April 2, 2008

My Family's Connection to John Dillinger

Okay, it isn't a strong connection. After John Dillinger was shot outside the Biograph Theatre, my great Uncle Otto--who had been born in Poland but came to the U.S. with his parents-- hopped on his motorcycle to follow the body to the morgue, where crowds of thrill seekers filed past to get a look at the famed gangster. As far as I know, he was not one of those who dipped his handkerchief in Dillinger's blood as a souvenir.

Today's Trib has an article on Dillinger's Haunts, which include several locations in Uptown. The funeral home where he was embalmed is at 4506 N. Sheridan, a gorgeous old building which still stands. It's worth checking out the article, which includes an interactive map.

10 comments:

uptownjen said...

thanks for sharing this. i too have a dillinger connection. my godmother, who died years ago, was the niece of homer van meter, dillinger's right hand man and best friend. she was a little girl in dillinger's heyday and used to tell the story that dillinger showed up with "uncle homer" for a family gathering one day and seemed to think that my godmother was so cute. he spent some time playing with her and, when he left, gave her some money and told her to have some fun with it. family recollections vary on how much money it was, but chances are it was stolen, right? regardless, money in the depression-era was tight, so a child being given any money at all was a big deal.

my godmother would love all the attention that dillinger is getting again. i shared the link you sent with her husband, and i am sure he will enjoy it very much as well.

keep up the great work...love your blog and love uptown!

Green Fairy said...

Uptownjen--that's definitely a stronger connection than mine! :-)

adgorn said...

I just finished reading a book on Dillinger, which "pointed" out that this photo was retouched for subsequent publication to "minimize" the myth that JD had a large you-know-what. The offending protrusion was actually caused by his rigor-mortised arm.

Dilingerbaby said...

john is my great great pappy!! he gave my grandma to his sister to take care of her so that my great grandma wouldn't get hurt or in the way of a bullet.so is anyone else really a relative of his?

Green Fairy said...

Wow, that's a pretty cool connection.

TrueBlue said...

The story quoted by Green Fairy (by the Tribune's Charles Leroux) is must reading by all Dillinger fans. For more Dillinger details, also check out Leroux's other great Dillinger stories. And Bill Thornbro and Matt Erickson's downloadable PDF "John Dillinger: A Day in the Life" at http://www.nwi.com/extras/pdfs/Dillinger.pdf is informative and hilariously funny at the same time. And the map highlights the gangster's bloody crime spree.

clarendon park said...

ok ok enough about dillinger,what about capone,he was the man in chicago, although we arent related, my faher ran his brewery trucks during probition

clarendon park said...

GOLLY If we could put all these people in one room, what stories we could hear!!!

t k ross said...

my family too has a story about him.

Great grandfather was coming home from work and saw a man dressed in a suit carrying a briefcase walking along the roadway. Being middle America and the 1930s my great grandfather invited the man home for dinner. All through supper the man sat there, very nice, very cordial, and very gracious. Thanked my family for the meal. But he never let the briefcase out his his sight. He left and my family continued about their business.

It would be months later when they read an article in the newspaper about the exploits of John Dillinger with a picture of him that they put 2 and 2 together. They had had John Dillinger at their house for dinner.

Anonymous said...

I worked several years with a man who was married to John Dillinger's neice Alberta Hancock Huber. I met her once and she was a pleasant woman. She was the daughter of Audrey Dillinger Hancock. She died in Pike county Indiana in 1980 and is buried close to other Hancock family members. Her husband told me that Alberta said that Uncle Johnny sometimes dropped off money to her family during the depression. According to her, the Dillinger family was a very close family and always defended John and never believed that her ever killed anyone. Dillinger also had half sisters and brothers from Dillingers fathers second marriage.

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