Photo of the Day

Sing Sing. Warden T. M. Osborne. Library of Congress

“Old Sparky

Warning?Disturbing Photos and in a link.

A 19th-century prison was a barbaric place, and Sing Sing was no exception. Prisoners were expected to keep absolute silence. Beatings ? and worse ? were commonplace. ?Bread and water? and ?ball and chain? weren?t euphemisms, they were a way of life.

?The bath? was a method of torture used for decades to terrify the population and maintain order. ?An inmate was tied to a chair… Water was dropped in a steady stream from a great height and landed on the top of a prisoner?s head. Prison records show that 170 men received this punishment in 1852. That same year, 120 men were placed in solitary confinement and five were ?bucked?… causing the man to hang upside down like a roasted pig.?

There really was torture, until prison reform took hold in the country, led in large part by Lewis Lawes, Sing Sing?s warden during the ?20s and ?30s. Lawes believed that prison was punishment enough, and that he would send prisoners back into the world as better people than when they came in. Lawes educated prisoners, taught them trades, and entertained them with visits from the likes of Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini, Edward G. Robinson, and other stars of the day. He helped change the way prisons were run.

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Photo of the Day

What could go wrong? This device invented by retired policeman Elmer Carlstrom seemed Dick Tracy-like Carlstrom claimed the device was ?effective enough to rout a gang of payroll bandits and small enough to be concealed in a shirt sleeve.?

Kate ?Ma? Barker and Her Horrible?Children

Eighty years ago, Edward Bremer, Jr., heir to the Schmidt Brewery fortune, was kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis gang.

After Bremer dropped his daughter off at the Summit School in St. Paul, he was ambushed and thrown in a car. He was held for 10 days, until his family paid a $200,000 ransom. Part of this ransom money was used to bribe police who were on the take. When Prohibition was repealed and liquor was legal, they switched from bootlegging to kidnapping. The same corrupt cops that had looked the other way during the bootlegging era were also involved with kidnappings and other more nefarious deeds.

Bremer helped federal investigators find his captors. He memorized every detail about his surroundings.

When the FBI investigated the case, he was able to identify the specific wallpaper in the home where he was kept. That enabled the FBI to break the case and arrest the Barker-Karpis gang.”

The gang was led by two brothers, Doc and Freddy Barker, who are?described as “psychopaths,” and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, who was one of the most infamous gangsters of the period.

After weeks of planning at the behest of underworld kingpin Harry Sawyer, for the second time the Barker-Karpis Gang decides to forgo the energy and danger required to rob banks, and instead pursues a big buck payday by kidnapping the thirty-four-year-old president of the Commercial State Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota (and son of the millionaire owner of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company, a personal friend of President Roosevelt) … Edward G. Bremer.

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Photo of the Day

Bobby Greenlease and his father, Robert C. Greenlease Sr., 71.

The “No-Tell Motel” and the Bobby Greenlease Kidnapping

One of the more tragic and fascinating crimes of the mid 20th century was the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Bobby Greenlease in 1953, and the subsequent disappearance of half the $600,000 ransom his family futilely paid for his release.

Bobby was the son of Robert C. and Virginia Greenlease. His 71-year-old father was one of the largest Cadillac dealers in the nation. The Greenleases lived in Mission Hills, Kan., the most elite suburb in the Kansas City area.

The kidnappers ? Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady ? had both known privilege earlier in their lives. In fact, it was at military school that Hall met Paul Greenlease, the older, adopted brother of Bobby Greenlease. Hall later inherited a substantial amount of money from his father, but blew it failing at a number of business ventures. For robbing a number of cab drivers ? his total take was $38 ? Hall was sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary. In prison he dreamed of making ?the big score? ? a score that would allow him to once again live in luxury.

He later said that kidnapping was the only crime where he could strike once and retire for life.

Once out of prison, Hall, stocky and with thinning hair, was living in St. Joseph, Mo., and started going with Heady ? a plump but not entirely unattractive woman, who was known to sleep around and prostitute herself. Heady owned her own home. They got drunk routinely, and sometimes Hall knocked her around. In fact, when she was arrested for the kidnapping she bore the marks of a Hall beating.

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A short story about equality that makes you think


I was spending time on Gab as I do every day now when a short story about equality was shared with the #GabFam

It was written in 1961 and is set in 2081. The message is powerful and as a work?of fiction it is unsettling how similar the way of thinking described is?to the way that many people think today.

It even talks about masks covering women’s faces to hide their beauty.

You can read it here.

Photo Of The Day

"Awful Calamity. Wild Animals Broken Loose from Central Park." An illustration that accompanied an 1893 article in Harper's Weekly about the hoax.

“Awful Calamity. Wild Animals Broken Loose from Central Park.” An illustration that accompanied an 1893 article in Harper’s Weekly about the hoax.

Awful Calamity

Wild Animals Broken Loose from Central Park

In late 19th-Century America, the big newspapermen were kings. Famous publishers like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer exercised inordinate powers over both government policy and ‘public’ opinion.

The?New York Herald?was, along with the?New York World, one of the most influential news outlets of its day. James Gordon Bennett took over as publisher of the paper in 1867 after the retirement of his father of the same name. The younger Bennett was eager to establish the paper’s reputation by financing major expeditions, such as that of Henry Stanley starting in 1869 to find Dr David Livingstone. The Scot, Dr Livingstone, had been lost somewhere in Africa while working as a missionary.

Unlike modern American newspapers, which tend to disguise or even deny their political orientation, 19th Century newspapers were outspokenly political and the?Herald?was no exception. It was at least nominally populist and certainly sympathetic to the Democratic Party. Even more influential, however, was Bennett’s orientation toward the advancement of his own power and influence.

Although accounts differ on this point, it is generally believed that Bennett was known in upper class?New York?circles to brag about his influence, claiming that he had so much control over New York that he could keep the entire city in their houses for a whole day. Someone finally took him up on the bet and on November 9, 1874 the?Herald‘s headline screamed ‘Escaped Animals Roam Streets of Manhattan’.

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Photo Of The Day


Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month-old son of the famous aviator and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was kidnapped about 9:00 p.m., on March 1, 1932, from the nursery on the second floor of the Lindbergh home near Hopewell, New Jersey.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library

Photo: Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library

Rawhide Down

The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan

?March 30, 1981. Washington, DC police officer Thomas Delahanty and Press Secretary James Brady lay wounded on the ground. Secret Service agents continue to pin down John Hinckley, Jr. while two agents reach for what appears to be the gun that had been fired. A Secret Service agent in the foreground holds an UZI submachine gun.

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