The Cold Turkey Pinch

What’s a cold turkey pinch? In 1930s cop speak it referred to an officer who made an arrest without any effort–no gathering of evidence, no investigation, nothing. Read on…

cold turkey pinchThanksgiving Day on “The Nickel” (Fifth Street) in 1937 was desperate living personified. LAPD Detective Lieutenants Bailey and Olson sat in the Chicago Cafe at 209 Fifth and watched as drunks shuffled past oblivious to those who would do them harm. Thanks to Old Man Depression there was more than enough misery to go around and The Nickel lacked all of the warmth, joy, and delicious aromas evident in other neighborhoods in the city.

The detectives sipped their coffees and kept their eyes peeled for the predators who preyed on helpless drunks. Known as drunk rollers the vultures robbed Skid Row inebriates of their few possessions. A man, seemingly down on his luck, seated himself beside Bailey and said: “you wouldn’t mind staking a thirsty guy to a nickel beer would you.”  After looking the stranger up and down, Bailey bought the man a brew.

Chicago Cafe at 209 Fifth Street c. 1937. [Photo is from Schultheis collection at the LAPL]

The man sat quietly nursing his beer, then he turned to Bailey and pointed at a man in a booth who had obviously passed out.  “Watch me”, the beer drinker said–then he walked over to the unconscious boozer and searched through his clothing.

When he returned to his seat he grinned at Bailey and Olson and said: “See what I got?” and held up a dollar bill. “Now I guess it’s my treat.”

“Yes, brother, I sure guess it’s your treat all right,” said Bailey as pulled out his badge and arrested his would-be benefactor.

Jack Orchard, 35, was booked at the City Jail on suspicion of robbery.

May your Thanksgiving be much happier than Jack Orchard’s (although he did get a free beer!)  Have a great Holiday and stay safe, those Black Friday sales can be murder!

I’ll pick up the story of the Mary Pickford kidnapping conspiracy in my next post.

NOTE: Amy Condit — the “desperate living” is for you.

3 thoughts on “The Cold Turkey Pinch

    • Bill — no turkey for the inmates in 1937. They were served: veal turnovers w/cream gravy, mashed potatoes, sugar peas, combination salad, one doughnut and coffee.The jailers, however, got turkey with all the trimmings. Crime doesn’t pay.

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