I’m currently reading Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough. It’s about John Dillinger and his gang, Bonnie and Clyde, the Barker Family, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin Karpis and the FBI guys led by J. Edgar Hoover. For the first chapter or so, I kept getting the people/characters mixed up. After that, I really started enjoying the book.
As I read, I keep thinking about how different the lives of these guys/gals were than the lives my grandparents led (they were married in 1933 – Grandad was 23 and Meema was 19) and the stories they told me about Oklahoma and their road trips to California, Oregon and Washington during those years.
Tonight, I went out to Mom and Dad’s for dinner and was talking with Dad about Public Enemies. He told me about a show on the History Channel that he’s been wanting to see about that time/those events in history.
As we were talking about the 1930’s, Dad talked about his dad, uncle and grandfather cutting wooden rail road ties (with axes, I think) and were paid 50 cents for each one. Another guy that Dad’s family knew made 10 cents an hour. For a 12 hour day, this guy brought home one dollar a day after taxes. Dad said something that this one dollar a day guy said when bragging about his income. Since I cannot remember exactly how he said it, I will not attempt to recreate that here.
Then Mom told us about how my grandparents would save up to buy ketchup for my aunt because she liked it so much (now we know where Chrissie and her children get this great love for ketchup). This was in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s time frame. This aunt is 14 yrs older than my mom and this was before Mom was born. Ketchup cost 10 cents a bottle. Grandad made 5 cents an hour. So that was an expensive item back then.
When Dad went to watch tv after dinner, guess what was on?
That very show that he was talking about earlier.
It’s called Crime Wave: 18 months of Mayhem.
I only saw a tiny bit of it, but the parts I saw had video of John Dillinger and photos of many of the others in the book. I hope it comes on again so I can record it. Did you see it?