Episode 127: Dollop: Bank Robber Harry Pierpont

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Dave: Apparently Dillinger was going to use the bullwhip when he paid a visit to his former one-armed attorney who had run off with a retainer.

Gareth: That’s got Tarantino written all over it.

wanted poster



Gun molls:

Mary Kinder (aka Mary Northern; 29 August 1909 – 21 May 1981): Harry “Handsome Harry” Pierpont’s girlfriend

Mary Kinder
Mary Kinder: She may or may not be packing heat in her garter belt.



Mary Evelyn “Billie” Frechette (September 15, 1907 – January 13, 1969): I believe she was a Native American, for she was born and died on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.

Bilie Frechette. Pistol in that pill hat, dollars to doughnuts.
Billie Frechette: Pistol in that pill hat, dollars to doughnuts.



Pearl Elliott (October 21, 1887–August 10, 1935): the madame associate of Pierpont’s: The Madame of Kokomo

“Moll” derives from “Molly”, used as a euphemism for “whore” or “prostitute”. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the earliest usage in a 1604 quote by Thomas Middleton: “None of these common Molls neither, but discontented and unfortunate gentlewomen.” (Wikipedia)

So, piss off or discontent a gentlelady, and she’ll take up with a gangster and shoot shit up, see?

(You totally read that in the 1920’s/30’s gangster movie voice in your head, didn’t you? Because I did the same thing writing it. Here’s some suggestions: Roaring Twenties, Little Caesar, G-Men, Public Enemy, Bullets or Ballots. Now make me some popcorn, see?)

Don’t Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang * Ellen Poulsen, William J. Helmer

mental_floss: 10 Female Gangsters You Should Know About



“As mad as a March hare”:

A long-held view is that the hare will behave strangely and excitedly throughout its breeding season, which in Europe  March…This odd behaviour includes boxing at other hares, jumping vertically for seemingly no reason and generally displaying abnormal behavior...An early verbal record of this animal’s strange behaviour occurred in about 1500, in the poem Blowbol’s Test where the original poet said: Thanne þey begyn to swere and to stare, And be as braynles as a Marshe hare 

Then they begin to swerve and to stare, And be as brainless as a March hare (Wikipedia)

So, remember those Looney Tunes cartoons where Daffy Duck would just snap and hop about, bouncing in and out of frame, woohooing? Yep.

But, of course, all roads leads eventually to Alice, because 1) everything’s connected, and 2) because I said so. Behold the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

March Hare



detective magazines, you guys ask? No, not peer-reviewed journals. Even better. PULP. Tawdry, exploitation spank-bank pulp.

Yes, I said spank-bank.

Cover collection from the 1920’s and 1930’s at noirfilm.com–lots of The Black Mask, Daring DetectiveStartling Detective…

Pulp Magazine Archive at archive.org, available for download, and I highly recommend doing so.



John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks’ Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920-1936 * Paul Maccabee

And yeah, about that Public Enemies list: Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 * Bryan Burroughs

Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy * Steven Nickel

The Pierpont/Dillinger Gang feature in the Stephen King short story “The Death of Jack Hamilton”, in the collection Everything’s Eventual.



Oh, and Homer Van Meter, who was super bendy, and could dislocate his joints at will and so disguise himself as “crippled”? I’ll bet he had the same disease I do, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome-Hypermobility Type. (What a coin-ka-dink, May is EDS Awareness Month.)  Many of the contortionists in carny shows most likely did, as well. And that gross shoulder dislocation trick Mel Gibson pulled in Lethal Weapon…yeah. I don’t do that shit on purpose, because it hurts. A lot. And it happens enough by accident, thanks.



Rooting Shootin Toys Ad
1937 toys ad thanks to retrowaste.com
1937 ad: for when your little whippersnapper wants to grow up to be a gangster: My First Tommy Gun
1937 ad: for when your little whippersnapper wants to grow up to be a gangster: My First Tommy Gun

the Tommy Gun: actually the Thompson submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1918, with many more nicknames, depending on who was doing the shootin’: “Trench Broom”, “Trench Sweeper”, “Chicago Typewriter”, “Chicago Piano”, “Chicago Style”, “Chicago Organ Grinder”, “The Chopper” and, of course, “The Thompson”.

I think my favorite is the Chicago Typewriter, because it’s just so macabre. Here, Johnny, I wrote ya a letter, lemme spell it out for ya.


Let me read the small print in that Tommy Gun toy ad for you. Very first line. It’s called THE WIDOWMAKER. It’s a brilliant Patton Oswalt joke, but in the wild and horribly real and why would you do that to a child? The third line reads “very popular” (of course the fuck it does Murica!) and, at the bottom, you can order extra play ammo.


But no violin case.

That’s not a movie or cartoon trope. Sometimes gangsters really did break down their Chicago Typewriters in music cases. Behold:

Tommy violin


Bands from this episode:

  • Impulse Buy
  • Barrel of Thread
  • Prison Shirt Factory
  • Tommy Guns and Terriers

Cultural references from this episode:

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