Monday, August 12, 2013

"Never trust a woman or an automatic pistol"--John Dillinger

One reason for coming to this area was to take the Gangster Tour.  Sherry ordered the tickets and also included the cave tour.  Bill wasn't impressed with the idea of taking a cave tour when he found out about it this morning, but he went along with it anyway.  

While we were waiting for things to get started this eagle flew by.

I should have used the zoom lens.

We arrived early and when Bill saw our tour guide I knew he'd forget all about being confined in a cave.  The tour guide was wearing a pin stripped suit, white shirt, tie and a fedora.  Bill said he was dressed as if he was in the bureau. Then our guide introduced himself as John Dillinger and brought out his Tommy gun.  I knew there was no doubt that Bill was going to enjoy the cave.

AKA John Dillinger told our large group how the cave was formed.  In the 1800's they used the silica in making glass and the miners hand carved out the cave retrieving the silica.  Later in it's history, the cave was the first place in the United States to grow mushrooms.  The Waldorf Astoria was one of the first places to introduced mushrooms to the people.  

In the 1930's the cave was converted to a very upscale, expensive restaurant with a stage for a 17 piece band.  Bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller and other famous bands played there. The stage which was original was very small considering the number of people that would have been on it.  

The Volsted Act was adopted as an amendment to the Constitution which became known as prohibition.  The cave was used as a speakeasy during this period and the photos that aka John Dillinger showed us had a "foamy drink" in their hands.  

Police Chief Tom Brown was very corrupt.  He had rules for the gangsters that he wouldn't bother them if they committed their crimes outside the city limits of St. Paul, paid him a bribe and checked in with him.  Alvin Karpis said "If you are a thief and you are fortunate enough to find a copper that is also a thief you'd be a chump if you didn't get together with him."  That explains why St. Paul didn't have any bank robberies while the surrounding cities did.  

Our guide told us a story of four men that were gambling in the fireplace room of the cave.  The owner was tired and wanted to close up so she asked the housekeeper if she would close up when the four men were finished.  The owner went home and the housekeeper went to another room to clean.  She heard gunfire and ran back to the room to see the tables overturned, broken glasses and three dead guys on the floor.  Frightened, she ran out and called the police.  After about 20 minutes the police arrived and investigated the room without the housekeeper.  Two hours later when they came out the police told her if she ever made a false report like that again, they'd throw her in jail.  The housekeeper ran back into the fireplace room and found no dead bodies and the room in perfect order.  

"John Dillinger" was a perfect guide.  He played his part to perfection.  Besides resembling Dillinger he acted the part so well you almost felt he was Dillinger.  There were many famous gangsters to frequent the caves and stories to go with them.

After the cave tour we had about 20 minutes before the gangster tour started so we walked over to the bus waiting for our guide.  What a surprise when we found out "John Dillinger" was also our gangster tour guide.  

The tour lasted 2 hours and during that two hours we heard all the stories of the gangsters and then drove by the places where they lived and frequented.  Billie Frechette, Babyface Nelson, The Kissing Bandit, Dapper Dan Hogan, Creepy Karpis, Dutch Sawyer, The Delaney Sisters, Homer Van Meter, Nina Clifford and Ma Barker and sons were included in the stories. The tour took us through parts of St. Paul, South St. Paul and West St. Paul.  

My dad was in the Navy for 30 years and we moved around a lot.  At one point my dad was transferred to South St. Paul from Jacksonville, Florida in December (what a shock to a kid that had never seen snow).  What a shock when our tour bus stopped in front of the South St. Paul post office and he told of a murder and robbery that occurred there.  Dad's office was in that post office!

  The bus took a drive through Summit Ave which according to our guide has the most Victorian mansions in the United States.  

 The bus didn't stop and by the time I was ready to take a photo it was past the ones I wanted a photo of.  

There were many stories and our guide was very knowledgeable.  It was a very enjoyable day.  

By the time the tour was over, we were all famished and the four of us found an Italian restaurant.

By the time we returned home, we were exhausted.  

I really did think I had photos of Sherry and Dave but I must have used their camera when we took them.  I'll make sure I take some for the next blog.

Oops, somehow I had this in the draft and didn't publish it.  This was from Saturday and today's follows it. 

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