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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

THE ART OF BANKING

I bet you have never heard of Walter Bagehot (above) - rhymes with gadget. He was a melancholy 19th century economist who often did not sound like an economist - “Nothing is more unpleasant than a virtuous person with a mean mind”, and “The reason...so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.” But my favorite quote is from Bagehot's 1873 book, “Lombard Street”, which tells the story of the billion dollar (at the time 11 million pounds) collapse of Overend, Gurney & Company in London. Originally it was a private bankers' bank, then it went public as a brokerage house. And on “Black Friday”, 10 May 1866, it collapsed, releasing a “mania of terror” across England and annihilating 200 other banks and companies. From this disaster Badget drew a fundamental economic truth. “Every banker knows that if he has to prove that he is worthy of credit, however good may be his arguments, in fact his credit is gone.” Every arrogant egomaniac on Wall Street and K Street should have that little phrase tattooed on the back of their writing hand.
Which brings me to the central character of this essay, who had the honor of being the first American banker who faced that problem. His name was Andrew Dexter (above), and like the tens of thousands of American bankers who followed the path he blazed, he was above all else, a salesman, disarming and relentless. The pale blue eyed Andrew with boyish tousled hair graduated from Rhode Island College in 1799, at the head of his class. He had only 17 competitors, but one of them was Daniel Webster. After a brief stint working for his uncle in President John Adam's administration, he moved to Boston. And it was there, in 1804, the young lawyer joined a group of “second tier” financiers in forming a brokerage house they called “The Exchange”. The business model Andrew proposed was brilliant in a country with almost no regulation of financial institutions.
In the United States at the time, both charted state banks and private banks issued their own currency, redeemable at face value at the issuing bank in gold or silver coins, aka “hard currency”. But when those same notes appeared at banks in neighboring counties or states, where the credit of the original bank was unfamiliar, they were exchanged at a reduced level, or a discount. Every transaction required a series of equations to determine the value of the various forms of paper offered as payment for a debt or purchase. Every newspaper contained lists of the shifting discount rates for various currencies, much like modern baseball box scores.
Of course most customers used the notes issued by their local bank to pay for local goods and services at face value, and they rarely demanded the “hard currency”.that backed them up And some notes which managed to migrate to neighboring cities or states, might spend years in discounted circulation before being returned to the issuing bank. Relying on this, it was standard practice for bankers to have less “hard currency” on hand than the value of the notes they had in circulation. Large banks could even afford the small loss incurred by holding heavily discounted notes issued by distant banks, before periodically returning them for hard currency, if the issuing bank was still solvent. And it was this very complication that Andrew Dexter saw as an opportunity.
He began in 1805, out in western Massachusetts, when his agents showed up in Pittsfield, a village of just 2,300 people. With a couple of hundred notes (above) issued by the Berkshire Bank as a negotiating point, a deal was quickly reached with the stock holders of the Berkshire, exchanging their paper for that issued by “The Exchange.” Under Berkshire's good name, which looked better 100 miles away in Boston, the new management issued a hundred thousand dollars in new new notes, each signed by the old head cashier. Then in Boston, brokers for “The Exchange” sold the new notes at a slight discount. It was like conjuring money out of thin air, economic legerdemain, voodoo economics. In Andrew Dexter's brave new world, image was every thing.
“The Exchange” repeated this same trick at the Farmers Exchange Bank in Gloucester, Rhode Island (above)  the Hallowell and Augusta Bank, the Kennebec and Penobscot Bank and the Lincoln Bank in what would become Maine, the Woodstock, Concord and Coose banks in New Hampshire, and the Vermont State Bank with four branches around that state. 
 
Typical of the institutions chosen, The Detroit Bank in far off Michigan territory, had been capitalized with just $28,000 in hard currency, $8,000 of which had been used to build the main branch. In late 1806 “The Exchange” bought The Detroit Bank and printed up $163,000 in soft currency under its name, and then offered that for sale to unsuspecting Boston investors..
In the spring of 1807 Andrew broke ground for an edifice to his business acumen. It would be called the Exchange Coffee House, and at seven stories, it would be one of the tallest structures in North America. The masonry walls had to be five feet thick to support the height. 
 Like its builder, the Exchange would not be on the square, but a blunted triangle, covering a full acre, 94 feet of granite and brick by 97 feet by 132 feet. And also like its builder, its face depended upon your approach, presenting an exterior spiral staircase for the second floor restaurant, or the foundational stone steps for the businessman. Trading floor and coffee house, office spaces, a ball room, a library, a lecture hall, and tucked away in every nook and cranny, were 210 small dark sleeping rooms: the Exchange Coffee House was a paean to Andew Dexter's psyche. It would take two years to complete, and the final cost would be $500,000 - more than double the original estimate.
The construction overruns drove Andrew to order up another $200,000 of currency from the Farmers Exchange Bank, in Rhode Island. Anyone asking for hard currency were being “plagued as much as possible...in the most deliberate manner.” The customers responded with a lawsuit. And then, on March 24th , the state of Rhode Island seized the bank and closed the doors. Officials discovered the $750,000 in currency issued was backed by only $86.48 in the vault. It was the first failure of an American bank. The Providence Gazette wrote that Andrew had “practiced a system of fraud beyond which the ingenuity and dishonesty of man cannot go.” Obviously the writer had never before met an American banker.
And now the capitalist dog Andrew Dexter was chased by a competing pack, lead by the 30 year old Nathan Appleton. First, Appleton's gang publicized “The Exchange's” methods. That drove up the discounts required to sell their currencies, which Appleton's group then bought up cheaply. The Appleton gang would then present that paper at the issuing bank and demand hard currency. Even if the bank could only pay a fraction of the total, Appleton made such a profit he was able to invest in the power loom factories that were about to kick start the American industrial revolution. Just as the Boston Exchange Coffee House was nearing completion, Andrew Dexter's empire was collapsing. .
In the spring of 1808 Andrew and his pregnant wife Charlotte slipped out of Boston, reappearing beyond the reach of his creditors, at the head of the Bay of Fundy, in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was to remain in this fishing village for four years, while his victims went to debtors prison, including most of the workers who had built The Exchange Coffee House, and who had been paid in now worthless paper. The economic theory of capitalism works, but it chews up most who live under its capricious rule.
When the Exchange Coffee House opened in 1809, only 11 of its 36 offices were rented. Two years later the occupancy had risen to 22, but quickly fell back. The building never showed a profit. Then just about seven in the evening, on Tuesday, November 3, 1818, the thing burned down. The fire started in a chimney on the seventh floor, and the flames were visible as far away as New Hampshire.  By nine the entire structure had collapsed into the basement. The pit of rubble lay vacant for another three years, scavengers picking at the rubble for stones.
By then, Andrew Dexter was back in the United States. He settled first in New York state, then in 1816, when his father died and left him some money, Andrew moved to Alabama. He laid out the capital city of Montgomery. But when he died during a Yellow Fever epidemic in 1837, he was in debtors prison, flat broke again.
Years later, when the city of Montgomery searched for his grave “to raise a monument to its benighted founder,” his poverty had swallowed the memory of its location. He has no statue in the city. The best the city could do was to name the broad avenue, running six blocks down from the State Capital to Courthouse Circle, in his honor.
But thinking about the man so obsessed with wealth that he destroyed the lives and futures of thousands of his fellows, I am reminded of something else that Walter Bagehot said, in his work on the English Constitution - “The cure for admiring the House of Lords”, he wrote, “is to go and look at it.”
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AUTOMATIC GUN CONTROL

I hate to call it an average day, but it was. Just about a quarter past ten that gray Thursday morning, it was a bitter 18 degrees Fahrenheit, usual for Chicago in February. The day before an inch of snow had fallen, but as Elmer Lewis struggled eastbound through traffic on North Webster Avenue, his greatest obstacle was his own Nelson-LeMoon delivery truck. As he entered the intersection with North Clark Street (above), a four door Cadillac sedan heading south ran the light. Lewis swerved onto Clark, but the truck's solid rubber tires slid on the cold pavement and Lewis' truck tapped the steel bumper of the big passenger car. Seeing the Cadillac was a police car, Lewis pulled over in front of 2156 North Clark Street. But the uniform cop driving the big Cadillac just smiled, showing a gap in his teeth, and drove on. No damage done, Lewis proceeded to complete his delivery for the Beaver Paper Company, and the cop proceeded with the murder of seven men in less than six seconds.
When the technocrat Colonel John Thompson (above) resigned from the U.S. army in 1914, it was with the specific intent to get rich. He immediately found employment building factories for Remington Arms Company, but also found time to form a partnership with John Blish who had invented a unique breech system for an  automatic weapon. Together, as the Auto-Ordinance Company, they spent five years in raising money and development. Their final design was just under three feet long and just under 11 pounds in weight. It fired a heavy .45 caliber lead bullet at 935 feet per second. And it could fire one thousand of those rounds a minute. But the design was finished too late to profit from the First World War.
One block further south, the sedan pulled to the west side curb in front of 2122 North Clark Street (above). The bottom half of the front window of the nondescript single story building identified it as the SMC Cartage Company. A new driver slipped behind the wheel and left the engine running. Four men climbed out. The two in police uniforms were carrying shotguns. They were followed by two civilians wearing heavy overcoats. The uniformed officers purposefully strode through the unlocked front door. Past a tiny office was a second door, and through that was the 110 foot long garage. Parked head-in facing the west wall were three delivery trucks. Scattered beyond were three more trucks and two cars. A mechanic worked over one of the trucks, his dog, a German Shepard named “Highball” was tied to the bumper. Beyond, six men wearing overcoats, were smoking, drinking coffee and talking. The cops yelled for the men to put their hands up- this was a raid.
Initially Auto-Ordinance sold the guns for $200.00 each, with a standard 20 round “stick” magazine, or optionally circular magazines, of 50 rounds and 100 rounds each, for another $20 - $25. Because the gun was so expensive, at half the price of a new Model T Ford, police departments, government guards, corporate strike breakers and messengers, even the United States Marine Corps, could not afford many. Also war surplus weapons had depressed the market. The gun was heavy and was inaccurate at anything over 50 yards. The company also felt the need to provide buyers with a disclaimer: “Thompson-guns are sold you with the understanding that you will be responsible for their re-sale to those on the side of law and order.” By 1925 Auto-Ordinance was reduced to marketing the gun at $175 to western ranchers and farmers, available at gun shops, hardware stores, and by mail. Still, by 1928, sales were so bad John Thompson was replaced as Chief Executive Officer of Auto-Ordinance.
The police officers ordered the men, including the mechanic, to line up single file and put their hands against the north wall of the garage. While one officer held a shotgun on the seven, a second patted them down for weapons, tossing their handguns to the floor. The men peacefully complied probably because police “shakedowns” like this were common. The men in the freezing garage this morning probably assumed once these rouge cops realized who they were rousting, apologies would be offered. They probably thought that - right up until they heard the bolts on two Thompson machine guns being pulled back, in preparation for firing.
In November of 1925 Auto-Ordinance shipped one Thompson Machine gun with the serial number of #2347 to Mr. Les Farmer, a sheriff's deputy in Marion Illinois. He was a known member of a St. Louis mob called “Egan's Rats”. On Monday, March 28, 1927 two former “Rats” members, Fred “Killer” Burke (above), and Gus Winkler, used the gun in the ambush of three gangsters in Detroit, Michigan. At 4:45 that morning Frank Wright, Joseph Bloom and George Cohen knocked on the door of Room 308 of the Milaflores Apartments. Abruptly the stairwell door at the end of the hall swung open, and Burke blasted a machine gun down the hallway. Two of the men died instantly, literally cut to pieces. Frank Wright, died 20 hours later. His only comment was, “The machine gun worked. That's all I can remember.”
Standing about  ten feet from the wall, the two men in overcoats pulled Thompson machine guns. One gun had a 50 round circular magazine, the second a 20 round stick. When they they pulled the triggers, the two guns fired their 70 rounds within six seconds. Yes, it was that quick. In that frighteningly short time each of the seven victims received at least 15 wounds
On the first day of July, 1928, brutal crime boss Frankie Yale, aka “The Beau Brummnel of Brooklyn”, was caught alone on New Urecht Avenue when a Buick sedan pulled up next to him. From the front and back passenger seats gunmen opened fire with Thompsons. The body of Frankie's Lincoln coup was armor plated, but not the windows. Still, he was able to accelerate away from the gunfire. The assailants caught up with him at 44th street, where shotguns joined the volley of fire. Hit in the back of the head, Frankie crashed into the fence of the brownstone apartment building at 923 44th street. When examined by police, Frankie was adorned with a 4 carat diamond ring and a large hole in the back of his head (above)..
At the end of the line, 40 year old Pete “Goosy” Gusenberg staggered to his left and fell face down on the seat of a wooden chair. Forty-two year old James (Kachellek) Clark dropped forward onto his face against the wall. Optician Dr Reinhardt Schwinner, business manager Adam Heyer (aka John Snyder), nightclub manager Albert Weinshank, and 39 year old mechanic John May fell onto their backs. The final victim, 37 year old Frank “Hock” Gusenberg, dropped face down. One police officer then stepped forward and delivered two point blank shot gun coupe de grace to John May, obliterating his face. The four intruders then purposefully strode back out of the front door, pantomiming an arrest. The Cadillac sedan then continued south on North Clark. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre was over. From start to finish it had taken less than five minutes.
On October 19, 1928, Auto-Ordinance shipped three Thompsons, (serial numbers #6926, #7580, #7699) with three 50 round magazines to Peter Von Frantzius Sporting Goods, 608 Diversey Parkway, Chicago. The shipment was recorded as received on October 23rd; and according to records trans-shipped that same day to a Railway Express warehouse in Elgin, Illinois, where it was to be picked up by a private customer, Victor Thompson, who resided at the Fox Hotel, in that city. However the package lay unopened and unclaimed in the warehouse until authorities opened it in the summer of 1929. The box which should have contained three Thompson machine guns and magazines, was filled with packing material and four bricks.
The first police officer on the scene, Sargent Thomas Loftus, found Frank “Hock” Gusenberg,
trying to climb into one of the straight back chairs next to his brother's body. Loftus had grown up in the same East Side neighborhood as Frank. His childhood friend was now bleeding profusely from 14 bullet wounds, but still recognized him. Loftus asked, “Who did it?” Gusenberg wheezed “I won't talk,” and then urged Loftus to take him to a hospital. Hank Gusenberg died three hours later in Akexian Brothers Hospital. Highball, the now abandoned German Shepard, was so excited and unruly, he had to be destroyed.
From the beginning it was called “The Massacre”. Eight months afterward deputy police commissioner John Stege told a reporter, “When a representative of the Auto-Ordnance company...said he wanted to help me in tracing the guns...I told him the help he could give me was to go back and close the gun factory. The weapons are absolutely of no value to...anyone other than criminals We would never dare use one of them,” he added, because “too many innocent people might be killed.” The Chicago Tribune interviewed Mr V.A. Daniels, who admitted reselling Thompsons to criminals for two hundred dollars profit apiece. “It's no problem to buy machine guns. All I had to do was to send to New York for them and they shipped them to me.” Auto-Ordinance was so eager to makes sales, that even after a $180 check from Daniels bounced, they allowed him to continue buying   Peter Von Frantzius, whose store had facilitated the transfer of at least three machine guns to Chicago mobsters, and charged just $2 to file down the serial number on any weapon, admitted under oath he felt no moral responsibility. He said all he cared about was making money. 
On December 14, 1929, 11 months after “The Massacre”, a minor traffic accident in St. Joseph, Michgan lead to the death of police officer Charles Skelly. The shooter's car was later found abandoned, and the registration traced back to a Fred Dane. When police searched his home they found Dane gone, but under a bed, in a large trunk, they found two Thompson machine guns, serial #2347 and #7580. They also found information indicating that Fred Dane was really Fred “Killer” Burke (above).
Peter Von Frantzius admitted selling the three missing Thompsons to Frank V. Tompson (above), who claimed to have resold them to James “Bozo” Shupe. Shupe refused to talk to authorities, and he and a friend were killed in a shootout on July 31, 1929, outside of a tobacco store on West Madison Avenue
Once Fred Burke was identified as the police officer who waved on truck driver Elmer Lewis, the two Thompson Machine guns found in Michigan were sent to Chicago to be tested by ballistics expert Calvin Goddard (above, left). Examining ejection markings on shell casings, Goddard proved both guns had been used in “The Massacre:, and that #2347 had also killed Brooklyn's Frankie Yale and was used in the 1927 “Milaflores Massacre” in Detroit. In addition, ammunition found at Burkes' home and produced by the United States Cartridge Company during 1927-28 was also proven to having been used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Eight months after “The Massacre” the stock market crashed, and unable to effectively stop the Great Depression from engulfing the nation, the Republican dominated 71st Congress of 1929 -1930 was replaced by the divided “do nothing” 72nd Congress, (271 Ds to 271 Rs in the House and 48Rs to 46Ds in the Senate). This logjam produced the November 1933 Democratic sweep, propelling Franklin Roosevelt (above) into the White House, with the Democratic dominated 73rd Congress (311 D's -114 R's in the House, 60 Ds to 35 Rs in the Senate). And it is interesting to note the the first two pieces of legislation introduced by this public mandate were not geared toward solving the financial crises, but first the repeal of Prohibition, and second The National Firearms Act (NFA), the law that removed the Tommy Gun from the market place.  
It did not make the gun illegal. It simply taxed it out of existence. Under the NFA any gun that fired more than one bullet with one pull on the trigger, now carried a tax of $200 – thus more doubling the price of the weapon. When added to the Thompson's weaknesses – its inaccuracy and its weight – the tax drove Auto-Ordinance to the brink of bankruptcy. It is interesting that ten years after “The Massacre”, as the United States was gearing up for World War Two, a new company, Savage Arms, took a fresh look at the Thompson design. They discovered that by removing John Blish's ingenious breech system, the weapon remained fully automatic, but this significantly reduced the price of manufacture.
The garage at 2122 North Clark Street eventually became an antique furniture store, before, finally being torn down in 1967. Today it is a parking lot. Fred Killer Burke (above) died in a Michigan prison. And the gun he made infamous is still sold by Auto-Ordinance, who are still profiting from selling a weapon of mass destruction which in comparison to modern assault weapons is now seen only as a romantic anomaly.
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

HAVING FAITH Part Two SALVATION

"I will tell you a story, now age-old and hoary,
Engraved on the pages of time,
And one that is known not around us alone,
But in many a country and clime."
Even today most observers are transfixed by Aimee Semple McPherson. She was the shinny bauble dancing in the light, that drew all attention. But it was her mother in the shadows, Mrs. Mildred “Sister Minnie” Kennedy, who created Sister Aimee, and it was her powerful psyche that formed the child. Mildred Ona Peace was born in Lindsay, Ontario, of English immigrants in 1871. Orphaned as a child, she was taken in by members of the newly formed Salvation Army, which became her family. When she was 12 Mildred was “farmed out” as a servant to successful dairyman James Kennedy and his wife, who lived just west of the tiny crossroads of Salford, Ontario. James already had adult children, but his wife needed help dealing with a mentally challenged son. And six months after his wife died in May of 1886, the fifty year old James married the fifteen year old Mildred.
“Oh, God! give me strength to condemn at full length
That person whose soul is so iced
That unblushing she’d dare her warped life to compare
To the life of the crucified Christ!”
It was by all evidence a passionless existence, but the marriage provided Mildred with a modicum of financial security, and the pious Methodist James Kennedy did not exercise his rights as a husband until Mildred was 18. Their daughter Aimee was born in October of 1890. Once the child was old enough, and only after the crops were in, Mildred was sent to New York City, to spend the winter working with the Salvation Army. It should have come as no surprise when at 17 , her bright and energetic daughter eloped with Robert Semple, a visiting Irish pentecostal minister. 
“There's been too much hesitation, naming liars of the nation
So I'm going to prove that I have got the gall
Even though it may defame her, to come right out square and name her,
For she's sure the biggest liar of them all.”
Seeing personal religious passion as a path to salvation directly conflicted with the Salvation Army vision shared by Mildred, that salvation could only be achieved through disciplined service to others. Semple's pentecostal faith also practiced faith healing and calling out during services, sometimes even in “tongues”, a religious gibberish which Aimee became adept at interpreting. Two years after leaving Salford, the young couple arrived in Hong Kong, to begin a ministry to China. Shortly after arrival they both contracted malaria, and Robert Semple died. A month later the widowed Aimee gave birth to a daughter she named Roberta. From James and her Salvation Army family, Mildred was able to wire Aimee enough money to get her to back to New York, where the Salvation Army immediately put her to work.  
“While the battle still is raging, which big liars are all staging,
To determine who the biggest liar is,
Aimee tells us, on the level, she's decided that the Devil
Wins the trophy in the biggest liar quiz.”
While Mildred continued to commute each spring back to Ontario, Aimee (above left) remained in New York, where she met Harold Stewart McPherson (above right), a clerk. They were married on 5 May, 1912, and moved to Rhode Island, thus escaping Mildred's judgmental eye. The next year the McPhersons had a son, they named Rolph. Then, daughter Aimee suffered a nervous breakdown, which left her with a condition of obsessive\compulsive disorder, and then uterine cancer that left her sterile.  About this same time Mildred moved to New York City permanently. However, her religion would never sanction a divorce from James Kennedy. Then in 1915, Aimee left her husband, and after dropping the new baby off with her mother, took Roberta and hit the revival circuit.
 
“But I rise to challenge Aimee, to prove she can't gainsay me
When I nominate a liar of reknown
For I claim to know a liar whose a bigger falsefier
Then the Devil Aimee seeks to hand the crown”
A critic would describe the woman in front of the congregation. “Her rather harsh and unmelodious voice has yet a modulation of pitch which redeems it....In her pose, her gesture, her facial expression, her lifted eyebrows, her scintillating smile, her pathetic frown...She sweeps her audience as easily as the harpist close beside her sweeps the wires in soft broken chords while she preaches.” By 1916 Sister Aimee was successful enough to ask her mother for help. Turning her back on the Salvation Army, the 41 year old Mildred spent the next six years traveling with her daughter and two grandchildren, together 24 hours a day, crisscrossing the nation in their “Gospel-mobile”. Mildred handled what little money there was, because, as she would say later, “My daughter is like a fish on the beach when it comes to handling money. I don't believe if you put an add in the newspapers you could find anybody dumber when it comes to business.”
“Knowing quite a bunch of liars, I have picked one who aspires
To out lie all the liars in the game.
Aimee's Devil isn't in it with my entry for a minute
As a liar she's achieved a world wide fame.”
Any critic attempting to describe Aimee Semple McPherson's success had to mention her sexual appeal, and most hastened to assure readers it was not merely physical. “Aimee's mouth is very large indeed, her nose long and bumpy, her eyes small and ever shifting. She is generous breasted, and broad hipped... Her legs belong to the school known as “piano”.” The “Miracle Woman's” appearance was not improved by her fundamentalist faith, which denounced as a sinner any woman who wore make up or cut her hair. And yet there was an undeniable sexuality that touched her listeners, or at least her critics.  
“When my entry starts to lying, Aimee's Devil starts to sighing
And confesses he's no longer in the race.
She's the queen of all the liars, and as a liar never tires,
When she lies the Devil drops to second place.”
The 1920 boom times led Sister Aimee (above, center) and Mildred (above, left, in hat) to Los Angeles, where they began to raise money to build a “Temple” of their own. Mildred bought the land, and a business convert drew up papers incorporating the Angelus Temple. Control over the new building and entity was divided equally between mother and daughter, 50/50. The Echo Park structure opened to much fanfare in 1924. After spending $25,000 to set up her new radio station KFSG - Kall Four Square Gospel - Aimee (below, fore) hired the experienced radio engineer Kenneth Ormiston (below, rear) to set it up. The twin broadcast towers rising from the temple roof were added to the rotating cross visible fifty miles away.   Mildred grew concerned about the growing intense relationship between Sister Aimee and Ormiston, and in January of 1926 she saw Ormiston released from his contract, while mother and daughter took a three month tour of Europe and the holy lands.
“Admiration she engendered, but she's never yet been tendered,
Recognition of her powers as a liar.
So I write this little jingle for the purpose sole and single
Of extolling my prize winning falsifier”
However Mildred's sources in the temple reported that Ormiston's wife had filed a missing person's report on her husband. And with Aimee repeatedly slipping away from the her, Mildred must have at least suspected the engineer had accompanied them, staying just out of her sight. Shortly after their return in March, Mrs. Ormiston contacted Mildred and threatened to name Aimee in the divorce proceedings. Evidently a financial arraignment was made, providing Mrs. Ormiston with passage for herself and her child to her native Australia. It was less than a month later, on 18, May 1926, that Aimee took her now infamous swim. Did Mildred ever believe her daughter had drown? Did she hope that was the true, and not what she suspected? In either case, Mildred must have been near panic. The only thing that could have destroyed the first financial independence Mildred Kennedy had known in her entire life, were the rumors circulating about her daughter's “miraculous” disappearance in the sea and rebirth, in the Arizona desert. 
“There's been too much hesitation, naming liars of the nation
So I'm going to prove that I have got the gall
Even though it may defame her, to come right out square and name her,
For she's sure the biggest liar of them all.”
As the furor around Aimee's alleged adventures in Carmel grew, fueled when the grand jury investigating her kidnapping failed to indict anyone, Reverend Bob Schular began to openly call his cross town competition a liar. After ignoring her rival revivalist for weeks, Aimee finally promised a Sunday sermon she had titled, “The Biggest Liar in the World”. That Sunday evening, the Angelus Temple in Echo Park was packed (above), and hundreds of thousands of the curious tuned in to the lady preacher's radio broadcast. What they heard was vintage Aimee, folksy and positive. The biggest liar in the world, Aimee told her listeners, was the devil. Expecting open warfare, Schular instead found that Aimee and Mildred had no intention of sharing their publicity with him.  So Schular responded the only way he could, in the pages of his own magazine.
I am going to name a lady with a record long and shady
One who in this world has caused a lot of strife
Now I know your laughing hearty - but I do not mean that party,
For the one I have in mind is the Devil's wife!
Charles H. Magee "The Antics of Aimee...The Poetical Tale of a Kidnapped Female"
First Published in “Bob Shuler's Magazine” 1926
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