Monday, May 12, 2008

Leonard & John

As I mentioned before, my dad (Leonard) was one of 12 kids born in his family. He was the first boy and the third child. One of the twelve died as an infant. My father was the second of his siblings to pass away. In 1940 when he was 31 (I was 6) he died of an infection in the lining of the heart which is curable today but not then. I don't remember him at all. So I have to rely on his family to get information concerning his life.

My uncle Gary was the 12th one born and remembers my dad well. Gary is the last of the twelve kids yet living. So I have been asking him questions and getting some answers that I can pass on to my family.

Gary wrote to me in 2005 concerning some events in my dad's life that he recalls. Leonard was somewhat rebellious and often butted heads with his dad, my grandfather. Grandpa was a pastor and very stern with his family. I have first hand knowledge of that although he and I got along fine. I lived with my grandparents from my age 8 to 15.

Leonard spent 18 months in the reformatory at Crown Point, Indiana, for being part of a group that stole an automobile and took it across state lines (Florida). This information was withheld from Gary until he was about sixteen. For a couple of months my dad was in the same cell as John Dillinger. It was after Dillinger's first holdup spree. John Dillinger also came from a christian home with a very stern father. My dad got his life straightened out living the balance of his life with the principles he was taught from the beginning.

Dillinger became very famous as an outlaw and was killed outside of the Biograph Theater in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago on July 22, 1934, the year of my birth. The FBI gave an order to kill Dillinger on sight. He was set up by a friend wearing an orange dress as identification. She was known as "The Lady in Red" - the dress appeared as red because of the theater lights. She was to be deported and a deal was made to avoid that.

A couple of interesting facts: John was 31 years old when he was killed by the FBI - Leonard was 31 years old when he died of an illness. John was killed on July 22nd - 21 years later on that month and day Ann and I were married (7-22-55).

This was quite a contrast in the two young men's lives who met briefly.

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