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Bite the Bullet
Sat Feb 25, 2017 16:05

"His gentle mother broadcast over the air an appeal to his captors to feed him his accustomed formula. His father was conferring alternately with police and with acknowledged criminals who claimed to be able to act as go-betweens. It was still the Prohibition era and many charges were made that rumrunners, alcohol kings, were behind the biggest "snatch" of the century."

"One night in March, 1932, I had a telephone call to say that "the big boss" was coming from New York to see me. Would I come to the rumring's headquarters at eleven o'clock that night?"

"Come alone," said the man on the telephone, "but you're going to get a big story."

"I drove forty miles, arriving at eleven, by a network of forest roads, at a certain gateway. Entering the gate, the road ran downhill with concrete walls rising ever higher on each side until, when my headlights shone on a solid gate barring the road; I might as well have been in a tunnel. No room to turn the car, no chance to scale the smooth walls each side; overhead, on top of the gate, a man looking at me through a peephole. And well I knew the man was armed."

"Show yourself!" he called gruffly.

"I leaned out of the car window and a floodlight was switched on, illuminating my face. The gate in front promptly rolled up and I drove on into a courtyard with cement floor and walls, where I left my car; and tapped at a small door. As it was opened, I heard music, laughter, drunken singing upstairs. The man who admitted me led the way down a cement-walled passage, opened a door, let me precede him, and then locked the door from the inside. He was the king of the Cape rum ring."

"There's a crowd upstairs. You wouldn't like 'em," he said, explaining the locking of the door. "We can talk here."

"We were in a room that Hollywood would have strained itself to duplicate. The cement walls were hung with tapestries. A huge Oriental rug covered the floor. The chairs and davenports were luxuriously overstuffed and covered in soft red leather. Onyx lamps on teakwood tables gave a soft light. One corner of the room held a handsome mahogany bar, with bartender in white jacket, and rows and rows of imported liquors and liqueurs on the shelves behind."

"Have a drink," said the host."

"One couldn't refuse, under the circumstances, without insulting the man professionally."

"Just a light rye and mineral water," I said politely.

"He approved. That's what he always drank himself, he said."

"Two ryes, Jack," he called to the bartender."

"He had seated me in a puffy red-leather chair with my back to the bar. He sat facing me with a view of the bar over my shoulder, and a smoking stand between us. Suddenly he jumped, knocking over the smoking stand, brushed past me. I turned in bewilderment, and saw him bring up a huge fist with nearly two hundred pounds of beef and brawn behind it, striking the bartender on the chin, knocking him down behind the bar. Then he picked up a glass on the bar and threw it over the prostrate man."

"Damned fool," he barked. "This girl's got to drive home!"

"He selected a fresh glass, poured and mixed a highball, and brought it to me without further comment. I said nothing either. I didn't know just what to say. After all, I was alone at midnight in a cement cellar with a bunch of notoriously rough customers. Cement figured largely in their trade. It was not so long since one of their pals had been dredged up from the bottom of the ocean, both his feet set fast in a tub of cement. So I don't know to this day whether the bartender had mistaken the King's intentions and slipped a slug of knockout drops into my highball or whether he had poured it from some "domestic" brew of wood alcohol or whether he had simply poured a larger slug than the King thought I could assimilate. At any rate the bartender presently got up from the floor and went on mixing drinks for the group around the bar, with nothing said about the lump on his jaw, and I sipped the mild highball the King had personally mixed for me, and we came to the point of the interview."

"Listen," growled the King. "This Lindbergh kidnaping is hurting out business. Folks are saying the rumrunners are at the bottom of it. There's police and coast guards and detectives blocking all the roads and searching all the trucks. It's costing us like hell. Now, the rumrunners didn't do it. We've checked it dead sure. We think it's the dirtiest trick any--of--ever pulled. We want to see that baby back in its mother's arms, but we need a go-between we can trust."

"We've known you for five years and you're square. You me, and whatever I am, you know my word is good. I'm offering a $100,000 reward for return of that child. I want you to write a piece in your paper that any so-and-so who has the child and is afraid to deal with the police, can come to you and be put in touch with me. I'll guarantee 'em $100,000 and complete immunity if they can turn that kid over to me alive."

"We did print that offer, and through the news services it was printed all over the country. Of course I had a flood of crank letters, and every one was followed up, but the kidnapers of the Lindbergh baby never wrote us. Two months later we knew why. The child was already dead."

  • Below is another account of a prominent journalist who met the Lindberghs and had first hand involvement with the case. Dorothy Godfrey Wayman sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Theodate Geoffrey.... more
    • Sue re:Bite the BullettTanialee , Mon Feb 27 01:44
      This was an excellent find Sue. She really showed the mean side of Lindy with the press but then a more gentle nature with Anne on thier honeymoon. And the story of the cement walled thugs hideout,... more
      • William C. AtwaterSue for Tanialee, Mon Feb 27 18:41
        Maybe Lindbergh should have followed the example of John Roosevelt by giving the press SOME information with the promise of not being harassed? Well, Tanialee, what of the William C. Atwater running... more
        • Sue for Tanialee /WilliamC.AtwaterTaniale, Tue Feb 28 01:38
          Certainly, Lindy should have given the press something to the press as a generous offer so he and Ann wouldn't be so beleaguered by media chase but he was who he was, stubborn. At least Prince... more
      • Re: Tanialee/SueTanialee , Mon Feb 27 01:47
        Boad Nellie
    • Bite the Bullet — Sue, Sat Feb 25 16:05
      • Bite the Bullet ContinuedSue, Sat Feb 25 16:53
        (Correction: Meant to type March 1, 1932 on first page!) "Everyone remembers the ransom notes delivered to Jafsie Condon and the ransom paid in the [Bronx] cemetery by Dr. Condon while Colonel... more
        • Re: Bite the Bullet ContinuedSue, Sat Feb 25 18:41
          "Would it not be natural to believe, in their sin-haunted souls, that Colonel Lindbergh had betrayed them to the authorities? Would they not with all haste take their departure from such... more
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