For years we have thought our grandfather was part of the Detroit’s Purple Gang. The reason we thought so was that my grandmother was a waitress up near Rose City where the Purple Gang had their “Graceland Ballroom” hangout. My grandfather was a gambler. And there are pictures of my grandmother and grandfather in Chicago living the “good life”. I never knew my grandfather but two of my aunts who knew him better seem to think or know that he was part of the Purple Gang.
The Purple Gang was a violent underworld gang during the 1920 and 1930’s during prohibition. The Purple Gang like many gangs killed themselves off, and went to prison. But some lived out their life quietly.
Over the holidays I read a second book about the Purple Gang by Paul R. Kavieff. It had lots of pictures, police line ups. Many of the men in the police line ups where identified. I studied the book and looked for our family name in all the pictures. But my grandfather was not amongst the murders and gun men. I guess a French Canadian would not have been trusted too much by a Jewish gang.
I am glad he wasn’t in there in a way. Maybe he was just a French Canadian that was a gambler and in the book making rackets with them. Maybe he never killed anybody. Maybe he was just in the numbers rackets. Who knows he didn’t live long enough for me to ask him.
But I’ll never really know what skeletons are in my family’s closet. How about yours? Do you have any?