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Alias Soapy Smith

Favorite Blonger Bros. Quotes.

 

Be forewarned: some are hearsay, some are questionable —
but they're all great quotes.

Rule

This is from W.R. Burnett's crime novel High Sierra:

Take my pal, Barmy. He was the smartest there was. Used to be rolling in dough. But he got old and they caught up with him. Like we all get caught up with some day. He worked with Blonger, the Big Guy, in the old days, and he used to make sometimes as high as two hundred G's a winter in Florida. In the summer he worked Denver, where the fix was perfect.

Rule

The Daily Silver State had a running local column, Letters From Cornucopia, during the boom and demise of that Nevada town in 1876.

The Blonger Bros., Sam and Lew, who keep The Palace and patronize the State, are fixtures here and can be relied upon for square drinks.
When the honorable committee left us the Judge had two babies in his possession, which he had donated to him by Sam and Lew Blonger of The Palace. Adious, Judge; God bless you.
Sam and Lew Blonger, at The Palace, are selling whisky and cigars as usual at two bits per drink.

Rule

These are all from the Albuquerque Evening Review, 1882

Deputy Marshal J.T. Blonger captured a Colt's 45 early this morning from a man who was making preparations to "run amuck."

This is curious because we don't think Joe was in town yet, or that he served as deputy.


Joe made a surprise visit to Albuquerque after a nine-year separation from Sam and Lou. He had been mining for several months just north of town, near Cerrillos:

The three brothers are all of them young, nervy and square western men and it would be a good thing for the town if they were all on the police force.

Sam's friends gave him a custom gold badge at a surprise party at the White House:

The badge is one of the handsomest the reporter has ever seen, and there is probably no one who better deserves such a token of esteem from our citizens than Marshal Sam Blonger, who is one of the most efficient officers in the territory, and certainly the best marshal New Albuquerque ever had.

Drunken railroad worker Charley Jones, to Sam, upon being sent home to sleep it off after waving a pistol around in a saloon:

I'll be revenged upon you!

Jones retrieved his shotgun from home, returned, and would have blown Sam's head off had Sam not deflected the barrel.

The Review's assessment of Sam's handling of Jones:

Marshal Blonger's conduct Saturday night proved that he is a brave man and no wanton killer. Had he shot Jones, he would have been promptly acquitted.

And later:

Blonger is a good one. It takes nerve to jump straight at a cocked shot gun loaded with buckshot. Dallas Studenmire or Joe Eaton would have shot Jones.

Just after the Earp posse's arrival in Albuquerque, Sam went to Denver with ore samples:

In the absence of Marshall Sam Blonger, his brother, Lou Blonger, holds the peace and quiet of the town in the hollow of his hand.

The Review, once their opinion of Sam had soured:

What is Mr. Blonger's arduous duty and how is it performed? Everybody knows that it is not hunting for dangerous characters or criminals.

Sam's response:

This is the last time I shall take notice of anything that may appear in that obscure sheet, and if any man of standing will prefer and substantiate the charge of non-performance of duty as a city official, then I will step down and out. 
Respectfully,
SAM BLONGER
City Marshal

And the Review, referring to their rival and Sam's official organ, the Morning Journal:

When Deputy Sheriff Blonger takes snuff now, the Journal sneezes. This, for a paper which a month ago had an opinion on the Chinese question, is something of a fall.

Sam, to Las Vegas, NM, banker A.G. Wood, who was at the time sipping lemon and sugar at a local bar:

Throw up your hands!

Sam and a rather large posse, armed with pistols and Winchesters, thought Hood matched the description of the infamous Frank James.

Hood's reply when asked if he had a gun:

Yes, in my valise up stairs.

Sam bought drinks all around.


Lou, to balloonist and bartender "Professor" Park Van Tassel, after pistol whipping him and throwing the cocked pistol to VT's chest, for saying something rude to Lou's "woman":

You s— of a b—, you can't talk to my woman in that way.

Lou's "woman" was the madam of the whorehouse they were visiting.


Rule

A "ragged cripple," of Lou, at Lou's Denver funeral in 1924:

Old Lou, he gi' me handouts. He gi' me money to eat, he did.

Rule

Harry Tammen, of Fred Bonfils, as related by Philip Van Cise to Forbes Parkhill:

You know, son, Lou taught me the most valuable thing I ever knew. He taught me how to catch a sucker. I caught one...

At this point he jerks his thumb toward his partner Bonfils' office, and smirks:

I've still got him.

Rule

Joe Belonger, as told to Gene Swinbank in 1927, and then written down by Mary Virginia Armstrong, Wisconsin, 1962:

In spite of all the cruelty of his Apache make up, it is only fair to say that many times when I was the only white man among a horde of red outlaws, Geronimo and his warriors treated me with respect. I could leave any of my belongings — even money, if I wanted to, in plain sight in the wickiup assigned to me, and not one Apache stole anything. And yet, maybe that very night parties of Geronimo's warriors would go out raiding and steal many horses, mules, or cows, and, in returning, would bring back four or five white scalps, and put on a scalp-dance that lasted the rest of the night.

And these words for the young folk:

I've lived in the toughest towns in the West — Abilene, Dodge City, and all the rest, and I kept out of trouble by minding my own business and staying sober. That's my advice to all young men — mind your own business and don't get drunk.

Joe actually had trouble staying off the bottle and was kicked out of more than one old soldiers homes because of it. Good advice, though.


Rule

Popular touring violinist Ole Bull, also from Mary Virginia Armstrong, Wisconsin, 1962:

Mike Belonger has the world beat when it comes to playing reels, jigs, and clogs, on a fiddle.

Who knew? Mike was evidently a pioneer in World Beat music, as early as the 1860s. Little-known fact.


Rule

In 1902, Simon and several other Seattle businessmen entered into a deal whereby they would purchase claims to coal deposits in Alaska, then sell out to Standard Oil at a profit, an illegal transaction.

In late 1909, an article in Collier's accused Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger of unethical conduct when earlier he let the deal go through when he was head of the General Land Office. The aftermath of the resulting affair, called the Ballinger-Pinchot Controversy, inspired Attorney General George Wickersham to state:

...it destroyed the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and President Taft; split the Republican party into two great factions; defeated President Taft for re-election in 1912; elected Woodrow Wilson President of the United States; and changed the course of history of our country.

Rule

Here's a reference typical of the newspapers in the early part of the century, in this case 1902 — Lou or Sam's name is invoked, with the understanding that you know who they are:

When Stimson was nominated we declared openly that it "appeared like a walkover for Stimson." During the past three weeks, however, our readers have noticed we predicted the election of Peabody. Not many of our friends believed it possible, but when we saw the rawness and the ignorance displayed by the Democratic leaders in winking at the dirty work of the Blongers, the Halls and the other criminals, we felt such decent Democrats would revolt, and they did with a vengeance. Then too, every decent Republican got hot and went to the polls to record their protests. Thousands of decent people voted Tuesday who have not voted in years.

And 1906:

But if this great moral leader, O.K. Gaymon, flunks on us and won't give us lessons just because we have said a mean thing or two about him, the people will simply have to endure our immorality until we can make arrangements for lessons with Lou Blonger of Denver, or some other moral star of the Gaymon-Blonger stripe. It's morality or bust with us.

O.K. Gaymon, also known as "Old Knockers" and "How-much-is-there-in-it" Gaymon, was publisher of the Summit County Journal, and a one-time Colorado state senator. He was known for his corrupt politics, and his paper was his mouthpiece.

And 1907:

As it stands now, the Brewers Association, Bill Evans, and Blonger are the only endorsers of Parson Buchtel's administrative acts. We doubt if his own wife endorses him.

And 1908:

Wouldn't Charles J. Hughes, the Denver corporation lawyer, make a daisy colleague of Senator Guggenheim? Where's Lou Blonger?

Which was followed by an interesting note on talking points:

Wonder what trust puts up the expense of furnishing the canned editorials being used simultaneously in so many Republican papers at the present time? For God's sake, fellows, have some regard for the reputation of the craft, if nothing more.

Here's another one, from 1924, funnier still because Sam is dead ten years by this time. Did they mean Lou? Hard to imagine. Lou would die in prison within a month.

The Albanians want Harry F. Sinclair, of Teapot Dome fame for king. He should bring home the bacon. Sam Blonger should not despair.

Rule

DENVER, Sept. 25.—The police board to-day ordered the gambling house of Blonger Bros., 1744 Larimer street, closed. The place is said to be a bunco joint, and the board wishes it understood it is after that sort of thing.

Rule

The New Eldorado: The Story of Colorado's Gold & Silver Rushes by Phyllis Flanders Dorset (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1970):

Not all of these enterprises were controlled by the suave Soapy Smith. During his absence in Creede and in Old Mexico a portly, oily man with half-mast lids from beneath which peered reptilian, gray eyes slid into the gangland throne Soapy had vacated. Lou Blonger's bulbous nose sensed the right moment for a takeover, and in a short while, from the plush office of his gaming and drinking establishment, he ruled Denver's underworld.

We get it. He was creepy. I gotta say, though, he pretty much looks like a plain old seventy-year-old to me. Not too sexy, maybe, but come on. And how did she know he was oily?

The Fixer

These are undoubtedly the pictures that so inspired Dorset, mugshots from Fighting the Underworld. There are just a couple of other known images of the man.


Rule

And of course the classic line, quoted in Lou's obituary:

"They framed me," he said. "I'm an old man and I never hurt anybody, but they framed me."

 

Rule

 


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