Sam I Am Blog

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Shock Short Search Still Seeks Stories

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AMERICA’S IGNORED GANGSTER


SHOCK SHORT


SEARCH STILL


SEEKS


STORIES


by Junior Warren

John Herbert "Jack Rabbit" Dillinger - FBI website photo

John Herbert “Jack Rabbit” Dillinger and “The Terror Gang” blazed their way on to the nation’s front pages blasting away with Tommy guns, sawed-off shotguns and an arsenal of pistols. Wearing bullet proof vests on occasion, they squeezed the triggers of the Chicago Typewriters to spew hot lead, and make a mad dash into an awaiting V-8 sedan. When the thick curtain of gunpowder smoke vanished, stunned wounded, confused local sheriffs, deputies and police officers were left with the echoes of squealing tires in the distance and spent shells cooling on the pavement.

Rowdy Reporters,  Ecstatic Editors,

Persistent Publishers

Excited crime reporters “beat feet” back to their offices. Tipping back the press card fedora, the cigarette smokes in the ash tray, the reporter’s fingers dance on the keys of the Olivetti as characters explode on to the wiggling sheets of bond paper and the story blasts to life.

Dillinger Wanted Poster - FBI website photo

A quick glance up at the newsroom clock, the reporter pounds out the story to beat the deadline for the next Dillinger story. Across the nation, copy boys rush the editor approved copy down to the press rooms. The waxed sticks of copy go on to the galley sheets with the black and white photographs. The metallic groan of the giant presses waking up blends into the rapid fire melody of the broadsheets shooting across the thundering presses and down on to the conveyor belts.

Ah, the smell of newsprint in the morning and ink in the evenings. Tilt the hat and head for home; it’s all up to the guys in the press room now to get the hot copy on the streets.

Hot off the presses ! Bundled copies of the morning and evening editions of the nation’s newspapers slam on to the pavement. In moments, newsstands have the hottest editions and newsboys are hawking the bank bashing bravado of the debonair, dashing, daring Dillinger desperadoes. The Terror Gang’s 13-month crime spree is a shotgun blast across the Midwest.

Doin’ da’ Dillinger Dance !”

President Roosevelt makes his daily call to J. Edgar Hoover at

J. Edgar Hoover - The Director - FBI website photo

the United States Bureau Of Investigation to find out why Hoover hasn’t got Dillinger yet. Hoover, then, picks up the phone and calls the Chicago Office’s Special Agent In Charge Melvin Purvis, head of the “Dillinger Squad,” and asks Purvis, why he hasn’t gotten Dillinger yet ?

Dillinger becomes “The American Godfather of The Great Depression Gangster,” enthroned by anxious editors and excited reporters of the nation’s newspapers. The American Public of The Great Depression were not fond of banks. The G-Men, had a reputation as “College Boys,” who couldn’t shoot straight.

The FBN became the DEA

Gangsters worried about the Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents, but the BOI agents were not originally considered a serious threat. The U.S. Department of Justice’s BOI had a reputation of being corrupt.
The young J. Edgar Hoover worked within the Justice Department’s BOI to try and reform, reorganize and promote his struggling band of government lawmen.

Dillinger and the other gangsters were a persistent thorn in the side of the BOI. J. Edgar Hoover’s

The United States Department of Justice served as the parental agency of the BOI, which were essentially investigators who could investigate, but arrest no one in the early days of the 1930s.

agents had law degrees, but most had never fired a gun, while Dillinger and the other bank robbers of the era were knocking over banks like a kid’s dominoes.

George "Machine Gun" Kelly - FBI website photo

The brouhaha of federal legislation favored the gangsters: (1) Bank Robbery was not a federal crime

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd - FBI website photo

(2) As early as 1917, apparently the BOI agents had been issued a service revolver, but Congress had stressed, the firearm was for “defensive purposes.

Lester Joseph Gillis a.k.a "Baby Face Nelson" FBI website photos

(3) The BOI agents weren’t originally authorized the “arrest power,” which meant U.S. Marshalls, local sheriffs, deputies, town marshals, and city policemen had to be on hand to “arrest” a gangster.

Dillinger, an Indiana farm boy, quickly became the hero of poor and out of work Americans who could identify with the humble beginnings of the Depression Era Robin Hood on his Horatio Alger Jr.’s“Rags To Riches” rise to celebrity notoriety before their eyes.

Clyde Champion Barrow of "Bonnie and Clyde." FBI website photo

Dillinger’s legendary charismatic nature and willingness to talk to the reporters made him the flamboyant “Teflon Don” of his era. Dillinger and The Terror Gang were on a roll.

Alvin “Old Creepy” Karpis and the Barker Gang got their fair share of ink on the nation’s broadsheets of the day. Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and The Purple Gang were among the gangsters grabbing headlines. They earned several column inches of newspaper copy almost daily to detail bank robberies, shoot outs, jail breaks and daring get aways.

Bonnie Parker of "Bonnie and Clyde" - FBI website photo

Shock Short’s Shadow

Meanwhile, Shock Short, a Stone County, Missouri man and his gang were also successfully credited with robbing banks in the Midwest, but they always seemed to be, in the shadows,at the edge of the limelight.

I heard about the adventures of Shock Short, growing up a boy in Stone County, Missouri. The information was always sketchy at best.

First, when I heard the stories it was the 1960s and Shock had been robbing banks in the 1930s. Second, Shock is the brother of the late U.S. 7th Congressional District Congressman Dewey Short, of Galena. Third, Shock’s family – the Shorts of Galena – held a local respected reputation, which ranked the family at a position equivalent to that of the Political Dynasty of the John D. Rockefeller Family, which meant while everyone talked about Dewey and his successes in the nation’s capitol; “Shock Short Stories” were quietly told by parents, grandparents and Stone County Old Timers.

Grandma DeLong - DeLong Family Photo

Grandma Martha DeLong’s Shock Short Stories always stayed locked away in the bank vault of my mind along with the legendary tales of his hidden loot. Recently, working on some Stone County stories, I recalled the fingerprint of Shock Short Grandma DeLong had left in my mind. I decided to see if I could find some evidence to flesh out grandma’s stories. I was surprised when my search of the FBI website didn’t list Shock Short or any member of his gang in the FBI history of gangsters of the 1930s.

I’ve kept digging through the dark corners of history trying to find dusty files hidden in the warehouses and morgues of cyberspace. A clue here and a lead there has gotten me searching the rundown flop houses, skid rows and strolling the back alleys of the Internet. I adjust my fedora, turn up my trench coat collar and work the street beat trying to find information to knock out a story on : “Shock Short America’s Ignored Gangster.”

I’ve gotten some notes and scraps of data, but, I’d like to get some more in depth information. Somewhere standing in an unlit doorway of the Internet is a grandfather, grandmother or grandchild with a Shock Short Story to tell. I’m ready to listen and pass it on, please, email me at SamuelWarren55@gmail.com.

To date, I’ve poked around the Internet and it looks like Shock’s gang at one time or another involved: Daniel T. “Dapper Dan” Heady, Dewey Gilmore, Davey Gilmore, Russell Cooper, Virgil “Red” Melton, Fred Reese, Jackson “Jack” Miller, and Walter Holland who used the alias names of “Leo O’Malley,” and“Irish O’Malley.”

The Dillinger Gang had several wives and girlfriends, who live on at The Official Website of Don’t Call Us Molls:Women Of The John Dillinger Gang http://dillingerswomen.com/index.html To date: “Pretty Betty,” the wife of Daniel Heady, is the only woman that I have found associated with Shock Short’s Gang.

The Lost Loot of Shock Short: Money or Myth ? Staged Photo by Christy Warren

The irony is while Shock Short’s tales has spawned numerous stories, myths, and urban legends about hidden loot in Stone County, Missouri; the man is still “hiding out” and remains an overlooked mystery in the American’ Archives Of Gangster History.

Sam

SOURCES

FBI -Federal Bureau of Investigation http://www.fbi.gov/

Home – Dusty Roads Of An FBI Era http://historicalgmen.squarespace.com/

Midwest Gangsters of the Depression Era – Mister 86’s Report http://mister86.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/midwest-gangsters-of-the-depression-era/

Hollywood goodfella http://af11.wordpress.com/

Crime Magazine http://www.crimemagazine.com/history-kansas-city-family

Prohibition and Depression Era Gangsters and Outlaws http://www.legendsofamerica.com/20th-gangsters.html

Tru TV Crime Library http://www.crimemagazine.com/history-kansas-city-family

Between the Wars (1920s & 1930s) http://www.chenowith.k12.or.us/tech/subject/social/depression.html

Wikipedia John Dillinger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dillinger

Official Website of John Dillinger – Public Enemies http://johndillinger.com/

Stone County Missouri US Gen Web http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mostone/stone.htm

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7 Responses

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  1. Dan Heady’s mom Ella was my grandpa Otto Turner’s first cousin, he is buried with his ma in the Turner family cemetery on the hill up above Turners station Missouri, east of Springfield on Highway D. My dad and the older ones of his 10 siblings remembered being around Dan when they were kids and also Betty. We encountered a fellow a number of years ago who was writing a book about him, I need to track him down again. We also heard that there was a radio play broadcast about him and possibly the Short gang in the 50s but have never tracked that down either.

    Mary Turner

    October 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    • Mary,

      Thank you for your comment. I live in the Philippines now. However, I believe “The Shock Short Story” is one of those American stories that needs to be told in history and on the Big Screen.

      “Jesse James” and “John Dillinger” are American stories that have been told time and again. Hollywood still manages to find a way to add a new angle or do a remake to keep these stories current.

      Yet, the Irish O’Malley Gang, Shock Short, and “Pretty Betty: always get overlooked in the Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd Era.

      You have two brothers — One is a sitting United States Congressman and his brother is a successful bank robber for years. The brother’s robbery gang even pulls off at least “two” robberies at the same time and gets away with the loot.

      I only wish I had a relative that was a Hollywood screen writer, producer, actor, agent, publicist, or telephone receptionists at a Hollywood movie studio because “This Untold Gangster Story” has so many elements that could make it into a “Hit Big At The Box Office” Movie or a TV Mini-Series.

      I am just amazed that while the actions of one gang member resulted in a legendary “Second Amendment” US Supreme Court case, no one has ever had the idea that the events leading up to this case could lead to a whole different story.

      While it may not be popular for American Law Enforcement to consider, at the time, in Stone County, Missouri, “Shock Short” was considered an “American Robin Hood.”

      Sam

      samwarren55

      October 9, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    • Mary,

      One lady from Stone County sent me an email in which she was certain back in the 1950s that here was a movie or TV show about Shock Short and the O’Malley gang. She wasn’t able to remember the title of the show or movie. In researching TV and movies I have never come across this information. I found on the internet a man who had posted a project that apparently he worked on in the NYU Law School about the Second Amendment and how one of the late additions to the gang got picked up for transporting a shotgun across state lines that set off the US Supreme Court case. I also did some research of old newpaper headlines and found some interesting information about Shock Short. I believe the newspaper website was something like “Newspaper Archives.Com.”

      I find it interesting that Dan Heady is buried so close to Springfield.

      If you ever think you might be able to spend a couple of hours someday in Galena, you might want to call the City of Galena City Hall before your visit. They have a websitw with their phone number. In Galena, there is The Bank Of Galena Museum, which was originally owned and operated by the Short family. It is ironic that your family operates a bank and you grow up to be a bank robber. Anyhow, the bank museum contains items that related to the career of Congressman Dewey Short, Shock Short’s brother.

      Also the south lawn of the Stone County Courthouse is the site of The Last Official Public Hanging In The United States and Missouri of aman named Red Jackson. The scaffold was built by Herschel Johnson, a skilled Galena carpenter, who was my neighbor as a boy.

      Plus. the Old Parminter Body Shop, behind the bank parking lot, is the building that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker hid their car in and made sure local Galena mechanic Clarence Marchbank worked on it, so they could get away. The irony is the building, sit first behind a bank building and, even more, ironic, across the street from the Stone County, Missouri Courthouse, which was built in 1920. Thus, the mechanic had to work on Bonnie and Clyde’s getaway car just a few yards away from the courhouse.

      If you find out anything else about Dan Heady, Pretty Betty or Shock Short please let me know. Take care.

      Sam

      samwarren55

      October 10, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    • THE SHOCK SHORT STORY WAS ON THE RADIO “GANG BUSTERS” PROBABLY IN THE EARLY 40’S

      JOHN NEILL

      September 8, 2015 at 10:46 AM

  2. Leonard Short died near my grandparents farm in Weathers, ok. Their house was the home where Heady and Gilmore were taken in a shoot out .
    Keith walker

    Keith walker

    August 21, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    • Is it possible to find this farm area via google maps? That is, how far from Weathers and in what direction?
      My sense of it is that at the time at least, it was a heavily wooded, hilly terrain? Thanks for any information
      you have at hand.

      Geo. simpson

      December 15, 2015 at 11:47 AM

  3. By all indications, Shock Short, like his brother, Dewey, was “more pink than blue”. Both had at streaks
    of conscience-free portions of their personality makeup. Dewey became in one mode or another, an
    alcoholic. Back in the days when the media did not report every deail about what went on in Congress
    (or the degree of physical disability of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, etc.), only members seated not
    far from him realized how often he, Dewey, was so drunk he could hardly walk into or out of the assembled
    Congress. Shock was generally liked far better by people in and around Galena than was Dewey. Dewey
    was better educated by far , but both had basic high IQ potentials.

    Geo. simpson

    December 15, 2015 at 11:28 AM


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