In the late 1940s: Criminals Had A Hard Life

Updated: May 5


In the late 1940s: Criminals Have A Hard Life

The business of crime is one field where the "customers" do not always cooperate willingly. Criminals would have a much easier time of it, for instance, if their victims were not always so determined not to be held up or burglarized. In Philadelphia, a customer in a shoe repair shop held up another customer while the shoemaker was in the back wrapping a package. When the shoemaker returned, the hold-up man gestured threateningly and demanded his money, too. Instead of obeying, the shoemaker grabbed up several pairs of shoes and hurled a steady stream of them at the thief, sending him fleeing into the night.



Another criminal who encountered a shoe-throwing victim was the burglar who invaded the home of Dr. Clarence D. Smith, of Philadelphia, in the small hours of one morning. Aroused by her mother's scream, Barbara Smith, blonde daughter of the doctor, hurried out of her room in time to see the intruder rushing down the stairs. Picking up the nearest weapon, a chair, Barbara hurled it at the man. The burglar's knees buckled under the impact, but he kept going. Then Miss Smith scooped up an armful of shoes and began tossing them at the retreating thief. Her aim was good, and six of them landed on his head. He finally escaped through a rear window.

A young housewife of Brooklyn, New York, awoke at two in the morning to find a strange man beside her bed. She screamed, and her 190-pound husband woke up in the bed beside hers. Still, in his pajamas, the husband chased the intruder to the street, caught him, and began to administer a thorough beating. The cop who came along at first arrested the husband but then got things straight, and took the badly battered burglar into custody. He went to a hospital.


A young mother who tried robbery to get milk for her baby also ran into trouble, but it turned out all for the best. In Houston, Texas, the girl, an *ex-WAC, hailed a cab and gave him a haphazard address. On a dark street, she swung a pop bottle she had concealed under her coat and smashed it against the cabbie's head. It didn't knock him out, and she didn't have the nerve to swing again. Instead, he grabbed the bottle and popped her on the forehead, then called a cop. The would-be thief explained to the police: "I didn't want to take all his money. Just five dollars to pay the room rent and give us enough to buy milk for the baby and a clean dressing for my husband's side." She had left her husband, also a veteran, in a *movie house with the baby, so that he would not know what she was up to. A few months before the husband had an appendicitis operation which left him with an infected wound and unable to work. When they heard her story, the cabbie gave her five dollars, the police contributed ten more, and let her go.

*WAC: a member of the Women's Army Corps, formerly an auxiliary of the U.S. Army.


*movie house: A theater is referred to as a house in the trade.


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