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Posts Tagged ‘Shock Short

Bonnie and Clyde’s Reluctant Galena Mechanic

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Bonnie and Clyde’s

Reluctant

Galena Mechanic

by Junior Warren

The old man working on the landscape at the School of the Ozarks at Point Lookout, Missouri usually went unnoticed by most of the students. He was simply, after all, just a groundskeeper. I, on the other hand, always smiled or nodded at him.

The quiet, elderly man, who helped to keep the lawns mown and trees pruned was Clarence Marshbank,* a citizen of Stone County and a resident of Galena, Missouri. Every time I saw Mr. Marshbank I remembered the story my mother told me about how he had worked on the automobile of America’s Famous Bank Robbery Sweethearts Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows.

The Psychological Armageddon of The Stock Market Crash of 1929 encouraged a generation of Americans to hide money in their mattresses and in the walls of their homes. Stone County, Missouri, since her legislative birth in 1851 had always been “A Child Of Hard Times.” Stone County farmers raised pigs, chickens, hogs, cattle and put out small “truck patch” gardens of vegetables to earn a living. Mother Nature’s two crops that thrived in the rocky soil of Stone County was tomatoes, the legendary “Red Gold of Stone County” and corn.

Corn proved to be worth it’s weight in gold because not only could local families serve up and sell “roastin’ ears,” but the grain was important to feed the “fattening hogs” that would be raised and butchered, so that families would have meat to get them through the severe southwestern Missouri winters.

Of course, corn had an award winning entertainment and economic value – it was a primary ingredient of “Moonshine.” Stone County Stories are numerous about the many illegal moonshine stills that dotted the hills and hollers of Stone County – not all the stories are folk tales and urban legends.

In the midst of the economic paranoia of the 1930s, American bank robbers hit upon the faster automobiles, Tommy Gun’s and sawed off shotguns to “make a quick buck” by “knocking over banks” one after another. Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Faced Nelson became overnight folklore heroes by their daring, cunning and the courage to “Stick It To The System.”

American banks were real unpopular in the 1930s. American banks foreclosed and forced Americans out of their homes and off their farms. Unfortunately, the celebrity status of the dashing and debonair status of the gangsters was understandable – they were giving “payback” back to the bankers. Obviously, some Americans wished they had the courage and opportunity to – “Make The Bankers Pay.”

The economic chaos of the 1930s cannot be overstated. After all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The President Of The United States Of America went public and asked Americans to donate their pieces of gold to America. That gold was then melted into gold bars that became the bullion that is stored at Fort Knox, Kentucky. FDR and his Gold Democrats went a step further and took the United States “Off The Gold Standard,” no longer could you take a dollar bill into an American bank and demand to exchange it for a dollar’s worth of gold.

Economic hard times were a reality in Stone County, Missouri long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Survival had always been a day to day struggle that encouraged farmers to go deer hunting and squirrel hunting to supplement the meat hanging “sugar cured” or “salt cured” in family smokehouses. Grandma DeLong told me stories about the hard times of day to day survival in Stone County, during The Great Depression.

Clarence Marshbank had a reputation around Galena of being an excellent automobile mechanic. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows, the bank robbers, were on the road, near Galena, Missouri, when they had “car trouble.”

The Stone County story goes that Bonnie and Clyde’s car wasn’t going to get much farther than Galena. Once in Galena, the bank robbery couple, learned that Clarence Marshbank was an excellent automobile mechanic. The Stone County story points out that at gunpoint Bonnie and Clyde forced Clarence Marshbank to repair their automobile.

The old Parmenters' Radiator And Body Shop building in Galena, Missouri. In the 1930's, it was this site that supposedly American Bank Robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker allegedly forced Galena Mechanic Clarence Marshbank to repair their getaway vehicle. Photo by Junior Warren

One of the amazing points of the story is that the building that the car was put into to be worked on. The Old Parminter Body Shop building in Galena, sits near the historic courthouse and almost on the back parking lot of the modern day First Home Savings Bank in Galena, Missouri.

In 2011, the First Home Savings Bank's back parking lot ends near the side of the old Parmenters' Radiator And Body Shop building in Galena, Missouri. In the 1930's, it was this site that supposedly American Bank Robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker allegedly forced Galena Mechanic Clarence Marshbank to repair their getaway vehicle. Photo by Junior Warren

The story of Bonnie and Clyde kidnapping a Galena man walking into town is well known. They kidnapped the man to find out how to get to Reeds Springs and rob that bank. This story is supported by numerous newspaper accounts. However, the story of Bonnie and Clyde forcing Clarence Marshbank to work on their car is one of those stories that was usually whispered more than spoken about.

The incident probably did occur. First, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren had a reputation of never “making up” stories and she told me the original story about Bonnie and Clyde forcing Mr. Marshbank to work on their car. Second, local boy George Leonard “Shock” Short had a reputation of robbing banks and returning home to Galena to “lie low” between bank robberies. Thus, Stone County, Missouri wasn’t all that supportive of law enforcement efforts in the depression years.

I never had the opportunity to interview Clarence Marshbank, but I always remember his friendly, warm, “neighborly” smile, whenever he would nod at me walking across the campus of the School of the Ozarks.

_________________

*The last name was always spoken as Marshbank, but I have seen it spelled as Marchbank.

History of Stone County, Missouri book, Volume One contains information about the early families in the county. The Stone County Historical Society, P.O. Box 63, Galena, Missouri 65656 can provide information on how to obtain a copy of any of the three volumes. The 1960 Chevrolet Impale model car represents the real car that Opal M. DeLong Warren drove off the showroom of Terrill Chevrolet in Houston,Texas in 1960. Opal drove her car from 1960 until 1972 when her husband bought her a Mercury for Mother's day. The Impala made numerous trips from Galena, Missouri to Houston, Texas,as well as frequent trips to take family members to a hospital in Springfield, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren.

History of Stone County, Missouri book, Volume Two contains information about the early families in the county. The Stone County Historical Society, P.O. Box 63, Galena, Missouri 65656 can provide information on how to obtain a copy of any of the three volumes. The Ford 9N model tractor in the photo is symbolic of a real used tractor that Opal M. DeLong Warren bought to use on her farm in Stone County, Missouri, in the mid 1960s. For farm toys, visit D&B Farm Toys in Abesville, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren

History of Stone County, Missouri book, Volume Three contains information about the early families in the county. The Stone County Historical Society, P.O. Box 63, Galena, Missouri 65656 can provide information on how to obtain a copy of any of the three volumes. “Richard Rock,” the large circular stone in the photo, is the stone that Richard B. DeLong found plowing in his field one day in Stone County, in the mid 1960s. Richard DeLong was a farmer; not a rock collector. Yet, he could not resist taking the rock out of the field to give to his sister, Opal to put on display in her yard. For information on Stone County Rocks, lapidary, cabachons or wirewrapping email: rockmanken@gmail.com. Photo by Junior Warren

The Treasure Tales of the Lost Loot of Shock Short

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Legend or Legacy ?

The Treasure Tales

of the Lost Loot

of Shock Short

by Junior Warren

As a child my grandmother told me the first stories about Shock Short. Stone County Old Timers in the 1960s would whisper and speculate about the “Lost Loot” that Shock was supposed to have hid in Galena. While most people speculate that the Treasure Tales of the Lost Loot of Shock Short is a local urban legend of the Ozarks. Still, one of Galena, Missouri’s native sons made a living robbing banks in the 1930s.

Tale of Two Brothers

United States Congressman Dewey Jackson Short of Missouri stepped into the international spotlight. George Leonard “Shock” Short, brother of the congressman, earned headlines across the United States for bank robbery.

The Great Depression helped to make Shock Short a controversial folk hero. Local stories point out his Robin Hood compassion and his Jesse James’ bravado.

The Treasure Tales of The Lost Loot Of Shock Short lives on in Galena, Missouri.

President Roosevelt’s Depression Era economic policies drew fire, from Galena, Missouri’s most famous native son, United States Seventh Congressional District Congressman Dewey Short. Meanwhile, George Leonard “Shock” Short, brother of the congressman, handled the redistribution of America’s wealth in the Midwest by robbing banks.

From 1932 to 1935, Shock Short and the Irish O’Malley Gang hit banks in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois , Kansas, and Oklahoma. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents were the law enforcement headliners of the day in the 1930s.

1930s – Bankrupt America – Dumbfounded Government

Meanwhile the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation seemed best suited to keep track of official paperwork. The massive numbers of bank robberies since the 1929 collapse of the stock market was forcing Washington D.C., leaders to try and find a way to stop the various mobs of bank robbers that were finishing off the remaining banks.

The Justice Department’s BI agents were years away from becoming professional Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. At the time, Many of the young agents hadn’t even fired a gun and they were being ordered to go after the gangsters of the era: John Herbert Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows.

Bankers Are The Bad Guys – 1930s

Time had given the gangsters a big head start. Public sentiment was against the banks. Banks were the villains Bankers are the bad guys. In the 1930s – Money was NOT the “root of all evil”; it was the banks. Banks foreclosed on homes and farms – people were homeless. Mother Nature added insult to injury – more than a million tons of topsoil blew into the Atlantic Ocean. Nature’s Dust Bowl became an apocalyptic economic event.

Wealthy Americans would call the bank robbers, “hoods, “”henchmen,” and “gangsters.” Homeless penniless, Americans would view the bank robbers as “Robin Hood,” “knights in shining armor,” and basically, “neighbors who had the guts to stand up to banks and big government and fight the system.”

The line of Black and White between Good and Evil and Right and Wrong had been blurred because of the lack of Green. Bank robbers had become “Celebrities” and “Entrepreneurs” While the heroes were bank robbers; the villains were banks, local, state and the U.S. Government. America’s Conservative Hard Work Ethic had been knocked on it’s backside and none of the rules of “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage” seemed to apply anymore. Everyone seemed broke.

The Herbert Hoover Administration’s ideas to save the U.S. Economy had seemed worthless and “Too Little, Too Late.” Americans were broke. Americans had gambled that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats might have the ideas to save the economy.

Newspaper headlines of the 1930s reveal that bank robberies in the United States spread like a series of national wild fires from the East Coast to the West Coast and across the Midwest. A bankrupt economy had brought a rebirth of the Days of the Wild West and the six shooters had been traded for Tommy guns. Fast horses had given way to automobiles with V8 engines.

The 1930s had set the stage for the bank robbers. In Galena, Missouri, George Leonard “Shock” Short, had chosen the lucrative career of bank robber. Short and his gang were equally successful, as the other gangs, but, not as famous, or infamous, as the nationally known gangsters of the era.

Revenue Rewards

Congressman Dewey Short’s efforts to get Galena on the map were well known locally. Congressman Short got credit for getting the Historic Y Bridge at Galena built. He convinced the U.S. Congress to make the funds for Table Rock Dam a reality. Even the U.S. Navy commissioned a vessel: The U.S. S. Stone County. The congressman’s actions were instrumental in bringing revenue into Stone County during the Great Depression and into the years following World War II.

Tales of Treasure Tunnels

The local legends always credit Shock Short with being willing to share some of the money with his fellow Stone County citizens. The tales suggested that he would give neighbors money to help clothe their kids and even keep banks from foreclosing on homes and making even more people homeless.

Shock Short and the O’Malley gang were credited with the successful simultaneous bank robberies of two banks in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1934. One of the gang’s jewelry store robberies is reported to have got them $75,000 in precious stones. Chicago Typewriters spit hot lead and the nation’s presses set the cold type that reported the O’ Malley gang’s daring, which included the skills of Daniel “Dapper Dan” Heady – to the jail break assistance of “Pretty Betty.”

Local legends also suggest Shock Short hid bank loot, in and around, Galena, Missouri. Stories credit Shock and his gang with digging numerous tunnels in and around Galena to easily escape law enforcement and to hide the money.

The 1930’s Controversial Gold Standard

21st Century bank robbers traditionally go for the bills because coins are bulky, heavy and not as easy to carry out the door in a hurry. There was nothing traditional about The Great Depression. The Stock Market was smoke. More than 3,000 U.S. Banks failed virtually overnight. Americans were making runs on banks to get their money out before they became penniless. FDR had ordered the “Bank Holiday” to close banks to keep people from withdrawing their money and to buy time for some faith to be restored in the banking system.

The United States of America – The Great Democracy was in a nose dive to Third World Status.

Since the days of Washington and Franklin, the United States had been on the Gold Standard, which meant U.S. Banks had gold coins. The new administration had threatened to take the U.S., off the gold standard, which meant the U.S. Government and not citizens would have gold coins and citizens would no longer be paid in gold or be able to use gold to pay debts.

American monetary tradition – The Gold Standard – was a presidential pen stroke away from oblivion.

FDR signed the Executive Order and U.S. Gold Coins became the property of the U.S. Government. Dollar bills became the legal tender of the nation. Confiscated gold got melted down and shipped to a secure location – “America’s Vault” – Fort Knox.

One Shock Short legend claims that there maybe jewels and gold coins in the stolen loot. The most popular local urban legends and folk tales claim that the long lost bank loot is hidden in the City of Galena or in and around some of the suspected tunnels or known caves.

Sister of Two Famous Brothers

In the 1970s, when Omen’s Liberation swept the country like a runaway brush fire. The Equal Rights Amendment national debate pointed out the differences in wages between men and women, Fashion shattered tradition, especially for men. Conservative national figures were turning in their dark business suits for wide lapel-ed, checkered sports jackets, wide ties and polyester pants. Metropolitan America “lived by the clock” as people used their fast paced lives to become workaholics. There was not enough hours in the day to work. Metropolitan America had no time for the slower paced lifestyle of rural America.

Stone County, Missouri, in the 1970s, was still Rural America – people didn’t lock their doors at night out in the country. They usually left their car keys in their vehicles. In 1972, the Stone County Sheriff had three deputies in his office and they all used their personal vehicles as patrol cars. Stone County was a living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting.

Bess Allman, an elderly Galena woman had a smile for everyone. She called men and women, “honey” or “sweetie.” Known and respected throughout Stone County, Bess Allman always stood ready to help out friends and neighbors. In the decades before cell phones, email and computers, Bess Allman was a living library of information about Galena and Missouri. She seemed like any other woman old enough to be a grandmother, but she had two famous brothers: Dewey and Shock.

Congressman Dewey Short had stood in the international spotlight and his brother, Shock had earned headlines throughout the Midwest. Meanwhile, in Galena, their sister: Bess lived her life as a friend and neighbor in the local spotlight.

When I met Congressman Short it was because Bess Allman had called my mother and told her Dewey was back in town for a few days. Bess Allman made sure I got to meet and shake hands with Dewey in Galena. My mother had told Bess about my interest in politics and I had seen Mrs. Allman around Galena through the years when my mom went to the courthouse or went shopping on the square.

This house in Galenam Missouri was a home for Bess Allman, the sister of a congressman and a famous bank robber. Photo by Junior Warren.

As a kid, I had heard that Bess Allman had a husband. In the late 1970s, while researching some local information I heard the story that the two story home on the other side of the railroad tracks on the banks of the James River had been built for her as a wedding present from her new husband. In my childhood in the 1960s, the house had been known as the Standridge Farm and later, the Bessie Lawrence Farm.

I never had the opportunity to ask Bess Allman any questions about her brother, “Shock” Short. To my knowledge, Bess Allman lived most, if not all, of her life in Galena. Her last home in Galena is reported to have been a white two story, near the courthouse, and across the street from the old Bank of Galena building.

The Tunnel Tales

If Shock Short and his gang had dug all the tunnels that legends credit them with digging – they would of never had any time to rob banks. However, Missouri tourism once promoted the state as The Cave State and there is no shortage of caves throughout Stone County, Thus, the stories about The Tunnels Of Galena may have some basis in fact.

The James River Tunnel

The James River Tunnel is supposed to be around a boat ramp, near the old Bill Rogers Motel, on the bank of James River. Legend states that this tunnel would allow Shock or any member of his gang the ability to use the tunnel to emerge up into the sunlight inside the city limits of Galena.

The tunnel might be there; however, Galena, Missouri experienced severe flooding in 1993, so any tunnel would of probably been washed away or collapsed by the rising waters. Even in the 1930s of Shock Short’s era, poisonous “cotton mouth” and water moccasins snakes were common around the banks of the James River. It would be unlikely a local boy would dig a tunnel anywhere near these poisonous snakes.

The Family Home Tunnel

Another Shock Short legend claimed there was a tunnel in the City of Galena that would allow Shock Short to easily leave Galena if there was news of a posse and he could emerge inside his family’s home.

The Church Tunnel

One Shock Short legend states that one time in the 1930s, someone tipped off Shock Short that the Greene County Sheriff from Springfield was coming to see the Stone County Sheriff with a warrant for Shock’s arrest. The legend states that Shock slipped into a tunnel in Galena and emerged a few minutes later – out of a church on top of a hill in Galena.

This is the Bank of Galena Museum in Galena, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren

The Bank of Galena Tunnel

Before The Great Depression, there was a Bank Of Galena. When the banks of the depression failed, the Bank of Galena was one of the causalities The irony is there is suppose to be a tunnel underneath the old bank building. The story of this tunnel states that it was actually in the bank. It was suppose to allow Shock the ability to disappear into the tunnel and emerge into the sunlight a short distance from the bank into one of two nearby homes on either side of the street.

Are The Galena Tunnels Real ?

As of 2011, no one has admitted ever finding any of the tunnels.

Some Americans were fond of keeping their money in mattresses and in the walls of their homes, even before the Great Depression, thus, the rumors of money in root cellars and basements may have some basis in reality.

Although the East Side of the Galena Square in the 1960s hosted the U.S. Post Office, a beauty shop, a barber shop and the Hog Heaven Cafe, in 2011, that area is now the parking lot and the building of the Stone County Judicial Center, thus, searching for treasure tunnels underground probably will not be happening any time soon.

While the Shock Short legends credit Galena with a spider web of suspected subterranean tunnels, the one place that seems immune to the tunnel tales is the Stone County Courthouse, in the center of the square.

As a child growing up in Stone County in the 1960s, some of the old timers swore that Shock Short had hidden money away in tunnels in Galena. Perhaps, the tunnel tales are stories grandparents and parents told their children to inspire their imaginations. However, newspaper archives document that Shock Short and the O’Malley Gang robbed numerous banks in several states.

While local citizens obviously respected Congressman Short, the treasure tunnel tales have made Shock Short a legendary local folk hero.

Where the heck is Galena, Missouri ?

Galena, Missouri sits on the banks of the James River. Springfield, Missouri is about 40 miles away and Branson, Missouri is around 25 miles as the crow flies. In the spring and summer, visitors can rent a canoe and float the James River.

A 2005 photo fo the James Rivers Outfitters sign in Galena, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren

Campers can camp out at the James River Outfitters by the historic Y Bridge.

The Bear's Den offers fast food and soft drinks, near Galena High School, in Galena, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren.

For hamburgers and soft drinks, tourists can dine at The Bear’s Den, near the Galena High School.

This 2005 photo shows the exteriors of two of the four cabins of Pop's Retreat, on the banks of the James River, in Galena, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren.

This 2005 photo shows the first floor layout of one of the cabins of Pop's Retreat. Photo by Junior Warren.

If you want to spend some time enjoying nature you might want to consider renting one of the cabins at Pop’s Retreat on the banks of the James River.

This 2005 photo shows the second floor layout of one of the cabins of Pop's Retreat in Galena, Missouri. Photo by Junior Warren

Bring your camera, especially if you are interested in nature photography – in recent years – eagles are a common sight flying around Galena.

Does the Legendary Lost Loot of Shock Short lie beneath the streets of Galena, Missouri ?

Time will tell.

Gangster Research Request

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Gangster Research

Request



by Junior Warren

Stone County, Missouri’s Major Claim to Global Historical Fame is as “The Site Of The Last Official Public Hanging In The United States,” which is also the “Last Hanging In the State of Missouri.”

Roscoe “Red” Jackson, 36, on May 21, 1938, walked up the steps of the gallows on the Stone County Courthouse lawn. He had robbed and killed a salesman who had given him a ride.

The crime had happened in a neighboring county, but, the Missouri Law of the day stated that a “Death Sentence” had to be carried out in the county that passed the sentence. Thus, the duty to execute Jackson fell to Stone County officials.

Stone County Missouri Courthouse - August 1985 - Canon AE1-Program Photo by Junior Warren. The Last Official Public Hanging in the United States took place at the rear of the Stone County Courthouse in May 1938.

There was a board fence built around the scaffold and tickets were issued to witnesses. Still, the actual event was relatively easy for the public to witness. The 1920 Stone County Courthouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a structure that would allow people on the second floor to view the hanging with ease.

The actual specifics of the story written for the “History of

Ammabelle Burk, authored "Last Hanging In Missouri" on page 271 of the "History of Stone County Missouri, Volume I book published by the Stone County Historical Society. Nikon D40 Photo by Junior Warren

Ammabelle Burk, authored “Last Hanging In Missouri” on page 271 of the “History of Stone County Missouri, Volume I book published by the Stone County Historical Society. Nikon D40 Photo by Junior Warren

Stone County Missouri,” Volume I, was authored by Ammabelle Burk, my second grade school teacher at Abesville.

The actual layout of the courthouse square from the 1930s to the late 1970s would of propably made it relatively easy for anyone who was interested to find a place to view the execution.

I met Herschel Johnson, a quiet, soft spoken easy going man, who liked to smoke his pipe and wore stripped railroad overalls. An outstanding carpenter, in my childhood, I was told that Herschel Johnson is the man that built the gallows for the Red Jackson hanging.

More Hangings ?

There were other hangings in the United States, after Red Jackson, but, research indicates that these executions were usually carried out in state “Death Houses” away from the easy or accidental view of the public.

Stone County, Missouri’s unique claim to fame isn’t the sort of publicity that has Mom and Dad loading the kids into the RV for a summer vacation to Galena, Missouri.

But, the “hanging” event does raise not only “Death Penalty” and “Capital Punishment” issues, but it also brings the focus of attention on The Great Depression and America’s never ending war to understand economic issues.

While there may have been people in the “Depression” who were simply “crooked,” ;it does seem as though some Americans were pushed to the limit and turned to “crime” to make ends meet on a day to day basis.

Shock Short Search Continues

For the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to research events in the life of Leonard “Shock “ Short. I know other kids heard stories about Shock Short growing up.

I would love to get emails from these people spelling out what they were told as kids. I was told time and again Shock Short was “Stone County’s Robin Hood,” who really did use some of his loot to help neighbors in the Depression.

Family Members’ Recollections

I would hope the grandkids, great-grandkids, grand neices and grand nephews would also send me some emails with information about their famous relatives: Dewey Gilmore, Davey Gilmore, Virgil “Red” Melton, Fred Reese, Irish O’Malley, Jackson “Jack” Miller, Russell Cooper, Daniel T. “Dapper Dan” Heady, “Pretty Betty” Heady, and, of course, Leonard “Shock” Short.

Texas Ranger badge - 1962 - from the Texas Ranger Museum website. In the early 1930's, J. Edgar Hoover sought men who were proficient in the use of firearms. These Texas and Oklahoma lawmen, would be called “Hoover's Gunslingers by later authors. The interesting details of this era in FBI history is at the website: Dusty Roads Of An FBI Era.

I would also like to hear from the grandkids, great-grandkids, grand neices and grand nephews of the Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, and Oklahoma lawmen who pursued “Shock” Short and his gang.

Are there any family members of FBI agents, who pursued the gang ?

The irony is that current research indicates that there were no FBI or Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents that were actively seeking this gang, which really seems unusual for the time period.

Obvious Subjective Approach

I grew up in Stone County, so I’m inclined to give “Shock” Short the benefit of the doubt, especially based on the times that he grew up in. Plus, as a kid, he was portrayed to me as a “Robin Hood” larger than life. Also as a child, I often saw Shock’s sister Bess Short Allman, almost everytime my mother and I went to Galena. I met Congressman Dewey Short, when I was a young boy in Galena. Since I met and respected members of the Short family, I will, no doubt, be subjective in an article about Shock.

I went to military journalism school and wrote numerous articles for Uncle Sam, where the instructors and editors always drove home “a journalist must be objective.” True. But, journalist and reporters are humans and humans have emotions, which usually influence the overall “objectivity” on the issues. Unfortunately, in the Real World, even reporters, are not Mr. Spock.

The Forgotten Gangster

Jake Fleagle isn’t one of those names that leap to the forefront, when people talk about Prohibition and Depression Era Gangsters. While I don’t know of any books that have been written or movies made of his crime spree; you can find information about him.

The Forgotten Gangster Of The Depression Era seems to be Shock Short and his gang. The information is out there and Ive found some. But, even now, there are more questions than answers. Where did these men get together as a group to begin robbing banks ? Who were there contacts along the way, who helped them out in the various cities ? Who were their girlfriends ? Besides, “Pretty Betty,” did any of the rest of the men have wives ? Did they have a favorite hangout to hide from the law ? These and other questions, really keep me from getting a good night’s sleep.

It’s not fun waking up in the middle of the night and asking, “If these guys were on the lam, did they ever hookup with Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker to take down a bank ?” Stone County history does record the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow having a shootout, near Reed Springs, Missouri.

Finding the information on America’s Forgotten Gangster might help to add new information to the well known gangster stories of Dillinger, Karpis, the Barker Gang and perhaps others.

Reason For Writing

What is in the Shock Short Story for Junior Warren ?

A Good Story.

I’m not trying to write a book.

I don’t have a book deal of any kind.

I don’t want to write a book – I’m too “long winded” when it comes to writing.

My Grandma DeLong told me the Shock Short Stories, when I was a kid. I would just like to write the story and post it to my blog. Maybe, then, I can finally get a good night’s sleep.

The kids of Stone County, Missouri had their own local John Dillinger, so they should have an opportunity to know the history of the man and the difficult times that he lived in. And, the Stone County Historical Society can fill in the blanks about the local boy who made history by robbing banks in the 1930s.

I ‘ll leave the intense research of the Shock Short story to other writers, authors, Missouri and American historians to dig deeper for the true trivia of history (- like did Shock have a newspaper route as a boy ?)

I leave it to the Hollywood screenwriters to look for the details to try and get Michael Mann, Dick Wolf, or Jerry Bruckheimer interested in bringing the story to the movies. The Hollywood screenwriters can try and convince Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Bruce Willis or Don Johnson that here might be another unique gangster story that could use their talents to bring the story to the silver screen.

If family members want to send me their Shock Short stories, then, please email me your stories and recollections to : SamuelWarren55@gmail.com

Thank you,

Junior Warren

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

Reader’s Information Request

with one comment

I recently authored a three-part article on a legendary Stone County figure that I’ve heard stories about since childhood.

I asked a close friend her opinion of the article.  She pulled no punches and told me what she “really” thought of the article.

Ouch !

I went back and looked and she was “write” (pun intended).

I may not be Stephen King or P.D. James; but I believe I owe it to myself and my readers to give them a better story about one of the legendary icons of Stone County history.

Toward that end, I’ve been digging through the Internet all day like a lost mouse in the cyber maze looking for crumbs of information related to Shock Short.

Staged Outlaw Photo by Christy Warren

I know some of the Old Timers or kids of the Old Timers have their own Shock Short stories that they might want to share.
If you do, please email me at SamuelWarren55@gmail.com 

In the meantime, I’m going to keep digging and trying to come up with some more information.  “Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, ” hopefully, within a week or so I’ll have an article we can all truly enjoy on one of the most legendary figures of Stone County, Missouri.

Junior Warren

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