Lately, my spouse and I have been on a Bryan Burrough reading kick. Burrough is a local author who was in high school with my kids. He has become a well know author. His books, Barbarians at the Gate, Public Enemies and The Big Rich have all been best sellers. I am reading Public Enemies, which is about the crime wave in the early 1930s and the origin of the FBI.
The characters in Public Enemies are John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde and the Ma Barker Gang. A movie is being made from the book and will be released in June with Johnny Deep playing John Dillinger. It should be a hit. These guys were dangerous and it’s a little scary reading about them. Most of them were absolutely psychotic and would just as soon shoot you as look at you. Baby Face Nelson and Clyde Barrow were probably the most crazy of the bunch. All of them were spawned by the Great Depression. John Dillinger made his fame by robbing banks and for a while was viewed as a hero by the public because he was robbing from those who had caused the depression. He was viewed as a Robin Hood, although he was never know to give his loot to the poor.
All these gangs were involved in criminal activities such as robbing banks and kidnapping. These were the most lucrative ventures. Clyde Barrow mainly robbed service stations and small businesses although he did hit a few banks and killed about a dozen people in the process. I was in school with a cousin of Clyde Barrow and I thought it was great to just know someone that famous and cool.
It’s a little scary reading about these gangs. In the early thirties the law enforcement people were real bunglers and the robbers always got away. The FBI was formed and finally gained enough expertise and authority to track the gangsters down and end the crime wave by 1934. Much of law enforcement was corrupt and the FBI was almost as bad as the gangsters and was run by a vindictive homosexual.
In many ways it wouldn’t be bad to have a John Dillinger around today to take care of some of the greedy bunch on Wall Street as well as some of the investment bankers. Kidnapping some of the greedy bunch may not work today because nobody would be willing to pay a ransom. A Dillinger just needs to rob them and then blow them away with his submachine gun. Baby Face Nelson was the one who loved to kill the most and he would have taken great pleasure in disposing of Madoff and his like.
It was safer sitting on the porch in the days of these great gangsters than it is today. The gangsters weren’t interested in someone like me. I’m not worth anything for a ransom and don’t have any ready cash for the taking. Today, we are threatened by any dope crazed thug just wanting enough to get another fix. Today, even old women with a purse aren’t safe on the parking lot of a mall or a grocery store. Baby Face Nelson or John Dillinger would have gunned down a thug if he had been caught mugging an old lady or an innocent person like me. Where are Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger when we need them today? They are wanted today as much as in 1934.