You ask me who was Paddy Murphy? Questions like that usually come with a two-drink minimum. But you seem like a straight shooter, so I’ll humor you with the story.
Picture yourself in 1920′s Chicago. Business is good, life is easy, and Al Capone’s crime syndicate is the red-hot center of guilty pleasure for the city’s movers, shakers, and social elite. Every day unmarked barrels are smuggled into and around the country to fuel America’s favorite pastime by night. Capone’s top bootleggers move from safe-house to speakeasy, staying one short step ahead of crack teams of Federal agents, and the gangsters pull every devious trick in the playbook to keep it that way. After all, blood ruins the flavor of whiskey.
In the middle of this story, somewhere between history and legend, we come across Paddy Murphy, an imposing Irishman whose temper and wits were always in a race to see which one was quicker. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and baptized in the Fountain of Youth, some say he was breast-fed from a shot glass. As a boy it’s rumored that it took him until Tuesday to finish his confession from Saturday night, so he gave up guilt for lent. As a man he became one of the most respected mobsters in Chicago, and he was famous for carrying two large guns. One was a Thompson. You can guess what the other one was. Someone once reported that he brought a knife to a gunfight just to give the other guy a fighting chance. But stories, like the love of a beautiful woman, are meant to be enjoyed and should never be taken too seriously.
What we do know is that the members of the Chicago underworld weren’t the only ones with an eye on Murphy. Frustrated with repeated failed attempts to reign in the bootlegging syndicates, the Feds gave the job to Elliot Ness, one of the most ruthless agents in the country, and one of the few men whose name could put a flash of fear into Al Capone’s eyes. Ness and his men moved into Chicago, and it wasn’t long before whatever bootleggers hadn’t skipped town were given the choice between a set of silver bracelets or a lead makeover. All the bootleggers, that is, except one.
One night, on an anonymous tip, Ness and his men surrounded an abandoned warehouse on the south side where Murphy and his men were supposedly preparing a shipment. They stormed in with guns drawn and, in the chaos, Ness ordered Murphy to surrender. Murphy disagreed with that suggestion, and he reached for his gun instead (the Thompson, not the other one). Ness fired and delivered a fatal wound to the mobster’s chest. As he walked over to read Murphy his rights, the Irishman reached out his hand and gave Ness the handshake that no brother of SAE can mistake. The agent realized what he’d done as he looked into the dying eyes of his fraternal brother. The history books would never show it, but it’s been said that Ness dipped into one of the whiskey barrels that night and went shot for shot with his brother, as it were.
The long and short of it is that Ness ordered an honorary funeral for Murphy, complete with a traditional Irish celebration of life, death, and all the joys and vices that go with them. This tradition is carried out once a year by the brothers of SAE. But, of course, bars are for talking and life is for living, and sometimes you just have to be there to know.
In addition, Paddy Murphy was known as quite the philanderer. His will bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, however he did not specify who his wife was. Seven women in total stepped forward, claiming to be Paddy’s old lady.
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