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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:39 am 
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I gave a 1911 class yesterday and we had a couple of celebrity visitors at lunch time.

Would not take much hinting for you guys to guess just which Thompsons these are, so that is all the hint you get.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:38 am 
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Capone.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:32 pm 
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Sorta..... gotta be more specific.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:29 pm 
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Rumor has it that February 1929 has something to do with it.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:06 pm 
Valentines Day Massacre???

--md


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:40 pm 
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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.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:05 am 
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Way kewl, Ned. Your research and diligence payed off handsomely. What a historical treat for you!

I nominate this for post of the year. Image

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:32 pm 
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Very cool! I talked with Ned on the phone last night and he sounded like a kid at Christmas! Pretty exciting and very interesting historical items to say the least.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:17 pm 
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Nobody was ever charged for that crime. The gangster that these guns were taken from, Fred Burke, was not implicated even though he had the Thompsons. Burke was in a little fender bender in St. Joseph, MI, some months after the massacre. A local cop came to see what had happened and for his trouble, Burke murdered him. The ensuing manhunt led police to a lakeside cottage, where they recovered the Thompsons, a Savage 99, a Winchester SLR rifle and a sawed-off pump shotgun (possibly also used on Clark Street...?). Also found were several pieces of body armor, lots of ammo, and $300-some thousand in cash. The .45 ammo as I recall was UMC. For some unknown reason a small lot of this UMC .45 had been made with bullets having an "S" stamped in them. Burke's cache had the "S" stamp.... as did the 70 slugs recovered on Clark Street.

The deputy that so kindly brought the guns to show us is the Department Quartermaster and these are his babies-- and he knows the story well. We also got to see things like Burke's original fingerprint card and mugshots, photos of the crime scene and of some of the ballistic testing. He told us that to this day, cases ejected from these Thompsons bear some of the same marks noted by Dr. Goddard in the investigation.

The guns were loaned to (as I recall) the FBI museum some years ago. They were insured for a million a piece.

I was not trying to look mean or tough for the pic. You try holding up two Tommy guns and smiling at the same time!


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:12 am 
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Ned, et al: IN case you haven't seen it: http://www.bcsheriff.org/index.php?dept=44&pid=555&month=4&year=2008

And this one is even better: http://www.bcsheriff.org/index.php?dept=44&pid=622

Regards,
Kevin


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:08 am 
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Kevin, leave it to you. I had not seen those-- very good stuff, thanks for posting those links! I see I got a few details wrong.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:28 pm 
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Thanks for the post Ned.
Man, You have all the luck. Just the picture of those brought a smile to my face.


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 Post subject: 1921/28 Thompsons
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:17 am 
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I always liked the 1921/28 Thompsons above all other SMGs, and I must say those two are supercool. 8)

-AC


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:43 pm 
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Ned,

This is an amazing post!! Thanks for sharing.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:59 am 
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Ned, This is really interesting, as I was told when I was about in my late twenties that my maternal grandfather, who died many years ago was a lookout for the St. Valentines event. I had never had any idea that he was involved in something like that in his youth, and it was kept from my sister and I until just before he passed on.
I had always know my Grandfather as one of the most honest men I had ever known, but apparently he did a turn in a federal prison for awhile, and decided to turn his life around. All my life I knew him as Pop and he sold furniture for a living.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:11 pm 
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This thread just keeps getting more and more interesting!! I have heard it rumored that Lou Alessi also made some leather thongs for the Capone gang for use during R&R there in Chicago!!--John

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:34 am 
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Can't be. Last time I saw Lou he looked to be about 39!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:37 am 
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Doesn't surprise me, Don. You always did have shifty looking eyes......... :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 3:55 pm 
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I'm with CT, there was always something about "Sweet Don" Williams. The kind of guy you would trust right to the end....the very end. 8) :P 8) .

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 10:23 pm 
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that is just too cool ned. have you fired a thompson?? not those of course! i always think of that photo of Col. Jeff Cooper firing full auto with the butt pressed against his lips. recoil must be nonexistant--cam


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Timster, Thanks for adding the 'f' to my eye description........... :? Steven, I know where to find you. :evil:

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:12 am 
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With a loaded "L" drum there must be 13 pounds there..... so no, not that much recoil.

Quite right, I did not fire these. I did recently fire another '21 that belongs to Chicago PD-- they bought it in..... 1921. I have fired several others and had a few of them apart. Very cool stuff.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:10 pm 
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Ned, really cool stuff. Back in the late 80's, I had a chance to fondle the Detective Special, recovered from the crime scene
that belonged to Frank Gusenberg.

The theory is Gusenberg, who was hit with 22 45 slugs, attempted to draw the revolver from his coat pocket, but dropped it. Gusenberg survived for 3 hours, which is why there are 6 bodies in the famous crime scene photo of the victims, not 7.

The owner said the gun came from the estate of H. Bundesen, who was the Cook county coroner at the time. He also had the ammo that was in it, a copy of the police report, and some other odds & ends. Not sure where it is now.

I also got to handle one of the Thompsons used to kill Pretty Boy Floyd.

Ned, another fun fact is that one of the guns you are holding was also linked to the murder of Frankie Yale, the Brooklyn crime boss who gave Capone his start.

History in steel and wood, that is connected to Fred "Killer" Burke, Frankie Yale, Capone, and the St. Valentines Day massacre. I think one would be hard pressed to find 2 guns with so much gangster history.

Ned, Happy New Year, and see you at SHOT. Duane Long


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:52 pm 
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Duane, y'old Street Dog, nice to hear from you and the story is great.

Fred Burke apparently was a well-traveled killer. I enjoyed Kevin's links and the fact that Burke regretted killing the officer in St. Joseph. Better than being happy about it I guess but no real help.

Does anybody remember a TV show from the '80's, hosted by lawyer F. Lee Bailey, called "Lie Detector"? They used a polygraph to try and find the truth about certain high-profile events. I sent them a letter about something I read in Time back then-- the last surviving member of the party that killed Floyd, a local Deputy that assisted the Feds that day-- he said (as I recall) that Floyd did not fall to bullets from a heroic Melvin Purvis storming the farmhouse single-handedly with balzing 1911's, as I guess the story goes-- but that Floyd was spotted running out the back door. The Deputy winged him with a .30-30. The party gathered around the wounded gangster and Purvis ordered, "Fire into him, boys", and with that he was executed. Anybody got a good version of the contemprorary "official" account, and does anybody know anything about this Deputy's account? I sent the letter to the show asking them to look the guy up and get the man on a polygraph to maybe get a new slant on what really happened..... far as I know they never did.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:14 am 
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Ned,

Here's a pretty good story about Choc Floyd: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/outlaws/floyd/1.html.
The shootout is about Chapter 9.

Here's how Helmer and Mattix describe Chester Smith's story in their book The Complete Public Enemy Almanac:

...Floyd [took] off running across an open field with a .45 automatic in each hand. When Floyd continued toward a wooded area, Smith (a local lawman) fired a shot from his rifle, hitting Floyd in the arm...Floyd tried to keep on running and was shot again. Smith picked up both of Floyd's pistols and was starting to talk to him when Purvis ordered the police officer to stand back. Soon, the other federal agents and local lawmen were standing around Floyd as he lay on the ground...Purvis exchanged only a few words with Floyd, mainly asking him if he had been involved in the Kansas City Massacre. Floyd supposedly replied, "F*ck you! I wouldn't tell you sonsabitches nothing!" This angered Purvis, who turned to a G-man holding a Thompson and said simply, "Fire into him."

Regards,
Kevin


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:29 am 
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The lasted edition of Small Arms Review has these Thompsons in it.

SAR is a hell of a magazine, guys. Even if you're not into full auto, it is full of fascinating mechanical, technical and historical information.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:27 am 
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Here's another one I got to know recently..... another 1921, bought by CPD in.... 1921.


Image

I just noticed for the first time.... you can see the slug in this photo. Nice job, Patrick! It appears to be about 4"-6" long so i guess shutter speed was faster than 1/1000, does that thing do 1/1500? 1/2000? In that light?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:20 am 
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No, shutter speed was a prosaic 1/60th of a second. However, I was running it on flash (you can tell that from the second-nearest brass,reflecting the light.

Flash duration is on the order of 1/10,000th of a second or faster. If we assume that 230 hardball is doing an even 1,000 fps out of the longer barrel, we can estimate flash duration;

Bullet image 3-4" long, flash duration is roughly 5X bullet velocity. At 1,000 fps, that's 1/5,000th of a second.

Too short to capture Ned's giggling.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:10 am 
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Yeah, you'da been lucky to get an "e" outta tee hee hee hee.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:39 pm 
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I'll add one...not a Colt, but a Military M1. It ate ammo like I eat popcorn.


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