As I started to write the disappointing blog post, I remembered this newspaper clipping. I saw it in 2003, framed and hanging on the wall in one of my aunt's homes near Chicago. I have been unsuccessfully looking for the source in various newspaper archives ever since.
U.S. AGENTS RAID 200 GALLON STILL AND ARREST TWO
"Vincent Heinz, 28 years old, and Steve Rubino, 30, were arrested yesterday by agents of the federal alcohol tax unit. They were charged with possessing and manufacturing untaxed alcohol after the agents raided a 200 gallon still in Heinz's home on Skokie road near Simpson Street, Skokie.Vincent Heinz was my grandfather. Based on his stated age of 28 years, this arrest happened between November 10, 1942 and November 9, 1943. I figured it was again time to try to find the newspaper in which it was published and fired a shot in the dark by sending an email via the Ask a Librarian feature at the Skokie Public Library. Jackpot! A copy of the clipping was in my email inbox the next morning. The article was published in the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 30, 1941. It seems either grandpa lied about his age, or the newspaper reporter got it wrong.
"Heinz is a cousin of Theodore Heinz chief of police in Skokie, who recently testified before the grand jury investigating gambling in Cook County. Chief Heinz said he knew nothing of the activities of his cousin.
"United States Commissioner Edwin K. Walker continued the case against the two men until Tuesday and released them on bond. Rubino lives at 3039 Lexington Avenue and operates a gasoline station at Washington Road and Dempster Street, Morton Grove."
My mother, who would have just turned 8 at the time, remembers that the door to the basement in their home on Skokie Road was kept locked and they were told to never go down there. She also remembers some men with axes going down to the basement one night when she and her sisters were home with a sitter.
I don't have any mug shots of Grandpa Vince, but here is one of him with wife number 2 a few years after the arrest. They are in a bar, probably the one that he leased in Chicago.
He must not have spent any time in prison because Mom doesn't remember him being absent for any length of time. She seemed to be as surprised as I was when seeing the newspaper clipping hanging on that wall 11 years ago. Even though Grandpa operated taverns his entire adult life, and apparently made his own alcohol which he presumably sold in those taverns, Vince never drank the stuff.
Now that I know when this arrest was made, I am hot on the trail to find his arrest and trial records. This is going to be fun! It's an entirely new learning experience for me to obtain records from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). There is a fascinating press release from 2008 that tells the history of ATF through the badge changes here. And a whole lot more history on their website here. I had wondered why anyone would make their own liquor after the Prohibition ended. Turns out that it was much cheaper because of the taxes levied on alcohol and that the reason it was illegal was the non-payment of those taxes. Sometimes I am stunned by my naiveté.
Now skedaddle over to this week's Sepia Saturday blog to see the criminals, spies, con men, and others operating under false pretenses found in their families.
Oh, you're disappointed that you didn't get to see great-uncle Lee with his sign? Well, I wouldn't want that. Here it is. Isn't Grandpa Vince's arrest a much better response to the challenge?
Thanks for dropping by.