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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

A criminal or a saint?
You never know

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
On at 9 a.m. Feb. 4, 1931, two men entered the First State Bank of Alanreed, and demanded money, according to Fort Worth newspaper articles sent to me by T. Lindsay Baker.

E. B. Hedrick, bank cashier, was forced at gunpoint to open the vault where the cash was taken. He was then ordered to lie on the bank floor until the thieves departed.

Just as the robbers were leaving the bank, local blacksmith Jim Bryant entered for his daily free cup of coffee provided by the bank. The robbers ordered Jim to lie down on the floor.

Jim was hard of hearing and didn't understand the order. When he didn't obey, one of the robbers shot him in the stomach. The robbers then left in one car, switched to another car and fled the scene.

The gunshot victim was taken to the Clarendon Hospital for treatment.

The next article states that on Feb. 5, the day after the robbery, Roy McGee and Roy Stephenson were captured and placed in the Pampa jail.

The robbery investigation had led to a house where one man was arrested and the bank loot of $2,110 recovered found hidden under the house. The other man was arrested at the place where he worked.

The robbers were tried separately as Stephenson had shot Bryant. He pleaded guilty to the charges of robbery and assault and was sentenced to 15 years in the penitentiary. McGee also pleaded guilty to his crimes and received a five-year sentence in return.

Of interest, the newspaper article stated the trial of McGee lasted only 15 minutes.

In today's world that same trial would have required months, thousands of dollars and probably a change of venue with all resulting in the same conclusion.

Route 66 certainly endured its share of crime in its heyday.

Bonnie and Clyde were the most famous Mother Road travelers, using it to make their getaways and search for safe territory in which to hide. At the turn of the century, many people were still alive that had actually seen the outlaws in person.

Bank personnel joked about the possibility of being robbed and some banks trained their employees in what to do if a holdup occurred. In fact, the First State Bank had been robbed once before in December 1920.

Another tidbit of early Panhandle news on the subject of bank robbers is contained in the book "Hide Town, 100 Years of Wheeler County History."

"Pretty Boy" Floyd, the infamous bank robber and outlaw from Oklahoma, spent the night at his cousin's house in Mobeetie. He hid two sacks of bank loot behind the door in the room where he slept. Later, he drove his stolen car down to a service station in Mobeetie to be serviced.

Floyd was a nice-looking man who dressed well and used good manners. No one but the cousin knew his real identity.

I guess the moral to this story is beware of the people you meet each day. A stranger could be anyone from a thief to a saint. If someone tells you to lie down on the floor, do it.


Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew"
April 11, 2006 column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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