The Hesper Club Gang

At the turn of the century, the Hesper Club was flourishing in New York City. This establishment was frequented by shady characters and known for its illegal gambling.

The Hesper Gang
The Hesper Gang

This fantastic photograph appeared in a 1919 edition of the New York Sun. There are so many great things about it, but let’s just begin with “Eat-’em-up” Jack McManus (upper left). Anybody with a nickname like that is okay in my book. Plus, old “Eat-’em-up” Jack earned a second, approving mention in the article when he is described as a brave man “willing to stand toe to toe and fight with anybody”. The article randomly calls out the fact “Eat-’em-up” Jack has never ”lived on the earnings of women”, i.e., he wasn’t a pimp. It’s funny that the Sun thought it necessary to clear this up for their readers… but I guess when you have a dapper fella with a moustache like that, it doesn’t hurt to clarify.

Lefty Louie and Gyp the Blood pictured on the lower left and lower right respectively, are described as “the murderers of Herman Rosenthal and Notorious Gangsters”. Possibly Lefty Louie could have been a gangster, but Gyp the Blood definitely didn’t have it in him. He looks like he’s trying out for Madonna’s Vogue video or something. He must have been a plant used to sell newspapers to female customers.

Vogue!
Vogue!

Regarding “Paul Kelly, now Paul Vacarelli” (upper right). Let’s get this straight: the guy has reformed his ways and left the gangster life behind. So to cement this separation from the mob, he changed his name to something more Italian and takes over a union. All right, then.

That leaves only the unnamed guy in the middle. After serious reflection, I’ve determined he wasn’t involved at all. He was probably just asking “Eat-’em-up” Jack where the nearest ATM was, and snap – welcome to immortality, pal!

Patron

The Sun article included a menu of services, complete with pricing, in case you’ve been meaning to have anything taken care of:

Punching: $2

Both eyes blacked: $4

Nose and jaw bust: $10

Jacked out (knocked out with a blackjack): $15

Ear chewed off: $15

Arm or leg broke: $15

Shot in leg: $25

Stab wound: $25

Doing the big job: $100 up

If the gang consulted with me about their pricing model, I would have suggested moving “ear chewed off” into the highest service tier.

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