You got it, guys.
I have never considered myself a real, true gangster-days buff, I mean it's never been something that steered my life or anything, but I do have a fascination about those days and those people. I think a lot of Americans have such an interest.... mine maybe goes deeper because of the gun angle and my love for the city of Chicago, and the admiration I feel for my many friends and acquaintances there in the law and order business.
I have been most fortunate to have happened across many Thompsons over the years. Well, maybe not that many-- seems like a lot though for a guy who lives in a state that made Class III ownership next to impossible until a few years ago (I doubt that it's exactly "easy" now, but I wouldn't know). Guess I've seen and/or examined a dozen or more and shot half of them, including M1A1's, 1928's and one 1921 model. Not sure if I ever shot an M1 model.
They all paled to the two I was allowed to examine yesterday. None of them had the history, the notoriety, the dark karma, of the two Thompson submachineguns known to have been used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre that took place at S.M. C. Cartage, 2122 Clark Street, Chicago, on Feb. 14, 1929.
It may sound silly but it was quite a moment for me. Growing up, my dear Father was clear in his example that one's interest in firearms should be centered around sporting and recreational use. Somewhere along the line I went astray and was attracted more to military style guns. The Thompson, being so American, and (in its day at least) so fearsome, was from the start high on my list of guns I wanted to study and experience. Up until a couple years ago, I often thought how stupendously valuable and collectible the Thompsons used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre would be. But, I thought to myself, they are long gone, lost forever, destroyed, tossed into Lake Michigan, or maybe they just took an untraceable journey from owner to owner and are still out there, in somebody's attic, unregistered and unregisterable, or for that matter maybe registered in the 1968(?) amnesty, the present owner and the rest of the world having no way of knowing that it was at Clark Street on that day.
Then a couple years ago I happened upon an article in Michigan Magazine and learned that these two have been in police possession since late 1929, and their connection to the event known. These two Tommyguns were actually ballistically matched to the event in one of the first high-profile cases using the emerging science. Dr. Calvin Goddard, the father of ballistic matching, did and directed the work himself. There is nothing speculative or unclear about the provenance of these two Thompsons-- they are without doubt the ones used that day.