Johnnie was a lucky guy. Two beautiful girls accompanied him to “Manhattan Melodrama” starring Clark Gable.
The price of admission was twenty-four cents but he threw down a dollar and had enough leftover for three sodas and a bag of popcorn. Money was nothing to him. In 1934, a doctor earned just over $3,000 a year, a department store model $900, and an airline pilot $8,000. Congressmen made $8,663. When he could find work, Johnnie received close to $2,000 a day after splitting with his co-workers. It was dangerous work, but he loved it.
Johnnie’s favorite girl, Billie, wasn’t available that night
so he took Polly
The movie started and the new hit song “Blue Moon” played. Both girls snuggled down in their seats. Polly rested her head on his shoulder and he gave her a kiss. Ana put her hand on his knee. Outside, it was a hot summer night but the theater advertised “refrigeration” and inside it was pleasant.
Ninety-three minutes later the movie ended and the house lights came up. The movies goers leisurely made their way out of the theater into the warm night air. The sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians window shopping or just taking a stroll. Johnnie and his two ladies bumped shoulders as they left. It was a romantic movie. As they walked, three men fell in behind them. The men were uncomfortably close within arms’ reach. At the end of the block, two more men moved toward the trio.
Johnnie and the women turned toward the alley where four additional men waited. Johnnie was shot in the back and fell face down. He was shot three more times in the head. Two were gutter wounds creasing his cheek, and one bullet went into the back of his skull and exited below his eye. Overall, twenty-two men, mostly in pairs, had staked out the street in front of the theater and participated in the murder. They were never prosecuted.
Footnote: The Coroner’s Autopsy Report for Johnnie (aka John Dillinger) went missing for over fifty years.
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