I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 01, 2018 06:11PM
Have been reading this Christmas gift.

Wow! Though I haven't quite finished, I find the book to be a bit beyond believable regarding much that it relates. It is not that I find the material incredible, but rather that I don't see from the slim to none documentation how the author could know all of the details related. In many cases, conversations or details that only an eye witness could have known are reported, yet all known participants in the specific event died long before the author began his research, and no citation to a credible source is made.

I'll put the book in the category of J. Frank Dobie's description of early Texas happenings as related in his and many other tales: It's not wise to let facts get in the way of a good story.

Do I believe that all the people in the book actually lived when and where they were said to have done so? YES.

Do I believe that all the people in the book actually did the things described when and where they were supposed to have done so? I mostly believe that the actual events occurred, and that the descriptions of the events COULD HAVE BEEN as described. So, I think that Herbert Noble was blown, as sometimes described, to Kingdom Come by a bomb planted under the road in front of his mail box. Do I believe that one of the perpetrators used the phrase, "The Cat's in the bag!" to witnesses the day of the bombing? Maybe he did, but I don't think anyone knows that, including the author.

More substantially, do I believe that Bill Decker cooperated with and was perhaps controlled by Binion as claimed by the author? Maybe I am too ignorant, and too naive. Decker has been described by many as a lawman's lawman. I know that too many people respected Bill Decker for me to believe he was corrupt or in cahoots with a gangster like Binion.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 02, 2018 09:08AM
Chief of police Richard "Smoot" Schmidt was in cahoots with the gamblers, pimps, bootleggers, et al. He took a laissez faire outlook on soft crime in Dallas at that time. Jim
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 02, 2018 09:59AM
I didn't know that Schmid (at least that's how I have seen his name spelled in print, without the terminal "tee"winking smiley was ever Chief of Police, or even a member of the Dallas police force. He was Dallas County Sheriff during the depression years and up through WWII, when he was replaced by a man named Guthrie, who served one term. Then Decker, up until then Chief Deputy, took over.

My understanding is that Schmid, as was most of the Dallas and Dallas County governments, of the opinion that crimes such as gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, even drug trafficking, were "victimless" crimes that benefited the local economy, and in some cases perhaps their own finances, and so enforcement was not something they were concerned with. Perhaps they even encouraged and protected the perpetrators. Benny Binion's operators were supposed to have accepted that occasional raids when city or county coffers were running low would occur, they would pay "fines" based on how many patrons were at their establishments at the time of a raid, and go about business as usual. Even murder was evidently tolerated so long as only criminals were themselves the victims.

This situation reportedly changed in the public mind when Dallas became the center of a crime war where murder became commonplace, and some perhaps innocent people got caught in the effects. Schmid's replacement was accompanied by a completely new slate of county officials, a new District Attorney, and new faces in the city hall and police departments, all ostensibly to promote clean government and better law enforcement. That's when Binion saw the future of Dallas without him, and departed for Las Vegas. Dallas civic leaders seemed to see Dallas's future economy as being one based on finance and big business, and the crime driven operations didn't fit in.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 02, 2018 11:14AM
Dave, thanks for this post. I've thought in the past about reading the book, but it sounds like it's mostly conjecture. Like you, I find it hard to believe that Bill Decker was corrupt, or paid off by someone like Benny Binion.

I looked at Herbert and Mildred Noble's listing on Find-A-Grave. The house where Mildred was blown up (311 Conrad, in Oak Cliff) no longer exists, as the house was in the right-of-way for South R.L. Thornton Freeway. 315 Conrad is the last house on that side of the street now. The street address is still in DCAD, but only as a small triangle-shaped sliver of land, owned by the same person at 315 Conrad.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 02, 2018 11:41AM
Yep, I looked it up and he was sheriff and not chief of police. I remember my dad talking about Lois Green and violent his temper was. Jim
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 02, 2018 11:03PM
sharkins Wrote:
> Dave, thanks for this post. I've thought in the
> past about reading the book, but it sounds like
> it's mostly conjecture. Like you, I find it hard
> to believe that Bill Decker was corrupt, or paid
> off by someone like Benny Binion.
Oh, I have found the book well worth reading, for the colorful treatment of Dallas's crime laden past if for nothing else. I didn't mean to say that it does not treat of factual events (and hope I didn't give that impression), because it definitely does. I just found the details as related not credible. Dialogue can be gotten wrong even by persons present, and in many cases it seems that the author's sources were third or fourth hand. He does list a "bibliography," and relate transcripts of criminal interrogations and notes taken by investigators. But he also lists in the bibliography sources such as "Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library." Well, the Special Collections of the University of Texas at Arlington Library must surely be literally thousands of entries, perhaps hundreds of thousands or millions of pages. There are no actual citations in the text as one would expect, only the bibliography. I realize that this is common to popular books, but so many details are reported that one would want to know specifically where the author got them.

Probably a large majority of Dallas residents, past and present, are completely unaware of the degree to which Dallas was controlled by these gangsters, and the violence that was visited upon both Dallas and Fort Worth (and environs) by them.

It is a short book. I finished it, and am now reading _Blood Aces_, a more comprehensive treatment of Binion's career. Both books rely partly on an interview that Binion gave to The Nevada Historical Association very late in his life. He was a notorious braggart, but photos of him with many of the famous people he claimed as friends and acquaintances exist. Whether those photos were the result of ordinary visits to one of his casinos, or were actually photographs of friends in other circumstances is not clear to me. He also claimed complete illiteracy, stating that he never saw any reason to learn to read and write, yet he amassed a very large fortune from many business enterprises, both illegitimate and legitimate. He also claimed to be fully reformed after his term in the federal pen at Leavenworth for tax evasion.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 03, 2018 05:04AM
Well, Happy New Year to All. Been off the board for awhile.

Some old timers here might recall the author Gary Sleeper was a frequent poster when he was doing his research and I have a rather thick file of references I supplied. Also there is another active poster who is a direct relative of one of the several "suspects" in the killing of Herbert Noble. That same suspect also had a part in supplying the liquor Dave McNeely admittedly sampled during his days at North Texas and I had met him a time or two in Grapevine without any idea who he was.

I would have to agree with Dave the book falls more in the entertainment category than a scholarly work but in my opinion 90% or more of published accounts are equally deficient. When I do shop in book stores I start at the back, first with the index to see if any of the subjects I am interested in are covered, then the bibliography to see of there are any sources I am not familiar with.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2018 05:07AM by M C Toyer.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 03, 2018 09:26AM
M.C., welcome back, and Happy New Year to you too! I hear that you have been doing a lot of traveling. I hope if you are doing so now, your trailer is heated!

Thanks for your comments on Sleeper's book. I just find that for an author to describe (for one example) a telephone call that Binion allegedly received at the Southland Hotel just prior to Ivy Miller killing Sam Murray in a bank lobby, and the walk that Binion and Miller made from the hotel to the bank in a way that only an eye witness or a participant could a bit of a stretch. Another example is a car chase from Dallas toward Grapevine, in which Sleeper seems to divine Herbert Noble's mental response and details of his behavior as he was being chased and shot at. Such details read more like a third person point of view novel rather than a documentary.

But it was all very entertaining, and I did learn some things about what happened when, assuming that the basic facts are all correct. I also did learn some things that seemed a bit surprising. For example, Noble, a wealthy gangster who came out of poverty in the West Dallas slums, drove Fords and Mercuries evidently, when others in his circumstances, if they had a preference for Ford products, might have opted for the more prestigious Lincoln. I had already known that his home in Oak Cliff, the one where his wife was blown up, was modest, in a working class neighborhood, although Sleeper glossed over that, describing Oak Cliff in more upscale terms, while not mentioning that the house was not in the upscale parts of the community.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 04, 2018 11:34AM
M.C. wrote: "That same suspect also had a part in supplying the liquor Dave McNeely admittedly sampled during his days at North Texas ... "

Actually, M.C., it was beer and wine that I imbibed after making the trip from Denton to Crossroads back in my student days at NTSU (now UNT). I've never been much of a "hard stuff" drinker. In fact, I have a bottle of high dollar Scotch that a former graduate student of mine gave me when I retired from University of Texas at Brownsville 16 years ago that has never been opened.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 04, 2018 10:46PM
Benny Binion left Dallas in 1946 for Las Vegas.
Bill Decker wasn't elected sheriff until 1949.
I doubt Binion had an opportunity to pay Decker off.
My understanding is that Will Wilson ran Binion out of Dallas when Wilson was elected DA, right after the War.

My late uncle was a good source of information on Binion. He knew him from the days before Binion came to Dallas when he was a horse trader in Pilot Point. He also knew him after he came to Dallas. He had a lot of stories to tell. I remember him saying that Binion was honest, in that his word was always good.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 04, 2018 11:00PM
Here's Binion's chili recipe that he served at the Horseshoe. He said it was given to him by Chill Wills.

4 lbs. Chuck beef, chili grind
2 cups Suet
7 pods Garlic
7T Chili Powder
3T Paprika
1-1/2t Cumin seeds
2t Chili petentine* crushed
1-1/2T Scant of salt

Brown meat and add ingredients. Put a lid on it and simmer for 4 hours. Add 1 quart of water and simmer for 1 hour with the lid off. Skim off the grease (Benny left it in) Serve with pinto beans and crackers.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 05, 2018 11:26AM
Bill, Decker was "Chief Deputy" for Smoot Schmid and his immediate successor, a man named Guthrie who only served one term. He reportedly, though there wasn't a title in the Sheriff's office specific to "vice," was the leader of what amounted to the "vice squad" in the office for some 15 years at the height of Binion's career in Dallas. Binion left Dallas for Las Vegas in 1947, iirc, but he kept all his operations in Dallas intact until the Dallas police department raided his headquarters and prosecuted his second in command in 1951-52, well after Decker became Sheriff.

Binion himself described Decker, including long after he had skipped town for Vegas, as his "good friend," and a "good man, one of the best." Multiple sources do claim that Decker protected Binion early on, or at least didn't try to do much about him. But that was the policy of both the county (for whom Decker worked) and the city. Tarrant County and Fort Worth did the same. Vice was tolerated and even encouraged as a revenue source for the governments, and probably for multiple officers and officials. Both county and city governments were horribly corrupt, it seems, though maybe not so much so as Las Vegas.

I simply have difficulty believing Decker was on the take, or favored Binion over other gangsters, because of his later career as Sheriff and because he later commanded so much respect from the community as a whole. Decker definitely cooperated with the rest of the county apparatus, the FBI, and the Treasury Department in hounding and prosecuting Binion eventually. Decker did not seem to have higher political ambitions, so his only reason for doing so would have been his interest in enforcing the law and cleaning up the mess. Well, maybe it became necessary to do so to keep his job.

Dave McNeely
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 06, 2018 01:07PM
What is chili petentine(crushed)? Jim
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 06, 2018 06:56PM
jgoodman Wrote:
> What is chili petentine(crushed)? Jim

I'm sure it means chili pequins. You can buy them at almost any supermarket.
They's small red dried peppers- HOT!

Here's a link that shows what they look like.

Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 06, 2018 11:12PM
The peppers shown in the photo are actually an "improved" horticultural pepper derived from chili pequins. True chili pequins are spherical, about 1/4" to 3/8" diameter. The statement that they grow wild in the mountains of Mexico is misleading. They grow wild throughout S. Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Arizona, and most of Latin America, primarily in steppe lands and deserts. When I lived & worked in the Rio Grande Valley they were exceedingly plentiful throughout the brushlands. Some folks call them "bird peppers," and they are important in the diet of a number of species of birds, especially thrashers, jays, and mockingbirds. The "heat" agent, an oil called capsaicin, is believed by some ecologists to be an adaptation that promotes the seed moving through the bird digestive tract before it is crushed and digested, thus helping to spread the seed.

This is the original chili pepper, the one that Columbus carried back to Europe, and that the first botanical description of stated that it was so evil to eat that, "It kills dogs."

This is one of the hottest peppers, similar in Scoville units to Habeneros, but not so hot as ghost peppers. They are perenial, and will overwinter mild Dallas winters, but will freeze kill if temperatures drop below 15 F or so. My father always kept them going in his garden, but covered them in bitter weather, and saved seed as insurance.

I grew both the native, spherical, wild type, and the elongated, "improved" ones in pots when I lived in Oklahoma, but have not been able to get the seed to germinate here in Washington.

Dave McNeely

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/2018 10:38AM by old man from dallas.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
January 07, 2018 02:01PM
I recognize these peppers now. My dad grew these in our backyard in Oak Cliff. The bush itself was small and they varied in color, green, red, and yellow. I ingested 1 or 2 as a kid and lived to tell about it. Jim
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
April 14, 2018 07:21AM
I can’t say much, one way or the other, on Sheriff Decker, except to say that my dad was his dentist, having met him while a student at Baylor College of Dentistry in the late ‘50s.
My dad was several years older than most of his classmates and it seems that many city and county employees got their dental work done at the college, by upperclassmen in the lab classes, for free. Many of these, including judges, deputies, detectives in the DPD, and a couple of FBI agents in the local office - whose names most of you would recognize - gravitated to my dad because they liked the fact that he was much closer to them in age. Most followed him into his practice when it was established in Casa View Village and, later, when he moved to Northlake.
Anyway, Mr. Decker comported himself as the fine, upstanding man most remember him being. That’s how he always impressed my dad and that’s how he always impressed this very impressionable youngster. All of Dad’s other patients from the county and city, whether judges or law enforcement officers, impressed us both the same way. It was easy to believe, at least from our perspective in the late ‘50s through the late ‘60s, that one was very safe in Dallas.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
May 09, 2018 03:43AM
Good posting. Appreciate your research. ....Fred Ragsdale
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
May 09, 2018 03:59AM
Best as I recall, the RL Thornton Fwy. was East of downtown Dallas and not near Oak Cliff.

Keep in mind that I'm an old dude so may be wrong. I'm open to corrections.
Re: I'll Do My Own Damn Killin'
May 09, 2018 06:52AM
South R.L. Thornton Freeway begins at the north side of the Trinity River and continues South as Interstate Highway 35E into Ellis County. South of Overton Road it runs directly over the old South Beckley Avenue roadway, thus dividing East and West. From Overton Road north, Beckley Avenue divides east and west. The first exit south of the Trinity River is east Colorado Boulevard, the last within the Dallas City Limits is Danieldale Road.

I am not completely useless, I can always be used as a bad example.
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