Christmas Eve, 1929
My Father had been at Johnny Spadafores apartment, drinking bootleg whiskey and consorting with the local
ladies of the evening for most of the day. As day turned to evening and evening to the midnight hour, he decided to go home.
He stumbled down the stairs before finally falling onto Hastings Street.
He picked himself up and began staggering towards his car as two men slowly drove by.
They stopped their car a short distance away and began walking toward him. The air was cold and there were
snowflakes swirling in the constant breeze. The street lights had long been shot out and the windows of the apartments
were covered with blinds and curtains and newspapers. These were times when you heard nothing and saw nothing if you
knew what was good for you.
Father told me, many years later, that he did not hear the sound of the machine gun. He said he didn't even feel the spray
of bullets that left large scars upon his back, cascading down to his buttocks, leaving a nasty trail of bullets that had
hit him. There were seven in all, some larger than the others. Scars riddled his skin, reminders of a near death. Someone
was watching over him on that cold night, he would say later.
Johnny took him to the hospital and left him laying at the feet of the attendants there. He was not hurt badly from
the bullets. It seems his heavy overcoat and staggering nearly sideways had diverted the impact of the shells. However,
the police had a lot of questions. . Under intense investigation, he was convicted of several felonies
and for being a soldier for Capone. He spend several years in Joliet prison. While in lock up he learned that
the man he had shot off the running board of the near hijacked truck in 1928 had not died. For that he was thankful.
While in prison, he learned to barber and began reading the bible.
His gangster days were over. He vowed he would become a preacher once he got out of prison. Besides, as prohibition came
to an end in 1933, everyone he knew back in those days was either dead, in jail, or running from the law. Even so, he still
had a few scrapes once he got out of prison and one of them lead to his shooting old Doc Shipley, in the middle of the street
in Springfield, Mo.( he never made known why or when that happened. ) He also practiced dentistry, without a license, until
the late 1950’s. He finally obtained a dental license and went to work in a large dental office where he became
a specialist in bridgework, partial plates and dentures. He also became a proficient student of the bible and joined
the ranks of Jehovah's Witnesess after being released from prison.
I remember him as the toughest, the most violent, and the wariest minister I had ever known. Yet, his devotion
to God and family became increasingly stronger as the years wore on and his love for and his knowledge of the bible became
legendary. He was a kind and devoted Father, with a iron rod on his lap and a bible in his hand. One
was never sure which one he would turn to in times of oppression.