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The “bobbed-hair bandit” on the run in Brooklyn (ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com)
19 points by smacktoward 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments

Hold up a second (ahem):

"Celia pulled an automatic out of her pocket,... Ed then whipped out a gun in each hand and cleaned out the cash register. "

If he's got a gun in each hand, how is he cleaning out the cash register?

And they had pocket-sized automatics in 1920? Women's pocket sized?

(I expect the author meant "from under her coat" and she had a tommy gun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thompson_submachine_gun)

>If he's got a gun in each hand, how is he cleaning out the cash register?

Three hands or creative journalism.

>(I expect the author meant "from under her coat" and she had a tommy gun

Self loading pistols were called "automatics" in the day (they were more "automatic" than a revolver and all this stuff was relatively new, the wording was still getting figured out). A couple that felt the need to shore up their finances via armed robbery would not have had access to a Thompson. They were VERY expensive.

A Tommy gun is a pretty big weapon. An NFL line backer wearing a fur coat might be able to conceal one (a typical pattern folding stock AK is smaller in every way). An average person probably shouldn't even try. The women in the story is 5ft tall.

There's an automatic pistol that is somewhat famous for coming into service in 1911:


The more important question is probably as to how large women's pockets were in 1920.

>And they had pocket-sized automatics in 1920? Women's pocket sized?

I don't know much about women's everyday clothing of the 1920s but I would wager fewer people carried handbags so the average pocket was probably bigger.

The article said she was wearing a fur coat so she probably could have concealed a broom-handle Mauser had she wanted to.

obligatory gun-pedant mode: the 1911 is a semiautomatic. One pull, one bang, no recocking step because the slide does that for you.

Automatic would be one pull, as many bangs as there are rounds left in the magazine.

An example of that sort is from 1912. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steyr_M1912

Counter-pedant here :) Semi-automatic pistols were definitely popularly called "automatics" in that time period. Here's an excerpt from a kids book published in 1916:

> With all his might and main Penrod longed for one thing beyond all others. He wanted a Real Pistol!

> That was natural. Pictures of real pistols being used to magnificently romantic effect were upon almost all the billboards in town, the year round, and as for the “movie” shows, they could not have lived an hour unpistoled. In the drug store, where Penrod bought his candy and soda when he was in funds, he would linger to turn the pages of periodicals whose illustrations were fascinatingly pistolic. Some of the magazines upon the very library table at home were sprinkled with pictures of people (usually in evening clothes) pointing pistols at other people. Nay, the Library Board of the town had emitted a “Selected List of Fifteen Books for Boys,” and Penrod had read fourteen of them with pleasure, but as the fifteenth contained no weapons in the earlier chapters and held forth little prospect of any shooting at all, he abandoned it halfway, and read the most sanguinary of the other fourteen over again. So, the daily food of his imagination being gun, what wonder that he thirsted for the Real!

> He passed from the sidewalk into his own yard, with a subdued “Bing!” inflicted upon the stolid person of a gatepost, and, entering the house through the kitchen, ceased to bing for a time. However, driven back from the fore part of the house by a dismal sound of callers, he returned to the kitchen and sat down.

> “Della,” he said to the cook, “do you know what I'd do if you was a crook and I had my ottomatic with me?”

Apo-counter pedant here, the writer is not talking about automatic weapons, but ottermatic weapons:


counter-counter pedant, the article text isn't obviously from that time and place! :)

I didn't know about this usage, though, so thanks for that.

It's kind of mind blowing how primitive medicine was back then. Her baby died just after birth and her husband died of tuberculosis.

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