Bryan Burrough Q&A #13

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Bryan Burrough Q&A #13

Unread postby Liz » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:14 pm

ONBC: You said in your Booknotes interview that you believed the myth of the wooden gun to be factual. You indicated that even though it is still in dispute it “is very clear that it happened”. Do you believe any of the other Dillinger myths to be true, such as the fact that it may have been someone else who was killed at the Biograph that night?

Bryan Burrough: Uh, no. I’m not much into conspiracy theories, and that one is especially weak. The wooden gun, though, that’s no myth.
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Unread postby shadowydog » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:27 pm

Did I read somewhere that when Johnny was at Dillinger's farmhouse that he saw and handled the gun? :-?

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Unread postby Endora » Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:24 pm

sd, I'm pretty sure the article said he handled a replica of said wooden gun.
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Unread postby teacher » Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:02 pm

Actually, as we said before, the reason why this myth and others appeared and still loom around is, I think, more interesting than if they are actually true. The wooden gun is a great personality tidbit, but the rest of it, conspiracy theories and all, speaks volumes about a time and about the psychology of masses in general.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. - Tom Wingfield, Glass Menagerie

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Unread postby gemini » Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:01 pm

Well I can't prove anything but I have read other books and articles and all confirm the wooden gun was real. Dillinger also showed it to the jailers after he got his hands on a real gun during the escape. The famous photo of Dillinger standing with a Thompson machinge gun and the wooden gun in his other hand was taken at his fathers farm and is supposed to be the real gun. Although not in Burroughs Public Enemies, it is mentioned in "Dillinger the Untold story" that Dillinger gave the gun to his family and told them not to sell it for any price. The Dillingers did loan it to some people and the story goes they were returned a duplicate instead of the real one. They now have the real one on display and the fakes.
The other interesting difference in the story from PE is that the wooden gun was smuggled into the jail along with a floor plan of the building to Dillinger and not something he carved in jail. This story goes along with a lot of other theory about the Chicago mob helping him to escape.
I think Mr Burrough is correct the wooden gun was no myth.
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Unread postby Parlez » Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:08 pm

Aye, the use of a wooden gun, whether real or not, served to cement Dillinger's mystique in the minds of the masses. (And brought about a speedy demise to the mayor and local law enforcement in CP!) From that point on, Johnnie was a celebrity and therefore THE guy to get for the FBI. In a way, you could say it was the gun, and it's subsequent mythology, that led him to become Public Enemy #1 and thereby ultimately sealed his fate.

In any case, the gun is a doozie of a relic!

About the myth of Dillinger surviving, I say why not? There's nothing like a good ol' conspiracy theory to keep the imagination working. It sure beats the 'other' story of his abrupt and unseemly and rather ordinary end.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:39 am

Parlez wrote:About the myth of Dillinger surviving, I say why not? There's nothing like a good ol' conspiracy theory to keep the imagination working. It sure beats the 'other' story of his abrupt and unseemly and rather ordinary end.


I'm with you, Parlez. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby suec » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:07 pm

If Mr Burrough says the gun was real, then I'm inclined to believe him. I have grown to trust his meticulous attention to detail.
But what stands out for me at the heart of all the conjecture and myths is that Dillinger was the real deal. There wasn't anything flaky about him. Even this iconic fake gun, and the story about him bluffing his way out of the jail, tends to reinforce that for me. He answers a "bottom line", crucial question: would you want him with you in a tight spot? Yes, not just because of his obvious loyalty, but also because of his courage, resourcefulness and derring-do. Those are important qualities that would make him a "man's man" but also that would create a lot of appeal for the ladies in quite a primeval way.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:05 pm

I wonder how long he could have continued along that path and what might have happened to him if he had not met his fate so early. Would he have escaped to another country, continued on his career path here in the states? It would be a tiring life but I have a hard time seeing him out of the spotlight and not having a good time. He was loyal to his family and friends and I have a hard time seeing him being away from them as well. I hate to think of him ending up alone and forgotten like Karpis, although I 'm not sure the public would have forgotten Johnnie!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!


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