Confessions of a Bootlegger

Confessions of a Bootlegger
"You can’t get along without friendly cops."

The story of how a bootlegger scams some thieves, taken from a longer story published in the weekly Liberty Magazine, January 8, 1927:

You can’t get along without friendly cops. They can tip you off to raids coming from their superiors; they can ride your load through dangerous places. They are the greatest protection in the world against hijackers. They stand watch for you when you are unloading. They can turn their traffic signals for you to let you through in a hurry. They can always tell you where to get liquor. The fee is usually one dollar a case, but it varies from twenty-five cents to two dollars and a half, according to the job. But I’d hate to think what bootlegging would be without cops.

Manny is his real name. I didn’t like his looks, in the first place. The gang warned me that he was a tough egg who would put it over if he could.

He wanted a load of Scotch and champagne, what is known as a big buy. I told him I’d sell. But before I delivered it to him, I made my preparations.

About ten o’clock at night, Manny showed up with his truck. On it were gunmen friends of his known as Mutsy and Pokey. Manny asked, "Where’s the stuff?" I showed it to him.

"You here alone?" Manny asked. I said "Yup!" I had my coat off. All he had to do was look at me to see I wasn’t heeled.

Pretty soon they had the truck all loaded with $4,200 worth of Scotch and Cordon Rouge. Then they got aboard.

"How about paying me?" I asked. "Try and get it," Manny said. Mutsy and Pokey began to laugh. They all had their hands in their pockets.

Well, I had to laugh, too. "All right, Manny, this isn’t the first time I’ve been hijacked."

"Any guy that don’t care for his stuff no better than you do ain’t got anything coming to him," Manny said. Then he and his outfit drove off.

I put on my coat and started off down the road after them.

When I got about half a mile down, there was the truck drawn up alongside the road. Manny and Mutsy and Pokey were reaching up for the Milky Way. Two state cops had their guns poked halfway through ’em.

"Why, Manny," I said, "did you get into trouble? Now, isn’t that too bad! Let’s see: they got you for possession, transportation, and concealed weapons."

"Hey," Manny asked, "what the heck is this, anyway?"

"I told you I was all alone at the shack, but I didn’t say anything about my friends down the road. Don’t you think you’d better pay me?"

Manny peeled off the $4,200 I had coming to me. "Maybe you can do business with the boys now," I suggested. "About a couple of hundred apiece ought to make it square."

The boys allowed that was about right.

Manny pried himself loose from $400. Then Manny and Mutsy and Pokey got on their truck again and drove off.

When I walked on down to where the state road came in, there was the truck over on the side of the road, and Manny and Mutsy and Pokey were feeling for the stars again. Two local cops had them lined up.

"Why, Manny," I said, when I got to them, "this is most unfortunate."

"He had five hundred dollars," explained the cops.

"Well, I guess that will about square it, won’t it, boys?"

Manny and Mutsy and Pokey got on their truck again.

"Now, Manny," I said, "you’d better take the back roads, because there may be a lot more fellows out looking for you. I’m going home now. If you get into trouble again, you will have to get yourself out of it. And next time, just because a feller is alone, don’t think he hasn’t got any friends."

It took Manny all the rest of the night to get to Newark, down every back road in Jersey.

Read more of the article at Confessions of a Bootlegger by "JIMMY" as told to Paul Gallico, Liberty Magazine>>
– Motorcycle cop image from the Connecticut State Patrol>>

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