Book Review: Vallejo

Vallejo native (Brendan Riley) pens book on Vallejo’s old ‘barbary coast,’ holds book signing Saturday

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

POSTED: 08/14/17, 3:11 PM PDT | UPDATED: 1 WEEK AGO

“There’s a chapter on Baby Face Nelson that was really fascinating for me,” Riley said. He came as a “guest” of  Tobe Williams, an old safe cracker, who ran Vallejo General Hospital. According to FBI reports, though (Nelson) “committed no crime here that we know of, there was a murder during that time that was never solved.”

Nelson and his wife felt safe enough in Vallejo to “walk around town like anybody else, going to the movies, and so on,” despite being, at one point, the most wanted man in the United States, he said.

“The technology we have now didn’t exist which is why he came out to the West Coast; because the FBI was doing most of its searching in the Midwest,” Riley said.

Nelson wasn’t just hanging out in the Bay Area, but ran a bootleg liquor operation from Marin and San Francisco, while on the lam, he said.

Nelson returned to the Chicago area from Vallejo, and was soon killed in a shootout with two FBI agents, Riley said.

“At that time, he was Public Enemy No. One, after John Dillinger died in July 1934,” he said. “Nelson left Vallejo in October 1934 and died that November.”

Read More.

<<<  >>>

The Holland Michigan Bank and Baby Face Nelson

 by 

 

 

Historic image of First State Bank in Holland, MI (image courtesy of Digital Holland, Michigan)

WHTC News has learned that the PNC bank branch on West 8th Street at Central Avenue will be closing on November 17th. Officials didn’t say a reason behind the move in a letter that arrived in deposit holders’ mailboxes on Monday.

Built in 1916 as First State Bank, it was the scene of a famous robbery on September 29, 1932 when Lester Gillis, better known as the notorious gangster “Baby Face Nelson,” allegedly joined forces with Eddie Bentz to take some 70 thousand dollars in cash and bonds, injuring a bystander in their flight. The crime was never solved by Holland police detectives. Read More.

<<<  >>>

A Baby Face Nelson sighting in Nevada – 1934

The Nevada Appeal August 22, 2016

“If all reports are true, Baby Face Nelson, with several pals, paid Gardnerville a visit several weeks ago. From here, the gang went to Hawthorne, living in the outskirts of that town for several days and then vanished. Federal officers, it is reported, were several days behind the fugitives but hope to apprehend them before many weeks go by.” — The Record-Courier, Nov. 16, 1934

Baby Face Nelson

After mention of Nelson in the Locals column of The Record-Courier, 11 days would pass before authorities killed Nelson in a gunfight in Wilmett, Ill. on Nov. 27, 1934, just two days before Thanksgiving and less than two weeks before his 26th birthday. And that signaled the end of Baby Face Nelson, or Lester Gillis, the only Most Wanted Criminal ever to live in Douglas County as a most wanted criminal.

 Dead Nelson

Read more from Nevada Appeal Article.


Nelson did die in Wilmett, but he received the mortal wounds in the “Battle of Barrington” where he killed two federal officers (Inspector Cowley and Agent Hollis). Also at the gun battle were Baby Face’s wife Helen and longtime friend John Paul Chase (aka Earl Butler).

Battle of Barrington

The car driven by Nelson and disabled by agents’ bullets is shown in the picture above. The events leading up to the car chase, the shootout, and what followed are described in my novel manuscript Midnight Run 1932.

Chase, an unknown, could walk into a grocery store for supplies or a sporting goods store for ammunition without causing suspicion. Initially, it was not know that he was at Barrington with Nelson; however, Helen was captured in Chicago and after being tortured revealed Chase’s identity.

HelenClips (1)

The hunt for Chase began in Illinois and ended up at Mount Shasta in California.

My 87,000-word manuscript is a fact-based novel chronicling the life of a naïve northern California dairy worker (Chase) eager to experience the women, booze, and fast cars of the roaring 1920’s.

[If you are an AAR literary agent and interested in reading more, please contact me at: bootlegger1932@gmail.com)

<<<  >>>