22 June

It's Dillinger's birthday & Bilbo Baggins goes home

So we are drinking a...

Homely Smoke

At last Bilbo Baggins, unwilling star of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, makes it back home to Bag End in Shire Reckoning after the long Quest of Erebor, only to learn that he has been declared dead.

Poor chap, we think he probably needs a Homely Smoke to bring himself to life again.

John Dillinger's birthday

John Herbert Dillinger was one of America's most notorious gangsters who during the Depression-era led a gang who robbed 24 banks and four police stations. He was born this day in 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was informally named America's first Public Enemy Number One this day 31 years later.

He started his first prison sentence in 1924 saying, "I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here." The physical examination upon being admitted to the prison revealed he had gonorrhoea.

Dillinger was released on parole after 9 years of that first sentence but was jailed twice more, escaping each time. He was charged with the murder of a Chicago police officer after returning fire when the officer shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest.

Dillinger was more notorious than Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie & Clyde, mainly because he courted the media with the resulting publicity painting him as a colourful Robin Hood-like character. This in turn helped FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, raise the funds and support he needed to develop the FBI to fight organised crime.

On 21st July 1934, Ana Cumpănaș (AKA Anna Sage), a Romanian immigrant brothel madam contacted the FBI offering information on Dillinger in exchange for help to prevent her deportation. She revealed that Dillinger was seeing another prostitute, Polly Hamilton, and that the three of them were due to see a movie together the following day.

FBI agents watched Sage, Hamilton, and Dillinger entering the Biograph Theater in Chicago, Illinois, which ironically was showing a gangster movie. Not wanting to risk a shoot-out inside, the agents waited for Dillinger to leave when the film ended. Reports on what exactly happened when he left are confused, but Dillinger ran into an alley where he was shot four times, the fatal bullet in the back of his neck, severed his spinal cord, passed into his brain and exited just under the right eye. Dillinger died only two months after the deaths of fellow criminals Bonnie and Clyde.

Dillinger's body was put on public display and an estimated 15,000 people viewed the corpse. Dillinger's gravestone has been replaced several times due to vandalism by people chipping off pieces as souvenirs.

In memory of this gangster's bloody end and Anna Sage, the woman who informed on him, we are drinking a Blood Sage. Incidentally, despite assisting the FBI to capture Dillinger, and agents agreeing to help her avoid deportation, she was deported to Timișoara, Romania, in 1936 where she lived until her death from liver disease in 1947.

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