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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Last Supper

Let us round out the week in the Motor City where on this date back in 1930 one Marcello Castiglioni drew his final breath. Marcello was a DYI kind of guy. Why buy bootleg beer when you can make it yourself. Marcello spread the word and soon he was setting up breweries for others and instructing them on how to produce their own suds much of which, no doubt, went up for sale.

One can see how this would be problematic for fellows like the Purple gang or Mafia types who weren't keen on competition. Word got back to Marcello that he was earmarked for a slab. He moved into his cousin's house to hide out. It was during a family supper that Marcello's time ran out. Apparently he was expecting it because he had a pistol under his napkin when the family sat down to break bread.

During the meal two guys with sawed off shotguns barged into the house (probably didn't want to interrupt their dinner by knocking or ringing the bell). Marcello grabbed his pistol and charged the intruders, firing and missing. The two dinner crashers fired off a total of four rounds and didn't miss.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Little Jewish Navy loses three of its top torpedos

And so we find ourselves back in Detroit on this date in the year nineteen hundred and thirty one. What was on the docket for that day? Well the Purple gang had a rendezvous set up with the upper echelon of "the Little Jewish Navy" a gang of bootleggers who traversed the Detroit River and a few of the great lakes transporting spirits of an intoxicating nature in from Canada.

Turns out the Purples were not happy with the Navy fellows and meant to terminate their partnership in a most permanent way. Joe Lebowitz, Hymie Paul and Isadore Sutker,  the LJN leadership showed up at the Collingwood apartments with Sol Levine, a mutual friend of both gangs, who was in on the plan. So the quartet arrived to find a couple of Purples, Harry Keywell and Irving Milberg, waiting there and after a few minutes of light chit chat, the Purples drew guns and sunk the Little Jewish Navy.

As the gun men ran out of the building they dropped their pistols into an open can of green paint (why not purple, to obvious?) to obliterate any finger prints. They hopped into a waiting car driven by gang leader and architect of what would become known as the "Collingwood Massacre", Ray Berstein. And off they went.

After awhile Sol Levine got to thinking that the Purples might want to tuck him away for insurance so went to the cops. As a result of his squealing Bernstein, Keywell and Milberg went from selling booze to making license plates.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Had his fine wife, had his ol' fiddle, sun came up and his body got riddled.

William Paske should have stayed behind the plow on his Wisconsin spread but the thirty-year old struggling farmer decided that bootlegging was the short cut to big money. In late spring/ early summer of 1932 he got a job delivering hooch for a concern that involved underworld types from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

Not long into his job he was hijacked and the load lost. Tough luck for a new timer. By the end of the summer William decided that maybe stealing booze paid more than delivering it (or maybe was he not really hijacked that time, hmmm). So on Sunday night, September 11, he along with a guy named Paul Zimmerman and another confederate stole 600 gallons of alcohol from a warehouse owned by the concern.

Members from the concern learned rather quickly that Paske was behind the theft. Early the next morning Paske received a phone call saying the "Big Shots" wanted to see him in Baraboo post haste. Paske drove over to Zimmerman's house to pick him up. Zimmerman told him he needed a few minutes to get dressed. While dressing, Zimmerman saw a car pull up an order Paske to leave right away for the meeting with the big shots.

Paske pulled out of the driveway and headed out followed by the other car. Zimmerman watched as he stopped at a nearby intersection where two other cars came from the opposite direction and stopped Paske. As Paske idled, the auto that was following him pulled up along side the other two cars. A guy got out and jumped on Paske's running board and fired four fatal shots into the ex farmer.

Zimmerman, who had just dressed, needed to change his pants. He and the other guy involved in the robbery were taken in as witnesses and had no problem singing. As a result of the duet concern big shots, Harry Feinberg, Horace Wrieglow and Richard Green were arrested. Green was exonerated in the spring of the following year. Last we hear of Harry and Horace they went to trial in spring of 1934. Nobody seemed to record the outcome. Voting at the DGIS Institute is 27-11 that they walked.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hey Batto, Batto, Batto swing.

On this date back in 1929 a group of kids were in the street playing baseball. They had a pretty clear field except for a green sedan that had been parked on the block all that day. Sure enough one of the lads got a hit and the ball bounced into an open window of the car. A boy ran over to retrieve the ball, and climbing on the running board, he opened the door and found himself looking into the eyes of a dead man. The lad let out scream and ran into a nearby tenement for help. The deadman was James Batto who had a record dating back over thirty years.

Batto, along with his partner Mortimer "Monkey" Shubert had been involved with some other gangsters, including Eugene Moran, earlier that summer. On the previous August 10, Batto, Shubert and a few others picked up Moran at his New Jersey bungalow for some job. A few hours later Moran's body was found inside a burning Packard.

Was the murder party worried about Batto so they took him out? Did friends of Moran exact revenge? Who knows. Batto's brother told police that his dead sibling had recently had a falling out with Monkey Shubert. Monkey was brought in but shrugged his shoulders and went on his way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pulpy goodness

"Hey pal, I've been dead for two thousand years and could really go for a smoke. Got a Camel on ya?"
"Sure but you should really smoke Old Gold."
"Not a sar-cough-agus in a car load."

No need to thank me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Anniversary

So this car pulls up outside a Chicago hospital back on this date in 1933 and slows down just enough to be polite. The back door swings open and Nicholas "the Little Man" Muscato comes tumbling out. The occupants of the car would have been better off dumping the Little Man at the county morgue however  because by this time all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Muscato back together again.

So the Little Man, said to have been the leader of Chicago's notorious 42 gang, is no more, but why? Well, interestingly enough the date, September 9, held some significance in the gang. It all started back in the summer of 1930....(Cue harp music and transition from Chicago hospital exterior to 42 gang club)

In June of '30 seventeen year old Frank Petito, possible 42 member or maybe just a neighborhood hijacker shows up one day in a brand spanking new sparkly roadster that cost him $3,500. Where'd he get the dough? Simple, he helped himself to a load of booze from some clown named Red Bolton. Easy as pie. Well, turns out Red was paying the 42 gang to protect his stuff. You can see what kind of bind this but Muscato in. There was only one thing to do. So Muscato, along with one of his minions, Peter "the Ape" Nicastro took Frank for a ride. Frank's bullet riddled body was found on June 30. 

Now over the course of the summer the Ape let's everyone know that he was the one that put all those bullets into Petito and not the Little Man who is supposed to be so tough. Gangsters aren't known for their healthy egos and this type of chatter did not sit will with Muscato. After all, if he is going to be a big shot he must keep his reputation intact. So what to do? The Little Man invites the Ape to go for a drive. The ride concludes with the Ape being tossed from the car with four bullets in his head.

A few minutes after the Ape hit the pavement some coppers come by and look him over. By gum the Ape breaths yet!!! The Ape is hurried to a hospital where he is given an "adrenalin" shot which brings him to and he uses his final minutes to tell the police how he came to end up in a road with four extra holes in his head. The Little Man is subsequently picked up and the cops perform the Ape's aria for him. Muscato's reply, "I'll let a lawyer do my talking." and he did, and so he walked.

The date of the Ape's demise? You guessed it September 9. Exactly three years before the Little Man was pitched from the back of a car with the extra weight added to his head. The Little Man's murder? T'was vengeance and nothing more cried the press.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Trouble with Tribbles

On this date back in 1933 James "Trouble" Tribble and Thomas Touhy barged into the headquarters of the Chicago Teamsters Union. (Do I really need to continue?) Inside the office was union head Fred Sass, who had been kidnapped only a few weeks ago and held for ransom.

Some back story: The aforementioned Thomas Touhy was the brother of infamous gang leader Roger Touhy who was currently on trial for another kidnapping. Word on the street was that Sass was kidnapped by the Touhy gang to raise much needed funds for the trial. Needing more funds they informed the union head that if he didn't cough up another pile of dough he would be snatched again.

Now, where were we, oh yeah, Tribble and Touhy are in the HQ and apparently not getting their way because bullets start flying, around forty of them actually. Ten percent of which end up in Tribble. Touhy helps his comrade back to a waiting car which then went to a doctors office. A cop showed up just as Touhy and the driver were setting Tribble down at the doctors door. The officer told them to halt, they did the exact opposite and made a run for it. The cop fired some shots at them, because back then you could do stuff like that when you were a cop. But the men beat a successful retreat.

Tribble? Oh, he didn't make it.