Tuesday, June 10, 2014


6/10/1933 - After a month of attending church, listening to lectures from his father, looking into local job openings, and generally acting as if he wants to turn his life around, recent prison parolee (released after serving over eight years for an attempted robbery of a grocery store owner), John Dillinger, shows his true colors by engaging in a full day and night of thievery.

                                       John Dillinger mug shot.jpg
                                               John Herbert Dillinger

The twenty-nine-year-old criminal begins his day in New Carlisle, Ohio, a small town north of Dayton where the New Carlisle National Bank resides.  Bearing a list of easy scores that his convict friends at the Michigan City Penitentiary have put together (along with the names of crooks he can use), the financial institution is the first stop in a summer of Midwest robberies meant to provide enough funds to orchestrate a breakout from the Indiana State prison.  The first stop, and also the first bank the budding public enemy will rob in his career ... there will be eleven others before he is stopped in 1934.

                                    New Carlisle

Accompanied by two teenage hoodlums, William Shaw and Paul "Lefty" Parker, Dillinger and his two confederates don white handkerchiefs and enter the bank at 8:00 in the morning, just after the head bookkeeper, Horace Grisso, unlocks the front door of the establishment for business.  The first three customers of the day are also the last customers of the day.  With pistols as persuaders, Grisso is convinced to open the bank's vault, and while Dillinger polices the front door (two employees and a customer will be corralled entering the building and tied up in baling wire), Shaw and Parker fill a sack with bags of cash that will give the trio a payday of $10,600.  In and quickly out, in less than ten minutes the bandits are back in their car and on a return route of deserted dirt farm roads to their base of operations in Indianapolis.

                              Haag's Drugstore
                                                   Haag's Drugstore

A nice haul, but Dillinger's cut is not nearly enough to pay all the expenses a prison break will require ... bribes, weapons, clothes, cars, hideouts, food, and loose women ... so he talks his buddies into spending the evening taking down some local scores.  First up is Haag's Drugstore and it's two cash registers.  Pistols at the ready, Dillinger takes the responsibility of emptying the register at the soda fountain, while Shaw boosts the main register.  

And the comedy begins!  

Fearing that the employees staring at him will be able to identify him to the authorities, Dillinger orders his hostages to look away from him, but when they turn their heads in the opposite direction, Shaw comes into view and tells them the same thing, then it is Dillinger's turn again, back to Shaw, back to Dillinger and the heads in the store pivot back and forth as if a tennis game is taking place.  Pockets stuffed with cash, when the men arrive back on the street, they are horrified to discover that Parker, who has never driven a getaway car before, has parallel-park their escape vehicle tightly between two parked cars.  Anger steam almost coming out of his ears, Dillinger seethes as Parker is required to play bumper cars to bang his way away from the curb, but isn't angry enough to call off the second robbery the men have planned for the evening.

                                                       A Year Later!

Recommended by Shaw, hitting the City Foods supermarket of Indianapolis is a mistake.  

Failing to tell his companions that he has robbed the same location only days before, Shaw and Dillinger find the business without its usual cash funds ... upset about the recent robbery, the store has hired a collection agency to carry off the market's excess cash, an operation that has taken place only minutes before.  Unhappy at being thwarted, Dillinger returns to the getaway car where Parker has learned the criminally correct way to park ... out in the street, pointed in the right direction for an exit, and with its motor left running.  Meanwhile, Shaw stays inside the market and spends a few moments stealing boxes of cigarettes from a display case.  

And then Parker displays that along with having parking issues, he is in dire need of a few driving lessons too!

When Dillinger slips into the front seat, Parker guns the vehicle and with tires screaming, drives off ... without Shaw.  As Dillinger yells for him to stop, a panicked Parker slams on the brakes, throws the car into reverse, and backs down the street to where a running Shaw meets them.  Safely reunited before any citizens can react, the men drive off, with the still rattled Parker bringing more unwanted attention their way by running through several stop signs.

Lessons learned, the next morning Dillinger will begin looking for new partners of a more professional disposition, and with different associates in tow, in July, will next lighten the cash reserves of the Commercial Bank of Daleville, Indiana, by $6,500.

                                                     Public Enemy #1

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