Mafia in Sioux City
The fact that the Fahey Boys slept in the loft and did not worry about curfew or bed check could have had disastrous ramifications in one instance. They knew they were playing with fire and were sure they could handle the situation. With luck, two of the culprits escaped with no harm done. It started with Dennis and Bill roaming around after dark. They were not in the habit of looting unlocked autos in the neighborhood, but on this night fate beckoned them and their attention was drawn to an unlocked garage, with an unlocked car in it.
When they checked the auto, they were amazed to find inside a colt automatic 45 calibre and a 25 colt automatic pistol. The boys confiscated the two pistols, as well as a stack of papers they were placed upon. When arriving back at their loft and reading the papers, they found a detective report listing the names of two suspected felons carrying concealed weapons. The detective made the mistake of not submitting his report before he signed off duty for the night.
The report included the names and addresses of the two suspected felons. One was named Feliciano and the other with the unbelievable moniker of Gigliobianca. The boys made up their minds that the evidence and the pistols should be worth $500.00 to the "victims." They considered lawyers fees and jail time in their computations. Very thorough but not too well versed in finances.
Armed with the information but not the evidence, they went to the residence listed on the police report. Only one of them went to the door and knocked while the other stood guard, so that in case of foul play he could blow the whistle. The irate and swarthy gent answered the knock by brusquely asking the boy what he wanted. To his amazement he was told that it wasn't what they wanted but what they had that was to be the topic of discussion.
The tense atmosphere rapidly became more cordial when the felon realized that without any evidence to back him up it would just be the detective's word against theirs. At this point the bargaining started and the boys, outclassed in these matters, settled on the sum of only $250.00 dollars. This sum amounted to what a grown man could expect for a month of hard labor, so the boys thought they had made a good bargain.
With the terms of the settlement cleared up, the transfer of money was arranged. The time was settled and the place just one half block from the local police station. One of the boys was to surrender the pistols and the papers to one of the felons while the other boy watched to be sure there was no foul play. There was no danger of foul play. The felons could not believe how fortune had smiled upon them and they bore absolutely no animosity towards their benefactors. A jail term couldn't have been avoided and the cost of their lawyers would have been exorbitant even in those days. The boys were in the habit of looking over their shoulders for a while after that until they decided all was safe again. With no evidence the hapless detective had no case and never did find out what went awry. Maybe he was more careful after that incident.
The boys' parents got no wind of the boys' activities and their neighbors thought they were such well behaved boys that they allowed them to sit on their big front porches and spoon their daughters. No serious sex was contemplated nor experimented by the youth of this day. The first reason was the fear of pregnancy, the second fear of syphilis. At this time penicillin had not yet been discovered and the only treatment for syphilis was the long and hazardous treatment with arsenic. The third was fear of contracting gonorrhea, a very painful venereal disease. The fourth and most profound was the fear of going to hell. Most of the kids in the neighborhood had parents who insisted their children go to Sunday services even if they did not adhere to what they preached.
One advantage of this rule of going to church every Sunday was the fact that the church was a half hour walk in each direction plus a full hour in church. These two hours on a Sunday morning could prove to be very amusing. One incident of this nature was when the police chewed them out for blasting off firecrackers in the area of the church they should have been in. The boys' father was Catholic, the mother a Methodist. Because of this difference in order to be married even in the chapel the mother had to vow that any children would be reared as Catholics. The old Catholic grandmother made sure that the vow was kept. This two hours of separation was valuable to both the boys and their parents. Just think, two full hours without any interruption from the kids running in and out.
The boys' parents were unique in their own ways. Both were strict disciplinarians but also good cooks and dietitians. The father usually prepared a breakfast consisting of bacon, home-grown eggs, and potato patties or, in lean times, oatmeal or cream of wheat. The meat supply came from a pig raised on their acre, or from the purchase of a quarter of a beef which could be hung in the garage naturally frozen until needed. The lard from the butchered hog was rendered out and the father made fantastic donuts, which were called sinkers at that time because they had to be soaked in coffee in order to be edible. But they lasted and were very good tasting. What they used for bacon was called sow belly, the fat, mostly lard of the belly of their pigs that were butchered for winter use. The father salted down this high cholesterol delicacy and served it for the morning meal. It was probably more tasty than what is sold as bacon today, not really smoked but artificially flavored and treated pig fat.
In those days pesticides were used as a matter of getting rid of the garden pests with no regard as to what was in them. Potato beetles were very destructive and undesirable, so the crop was liberally saturated with Paris Green insecticide. The active ingredient was actually arsenic, but this fact didn't show up on the label. The potatoes were eaten in abundance and, although arsenic is a cumulative poison, there were no cases of arsenic poisoning recorded. Perhaps we are being overly cautious today.
The four oldest of the Fahey boys all managed to get into high school and were getting passing grades, but invariably before they were due to graduate they hit the magic age of 16 when school attendance was no longer mandatory. At this age they dropped out of school to join what was not a promising labor market. President Roosevelt at this time wisely inaugurated the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps was a good deal at the time for unemployable young men. The pay was 30 dollars a month when an Army private drew only 21. Room and board plus clothing and medical treatment came with the six month contract. The men lived under conditions that prevailed in the Army. This meant strict discipline with rigid Saturday inspections of the barracks, bed check at night, and a pass required to leave the post.
This military type of living done them in good stead when in later days they were drafted into the Army when World War II started. They were adjusted to responding to the bugle that summoned the rise and shine and also the quiet down and go to sleep amongst others. The calls went by name of reveille and taps at that time. The term conservation aptly described their work. They were kept busy planting trees, building holding ponds, and other actions to slow down rampant soil erosion. Much of their work is still doing the job intended.