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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Remember Star Trek and the actor who played Lieutenant Uhura of the crew of the Enterprise? 

Part One:
Her real name is Nichelle Nichols and in her autobiography described a couple of brushes with the Chicago and Milwaukee mobsters that could well have put her in a very early grave twice!
Nichelle was the daughter of Samuel and Lishia Nichols and was born in 1932 in Robbins, IL, a small town about 30 miles southwest of Chicago. Her father, Sam was the town mayor and chief magistrate.

Earlier that year came a headline in the Chicago newspaper “Capone Gin Mill Smashed: Small Town Busts Mobster’s Booze Factory”. 

The small town that the gin mill was in was Robbins! As soon as her father, Sam, read the paper, he knew he was going to get a visit. He sat on his porch all day waiting, a long black limousine finally appearing and proceeding up the driveway. Sam told his wife to get the kids and go into the the house. “Sit the kids down and don’t make a sound”. She sat down on the sofa with a pillow in her lap and hugged her youngest child, Frank, sitting next to her.

As the limo came to a stop, four men exited the car, all wearing black camel-hair coats and black fedoras. One of them opened a back door and a fifth man emerged wearing a pearl-grey silk suit, white silk shirt, and tie.
“You Sam Nichols?” he asked. “Yes, I’m Sam Nichols and the mayor of this town” was the reply.
The man then asked Sam if he knew who he was and Sam replied “I know why you’re here. I read the newspaper. I just don’t know why you’ve come to me”. The stranger said “Well you’ve got a problem Sam, my name is Mr. Capone and I’m here because my brother Al is very displeased with you.” Sam asked “Can we talk privately in my study? My wife is pregnant, and you’ve frightened my children. No need for them to witness this, is there?” “Lead the way” replied Capone.

One man remained outside as the other three followed Sam and Capone into the house. Two posted themselves in the parlor with Lishia and the children, while Capone, the other goon and Sam went upstairs to the study. Lishia, hugging the pillow tightly, stared straight ahead.
Sam offered Capone a brandy, which he accepted, and began “I know your mill was raided by one of my officers. He was a rookie and thought he’d make a good impression.”
“He made a helluva impression, Sam” snorted Capone. Sam: “Yes. Well. What I don’t understand is why you’re here to settle your displeasure with me. I didn’t even know your mill was in my township.” Sam knew by the look on Capone’s face that he didn’t believe him. Sam: “I know you’re here to kill me. But I ask two things: One, why hold me responsible, and two, whatever you do to me, don’t harm my family-please.”
Capone snarled “For five big ones a week is why you’re responsible, Sam” He set his glass down, rose from his chair, turned and softly commanded to his bodyguard: “Be quick and clean.” As Capone had his hand on the doorknob Sam firmly stated, “I never received a dime of your goddamned money!”
The gangster turned and ordered “Explain, Sam”. “YOU explain", said Sam, "I should at least know why I’m about to die! Who did you give money to?” Capone exploded “What are you, pazzo?” “Your police chief, Sam! Two for him and three for you, in cash, on time, every week for the last 18 months. Now, I’ve had it with this game. Arrivederci!”
Sam jumped from his chair. " I never received a dime from that weasel,nor did he ever approach me about it! He knew if he had, I’d have handed him his head on a platter. I’d have never let you put your gin mill in this township! This is a clean, honest town and I’d rather die before I’d help it be corrupted, dammit!”
Capone and his goon exchanged a quick glance before relying, “You almost did, Sam. I’ll tell you what, we’ll check out your story. It checks, we won’t be back.”

They then went downstairs and Capone crossed the room and patted Lishia’s shoulder, and said “You can relax sweetheart. Sam’s OK. For now.” For the first time, Lishia’s eyes met the visitor’s, and as she stared through him, slowly removed the pillow from her stomach to reveal a pearl-handled six-shooter, fully loaded. The children gasped and Sam held his breath. “It’s a damn good thing he is”, she hissed

Startled, Capone’s goons all drew their guns, but their boss gestured for them to relax. “You had this all the time?, he asked incredulously. “Why didn’t you use it?” “You hadn’t done anything,” she answered icily. “, You were guests in my home.”  Capone’s nervous guffaw crashed the silence. “You’re all pazzo!” Turning to his bodyguards, “Out of here, you goombas!”.

Turning at the door, Capone said, We won’t be coming back Mrs. Nichols.” Then to Sam, “ You've got yourself one helluva lady there, Mr. Mayor.” Capone and his henchmen then drove off and never bothered them again.

And where was Nichelle Nichols? Under the pillow, next to the gun, inside Lishia, waiting to be born!

Had Sam been killed that day in his study, it’s frightening to think of what would have happened next. It’s highly unlikely that Capone would have intended not to harm Sam’s family. That would have left witnesses who could have put him away for life! Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow. It’s the story of Nichelle’s encounter with the Milwaukee Mob and leader Frankie “Mad Bomber” Balistrieri!

Link to Part II below!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)

Beyond Uhura "Star Trek and Other Memories" by Nichelle Nichols
Good reading, and highly recommended, especially if you are a Star Trek fan!

Other of my related Mafia Posts:
"Mr. Fancy Pants" Balistrieri - Tracking Milwaulee's most dangerous mobster
Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggerio-The real story of the "wise guy"
The Beef That Didn't Moo - Wisconsin Ties to the Mob
Tales of the Milwaukee Mob and Two Cigarette Men!
Married to the Daughter of a Milwaukee Mob Boss-Our Pediatrician!
The Milwaukee Queen Bee of Organized Crime
Tale of a Failed Milwaukee Mob Hit!
Lieutenant Uhura (of the Starship "Enterprise") - close encounters with the Chicago and Milwaukee Mob!
Part Two: The Milwaukee Mob and Lieutenant Uhura (Star Trek)
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef - Part 1
The New York Mob and Iowa Beef Processors - Part II
Sally Papia - A life lived on the edge
The Milwakee Mob Hit on Anthony Biernat
The Milwaukee Mob Hit on August Palimisano
New York's "Joe Bananas" meets Milwaukee's Frank "Mad Bomber" Balistrieri

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