With John Dillinger folklore given WAY too much attention, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at some of the legends versus the ugly reality regarding some of his contemporary gangsters.
Real Name: Francis Crowley
Birth – Death: October 31st, 1912 – January 21st, 1932
Lore: Crowley was supposedly born out of wedlock to a German-American woman and a New York police officer who refused to marry Crowley’s mother. This supposedly accounts for his intense hatred of the police.
Reality: Such shallow, Pulp Magazine thinking doesn’t seem likely. The young man was adopted by a family in which Francis grew up alongside a cop-killing older brother named John Crowley. John himself would be killed in a battle with police.
This background seems a more likely explanation for Francis’ issues than some mythical hatred of an unknown father who abandoned him and his mother.
Criminal Career: By age 19, Crowley had a reputation as a competent holdup man and hit & run armed robber who never slipped up enough for a conviction. He might have escaped suspicion entirely if not for his excessively belligerent attitude when questioned by authorities.
On February 21st, 1931 Crowley, packing the omnipresent pair of hand-guns that earned him his nickname, crashed an American Legion dance in the Bronx. Two-Gun was accompanied by a pair of male accomplices, one of whom was believed to be frequent associate Rudolph “Fats” Durringer.
When the Legionnaires attempted to expel the uninvited trio Crowley whipped out his pair of firearms and opened fire, wounding at least two innocent men before fleeing. With charges of attempted murder now hanging over his head, Two-Gun was about to enter the busiest period of his career. Continue reading