Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

My Photo
Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Powered By Blogger TM

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Al Nussbaum - Bank Robber, Mystery Writer

Writing about bank robbers quite naturally brought Al Nussbaum to mind. Al was one of the best, good enough to make the FBI list of 10 Most Wanted. Then he switched careers and began writing mysteries, most of them short stories and some about bank robbers. When asked one day at a Private Eye Writers of America function in Milwaukee if he was rehabilitated he replied, "You can't rehabilitate someone who was never habilitated to begin with." Next he was asked if he enjoyed life as a writer. He said it was OK, then added, "What I'd really love to be doing is robbing banks." Al was an honest man although some bankers might not see it that way.
Al worked with a man named Bobby Wilcoxson. He wasn't the smartest guy around but he was good with a gun (or bad if you prefer) so the brainwork was handled by Al. One of their techniques was to go into a town and find a likely looking bank, then rent a vacant storefront not too far away. They'd soap the windows so people couldn't see inside, then Al would make the rounds of the neighborhood telling people what kind of a business they would soon be opening. Then they'd rob the bank, stash the getaway car, hide out in the vacant store and listen to the sirens as cop cars raced back and forth outside. This worked fine except on the day when they opened the briefcase containing the loot and Bobby's shotgun, which he had left ready to fire. It did, and people came running from all directions. Al went outside and told them it was nothing to worry about, they had been using a blowtorch too close to a gas heater.
But things turned sour the day Bobby killed a bank guard. They split up and went into hiding. Al rented a room in Philadelphia. Needing a cover story to explain why he rarely left the room, Al told the landlady he was a writer. He had come prepared with a typewriter, a small tape recorder and a stack of books to read. He even bought a sports coat with leather patches on the elbows because he thought that's what a writer would wear. And a pipe, because he believed a writer would smoke one. He banged the keys on the typewriter and recorded the sound, put the recorder in repeat mode and played it all day so the landlady would think he was hard at work while he sat reading one of the books.
It worked out fine, but then his father died in Buffalo, Al's hometown. He risked going to the funeral and even the not-too-bright people at the FBI figured he might show up and were there to arrest him. While serving a long sentence in a federal pen he read a book about bank robbers by Dan J. Marlowe. Al was impressed with its accuracy and wrote to Marlowe via the publisher. Marlowe replied and a lengthy correspondence followed. Marlowe got Al to start writing himself and would then critique his work. Eventually Marlowe enlisted the help of another mystery writer, Joe Gores, and between them they got Al parolled on condition he live with Marlowe.
Then a major hitch occurred - Marlowe suffered a stroke that wiped out his memory. He couldn't even recognize the stories he had written. With no hope of his memory ever returning, Al set out to help him build a new one. It took time but the day came when Marlowe was even able to begin writing again. After that they went their separate ways but remained friends until the day Marlowe died. Al died himself a few years ago, but not too many men ever lived a more varied and interesting life. Sad to say, though, he never got to rob another bank. At least I don't think he did.

Posted by Picasa Link:

Links to this post:

Visit My Website

Create a Link

Blog Directory

<< Home