Friday, April 8, 2016

Chased By Mobsters Out of East St. Louis - 1937

I was taking communion to an older couple in our congregation yesterday. I always love to hear their stories from the past. Stories like the one below remind me that while things change, there are a lot of things that just stay the same.

L. became a taxi driver in Collinsville at the age of 17 in 1937. It was illegal to be a taxi driver at that age, but if you went to the right man and paid your two dollars nobody cared.

One evening a couple of Collinsville businessmen were getting sloshed downtown. They called for a cab to go to East St. Louis "to see the ladies." L. said that at that time East St. Louis was the "capital" for "ladies of the night." It was already late when he took them, and while he was waiting in his 1936 Ford he fell asleep.

His slumber was interrupted by the two men who had come running to the car, jumped in the back seat and hit the floor boards shouting, "Get going! Get going!" L. was still drowsy and not sure what was going on. Just then he saw a Cadillac turning the corner and heading toward them. He floored the '36 Ford realizing that this might be some of Buster Wortman's* men or maybe Al Capone's.

The Cadillac was slowing gaining on the '36 Ford as they made their way through Fairmont City. It wasn't looking good for L. until they hit the bluff at Collinsville. Apparently the smaller '36 Ford could handle the hill a little better and began to pull away. With the businessmen still cowering in the back seat, the frightened seventeen year old drove directly to the Collinsville police station and laid on the horn. L. told the police officers what happened and they began to circle around the area looking for the Cadillac. Not finding the vehicle, everyone decided that they must have given up.

Things are different today, but not that much. Sin and evil are still with us and always will be.

* You can still see Buster Wortman's old house with the moat around it in the south part of Collinsville today.

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