Because of my recent fascination with Depression-Era Crime, I have gained much knowledge on Depression-Era Crime. Here’s a list of 10 of the things I’ve learned, because I know, deep down, you care a lot.
1. The local library has no books on Depression-Era Crime. Actually, that’s not quite true. The library has one terrible book on the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping, which happened during the Depression Era. I had to special-order everything else.
2. Pretty Boy Floyd was definitely involved in the Kansas City Massacre.
3. Pretty Boy Floyd was definitely NOT involved in the Kansas City Massacre.
4. J. Edgar Hoover never actually arrested anyone until Alvin Karpis. And accounts vary, but either Hoover leaped upon Karpis with great aplomb, dropping snarky witticisms all the while, or he hid in a corner till Karpis was safely in custody and stuttered out a “You’re under arrest.” (Quick! Guess which version is Hoover’s account and guess which one is Karpis’s.) All accounts agree, however, that the FBI went in expecting Karpis to resist a lot harder, so nobody had any handcuffs because they expected him to be shot to death. His hands were eventually tied behind his back with an agent’s necktie.
5. Speaking of Alvin Karpis, according to his autobiography, he absolutely never killed anybody. Whenever anybody was murdered by the Barker-Karpis gang, it was always the other guys that did it.
6. Harry “Handsome Harry” “Pete” Pierpont was the only member of the Dillinger gang to die by the electric chair. Everybody else got shot to death. Pierpont almost got shot to death, but they made sure to save him so they could electrocute him later.
7. Anna Sage, the “Woman in Red,” who betrayed John Dillinger, leading to his death, was actually wearing orange. She’s a good example of why you shouldn’t betray your comrades to the feds, because they shot Dillinger to death while he was standing right next to her, which sounds like a pretty quick way to get hit by “friendly fire.”
8. The moniker “G-Men,” often attributed to “Machine Gun” Kelly, who supposedly uttered, upon his arrest, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, was most likely created by Hoover and publicists, to make the FBI sound cooler. Hoover was big on appearances.
9. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were little fish in a small pond. All the other Depression-Era Criminals hated them. That is, if they’d ever heard of them. They didn’t really become famous until the ’70s, when that one movie came out.
10. Lester Gillis, aka “Baby Face” Nelson, really hated his nickname. But with a nickname like Baby Face, that’s kind of a given.