Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Becker, Bridgey, and the number 30

By mere coincidence I’ve been working on completing an illustration of Louis ‘Bridgey’ Webber when I
noticed that Webber died on this day, 72 years ago in 1936.

Webber was another devious performer in the theatrics that the murder of Herman Rosenthal was to be. Webber had long, venomous history with Rosenthal, going back to the days when he ran the San Souci (French for ‘without worry’) Music Hall. After the finale of his undoubtedly perjured testimony in the first Charles Becker trial, and that of the four gunmen, Webber hightailed it to Havana, Cuba; when he returned in June of 1913, he was stabbed in the shoulder from behind while strolling along Elisabeth Street but escaped serious injury.
Seemingly, underworld reprisals were in the air.

The incident was enough to shake Webber out of the gambling life, realizing his good luck couldn't last. He headed across the Hudson to Passaic, New Jersey, where he worked his way up to vice president at the Garfield Paper Box Company.

Coincidental or criminal karma, Webber was 59 when he died on July 30 at Passaic's St. Mary’s Hospital of peritonitis while undergoing an appendectomy; the exact day, twenty-one years later after ex- Lieutenant Charles Becker shuffled his way to the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison.

Becker’s execution on July 30, 1915, became almost as mythical as his street reputation. It took three separate jolts, almost a full eight minutes, for two thousand volts to finally stop his large heart. His bonds had slipped three times, and the execution staff had underestimated his strength and tenacity.
The stoic, blindly loving Helen Becker, took it upon herself to have her husband’s tombstone temporarily and somberly
engraved with

Murdered July 30, 1915
By Governor Charles Whitman.

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