Friday, September 14, 2007

Did I Ever Tell You About...

...Ann Gorman. Ann was born Stephanie St. Claire in County Cork, Ireland, known as "Bandit Country" by the locals. She immigrated to New York in 1922. After taking her cut from a bank robbery with Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, in which she drove the getaway car, Ann opened a numbers bank in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan. During this time she would become affiliated with the 40 Thieves street gang, but it was not long before she branched off on her own and operated the leading numbers racket in the city. Ann's departure from the gang was due greatly to the fact she wanted to control the gang. Ann challenged leader Edward Brennan for leadership. They would settle the dispute in bare knuckle fight. Owen Madden, boxing promoter and Cotton Club proprietor, heard of the challenge and decided to promote and stage fight at the Cotton Club itself. Ann would beat Brennan into submission, but the gang could not bear the embarrassment and ousted Ann anyway After the Great Depression and with the end of Prohibition gangsters all over the city saw a decrease in profits. This led to Dutch Shultz muscling in on her numbers game. Ann and her main enforcer Hap "Cement Head" Haswell refused to give into Schultz. This led to one of the biggest waves of violence the city had ever seen. With the wave of violence wearing her and her men down Ann began to complain to the local authorities who just brushed her off, Ann then went to the newspapers and told of the corruption amongst it's senior officers. Shortly thereafter Ann was arrested on trumped up charges. While Ann was in custody Haswell approached Lucky Luciano to aid in ending this turf war. Ann and "Cement Head" Haswell realizing the war couldn't go on agreed to a truce with Schultz that was mediated by Luciano. Ann was allowed to live and operate as long as she payed tax to Luciano and the Commission. Schultz was assassinated on the orders of Luciano in 1935, it has long been rumored "Cement Head" himself did the deed. Ann had nothing to do with his murder, but is remembered for sending a telegram to his hospital bed. It read, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." This incident made headlines across the country. After the death of Arnold Rothstein and Luciano taking firm control and creating the Commission, Ann was asked to move upstate to Saratoga Springs and operate The Brook Gambling House. Ann would operate this establishment up until 1944 when it mysteriously burned down. Ann would then open up the Race View Motel located on Nelson Avenue across from the Back Stretch. The motel became a hot spot in the late 40's and 50's. It became famous for a often imitated but never duplicated duet sang there by Saratoga's own Eddie Sabitini and Frank Sinatra. Their duet of "Paris In the Spring Time" became world famous. Ann has retired to a private life now but her mark has been left on Saratoga forever. Celtic great Bob Cousy said in his autobiography, "Mrs. Gorman was the greatest host when me and the boys played those summer league games at The Brook".

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