Thursday, November 15, 2012


11/15/1933 - Tipped off by underworld associate Art McGinnis that John Dillinger has a doctor's appointment to treat a skin condition (Barber's itch, an inflammation of the hair follicles of the skin), Chicago Police Lt. John Howe, the head of the Indiana State Police, Captain Matt Leach, and American Surety Company private investigator Forrest Huntington meet at the Morrison Hotel in Chicago to come up with a plan to take down the escaped outlaw.


Kill or capture, the decision is made to arrest Dillinger by boxing in his car when he leaves his appointment, but if he resists in the least, gunning the bandit down immediately (unbeknownst to Howe and Huntington, Leach will tell his men to kill Dillinger as soon as they have the chance).  Plans made, that evening, the coldest November 15th in the history of the city, a group of Indiana police and three squads of Chicago police, sixteen men in all, take up positions in four cars around the office of Dr. Charles Eye.  Right on time for his appointment, at 7:30 in the evening Dillinger, accompanied by his girlfriend Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, arrives in his Essex Terraplane, parks, and leaving Frechette in the car, enters the building where the dermatologist has his office.  Receiving a simple treatment of a medical lotion massaged into his itching scalp, after a short time Dillinger returns to his vehicle and the cold Chicago night quickly heats up!


Always aware, as Dillinger saunters to his car as if he hasn't a care in the world he notices three cars parked up the street pointing in the wrong direction ... the tip-off that a trap is about to be sprung on him.  He responds instantly by throwing the car into reverse and backs into bustling Irving Boulevard, just missing several vehicles of oncoming traffic.  Surprised at the wrong way move, only one of the cop cars reacts quickly enough to chase after the outlaw.

                                   John Dillinger

Manic minutes through the streets of Chicago, at breakneck speeds the police car, a Ford V-8 driven by Chicago Sergeant John Artery, weaves in and out of traffic chasing the outlaw, finally drawing near enough that Indiana Sergeant Art Keller is able to blast away at Dillinger with both a 12-gauge shotgun and his .38 revolver, one bullet hitting the door post only inches from the bandit's head while Frechette crouches down in her seat.  In turn, Artery's car has a window shot out ... by a beat cop who thinks a gangster hit is going down when the cars rocket past.  Crazy driving, Dillinger manages to thread his way between the narrowing space of two approaching trolley cars, but finally appears trapped when he turns down a dead end street.  Almost ... once again the outlaw's reaction time is superior to those of the police and turning down an alley and then immediately reversing and then putting his foot to the floor, he is able to lose his pursuers when the police car overshoots the alley and takes too long to turn around.  Gone ... and as Keller throws down his shotgun in disgust he is quoted as saying, "That bird sure can drive!" 

                  The abandoned Terraplane the next day

The next day the Dillinger Terraplane will be found on the north side of town with twenty-two bullet holes in it and the chase will be the headline story of all the Chicago newspapers.  Never a dull moment with the outlaw and his gang on the loose, only a few days later in the month the papers will have a new Dillinger story to run though, when on November 20th he shows up in Racine, Wisconsin and makes a large cash withdrawal from the town's American Bank and Trust Company.


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