JUNE 2018

JUNE 2018
FOX NEWS during the 1890's


Sunday, April 21, 2013


“I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends, my God damn friends...they're the ones who keep me walking the floors nights.”
Warren G. Harding.
On the night of October 31, 1918 crowds jammed 9th Street in Washington, D,C, lined with restaurants and bars, to share a final drink. Then, at midnight, November 1st, 1918, the District of Columbia went bone dry, by federal fiat. It had been the pro-prohibition states that had re-elected President Woodrow Wilson in November of 1916. The imposition of prohibition in the one place on earth he could dictate it, was his reward for them. Opponents tried to give the local residents a vote on the issue, but Wilson complained, “There is no voting machinery in the District of Columbia. It would have to be created.” Still the option of giving democracy a chance inside the district was only defeated because the vote was tied – 43 pro and 43 con - and VP Thomas Marshall refused to cast the deciding vote – either way. That opened the door to the Sheppard Act, sponsored by Senator John Sheppard of Texas, which allowed the politicians to assure their moralistic supporters back home (in places like Texas) that they were being morally pure in far off Washington, D.C. Like bad fish,  the situation reeked with hypocrisy from the head.
- sung to the tune of “My bonnie lies over the ocean” -
My father makes book on the corner,
My mother makes illicit gin.
My sister sells kisses to sailors,
My God how the money rolls in.
Rolls in , rolls in,
My God how the money rolls in, rolls in.
Rolls in, rolls in,
My God how the money rolls in.
When the Democrat Woodrow Wilson vacated the White House, he had the residence's extensive liquor stockpiles shipped to his new private home across town. The incoming President, Ohioan Warren G. Harding (above right), ordered his Attorney General, Harry Daugherty (above left), to replace it. The AG simply instructed his newly appointed Treasury Officer in charge of prohibition, Roy Asa Haynes, to stock Wells Fargo wagons with seized “illegal” booze and transport this forbidden aqua vitae several times a week,  guarded by armed IRS agents, to various locations inside the district for the consumption by privileged public servants. One of those locations was the second floor of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Another was the “little white house” on H Street where Harding himself relaxed with alcohol and female companionship away from the prying eyes of the press and Mrs. Harding. Another was the little green house on K street, where something much more carnal than extramarital sex was going on.
My mother asks home politicians
To play in a night full of sin.
My father pops in with a camera.
My God, how the money rolls in!
The tailored Howard Mannington was almost fifty when he arrived in Washington to work with the Harding administration. He was described as “jowly, square-headed, heavy-lidded, thick lipped with a pug nose.” He was a close friend of Daugherty's, and had been involved in Ohio Republican politics for more than twenty years. He was a charter member of what became known as The Ohio Gang. His partner was Mr. M.P. Kraffmiller, treasurer of the General American Tank Car Company, out of Chicago and Warren, Ohio. General American not only built railroad tank cars, but financed the purchase of them, much as car companies today finance the purchase of their cars. In both cases the leases provided yet another source of profit for the manufacturers. And that was the skill which Kraffmiller brought to the table for the Ohio Gang - managing large sums of cash. He and Mannington started out sharing a room in the Lafayette Hotel, at 16th and I streets in Washington. But that was too visible a location. As of May 1, 1921, they signed a lease on the house at 1625 K street. It was perfect for their needs.
My mother's a bawdy house keeper,
Every night when the evening grows dim.
She hangs out a little red lantern,
My God how the money rolls in.
What Federal Agent Gaston Means liked about the house at 1625 K Street was that it had both a front and a rear exit. A gate in the backyard fence gave access to a twisting ally which led directly to the Justice Department, and the offices of both Attorney General Harry Daugherty and his flunky, Jess Smith. Two blocks south of the house faced with green limestone, and a short walk across Lafayette Park, was the White House.
The first floor front room of the Little Green House (above) was a parlor. Beyond was Howard Mannington's office and conference rooms. On the second floor was a bar and poker rooms, and an office for Mr. Kraffmiller. On the third floor were the bedrooms, both public and private. In the basement Agent Means had his office, filled with files and maps of ports and highways, used for the distribution of now illegal liquor. Means' office was adjacent to a dinning room that seated 20, a kitchen with 3 stoves, a bathroom, and a laundry room. And in the back yard was "the safe".
My sister's a barmaid in Boston,
For a dollar she'll strip to the skin.
She's stripping from morning to midnight,
My God how the money rolls in.
Agent Means had constructed the safe himself. The back gate was “as strong as the door on a bank vault”, Means testified later. “Entering this gate (with a special key), one was then inside a steel cage-confronted by another gate, equally as strong and opened only by another special key.” Beyond, in the very center of the yard, Agent Means dug a square, several feet wide. “After getting down a couple of feet or so, I had a wooden platform built...with an open space in the center. Then, I dug down...for twenty feet-and I lowered into this twenty-foot-deep hole a terracotta pipe about eight inches in diameter....I had a small steel box, which I kept lowered into this pipe by a strong rope."
In that steel box Howard Mannington said he usually kept between $50,000 and $5,000,000 in cash. For what the Ohio Gang was selling was the ultimate goal of every Washington lobbyist - access to key political decision makers. And the proof that they were very good at doing this, was that on an official public salary of seven dollars a day, agent Means owned a Washington townhouse with three servants and a chauffeur driven limousine. Two or three times each week Daugherty's sycophant Jess Smith dropped by K street to meet in private with Mannington in his first floor office, which is when and where the money changed hands. Agent Means admitted to often humming a tune to himself as he made deposits and withdraws from his backyard  K Street “bank”. The tune was “My God, how the money rolls in”.
My father makes rum in the bathtub
My mother make two kinds of Gin
My sister makes love for a living
My God how the money rolls in
I’ve tried making all kinds of whiskey
I’ve tried making all kinds of Gin
I’ve tried making love for a living
My God the condition I’m in
- 30 -

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your reaction.

Blog Archive