Illinois. Peskin fronted for the Chicago Automatic Music Co and later for the Automatic Music Instruments Co. in California, Nevada, and Washington
The Thunderbird casino opens in Las Vegas. Jake Lansky would run this casino under his brother Meyer’s watch.
May 26, 1950: The Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (popularly known as the Kefauver Committee, even though Senator Estes Kefauver resigned his chairmanship on May 1, 1951) opened hearings in Miami, Florida. Subsequent hearings were held in various cities throughout the country until August 17, 1951.
Longy Zwillman’s political contributions to Ne Jersey politicians are examined by the federal government
The Kefauver hearings on Organized Crime begin. Hearings were held from May 10 1950, the day that the Attorney General of the United States declared that the committee had no reason to exist, until May 1 1951.
The Dessert Inn casino was opened in Las Vegas and Wilbur Clark was the owner.
Joey Glimco takes the fifth 80 times before the Kefauver committee
March 21 Kefauver committee concluded in New York. Kefauver declares that “there are two major crime syndicates in this country the Accardo Guzik Fischetti syndicate whose headquarters are Chicago and the Costello Adonis Lansky syndicate based in New York” it pointed out that Accardo influence went to Chicago, Kansas City Dallas Miami Las Vegas Minneapolis Des Moines and Los Angles”
Mickey Cohen is convicted of income tax evasion.
August Waxey" Gordon is arrested for drug trafficking (heroin) in an FBI sting and sentenced to 25 years to life in Sing-Sing, then Attica, then Alcatraz.
September: Meyer Lansky is charged with illegal gambling in Saratoga Springs NY
The New York Crime commission interviews Alfred Topliz the Democratic leader of Manhattan's First Assembly and supposed associate of New York hood Trigger Mike Coppola
March: Fulgencio Batista, who was financed by Lansky, took over Cuba’s government with a coup.
The casinos The Strip and Sands open up in Las Vegas.
Waxey Gordon dies of a heart attack while locked up for life in Alcatraz
Michael Brodkin was a major mob lawyer in the early 1950s who was brought into the organization by gambler Billy Skidmore. Working through the notorious law firm of Bieber & Brodkin, Brodkin assisted the mob in dividing up the millions skimmed form the Las Vegas casino in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The cash was delivered to Brodkin’s office on a monthly basis by a mobster’s wife who traveled from Chicago to Vegas and back again via railroad. Upon her arrival to Chicago, Brodkin’s firm would book her a her room at the expensive Ambassador East Hotel. The next day she would deliver the cash to Brodkin’s office where Chicago portion was taken and held for a representative from the bosses.
David Kind, a major stockholder and probably a mob front man, was listed as one of the owners of the mob operated Miami Beach Kennel Club. In 1929, Kind, Lew Shumway and Eddie O’Hara were indicted for conspiracy.
May 2” Meyer Lansky is convicted of illegal gambling, after pleading guilty to five of the total twenty one charges, and serves three months in a New York prison.
April 5: Victor Riesel, a nationally known labor columnist, was blinded in an acid attack while leaving a New York City restaurant. LCN member John Dioguardi was indicted but never tried.
June 18: Girolomo (Momo) Adamo, underboss of the Los Angeles Family, committed suicide in San Diego after seriously wounding his wife over an affair she allegedly was having with the then head of the Family, Frank Desimone.
July 18: The Narcotics Control Act of 1956 was signed into law, drastically increasing penalties for engaging in the illicit-drug trade.
David Kind was a major stockholder and probably a mob front man, in 1953 he was listed as one of the owners of the mob operated Miami Beach Kennel Club. In 1929, Kind, Lew Shumway and Eddie O’Hara were indicted for conspiracy.
On record, Sam Taran was the head of the Taran Distributing Co., records and appliance division in Miami, Fla. Taran was an ex-bootlegger with a long record for violations of the internal revenue laws. A one-time prize-fighter, he served two years in Illinois state prisons in 1934. Taran distributing was widely known as the Chicago mobs front company in Florida in the juke box business.
The casinos Riviera and Dunes open in Las Vegas
Nov.4 Willie Bioff is blown up after getting in the driver's seat of his car, in his garage, in Arizona.
Moe Dalitz and Sam Tucker take over Meyer Lansky’s Havana casino, The International
The Chicago mob fix it man, Jake Guzik, dies of a heart attack
Max Podolsky, (Born 1900) Known for decades as an enforcer for Joey Glimco in the jukebox racket. Officially, Podolsky was an organizer for the egg handlers union local 663. He was indicted for attempted extortion in 1957 of Kraft foods, but the federal government later dropped the case for lack of evidence after their witnesses refused to appear in court. Podolsky had a police record dating back to 1921. However, that record disappeared from police files several days after it was requested by the Kefauver Committee.
February 26: The Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (popularly known as the "Senate Rackets Committee" and chaired by Senator John L. McClellan) opened hearings in Washington, D.C. Subsequent hearings lasted until December 3, 1958, and included an intensive probe into the hoodlum meeting held at Apalachin, New York.
David Berman dies in Las Vegas.
The Tropicana casino opens in Las Vegas. Built by Phil Kastel, who had previous involvement in the Beverly County Club.
Edward Vogel AKA Eddie. Vogel, known as the “Slot machine king of Cook County” started with the Outfit under Jim Colosimo and stayed with it until the 1960’s. On October 1, 1926, he was indicted, together with Al Capone, the mayor and chief of police of Cicero, and others for conspiring to violate the prohibition laws. Vogel worked with George "Babe" Tottenelli, who was the trouble-shooter for Vogel. In 1949, Vogel and his partner’s mobsters Gus Alex and Ross Prio ran the biggest bookie joint in the city, perhaps in the country, across from the United States Post office on Canal and Van Buren. The place brought in over $100,000.00 a month. The outfits average large hand book, and there about 15 of them across Cook County was taking in $5,150,000 a year. In the 1960s, Vogel was officially employed by the Apex Cigarette Service, Inc., (A cigarette-vending machine company. At the time, a package of cigarettes cost 20 cents) at 1010 George Street., Chicago. Sam Giancana was also employed there. The company was started in n December of 1937. In 1958, the company paid Vogel $1000,000 a year in salary.
December 3: Gus Greenbaum, Las Vegas casino operator, and his wife were found murdered in their Phoenix, Arizona, home.
Cuban Revolution. Eight days after Cuba fell, Chicagoan Jack Ruby, the man who would kill Presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, made contact with Robert McKeown, a Texas gunrunner who had been supplying weapons to Castro. Ruby never gave a full explanation of why he contacted McKeown
Feburary 26: Abner Zwillman is killed or committed suicide
August, the Chicago mob decided it wanted Joe Peskin, the juke box king, out of the way and made three attempts to kill him with bombs (each failed to go off) and sent a crew to his home beat him with baseball bats.
September 8 Frank Rosenthal (1929-2008), friend of Chicago mobsters, appeared before a Senate hearing on gambling and organized crime. He invoked the Fifth Amendment 38 times.
December Bernard Glickman assured Sam Giancana that sonny Liston would do anything that he was asked to do in the fight between sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson
Ruby Kolad and "Icepick Wille" Alderman, executives at the Desert Inn are convicted with Milwaukee Phil Aldersio for extortion of a Denver businessman.
May 6: Irving Vine (Born Fein in 1905) a South Side Chicago gambler ‘A walking bookie’ who had agreed to testify before an IRS hearing on gangster Murray Humpreys income, is strangled to death in his hotel room at the Del Prado Hotel at 5307 Hyde Park Blvd. Bernard “Pipi” Posner (Born 1920) was suspected in the murder. Vine’s ankles were tied to his wrists, effectively choking himself to death. His ribs were fractured and his nose was broken. He was in his boxer shorts, covered by a sheet when the cleaning maid found him. Vine had been a heavy bookie since 1943 when he operated a casino at 1318 East 47th Street in Chicago
September 25: The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (popularly known as the McClellan Committee) opened hearings in Washington, D.C., regarding "Organized Crime and Illicit Traffic in Narcotics." Featuring the testimony of LCN member Joe Valachi, the hearings lasted periodically until August 5, 1964.
The Bahamas become a new location for casinos. Several people become interested in financing casinos there.
September 11, Manny Skar, a Chicago Outfit member and nightclub owner involved in illegal gambling dies
Bernard Glickman, Chicago mob gambler active from the 1930 until at least the 1980s. Officially, Glickman was a fight promoter. He was partners with Accardo in the Cool Vent and Storm Window corporation as well as Howard Gardens, an apartment complex that he managed. In 1966, he was said to have been badly beaten by Milwaukee Phil Aldersio. According to rumor, Glickman had been warned to stay away from Chicago based fighter Ernie Terrell a promising heavyweight fighter who was scheduled to take on Muhammad Ali. The mobsters felt that Glickman’s known association with the mob, especially with Tony Accardo, could ruin Terrell’s career. Instead, on November 1, 1961, Glickman flew to New York and was seen publicly with Terrell around the city. Shortly afterwards the state of New York refused to grant Terrell a boxing license because of his known association with Glickman. When Glickman returned to Chicago, Aldersio beat him senseless, breaking Glickman’s arm. In 1969, Glickman was reported to be living under an assumed name in California where he sold hearing aides.
New Jersey loan shark Harold Konigsberg is sent to prison.
May 23 Chicago mobster Benny Stein is sent to prison for 18 months for labor racketeering
Frederick P. Ackerman, a lawyer and business partner with Mad Sam DeStefano of Chicago, enters the witness protection program
Ruby Kolad, once with the Mayfield Road Boys and the Desert Inn, died at age 57 of a heart attack
Lansky, Cohen, and partners are indicted by the American Government for skimming thirty million dollars from the Flamingo casino
Lansky flees to Israel
March 13 Paul Red Dorfman dies at age 69.
Chicago’s Lenny Patrick was still running Rogers Park with his banker Joe Epstein
November 5: Meyer Lansky, American hoodlum and gambling figure, departed Israel after the Israeli Supreme Court denied his appeal for the continuance of his tourist visa or his application for immigrant status (previously rejected in September 1971, by the Minister of the Interior). Although Lansky's airplane traveled through Switzerland, Africa, and several countries in South and Central America he was unable to gain entry to any other country and was arrested by FBI Agents at the Miami airport, November 7, 1972, on contempt of Federal grand jury charges.
April 18, Ronnie Yaras (Born 1938) a massage palor operator in Miami Beach was shot dead by person’s unknown n his house. Three months before, their father, Dave Yaras, suffered a heart attack while playing golf and died in Miami.
September: Paul Gonsky Chicago porn pimp found dead next to his car, shot six times in the head with a .22. Tony Spilotro is suspected
Lefty Rosenthal is charged with skimming seven million a year from the Stardust Casino.
Bernard “Pipi” Posner, a Chicago strongman, is shaking down pornography dealers in Chicago
Lenny Patrick is sent to jail to for criminal contempt of court. He will serve four years on the charge
The New Jersey Gaming Commission banned Alvin Malnik, Meyer Lansky’s former attorney, from the state's casinos, citing links to organized crime figures that dates back half a century. He had been linked to Sam Cohen, who was indicted along with Lansky on charges of skimming $30 million in profits from the Flamingo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. In 1971, Malnik and Cohen bought 325 acres of undeveloped land that belonged to a Dade County country club and earned $14.7 million profit from the sale of the land.
October 4. Frank Rosenthal Las Vegas casino operator, survived a car bomb when his Cadillac exploded as he turned the key. He ran the mob-owned Stardust, Fremont, Hacienda and Marina casinos
Meyer Lansky dies
January 20, Allen Dorfman, whose company handles the Teamsters loans to Las Vegas, is killed in a Chicago parking lot
January 10 In Chicago, Lenny Yaras, the son of legendary hoodlum Dave Yaras was murdered as he made his usual rounds collecting street tax from bookies in the Rogers Park neighborhood, the same area his father had worked in fifty years before.
Lenny Patrick would turn states evidence on Chicago’s acting boss, Gus Alex
Donald Schemel (Born 1951) ran a Chicago water taxi service, Schemel Marine Services. Since Schemel docked his boats on the Chicago River, which is controlled by the mobbed up 1st Ward, police suspect that pressures were put on him to pay a shake down fee for using the river. Apparently he refused. City inspectors cracked down on his company and cited him with a series of petty complaints. Finally on August 14, 1999, he was shot and killed at 1900 South Lumber St. by persons unknown who fired several shots into Schemel as he sat in his truck.
Excerpt from my book "When Capone’s Mob Murdered Touhy.”
“Ten Percent Tony"
"Tony Cermak was an example of the lowest type of machine politics that the corrupt political life of Chicago had yet produced. He was uncouth, gruff, insolent and inarticulate ... he could engage in no more intelligent discussion of the larger political issues of the day than he could of the Einstein theory of relativity. He appeared to take pride in his lack of polish."-Judge Lyle
Like Matt Kolb, Roger Touhy was a cautious man. He was not prone to mistakes or leaps injudgement, especially when it came to defying a man as dangerous as Al Capone. In fact, the only reason he would have entered a shooting war against Capone and his massive criminal organization was based on his absolute certainty that hewould win. That, and his little known agreement with Chicago's powerful mayor, Anton Cermak, made the bootlegger positive that he could pull Capone from his throne.
"Ten Percent" Tony Cermak, the mayor of Chicago, would lead the Touhys into a war with the Capone syndicate. Tony Cermak was, as Judge Lyle noted, "not a nice man." Instead he was an intim- idator and a bully with a violent temper, who would never walk away from a confrontation. He liked very few people and trusted no one. As his power grew, so did his paranoia. In the state house, as president of Cook County and later as mayor, Cermak used wiretaps, stolen mail, secret surveillance and informants to get intelligence on the weaknesses of his enemies.
Cermak was born on May 7, 1873 in a Bohemian village about fifty miles from Prague. The family immigrated to America in 1884, settling in a Chicago slum. In 1900, the Cermak family moved to Braidwood, in southern Illinois, where the elder Cermak worked as a coal miner. At age sixteen Tony returned to Chicago alone and saw his opportunity in the rough and tumble world of ethnic politics. He organized the Bohemian community into a powerful voting machine and before he was old enough to vote himself, Tony Cermak was a political power in the Windy City.
In addition to his unquenchable thirst for power, Cermak was also a greedy man who used his power and position to grow wealthy. While still a ward politician, he formed the United Societies, a high- sounding name for what was nothing more then a shakedown operation to collect money from the hundreds of pimps and saloon owners who worked along the notoriously wicked 22nd Street (which was later, oddly enough, renamed Cermak Road).
In 1902, at age twenty-six, Cermak went to the State Capitol as a member of the House of Representatives. He eventually worked his way up to Speaker of the House. This position allowed him, if he wished, to block every piece of banking reform legislation before the House. It was a position for which the state's bankers paid him richly. After three terms in the capitol, Cermak's net worth was more than one million dollars. By the time he became mayor of Chicago at age fifty-six, Tony Cermak, the nearly illiterate immigrant, boasted a net worth of seven million dollars, although he never had a job that paid him more then $12,000 a year.
In 1931, Cermak was the undisputed boss of the most powerful political machine in the country, and declared himself a candidate for Mayor of Chicago. The syndicate, sensing the federal government might step in to restore order to the streets of Chicago if the hopelessly corrupt "Big Bill" Thompson was re-elected, stood solidly behind Cermak's candidacy. Ten Percent Tony Cermak the syndicate figured, was one of them. They could live and prosper with Cermak at the helm. On election day, April 7, 1931, Cermak trounced Thompson by the largest margin ever recorded in a Chicago may- oral election. He promised the people of Chicago that he would rid their city of gangsters before the Century of Progress Exhibition opened at the World's Fair in the summer of 1933. But Cermak wouldn't rid Chicago of organized crime. Instead he would try to corral it, dominate it, and grow rich from it. All he had to do was give it another face, a plot the federal government had unknowingly aided by putting Capone in prison on a shaky tax charge. Capone's imprisonment left a void in Chicago's crime syndicate. Cermak intended to fill that void with Roger Touhy.
Touhy had told Saul Alinsky, a sociologist, writer and former member of the Joliet State Prison parole board, that in 1932 he entered a partnership with Cermak to run Chicago's underworld. The middle man in the deal was Teddy Newberry, a thug who at one time or another had been associated with every major gang in the city and acted as Cermak's bag man on the street.
In a meeting at the mayor's office, Cermak and Newberry urged Touhy to wage a war with Capone's mob. Roger was reluctant. A defensive position against the mob was one thing, but an all out war was entirely different. The syndicate could, Touhy pointed out, muster at least 500 gunmen in a few days. Cermak responded, 'You can have the entire police department."
Eventually, Roger agreed to go along, and Cermak sent word to his police commanders that the Touhys were to be cooperated with in the war against the syndicate.
Wars cost money. Before the shooting started Roger had to be positive that the cash he needed to support a street war was in place. Anton Cermak could help with that.
At 6:56 A.M., on December 6, 1932, Tommy Touhy led a gang of five masked men into the United States Post Office in the heart of Chicago's Loop. They overpowered the guard and stole $500,000 in securities and cash. The getaway was easy. Two hours earlier, Cermak called the police shift commander and ordered him to pull all of his men out of the area. A month later the Touhys, armed with machine guns, robbed a Minneapolis postal truck of $78,417 in bonds, cash, certificates and jewelry. Several days later they struck again, robbing a Colorado mail truck of $520,000 in cash.
During that time Cermak increased his raids on syndicate gambling dens. In one afternoon alone, Chicago police acting on Cermak's orders impounded 200 syndicate slot machines plus another 300 machines stored at Gottleib and Company warehouses. This was the same Gottleib that would later provide slots to mob-owned Las Vegas casinos. As soon as the police took the syndicate's machines, Touhy's men replaced them with their own one armed bandits. The moment a Mob handbook was closed Touhy's operators were moved in to fill the gap. As always, Cermak had an ulterior motive. The raids were a calculated move to cut the syndicate's cash flow in half so that they wouldn't have the funding to carry on a drawn out street war.
It didn't take the mob's leadership a long time to figure out they had been double-crossed by Cermak, who, along with Touhy, was now putting on the double squeeze. The quick solution for the syndicate was to kill Roger and Tommy Touhy. However killing them wouldn't prove easy, especially now that they were surrounded by a small army of enforcers including George "Baby Face" Nelson, a proven tough guy.
Still, the syndicate's bosses were determined to stop the flow of union treasuries to Touhy. To do that, they would have to send out a message; they had to throw a scare into the union bosses. It had to be loud and violent and it had to be someone close to Touhy.
Bill Rooney was just the right person.
William James Rooney was a labor goon who had done his first prison time back in 1907. In the years that followed Rooney would face dozens of arrests including one in 1910 for the suspected murder of Joseph Patrick Shea. Shea had been the business agent for the Chicago sheet metal workers' union, a local which Rooney was trying to muscle his way into. He was acquitted of the murder, even though he had shot Shea dead in the middle of the union hall in front of at least 150 witnesses. No one testified against him and Rooney was released to continue his takeover of the union. By 1928, he not only controlled the sheet metal workers', but the flat janitors' and the meat cutters' unions as well. Capone sent word that he wanted half of Rooney's labor empire. Rooney refused and Capone threatened his life. Unfazed, Rooney made his own threats and then started to move his operation and his family out to Des Plains to live under Touhy's protection.
On the night they killed him, Rooney was still moving his belongings from his home in Chicago to a rented house in Des Plains. His wife and two children had already driven to the country.
Rooney waited outside his home while his chauffeur sprinted down the street to retrieve his car from a rented garage about five minutes away. Draped in a heavy grey top coat and dress hat, Rooney paced back and forth on the lawn as a blue sedan pulled up to the curb. One of the men in the back seat, believed to be Paul Ricca, rolled down a window and said, "Hi Billy. "
When Rooney stepped up to the car and bent down to look inside, a shotgun appeared in the window and three blasts ripped into Rooney's head, chest and stomach. Remarkably, the blast didn't knock him down. Instead, Rooney grabbed the car as it sped away, but then slid slowly to his knees. He was dragged twenty-five feet before releasing his grip.
With Rooney dead, Red Barker and Murray Humpreys took over the sheet metal and the building service employees' union and looted its treasury.
Rooney's murder was one of the last bright moments for the syndicate. For the next two years, the Touhy-Cermak-Newberry combination pounded the mob mercilessly. In fact, within three days of Rooney's murder, the Touhys responded by killing Johnny Genaro, Capone's new acting chief of staff, and his driver, Joey Vince, by pulling up along the side of Genaro's car and drilling a dozen rounds of machine gun fire into both of them.
Genero died immediately but Vince managed to live until the cops arrived. A patrolman lifted the hood's head out of a pool of blood and whispered "Who shot you? Who did this?"
For a man full of bullet holes on the threshold of death, Vince was remarkably lucid. He sat upright for a second and said '1 can't describe the men. I was too confused at the moment it happened...and I would never tell you anyway, you piece of shit. "
Then he fell back into the gutter and died.
A few days later, Roger Touhy, armed with a machine gun, walked into a meeting at the Teamsters Headquarters in Chicago. With him was his top enforcer, Willie Sharkey, and two other men. Each of them carried a machine gun and a pistol as they herded the union officials and lined them up against the wall. As more members entered the building for a special emergency meeting, they too were lined up against the wall until there were over one hundred members held hostage.
After two hours, Roger stood before the crowd and spoke.
"Listen up you mugs, we've come here today to clean the dago syndicate out of the Teamsters Union."
A cheer went up across the room from the membership. Roger looked over the faces in the hall and spotted a half dozen of Murray Humpreys' enforcers including Artie Barrett whom Touhy had known from the Valley. "We thought you were a right guy" he said to Barrett. 'What are you doing hanging around these rats for?"
'Well, hell, I gotta eat Rog, " Barrett said.
He let Barrett leave but pulled two of the syndicate's union leaders named Goldberg and Sass into an office and told them to call Murray Humpreys and tell him to come to the building as soon as he could. When they said they couldn't remember the number, Roger said, 'Well, get together and think it up or we'll give it to you right outside the door. None of you other mugs have to be afraid, we're after Klondike O'Donnell, Camel Humpreys and Jack White and we won't hurt anybody else."
Out of ignorance or fear Goldberg and Sass didn't place the call.
Roger rounded up his men and left the building at 11:30 in the morning, three full hours after they had arrived, taking Goldberg and Sass with him. His last words to the membership were, 'These two are going to get theirs. " Once again the membership exploded in cheers.
Sass and Goldberg were released two days later. They were not harmed or abused. "Actually," said Goldberg, "they treated us well. The food was excellent. The conversation was good."
Touhy's brazen daylight raid on the heart of the syndicate's union operation was a slap in the face for Red Barker and Murray Humpreys. The syndicate, less than several hundred in number, had ruled over Chicago's massive unions by fear and the threat of violence. Touhy's raid had temporarily taken away that edge and they needed to get it back.
Barker and Humpreys retaliated with a daylight drive-by shooting at Wall's Bar-B-Que and Rib. Wall's was a restaurant frequented by the Touhys because Roger had developed a friendship with a waitress, Peggy Carey. In the middle of a sun-filled Saturday afternoon, four carloads of syndicate gunmen sped by the restaurant while Roger and several of his men lounged around in the parking lot. They sprayed the lot and the restaurant with machine gun fire. The Touhys returned fire but remarkably, no one was injured in the melee.
In retaliation for the shooting the Touhys struck The Dells, a large syndicate speakeasy and casino operating just inside Touhy's territory. It was under the protection of a hood named Fred Pacelli, younger brother of future United States Congressman Bill Pacelli. Three of Roger's best men, Willie Sharkey, Roy Marshalk and George Wilke arrived at The Dells driving Roger Touhy's new Chrysler sedan. They walked into the casino, surrounded Pacelli and fired one round into his face and one into the small of his back. After the hood's girlfriend, Maryanne Bruce, tried to wrestle the pistol out of Marshalk's hand they fired a round into her head as well.
A few days later, the Touhys gunned down Red Barker. It was a damaging blow to the syndicate. Willie Sharkey, Roger's most reliable killer, had rented an apartment overlooking Barker's office and waited there patiently, perched in a window, with a water-cooled, tripod set machine gun. Sharkey killed Barker by firing thirty-six bullets into him in a matter of seconds as he walked down the street.
At almost exactly the same time across town, Touhy's gunners, dressed as Chicago police and riding in a borrowed police cruiser, killed a syndicate enforcer named "Fat Tony" Jerfitar, and his partner, Nicky Provenzano. The drive by shooting occurred as the two hoods sat in front of a store with their eyes closed, sun bathing their faces. They never knew what hit them.
Next, Touhy's gang killed a beer peddler named James J. Kenny. He was found in an alley dead, having had the back of his head blown off. A few weeks before the murder the Touhys had taken the unusual step of warning Kenny not to push the syndicate's booze inside their kingdom. He did it anyway, so they killed him.
Four days later an unknown hood, believed to be a professional killer imported from New York by Frank Nitti, was found dead on a Chicago sidewalk. His face was blown off by shotgun pellets. His frozen body was planted, literally, in a snow bank on a dead end street.
A week later, Joe Provenzo, a syndicate soldier, was killed when two men wearing police uniforms asked him his name. When he answered, they thanked him, shot him through the head and calmly walked away. Five minutes later and several blocks away, John Liberto, another Nitti hood, was shot in the head at close range by the same two men.
After that the syndicate took two more hard hits. At the crack of dawn Cermak was in his office, surrounded by his special squad and the Chicago chief of police, planning the day's raids against the mob's most lucrative casinos. Over the remainder of the morning, working on information provided by Roger Touhy and Teddy Newberry, twelve mob casinos were closed down. Sixteen Chicago detectives were demoted, reassigned or fired for allowing a rising syndicate hood named "Tough Tony" Capezio to operate in their districts. The loss of sixteen cops, all bought and paid for, hurt the syndicate badly, leaving them with very few officers on the take.
Cermak's pressure on the police department had scared most officers off the syndicate's pad, while the others waited on the sidelines to see who would come out on top in this war.
The next blow came when two of the syndicate's best gunners, Nicholas Maggio, and his partner in crime, Anthony Persico, were targeted in a retaliation killing for the murder of Bill Rooney. John Rooney, the business agent for the billposters' union and brother to Bill Rooney, ambushed and killed the two men on a back stretch of road deep inside Touhy's territory.
The syndicate was taking a pounding. Their ranks were already thinned from assaults by the federal government, not to mention the beating they were taking at the hands of the Touhy organization. To bolster their numbers the outfit's leaders recruited members of the 42s, a gang of crazy kids from an Italian neighborhood called the Patch. This same gang would produce the syndicate's next ruling body in the form of Sam Giancana, Marshal Ciafano, Teets Battaglia and others.
Reinforced with the 42s, the syndicate tracked down a top Touhy enforcer named Frank Schaeffler, once a contender for the world's light heavy-weight crown. They shot him as he entered an all-night speakeasy called The Advance.
The Touhy forces struck back by killing a major syndicate pimp named Nicky Renelli and in a separate incident gunning down Elmer Russel, a bouncer at a syndicate bar called the Alaskan Forum Road House.
The next mob hood to die was Maurice Barrett. He was shot through the head and arm, then dropped at the front door of a neighborhood hospital where he bled to death.
Three days later the Touhys lined up three of Nitti's men and shot them through the knees with machine guns after they tried to muscle into a meeting at the Chicago house painters' union.
The Touhys scored another big hit when they killed Danny Cain, the thirty-two-year-old president of the Chicago Coal Teamsters and brother-in-law of George Red Barker. Several men in a car followed Cain home as he left a nightclub. They pulled up alongside his car and drowned it in machine gun fire.
On a freezing Wednesday night, Willie O'Brien, a slugger employed by the Touhys, walked into a popular speakeasy called the Garage. There he was jumped by three men who tried to force him outside to the rear alley where a car was waiting. O'Brien managed to fight them all off until one of the men pulled a pistol and fired a shot into O'Brien's back. Unarmed, O'Brien was running toward the front door when another shot caught him in the leg and a third shot went into the palm of his right hand as he used it to cover his spine. A half an hour later O'Brien staggered into the waiting room of the Augustana hospital.
Officer Martin O'Malley, who grew up with Touhy and O'Brien in the Valley, arrived and interviewed the hood on his death bed.
'Who shot you Billy?"
"I known them. Known them for ten years, but I won't tell you who they are. "
"You're going to die Billy. Who killed you? I'll have your revenge."
O'Brien just shook his head and died.
Seven days later, the Touhys struck back. It was fifteen degrees below zero and snowing when a car pulled up to the curb. Several men in long coats climbed out, walked into a pool room and poured five shots into a syndicate hood named Fred Petilli who was leaning against a pool table, his back to the door. A few moments later the same car pulled up in front of The Garage nightclub where Jimmy O'Brien had been killed. A tall man, probably Basil Banghart, opened the front door to the club, tossed in a bomb and said "This is for Jimmy, you bastards!"
The bomb blew the place to bits but remarkably, no one was killed.
After that, Charlie O'Neill, a very young Touhy gunman, was kidnapped off the street, shot twice in the head and dumped in the middle of traffic on a busy intersection.
The Touhys responded by killing a labor goon named Nichols Razes. They shot him five times during a running gun battle in the Green Hut restaurant owned by Razes' brother. Charles McKenna, a Touhy labor enforcer and president of the truck painters' union, was shot in the arm during the gun battle. He was arrested for murder as he straggled down the street, murder weapon still in hand. He was held, booked and then released for "lack of evidence."
That same month, the syndicate tried to kidnap Roger Touhy's two sons as they waited for their mother to pick them up from school in Des Plains. Somebody had to pay for that and Roger chose Eddie Gambino, a dope peddler and union goon. They caught Gambino as he was about to step out of his car. Two gunmen, stepped up to the driver's window and opened fire. Before he bled to death, Gambino was able to pull his own pistol but dropped it before he could fire at his killers. One of the two killers, enraged at Gambino's defiance, stepped back over to the hood's blood-smeared face and fired at his temple.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
DON’T WORRY-BE HAPPY
New research says that increasing personal happiness produces easier weight loss
Many people believe that if they lose weight they will be happier about themselves, but new research by the University of Adelaide is suggesting people take the opposite approach.
School of Psychology PhD candidate and clinical psychologist, Sharon Robertson, has found a direct correlation between obesity and a lack of mental well-being, and believes that if people focus on improving their happiness, rather than solely on losing weight, weight loss may come easier.
"Our preliminary research looked at happiness and well-being in people who are obese," says Ms Robertson.
"We used a national sample of 260 adults, separated into five categories according to their body mass index (BMI): normal weight, overweight, and obese classes one, two and three.
"We found that those who were obese were more likely to be depressed and experience less positive emotions than the normal and overweight groups, and this lack of well-being may be contributing to weight loss failure," she says.
Ms Robertson's research has also been looking at the impact of positive psychology techniques on weight loss.
"Positive psychology techniques promote positive thinking and positive feelings, and this 'feel good' effect may lead to an increase in motivation. In the case of weight loss specifically, it can promote weight loss behaviour," says Ms Robertson.
"We recently trialled this approach on women in a small pilot study. Over a four-week period we worked to improve their hope, personal strengths, gratitude and general happiness.
"The psychology sessions did not focus on weight loss, however, half of the participants lost weight over the course of the intervention. And at 12-week follow up, three quarters of the participants had lost additional weight," she says.
While in the early stages, Ms Robertson believes her findings support the idea of promoting positive psychological health in weight loss programs.
"There is no joy in focusing on weight loss, particularly if someone is constantly failing to lose weight," says Ms Robertson.
"I'm not saying that traditional programs are ineffective, but for those who have had little success with weight loss, perhaps focusing on their psychological health first will lead to better outcomes.
"Traditional weight loss programs may benefit from including a positive psychological approach to improve happiness and motivation, and to facilitate weight loss goals," she says.
Ms Robertson is hoping to continue researching psychological well-being and weight loss upon completion of her PhD, and test her approach more rigorously.
Arts & CultureColin Dwyer · NPR · Oct 8, 2015
Investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday. Alexievich is the first writer from Belarus to win the prize.
Alexievich won "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time," according to the citation for the award.
On her personal website, Alexievich explains her pursuit of journalism: "I chose a genre where human voices speak for themselves." Fittingly, Alexievich prefers to leave the stories to her many interviewees, letting eyewitness accounts shed an unsettling light on tragedies like World War II, the Soviet-Afghan War and the disaster at Chernobyl — an investigation that has been read aloud in excerpts on All Things Considered.
For that work, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people touched by the massive 1986 nuclear meltdown, which spread radioactivity on the wind across much of Eastern Europe.
"All of my books consist of witnesses' evidence, people's living voices," she told the Dalkey Archive Press. "I usually spend three to four years writing a book, but this time it took me more than ten years."
In an interview following the announcement, the Swedish Academy's permanent secretary, Sara Danius, elaborated on the decision.
"For the past 30 or 40 years, she has been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual," Danius said. "But it's not really about a history of events; it's about a history of emotions."
If you're new to Alexievich's work, Danius added, she recommends beginning with War's Unwomanly Face -- a history the Soviet women who fought as soldiers in the Second World War.
It has been quite a long time since a nonfiction writer won the Nobel. Not since the heady days of Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, over half a century ago, has an author won for a career of work primarily in nonfiction. Alexievich's prize breaks that long dry spell.
The 67-year-old is the 112th writer — and 14th woman — to win the prize. She will receive her medal at a ceremony on Dec. 10.
Excerpts: 'Voices From Chernobyl'
Lyudmilla Ignatenko, wife of deceased fireman Vasily Ignatenko
I'm sitting on my little chair next to him at night. At eight I say: "Vasenka, I'm going for a little walk." He opens his eyes and closes them, lets me go. I just walk to the dorm, go up to my room, lie down on the floor, I couldn't lie on the bed, everything hurt too much, when already the cleaning lady is knocking. "Go! Run to him! He's calling for you like mad!" That morning Tanya Kibenok pleaded with me: "Come to the cemetery, I can't go there alone." They were burying Vitya Kibenok and Volodya Pravik. They were friends of my Vasya. Our families were friends. There's a photo of us all in the building the day before the explosion. Our husbands are so handsome! And happy! It was the last day of that life. We were all so happy!
I came back from the cemetery and called the nurse's post right away. "How is he?" "He died fifteen minutes ago." What? I was there all night. I was gone for three hours! I came up to the window and started shouting: "Why? Why?" I looked up at the sky and yelled. The whole building could hear me. They were afraid to come up to me. Then I came to: I'll see him one more time! Once more! I run down the stairs. He was still in his bio-chamber, they hadn't taken him away yet. His last words were "Lyusya! Lyusenka!" "She's just stepped away for a bit, she'll be right back," the nurse told him. He sighed and went quiet. I didn't leave him anymore after that. I escorted him all the way to the grave site. Although the thing I remember isn't the grave, it's the plastic bag. That bag.
At the morgue they said, "Want to see what we'll dress him in?" I do! They dressed him up in formal wear, with his service cap. They couldn't get shoes on him because his feet had swelled up. They had to cut up the formal wear, too, because they couldn't get it on him, there wasn't a whole body to put it on. It was all — wounds. The last two days in the hospital — I'd lift his arm, and meanwhile the bone is shaking, just sort of dangling, the body has gone away from it. Pieces of his lungs, of his liver, were coming out of his mouth. He was choking on his internal organs. I'd wrap my hand in a bandage and put it in his mouth, take out all that stuff. It's impossible to talk about. It's impossible to write about. And even to live through. It was all mine.
My love. They couldn't get a single pair of shoes to fit him. They buried him barefoot.
Right before my eyes — in his formal wear — they put him in that cellophane bag of theirs and tied it up. And then they put this bag in the wooden coffin. And they tied the coffin with another bag. The plastic is transparent, but thick, like a tablecloth. And then they put all that into a zinc coffin. They squeezed it in. Only the cap didn't fit.
Everyone came — his parents, my parents. They bought black handkerchiefs in Moscow. The Extraordinary Commission met with us. They told everyone the same thing: it's impossible for us to give you the bodies of your husbands, your sons, they are very radioactive and will be buried in a Moscow cemetery in a special way. In sealed zinc caskets, under cement tiles. And you need to sign this document here.
If anyone got indignant and wanted to take the coffin back home, they were told that the dead were now heroes, you see, and that they no longer belonged to their families. They were heroes of the State. They belonged to the State.
We sat in the hearse. The relatives and some military people. A colonel and his regiment. They tell the regiment: "Await your orders!" We drive around Moscow for two or three hours, around the beltway. We're going back to Moscow again. They tell the regiment: "We're not allowing anyone into the cemetery. The cemetery's being attacked by foreign correspondents. Wait some more." The parents don't say anything. Mom has a black handkerchief. I sense I'm about to black out. "Why are they hiding my husband? He's — what? A murderer? A criminal? Who are we burying?" My mom: "Quiet. Quiet, daughter." She's petting me on the head. The colonel calls in: "Let's enter the cemetery. The wife is getting hysterical." At the cemetery we were surrounded by soldiers. We had a convoy. And they were carrying the coffin. No one was allowed in. It was just us. They covered him with earth in a minute. "Faster! Faster!" the officer was yelling. They didn't even let me hug the coffin. And — onto the bus. Everything on the sly.
Right away they bought us plane tickets back home. For the next day. The whole time there was someone with us. He wouldn't even let us out of the dorm to buy some food for the trip. God forbid we might talk with someone — especially me. As if I could talk by then. I couldn't even cry. When we were leaving, the woman on duty counted all the towels and all the sheets. She folded them right away and placed them in a polyethylene bag. They probably burnt them. We paid for the dormitory ourselves. For fourteen nights. It was a hospital for radiation poisoning. Fourteen nights. That's how long it takes a person to die.
Monologue About Lies and Truths
Sergei Sobolev, deputy head of the Executive Committee of the Shield of Chernobyl Association
They've written dozens of books. Fat volumes, with commentaries. But the event is still beyond any philosophical description. Someone said to me, or maybe I read it, that the problem of Chernobyl presents itself first of all as a problem of self-understanding.
That seemed right. I keep waiting for someone intelligent to explain it to me. The way they enlighten me about Stalin, Lenin, Bolshevism. Or the way they keep hammering away at their "Market! Market! Free market!" But we — we who were raised in a world without Chernobyl, now live with Chernobyl.
I'm actually a professional rocketeer, I specialize in rocket fuel. I served at Baikonur [a space launch center]. The programs, Kosmos, Interkosmos, those took up a large part of my life. It was a miraculous time! You give people the sky, the Arctic, the whole thing! You give them space! Every person in the Soviet Union went into space with Yuri Gagarin, they tore away from the earth with him. We all did! I'm still in love with him — he was a wonderful Russian man, with that wonderful smile. Even his death seemed well-rehearsed.
It was a miraculous time! For family reasons I moved to Belarus, finished my career here. When I came, I immersed myself into this Chernobylized space, it was a corrective to my sense of things. It was impossible to imagine anything like it, even though I'd always dealt with the most advanced technologies, with outer space technologies. It's hard even to explain — it doesn't fit into the imagination — it's — [He thinks.] You know, a second ago I thought I'd caught it, a second ago — it makes you want to philosophize. No matter who you talk to about Chernobyl, they all want to philosophize. But I'd rather tell you about my own work. What don't we do! We're building a church — a Chernobyl church, in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God, we're dedicating it to "Punishment." We collect donations, visit the sick and dying. We write chronicles. We're creating a museum. I used to think that I, with my heart in the condition it's in, wouldn't be able to work at such a job. My first instructions were: "Here is money, divide it between thirty-five families, that is, between thirty-five widows." All the men had been liquidators. So you need to be fair. But how? One widow has a little girl who's sick, another widow has two children, and a third is sick herself, and she's renting her apartment, and yet another has four children. At night I'd wake up thinking, "How do I not cheat anyone?" I thought and calculated, calculated and thought. And I couldn't do it. We ended up just giving out the money equally, according to the list.
But my real child is the museum: the Chernobyl Museum. [He is silent.] Sometimes I think that we'll have a funeral parlor here, not a museum. I serve on the funeral committee. This morning I haven't even taken off my coat when a woman comes in, she's crying, not even crying but yelling: "Take his medals and his certificates! Take all the benefits! Give me my husband!" She yelled a long time. And left his medals, his certificates. Well, they'll be in the museum, on display. People can look at them. But her cry, no one heard her cry but me, and when I put these certificates on display I'll remember it.
Colonel Yaroshuk is dying now. He's a chemist-dosimetrist. He was healthy as a bull, now he's lying paralyzed. His wife turns him over like a pillow. She feeds him from a spoon. He has stones in his kidneys, they need to be shattered, but we don't have the money to pay for that kind of operation. We're paupers, we survive on what people give us. And the government behaves like a money lender, it's forgotten these people. When he dies, they'll name a street after him, or a school, or a military unit, but that's only after he dies. Colonel Yaroshuk. He walked through the Zone and marked the points of maximum radiation — they exploited him in the fullest sense of the term, like he was a robot. And he understood this, but he went, he walked from the reactor itself and then out through all the sectors around the radius of radioactivity. On foot. With a dosimeter in his hand. He'd feel a "spot" and then walk around its borders, so he could put it on his map accurately.
And what about the soldiers who worked on the roof of the reactor? Two hundred and ten military units were thrown at the liquidation of the fallout of the catastrophe, which equals about 340,000 military personnel. The ones cleaning the roof got it the worst. They had lead vests, but the radiation was coming from below, and they weren't protected there. They were wearing ordinary cheap imitation-leather boots. They spent about a minute and a half, two minutes on the roof each day, and then they were discharged, given a certificate and an award — one hundred rubles. And then they disappeared to the vast peripheries of our motherland. On the roof they gathered fuel and graphite from the reactor, shards of concrete and metal. It took about twenty to thirty seconds to fill a wheelbarrow, and then another thirty seconds to throw the "garbage" off the roof. These special wheelbarrows weighed forty kilos just by themselves. So you can picture it: a lead vest, masks, the wheelbarrows, and insane speed.
In the museum in Kiev they have a mold of graphite the size of a soldier's cap, they say that if it were real, it would weigh 16 kilos, that's how dense and heavy graphite is. The radio-controlled machines they used often failed to carry out commands or did the opposite of what they were supposed to do, because their electronics were disrupted by the high radiation. The most reliable "robots" were the soldiers. They were christened the "green robots" (by the color of their uniforms). Three thousand six hundred soldiers worked on the roof of the ruined reactor. They slept on the ground, they all tell of how in the beginning they were throwing straw on the ground in the tents — and the straw was coming from stacks near the reactor.
They were young guys. They're dying now too, but they understand that if it wasn't for them... These are people who came from a certain culture, the culture of the great achievement. They were a sacrifice. There was a moment when there existed the danger of a nuclear explosion, and they had to get the water out from under the reactor, so that a mixture of uranium and graphite wouldn't get into it — with the water they would have formed a critical mass. The explosion would have been between three and five megatons. This would have meant that not only Kiev and Minsk, but a large part of Europe would have been uninhabitable. Can you imagine it? A European catastrophe. So here was the task: who would dive in there and open the bolt on the safety valve? They promised them a car, an apartment, a dacha, aid for their families until the end of time. They searched for volunteers. And they found them! The boys dove, many times, and they opened that bolt, and the unit was given 7000 rubles. They forgot about the cars and apartments they promised — but that's not why they dove! Not for the material, least of all for the material promises. [Becomes upset.] Those people don't exist anymore, just the documents in our museum, with their names. But what if they hadn't done it? In terms of our readiness for self-sacrifice, we have no equals.
Now do you understand how I see our museum? In that urn there is some land from Chernobyl. A handful. And there's a miner's helmet. Also from there. Some farmer's equipment from the Zone. We can't let the dosimeters in here — we're glowing! But everything here needs to be real. No plaster casts. People need to believe us. And they'll only believe the real thing, because there are too many lies around Chernobyl. There were and there are still. They've even grown funds and commercial structures...
Since you're writing this book, you need to have a look at some unique video footage. We're gathering it little by little. It's not a chronicle of Chernobyl, no, they wouldn't let anyone film that, it was forbidden. If anyone did manage to record any of it, the authorities immediately took the film and returned it ruined. We don't have a chronicle of how they evacuated people, how they moved out the livestock. They didn't allow anyone to fi lm the tragedy, only the heroics. There are some Chernobyl photo albums now, but how many video and photo cameras were broken! People were dragged through the bureaucracy. It required a lot of courage to tell the truth about Chernobyl. It still does. Believe me! But you need to see this footage: the blackened faces of the firemen, like graphite. And their eyes? These are the eyes of people who already know that they're leaving us. There's one fragment showing the legs of a woman who the morning after the catastrophe went to work on her plot of land next to the atomic station. She's walking on grass covered with dew. Her legs remind you of a grate, everything's with holes up to the knees. You need to see this if you're writing this book.
Monologue About What We Didn't Know: Death Can Be So Beautiful
Nadezhda Petrovna Vygovskaya, evacuee from the town of Pripyat
At first, the question was, Who's to blame? But then, when we learned more, we started thinking, What should we do?
How do we save ourselves? After coming to terms with the fact that this would not be for one year or for two, but for many generations, we began to look back, turning the pages.
It happened late Friday night. That morning no one suspected anything. I sent my son to school, my husband went to the barber's. I'm preparing lunch when my husband comes back. "There's some sort of fire at the nuclear plant," he says. "They're saying we are not to turn off the radio." I forgot to say that we lived in Pripyat, near the reactor. I can still see the bright-crimson glow, it was like the reactor was glowing. This wasn't any ordinary fire, it was some sort of shining. It was pretty. I'd never seen anything like it in the movies. That evening everyone spilled out onto their balconies, and those who didn't have them went to friends' houses. We were on the ninth floor, we had a great view. People brought their kids out, picked them up, said, "Look! Remember!" And these were people who worked at the reactor — engineers, workers, physics instructors. They stood in the black dust, talking, breathing, wondering at it. People came from all around on their cars and their bikes to have a look. We didn't know that death could be so beautiful. Though I wouldn't say that it had no smell — it wasn't a spring or an autumn smell, but something else, and it wasn't the smell of earth. My throat tickled, and tears came to my eyes.
I didn't sleep all night, and I heard the neighbors walking around upstairs, also not sleeping. They were carrying stuff around, banging things, maybe they were packing their belongings. I fought off my headache with Citramon tablets. In the morning I woke up and looked around and I remember feeling — this isn't something I made up later, I thought it right then — something isn't right, something has changed forever. At eight that morning there were already military people on the streets in gas masks. When we saw them on the streets, with all the military vehicles, we didn't grow frightened — on the contrary, it calmed us down. Since the army has come to our aid, everything will be fine. We didn't understand then that the peaceful atom could kill, that man is helpless before the laws of physics.
All day on the radio they were telling people to prepare for an evacuation: they'd take us away for three days, wash everything, check it over. The kids were told to take their school books. Still, my husband put our documents and our wedding photos into his briefcase. The only thing I took was a gauze kerchief in case the weather turned bad.
From the very first I felt that we were Chernobylites, that we were already a separate people. Our bus stopped overnight in a village; people slept on the floor in a school, others in a club. There was nowhere to go. One woman invited us to sleep at her house. "Come," she said, "I'll put down some linen for you. I feel bad for your boy." Her friend started dragging her away from us. "Are you crazy? They're contaminated!" When we settled in Mogilev and our son started school, he came back the very first day in tears. They put him next to a girl who said she didn't want to sit with him, he was radioactive. Our son was in the fourth grade, and he was the only one from Chernobyl in the class. The other kids were afraid of him, they called him "Shiny." His childhood had ended so early.
As we were leaving Pripyat there was an army column heading back in the other direction. There were so many military vehicles, that's when I grew frightened. But I couldn't shake the feeling that this was all happening to someone else. I was crying, looking for food, sleeping, hugging my son, calming him down, but inside, this constant sense that I was just an observer. In Kiev they gave us some money, but we couldn't buy anything: hundreds of thousands of people had been uprooted and they'd bought everything up and eaten everything. Many had heart attacks and strokes, right there at the train stations, on the buses. I was saved by my mother. She'd lived a long time and had lost everything more than once. The first time was in the 1930s, they took her cow, her horse, her house. The second time, there'd been a fi re, the only thing she'd saved was me. Now she said, "We have to get through it. After all, we're alive."
I remember one thing: we're on the bus, everyone's crying. A man up front is yelling at his wife. "I can't believe you'd be so stupid! Everyone else brought their things, and all we've got are these three-liter bottles!" The wife had decided that since they were taking the bus, she might as well bring some empty pickling bottles for her mother, who was on the way. They had these big bulging sacks next to their seats, we kept tripping over them the whole way to Kiev, and that's what they came to Kiev with.
Now I sing in the church choir. I read the Bible. I go to church — it's the only place they talk about eternal life. They comfort a person. You won't hear those words anywhere else, and you so want to hear them.
I often dream that I'm riding through sunny Pripyat with my son. It's a ghost town now. But we're riding through and looking at the roses, there were many roses in Pripyat, large bushes with roses. I was young. My son was little. I loved him. And in the dream I've forgotten all the fears, as if I were just a spectator the whole time.
Monologue About Taking Measurements
Marat Filippovich Kokhanov, former chief engineer of the Institute for Nuclear Energy of the Belarussian Academy of Sciences
Already by the end of May, about a month after the accident, we began receiving, for testing, products from the thirty-kilometer zone. The institute worked round the clock, like it was a military institute. At the time we were the only ones in Belarus with the specialists and the equipment for the job.
They brought us the insides of domestic and undomesticated animals. We checked the milk. After the first tests it became clear that what we were receiving couldn't properly be called meat — it was radioactive byproducts. Within the zone the herds were taken care of in shifts — the shepherds would come and go, the milkmaids were brought in for milking only. The milk factories carried out the government plan. We checked the milk. It wasn't milk, it was a radioactive byproduct.
For a long time after that we used dry milk powder and cans of condensed and concentrated milk from the Rogachev milk factory in our lectures as examples of a standard radiation source. And in the meantime, they were being sold in the stores. When people saw that the milk was from Rogachev and stopped buying it, there suddenly appeared cans of milk without labels. I don't think it was because they ran out of paper.
On my first trip to the Zone I measured a background radiation level of five to six times higher in the forest than on the roads or the fields. But high doses were everywhere. The tractors were running, the farmers were digging on their plots. In a few villages we measured the thyroid activity for adults and children. It was one hundred, sometimes two and three hundred times the allowable dosage. There was a woman in our group, a radiologist. She became hysterical when she saw that children were sitting in a sandbox and playing. We checked breast milk — it was radioactive. We went into the stores — as in a lot of village stores, they had the clothes and the food right next to each other: suits and dresses, and nearby salami and margarine. They're lying there in the open, they're not even covered with cellophane. We take the salami, we take an egg — we make a roentgen image — this isn't food, it's a radioactive byproduct.
We see a woman on a bench near her house, breastfeeding her child — her milk has cesium in it — she's the Chernobyl Madonna.
We asked our supervisors, What do we do? How should we be? They said: "Take your measurements. Watch television."
On television Gorbachev was calming people: "We've taken immediate measures." I believed it. I'd worked as an engineer for twenty years, I was well-acquainted with the laws of physics. I knew that everything living should leave that place, if only for a while. But we conscientiously took our measurements and watched the television. We were used to believing. I'm from the postwar generation, I grew up with this belief, this faith. Where did it come from? We'd won that terrible war. The whole world was grateful to us then.
So here's the answer to your question: why did we keep silent knowing what we knew? Why didn't we go out onto the square and yell the truth? We compiled our reports, we put together explanatory notes. But we kept quiet and carried out our orders without a murmur because of Party discipline. I was a Communist. I don't remember that any of our colleagues refused to go work in the Zone. Not because they were afraid of losing their Party membership, but because they had faith. They had faith that we lived well and fairly, that for us man was the highest thing, the measure of all things. The collapse of this faith in a lot of people eventually led to heart attacks and suicides. A bullet to the heart, as in the case of Professor [Valery] Legasov [head of the commissioned Chernobyl investigation who actually hanged himself in 1988, on the two-year anniversary of the explosion], because when you lose that faith, you are no longer a participant, you're an also-ran, you have no reason to exist. That's how I understood his suicide, as a sort of sign.
Monologue About a Damaged Child
Nadezhda Afanasyevna Burakova, resident of the village of Khoyniki
The other day my daughter said to me: "Mom, if I give birth to a damaged child, I'm still going to love him." Can you imagine that? She's in the tenth grade, and she already has such thoughts. Her friends, too, they all think about it. Some acquaintances of ours recently gave birth to a son, their first. They're a young, handsome pair. And their boy has a mouth that stretches to his ears and no ears. I don't visit them like I used to, but my daughter doesn't mind, she looks in on them all the time. She wants to go there, maybe just to see, or maybe to try it on.
We could have left, but my husband and I thought about it and decided not to. We're afraid to. Here, we're all Chernobylites. We're not afraid of one another, and if someone gives you an apple or a cucumber from their garden, you take it and eat it, you don't hide it shamefully in your pocket, your purse, and then throw it out. We all share the same memories. We have the same fate. Anywhere else, we're foreign, we're lepers. Everyone is used to the words, "Chernobylites," "Chernobyl children," "Chernobyl refugees." But you don't know anything about us. You're afraid of us. You probably wouldn't let us out of here if you had your way, you'd put up a police cordon, that would calm you down. [Stops.] Don't try to tell me it's not like that. I lived through it. In those first days... I took my daughter and ran off to Minsk, to my sister. My own sister didn't let us into her home, she had a little baby she was breast-feeding. Can you imagine that? We slept at the train station.
I had crazy thoughts. Where should we go? Maybe we should kill ourselves so as not to suffer? That was just in the first days. Everyone started imagining horrible diseases, unimaginable diseases. And I'm a doctor. I can only guess at what other people were thinking. Now I look at my kids: wherever they go, they'll feel like strangers. My daughter spent a summer at pioneer camp, the other kids were afraid to touch her. "She's a Chernobyl rabbit. She glows in the dark." They made her go into the yard at night so they could see if she was glowing.
People talk about the war, the war generation, they compare us to them. But those people were happy! They won the war! It gave them a very strong life-energy, as we say now, it gave them a really strong motivation to survive and keep going. They weren't afraid of anything, they wanted to live, learn, have kids. Whereas us? We're afraid of everything. We're afraid for our children, and for our grandchildren, who don't exist yet. They don't exist, and we're already afraid. People smile less, they sing less at holidays. The landscape changes, because instead of fields the forest rises up again, but the national character changes too. Everyone's depressed. It's a feeling of doom. Chernobyl is a metaphor, a symbol. And it's changed our everyday life, and our thinking.
Sometimes I think it'd be better if you didn't write about us. Then people wouldn't be so afraid. No one talks about cancer in the home of a person who's sick with it. And if someone is in jail with a life sentence, no one mentions that, either.
Excerpted from Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich. Copyright (c) 1997, 2006 by Svetlana Alexievich. Preface and translation copyright (c) 2005 by Keith Gessen. Published in 2006 by Picador, LLC. All rights reserved. Visitors to this website are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce this material in any manner or medium must be secured from Picador, LLC
Connecticut Supreme Court Won't Reconsider Abolishing Death Penalty
Connecticut Supreme Court won't reconsider death penalty decision
HARTFORD — The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday stood by its decision to eliminate the state's death penalty, but the fate of capital punishment in the Constitution State technically remains unsettled.
The state's highest court rejected a request by prosecutors to reconsider its landmark August ruling, but prosecutors have filed a motion in another case to make the arguments they would have made if the court had granted the reconsideration motion.
Lawyers who have argued before the court say it would be highly unusual and surprising for the court to reverse itself on such an important issue in a short period of time, but they say it is possible because the makeup of the court is different. Justice Flemming Norcott Jr., who was in the 4-3 majority to abolish the death penalty, reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 and was succeeded by Justice Richard Robinson.
In the August decision, the court ruled that a 2012 state law abolishing capital punishment for future crimes must be applied to the 11 men who still faced execution for killings committed before the law took effect. The decision came in the case of Eduardo Santiago, who was facing the possibility of lethal injection for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford.
The 2012 ban had been passed prospectively because many lawmakers refused to vote for a bill that would spare the death penalty for Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were convicted of killing a mother and her two daughters in a highly publicized 2007 home invasion in Cheshire.
The state's high court said the death penalty violated the state constitution, "no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency," and didn't serve any "legitimate penological purpose." The majority included Norcott and Justices Richard Palmer, Dennis Eveleigh and Andrew McDonald, the same four justices that rejected the prosecution's reconsideration request Thursday.
Chief Justice Chase Rogers and Justices Peter Zarella and Carmen Espinosa bashed the majority in the Santiago case, accusing the other four justices of tailoring their ruling based on personal beliefs. The three dissenting justices also were in favor of the prosecution's motion to reconsider.
Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane had said the majority justices unfairly considered concerns that had not been raised during Santiago's appeal and denied prosecutors the chance to address those concerns. He said prosecutors have filed briefs in the still-pending death penalty appeal of Russell Peeler Jr., raising the same issues they did in the motion for reconsideration in the Santiago case.
Peeler was sentenced to death for ordering the 1999 killings of 8-year-old Leroy "B.J." Brown Jr. and his mother, Karen Clarke, in their Bridgeport duplex. The boy was expected to be the key witness against Peeler in the fatal shooting of Clarke's boyfriend.
The court heard arguments last year in Peeler's appeal, which claims the state's death penalty amounted to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. Peeler's appeal appeared to be moot because of the Santiago ruling, but the new prosecution motions changed that.
Mark Rademacher, a public defender for both Peeler and Santiago, believes prosecutors have little chance of succeeding in the Peeler case.
"No court has ever reversed themselves in a matter of months on an issue of such importance," Rademacher said.
Proloy Das, an attorney with Murtha Cullina in Hartford who wasn't involved in the death penalty cases, said it is possible that the court could reinstate the death penalty for Peeler, but it would be surprising given how important the issue is and how recently the Santiago decision was made.
BY JOSH SIDOROWICZ
LANSING, Mich. — Reforms aimed at increasing police reporting and the burden of proof in civil court for individuals who have property seized by police are now on the fast track to final approval from the governor.
The package of reform bills introduced by the House in April were unanimously approved Wednesday by lawmakers in the Senate.
Lawmakers at both the state and federal level have been working to reform civil asset forfeiture laws to make it more difficult for police agencies to seize property from individuals believed to be involved in criminal activity, even if they have not been charged with a crime.
The reforms passed Wednesday will raise the evidentiary standards to “clear and convincing” rather than the current “preponderance of evidence.” The reform bills passed will also change disclosure rules, requiring local law enforcement to file detailed annual reports to the state when property is forfeited.
“We’re not looking to do away with the tool, just looking to provide protections,” Rep. Kevin Cotter, the Republican House Speaker from Mt. Pleasant, told FOX 17 in May.
The most recent asset forfeiture report available from Michigan State Police shows more than $24 million in cash and assets were seized from Michiganders in 2013. Since 2000, more than $250 million in forfeiture revenue has been collected.
Nationally, civil asset net forfeitures rose to $4.2 billion in 2012, which was up from $1.7 billion in the preceding year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, introduced reform legislation of his own in Congress earlier this year dubbed the FAIR Act, that would restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in civil forfeiture proceedings.
“It’s guilty until proven innocent in the (current) case, and that’s not the way we should work it,” Walberg told FOX 17 in April.
In May, Sgt. Amy Dehner, an 11 year veteran and legislative liaison with the Michigan State Police, testified before a House Judiciary Committee hearing saying the practice is critical in the process to stop drug trafficking.
“As long as that cash and those assets continue to flow, whether they can sell a car, a house, stolen TVs, if they can turn that into cash, they continue to allow that illegal business to flourish,” she said. “Our ability to intercede in that process is critical.
Involved in efforts both locally and nationally, the bi-partisan advocacy group Fix Forfeiture was formed in June to pursue reform efforts. Groups involved with Fix Forfeiture include the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for American Progress, and the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
Fix Forfeiture claimed to be the first organization in the country to bring together progressive and conservative partners in an effort to pass sweeping civil asset forfeiture reforms. Michigan is one of three states included in the group’s national push for reform.
“It is said that sunshine is the best disinfectant and today the Michigan Senate put a bright light on their state’s civil asset forfeiture procedure, which will go a long way in protecting innocent property owners,” Holly Harris, Fix Forfeiture’s executive director, said in a Wednesday release.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy applauded Wednesday’s vote, calling it “a good first step.”
“The state should not be able to take ownership of someone’s property unless they have been convicted of a crime through the criminal system,” Jarrett Skorup, a policy analyst and co-author of a recent report on forfeiture in Michigan, said in a news release.
“These bills are a great first step towards improving Michigan’s forfeiture regime, but to fully protect Michigan residents, the state should eliminate civil forfeiture altogether.”
Lawmakers in the House will have to provide a concurrence vote on the bills before they can be signed by Governor Snyder.
D.C.’s amazing paid family leave proposal: Generous and long overdue
By Petula Dvorak
After years of pretending people who give birth, adopt children or care for ailing family don’t need and deserve paid time off, something is finally changing in America.
Can you feel it?
First it was Netflix declaring that it’s giving a year of paid family leave to some of its employees. Then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the same deal.
And now, Washington — the city, not the federal behemoth the rest of the country curses about — is proposing the boldest move yet.
Sixteen weeks off. Paid. Whether you’re part time or full time, a minimum-wage worker or a lawyer, whether you’re the mom, the other mom, or one of the dads, you get the time off. If you’ve adopted a child — no matter how old — you get it. If you’re caring for a sick relative, you get it. If you need time to recover from a military deployment, you get it. As long as you live or work in D.C. (other than for the federal government), you get it.
Paid family leave is not a luxury or socialism; it’s the norm across the globe — except in the United States.
The last time it was really addressed was 22 years ago, when the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed to allow people to take time off and keep their jobs. But, unlike the way the rest of the world does it, you don’t get paid during that time.
Maybe this issue is like same-sex marriage was five years ago. It’s about to have its moment — at last.
“Sixteen weeks is wonderful, that would be terrific,” said Sonya Shaw, 51, with a look of wistfulness.
“It’s too late for me. I had to abandon my babies after 2 1/2 weeks at home because that’s all the time I could take,” she said, still pained by the memory of leaving her newborns at day care 20 years ago. “I couldn’t afford to stay home any longer.”
That’s the sad thing about our country. We love to say we love families, but we put little muscle behind that ethos when it comes to actually helping families.
The changes — just as they have with same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage — are coming at the state and city levels.
California, New Jersey and Rhode Island each have some kind of paid leave laws. But none of them offers more than six weeks off, and none offers full salaries.
In that sense, the District’s proposal is magnanimous.
But hold on, don’t get wigged out that we’re going all Karl Marx on you.
If the District passes this law and gives people 16 weeks of paid leave, it’s still not as generous as the policy in Serbia. Or Vietnam. Or the United Kingdom.
It will put the nation’s capital on par with Bangladesh.
The United States is the only country in the industrialized world — besides Papua New Guinea — that doesn’t require some kind of plan to keep its people afloat while they tend to major life events in their families.
If you live in Swaziland, Lesotho, Oman, Argentina and almost 200 other countries and you’re part of a family? You’re covered!
In our country, only the affluent can afford to take extended time off for birth, death or illness.
But the innovative bill introduced by seven council members — led by Elissa Silverman and David Grosso (both I-At Large) — may be the first step toward equality.
Employees would get paid from a government fund fed by employers. Every business that operates in the city would contribute between 0.6 and 1 percent of every worker’s salary.
As long as you live or work in the District and make less than $52,000, you will get 100 percent of your pay while you tend to your family. If you make more than a $1,000 a week, you will receive that and half of your additional pay.
The District can’t force the feds or employers outside the District to buy into the program. But there is a loophole that allows employees themselves to contribute to the fund with a small fee, then get the leave when they need it.
The legislation is a way to keep people afloat during some of the most vulnerable times of their adult lives.
“I’ve been talking to other women in the field, and we just don’t know how we’re going to do it,” said Kelly Rickard, 33, a university teacher and grad student in systems engineering and operations research whose son surprised her by coming two months early.
She was due in June and thought she would have the summer to stay home with her new baby. But her son’s premature arrival would have meant the end of a salary if she didn’t finish her teaching gig. So back to work she went, still groggy, two days after a C-section.
“Something like that paid leave would have been such a help,” she said.
Some companies, of course, already offer paid leave. I talked to campus security guards, nurses and administrators who got some time paid when they needed the leave. But the truth is, only 12 percent of American workers are lucky enough to get that kind of help. And mostly, those folks are already pretty well paid.
Lamont Clark, 44, would have loved to have four months at home to bond with his sons after they were born.
He works for the D.C. government, but he couldn’t afford to take time off when his first son came eight years ago. When they had son No. 2 four years later, Clark had stored up four weeks of leave so he could be there.
“It’s a family thing, it’s important to bond with your children,” Clark said. “I want to be that dad who is around, who’s helping and who is part of everything.”
State by state, city by city, company by company, change is finally coming. So we can finally leave Papua New Guinea in the dust on this one.
THE ART OF WAR...............................
I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM FILM
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
by Raymond Carver
His wife. Forty years he painted her.
Again and again. The nude in the last painting
the same young nude as the the first. His wife
As he remembered her young. As she was young.
His wife in her bath. At her dressing table
in front of the mirror. Undressed.
His wife with her hands under her breasts
looking out on the garden.
The sun bestowing warmth and color.
Every living thing in bloom there.
She young and tremulous and most desirable.
When she died, he painted a while longer.
A few landscapes. Then died.
And was put down next to her.
His young wife.
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DON'T YOU JUST LOVE POP ART?
THE ART OF PULP
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS.....................
AND NOW A WORD FROM EMERSON..........................
"Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great."
“Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.” ―Milan Kundera
“For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.” ―D.H. Lawrence
“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!” ―C. JoyBell C.
Love is a friendship set to music. Joseph Campbell
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. Thich Nhat Hanh
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. James Baldwin
Love is now, is always. All that is missing is the coup de grâce — which is called passion. Clarice Lispector
Photographs I’ve taken
Along the Chicago River
Along the Chicago River
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE THE ENTIRE WORLD? I DO
Barrio de Santa Cruz, Sevilla Spain (by Nacho Coca)
Basalt Columns, Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland
Capote’s Holly Golightly: An All-Bermudian Girl
Holly Golightly — the cheerfully non-conformist heroine of Truman Capote’s novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” — was witty, naive, achingly beautiful and part Bermudian, at least in spirit.
Oona O’Neill — sitting — with her mother, brother and half-sister on a Bermuda fishing expedition
A composite of Bermuda-born Oona O’Neill [pictured] and her girls-about-town friends Gloria Vanderbilt and Carol Marcus, the part of New York café society fixture Holly was played by Audrey Hepburn in the classic 1961 film adaptation.
Now Mr. Capote’s 1958 typed manuscript of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” — rife with the author’s handwritten edits — is being offered for sale by a New Hampshire auction house which expects it to fetch at least $250,000 later this month.
“It’s obviously quite a treasure, quite a find for us,” RR Auctions vice president Bobby Livingston said of the Capote manuscript. He said the source of the manuscript wants to remain anonymous.
Mr. Livingston said the auction was not timed to a new Broadway adaption of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” now playing at New York City’s Cort Theater, saying that was just “serendipitous.”
Author Capote — in creating his “American geisha” Holly Golightly character — is said to have found inspiration in his close friendships with heiress and future designer Gloria Vanderbilt and the vivacious, poised and stylish Oona O’Neill.
Carol Marcus — who went on to marry novelist William Saroyan twice and, later, the actor Walter Matthau — had fallen in with a teenage Truman Capote in the early 1940s and introduced the aspiring writer to a circle of friends which included Oona O’Neill ands Gloria Vanderbilt. The group prowled such celebrated nightclubs as El Morocco and the Stork Club.
The friendship of the three women and their association with Truman Capote is chronicled in Aram Saroyan’s “Trio” and also in Carol Marcus Matthau’s bestselling memoir, “Among the Porcupines.”
Oona O’Neill was born in Bermuda in 1925. Her mother, Agnes Boulton, wrote short stories; her father Eugene O’Neill, a chronic alcoholic, was the only American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Eugene O’Neill — whose plays include “Mourning Becomes Electra”, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “Moon For the Misbegotten” — had settled his family in Bermuda in 1925 to try and find peace of mind and to overcome his drinking problem.
But Oona O’Neill was barely a toddler when her father ran off with another woman. She and her older brother, Shane, were raised by their mother at the family home “Spithead” on Harbour Road in Warwick until they later moved to the US.
Her formal education ended at Brearley, an exclusive girls’ school in New York City. Accepted by Vassar College, she chose instead to seek an acting career, and following a fleeting appearance in summer stock, went to Hollywood and met her future husband, the British-born comic genius Charle Chaplin.
Although he He was 36 years her senior and thrice divorced, they married when she turned 18 in 1943. Immediately, her fater disowned and disinherited her. The marriage, however, endured; she had eight children, and remained with her husband for 34 years until his death in 1977.
The couple and some of their children famously spent time on the island in 1972 when Charles Chaplin — effectively exiled from the US for his political views in 1952 — made a triumphant return to America to accept the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’lifetime achievement Oscar.
The family broke the trip from Europe to California with an extended stop-over in Bermuda.
It was something of a bittersweet homecoming for Oona: “Spithead” had been sold in the early 1950s so her dying mother could afford to pay for medical care and her brother, Shane, raised and educated in Bermuda like her, had left the island to live in New York years earlier.
But nevertheless, she seemed to enjoy introducing her family to her childhood home: the Chaplins took in the major tourism sights, dined at the Henry VIII restaurant on South Shore and visited such out-of-the-way spots as the old Astor Estate on Ferry Reach where Oona had played as child.
Oona O’Neill remained a close friend of Truman Capote’s until his death in 1984. He visited the Chaplin family at their home in Switzerland on a number of occasions; she was reportedly delighted by the fact she was widely considered to be Holly Golightly — or at least some aspects of her — by another name following the extraordinary success of both the book and film versions of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
While “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was not Truman Capote’s debut novel — he had received critical acclaim for his book “Other Voices, Other Rooms” a decade earlier — the novella sealed his fame, fortune and future.
When “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was published, Norman Mailer said that Truman Capote was “the most perfect writer of my generation … I would not have changed two words in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.”
Oona O’Neill died in 1991 at the age of 66. She is buried alongside her husband at a cemetery in Vevey, Switzerland.