Wayzata, Minnesota

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sepia Saturday - 168 - 16 March 2013

"The smaller the dinner table, the better the side conversation: you can gossip about the guests without fearing whether you will be overheard.  It just isn't good table manners to exclude someone from their own ridicule.  That's why the juiciest side conversations occur at a table for one." - Bauvard, The Prince of Plungers.

My Sepia Saturday post is only slightly on our theme topic, beginning with this table, although it's a much longer and narrower version than our theme table featured in this week's Sepia Saturday.  I'm also following groups of men flavored throughout, along with some cameras.


From the Minnesota Historical Society and the Norwegian American History.
 I was on a search for tables!
 At first, I had the thought to display tables from all over the world and back to Minnesota again.
Until this photo below dropped into my hands, and forced me to change directions completely.

Do you spot the gentleman in the corner speaking on the telephone?  This is where my story begins.

Is he a desperate criminal?
Or, perhaps just a reporter calling in his latest scoop?
Possibly, he's a biographer, detective, or federal agent?

Did I hear you say, he's just a nobody making a call?
I don't believe that!

 Popular screen stars and genuine gangsters of the 1950's often wore fedora hats and trench coats in their movies or their "tough guy" roles in real life.  Sometimes, it was hard to distinguish the good guy from the bad guy because they dressed alike and they all carried guns.

 Your guess is as good as mine, but they're not all photographers or reporters.
   Criminals as a rule, lived most of their lives in secret, always on the run, and usually fully aware that their cover must be protected.  Without a doubt, they would ditch the press unless they had some evil plan otherwise devised.   This crowded lunch counter shows how easily one could become lost in an afternoon crowd if necessary.

A photo from Pete's Bar in the 1950's.

 Of course slipping into a movie theater was always a good dodge, for a safe hideaway and on many occasions it was an easy slip.
I wonder if hard criminals even bothered to purchase a movie ticket?
Even today, if one was serious in tracking criminals from years ago, a great source of documents are stacked high on shelves, and stored electronically by now in the J. Edgar Hoover Building's reading room in Washington D. C.  and within that building is a goldmine of history. 
Minnesota had their own dealings with the likes of many of those hard-nosed criminals at one time or another.   Some of the FBI files there are for the Barker-Karpis gang which range with about 76,159 pages, while Alvin "Creepy" Karpis consist of (2,360 pages) and Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Frank Nash, and the Kansas City Massacre (15, 786 pages) But, greater yet are the pages for John Dillinger and his gang with (36,786 pages) and all of these pages remain highly valuable to historians yet today. 
I think John Dillinger had history in many cities.
What about the more famous and elite members of law enforcement?    Who were all those important but often forgotten ones, that worked diligently themselves in arresting those hard known criminals?  So often there isn't more than a name, if that was even mentioned.   As a rule they weren't given as much attention as the bad elements that they brought to justice.

William Emil Steffen, Detective- Chicago Police Department, served 32 years on the force and also served as a guard for the county jail witness room for 12 years.  He was so well liked, for his duty with the police force that upon his retirement at age 63, he was asked by Captain Daniel Gilbert of the States Attorney's office to remain as part of his personnel.
Many of them were written about, and included in famous movies, but credits were never properly listed.  But those in the real world know who they are and what they've accomplished.
 Many of you remember Marge Gunderson (on the left) from the movie Fargo, she's described as being more of a mid-westernized hard boiled detective then merely the Chief of Police for Brainerd, Minnesota.
Some sources say the basis of the movie is a true story that evolved in Minnesota, while other accounts are that it's a compilation of events in which took place all around the country. 
Know this, the two Cohen writers (of the movie Fargo) are also brothers, Joel and Ethan (who went to school with one of my best friends)and they are from St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  Frances McDormand, who played Chief of Police Marge Gunderson is Joel Cohen's wife in real life.
So who knows where writers really obtain all their information right?
Guess The Winner at the Turkey Wrangle?
  Now really, who is the hero here?!
Just another example how many photographers get out there and cover stories like this turkey race on November 25, 1955 the day after Thanksgiving while onlookers crowd around a Minneapolis sidewalk to catch a glimpse-
and the credit for the photo goes to?
They stand in the rain, sleet and snow just for our safety
but we remember them, and some of us may be lucky enough to catch a name.

1959 Minneapolis Traffic Officer

1910 Minneapolis Police and Jail Guards showing off their shotguns.
Guess What Happens When Someone Pays Attention
From the Minnesota Historical Society her is Gov. Luther Youngdahl, (from 1-8-1947 - 9-27-1951) burning straight jackets in Anoka, Minnesota.
On Halloween night 1949, Minnesota Gov. Luther Youngdahl stood aside a bonfire outside Anoka State Hospital and, with fanfare, burned 359 straitjackets and hundreds of other restraints he said were sinister relics of a more barbarous time.

"By this action we say that we have liberated ourselves from witchcraft - that in taking off mechanical restraints from the patients, we are taking off intellectual restraints from ourselves," the governor said.
 I'll close with a table somewhat in resemblance to our theme photo today.

A picnic with President Harding and industrial notables, at the Firestone Estate 1921, (along the back side of the table Firestone, Edison, Harding and Ford) from the Library of Congress Prints and Photos.

I hope you enjoyed how I set my table for Sepia Saturday today- for your dessert check out other Sepia Saturday posts.
 For more Sepia Saturday posts go here


R. Mac Wheeler said...

thoroughly enjoyed your snippets of history.

I loved Marge in Fargo. If it hadn't been so would be one of my all-time favorite movies (mostly because of Marge. She was excellent)

Have a great weekend.

Karen S. said...

Mac- I know I totally agree with you- the dark was over the top and she was the only bright star! She rocks in general for me. Funny thing, they really over did the Minnesota accent too! Ha! Ha!

Karen S. said...

Mac- oh yeah, I forgot to mention Marge was pregnant in the movie- and also in real life!!! That was all real!

darlin said...

Thank you Karen for another insightful post, now I'm going to scour the internet for the movie Fargo! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

TexWisGirl said...

(loved fargo!) :) great look at history.

young-eclectic-encounters said...

What a fun post- It reminds me of my teenage years growing up in Chicago and going to our favorite pizza places which was also a place where the mob did business. My friends and I would sit there and try to figure out who was in the mob and who were with the feds. You are right it was hard to tell.

sage said...

I don't know about movies being good hideouts for outlaws, didn't Dilliger try that and it became his "Last Picture Show?"

Bob Scotney said...

All because of a table you have introduced me to a range of people some of whom I had never heard about. It was your cop directing traffic that made me realise I haven't seen one doing this in the UK for more years than I can remember

Little Nell said...

Another feast laid out on your table. That final picture fits the prompt nicley too and brings it all 'full circle'!

Karen S. said...

Sage- for sure, and it just goes to show beware of ladies in red! Ha! Ha!

Karen S. said...

Sage- for sure, and it just goes to show beware of ladies in red! Ha! Ha!

Karen S. said...

Bob- I know we still do have them from time to time, even out at the Mall of America when the traffic gets out of hand. Not a job that I'd probably like with some of the drivers of today!

Karen S. said...

Little Nell- I was thinking the same thing when I saw that photo! Full circle!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

That first photograph certainly provides evidence of what Minnesotans do to pass the time during long, cold winters, which was probably handed down through the generations from the Scandinavian ancestors.

tony said...

I'm Off Into Manchester Tomorrow To Buy Me A Fedora Hat and Trench Coat.!

Titania said...

Karen, you have set a splendid table.
The food you served, interesting, amazing, well peppered with amazing titbits.

Laurie Kolp said...

Hi, Karen. This is great. I love all the old pics. It would be able to find a criminal at lunch counters or in movies (so cheap) b/c they all did look/sress the same. Funny how the majority were fit and trim back then. Did you notice that?

izzy said...

Gathering places are so much fun!
I adore the photo of the guy on the phone! Great job- thanks!


That caller in the first pic looks a bit shady to me, possibly pleading with his bookie...

Your traffic officer made me think of this one:


Grace said...

Enjoyed the pictures....and yes, its hard to tell the bad guys from the good guys ~

Have a lovely day ~