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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Purple Gang and Me

While living in Detroit when I was four and five I learned all about the Purple Gang from older and wiser boys of ten and twelve. The Purple Gang, as all lovers of crime are aware, was the dominate player in Detroit's Prohibition Era mob warfare. However, those older and wiser boys swore the gang consisted of a bunch of pansies.
Later, when I was ten or twelve myself, I realized that most wise talk from me came from things I overheard said by adults. That, I suspect, was true of those who disparaged the Purple Gang. Perhaps it came from parents perturbed by the price of beer or bathtub gin and blamed this on the Purples. There is one other possibility, the tendency of women who had been around the block more than a few times to favor clothing of that color.
Whatever the reason, the second-favorite pastime of boys in the neighborhood was playing cops and robbers. Only wandering down to Navin Field a few blocks away when the Detroit Tigers were playing at home topped that activity. At the end of the seventh inning, usually about 4 p.m., the gatekeepers quit manning the gates and that meant we could get in free to see the Tigers whip some contemptible bunch of losers from St. Louis or Philadelphia.
Anyway, I was considered too little to be allowed to play in those cops and robbers games except on days when there was a shortage of boys. Girls, being inferior in every possible way, were never allowed to play. The younger, weaker and dumber boys were forced to be the Purple Gang. Those who were older and wiser were the fearless cops who would gun down the Purples one by one by pointing an index finger and crying, "Bang, bang, you're dead!"
This sort of thing led me to believe that if the entire membership of the Purple Gang were to show up some day all I would have to do is yell, "Boo!" and they'd flee for their lives.
I'm sure I had learned this was not true long years before reading Whiskey River by Loren D. Estleman, a wonderful fictionalized account of Detroit during the years when alcoholic beverages were outlawed and at times a man might have to walk an entire block before finding a speakeasy or blind tiger. Estleman is impeccable in conducting research so Whiskey River is an excellent source of information. The name comes from the practice of mobsters bringing whiskey into the country from across the river in Canada or even driving it in caravans across the ice when the lake was frozen over. A favorite trick of the Purple Gang, whose members were smarter than I realized at the age of five, was to hijack shipments of liquor after someone else went to the trouble of crossing the river or the ice.
I did notice one thing back in 1929 and 1930: The boys who scoffed at the Purple Gang as a bunch of sissies on a sunny afternoon were not quite so mouthy after darkness fell.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Visit My Website

Create a Link

Blog Directory

<< Home