National Affairs: A Date at The Dance Hall

  • New York City may be sound to the core, but it is rotten around the edges. From Red Hook to Hell's Kitchen in the muttering jungle of New York's 771-mile waterfront, bollard-necked hoodlums have long kept things regular with gun, knife, cargo hook and dornick. They have prospered so well and without challenge that they have been forced to kill only about 20 men in ten years in & around the docks. Now & then one of the hoodlums went to the chair for it, but business was fine otherwise. According to the best estimates, they stole and still steal $50 million a year in cargoes, mostly in broad daylight (shipping men politely called it pilferage). They pad stevedoring payrolls. They shake down truckers and they turn loose their bookies, loaded-dice men, six-forfive boys, and kickback collectors on the dock-wallopers for nobody knows how many more millions. Proud to Know Ya. The cops, some how, have never bothered them too much. The "hoods" get along fine with Joe Ryan, the loudmouthed lifetime boss (at$20,000 a year) of the A.F.L. International Longshoremen's Association. Some of the hoods hold cards in the union and go to big dinners for Joe. Joe is touched by this: "Some of the boys from the old ladies' home up the river [i.e., Sing Sing] . . . came down to the waterfront and made good," said he recently. "I'm proud to have my picture taken with them and proud to be in their company." In this cozy setup, John M. ("Cockeye") Dunn was a big man. He didn't belong to Joe Ryan's union but he ate at Joe's dinners, and his Greenwich Village mob ran the Chelsea District piers. Everybody knew Johnny Dunn was a killer, but nobody could pin it on him. During the war some small brass in the Army even tried to get him out of stir (he was doing time for coercion) because his services as a transportation expert were much in demand. Furious Fiorello La Guardia put a stop to that. The only mote in Johnny Dunn's sighting eye was Anthony Hintz, the hiring boss on Pier 51 at the Hudson River foot of Manhattan's Jane Street. Andy Hintz wouldn't play ball with the hoods and their following of thieves and payroll paddies. He sent up word to Johnny that he could go to hell, and so he was marked for killing.

    Five Times & Out. At 7:30 on the morning of Jan. 8, 1947, three men padded up the steps of Andy Hintz's Greenwich Village apartment. Dunn was one of them. The second was Andrew ("Squint") Sheridan, his myopic triggerman, who said he had no more trouble taking a life than ordering a cup of coffee. The third was Daniel ("Danny Brooks") Gentile, a washed-up club-fighter who ran some of Dunn's bookie concessions. They got Andy Hintz coming downstairs from the third floor. Squint's gun clicked and missed. Then the Cockeye coolly pumped five slugs into Andy Hintz's cheek, chest and belly. Hintz staggered back into the apartment. "Maisie, I'm dying," he gasped at his wife. "Johnny Dunn shot me." Andy Hintz hung on to life long enough to see Dunn brought before him in the hospital and to identify him. He tried to pull up his pajama jacket and show Dunn the holes in his body. "You know what these are, too, don't you?" he rasped. Then he died.

    1. Previous Page
    2. 1
    3. 2