• Red Nichols, Holstorian

Going to the light side

Updated: Jun 10

I can't get enough of Jelly Bryce's second wife, Minnie, who was from the Liverpool area in the 1920s. Almost literally 'can't get enough' because I can track her from her birth in 1911 to a mother of the same name -- Minnie Alexander Kirkman -- through her emigration to America in 1930 and her marriage to Jelly Bryce in '36 there in VA while residing in Chicago as did his sidekick Jerry Campbell. But then can't get past her census appearance in 1940 and city directory appearances before her apparent divorce from Jelly because he married Shirley Bloodworth in '44. We don't even have pictures! And neither did prior historians writing about Minnie even know her real name because they didn't have the 1940 census appearance with Jelly, and the directory appearances they had list her as Sandra (from 'Alexandra', get it?)(the correct spelling though is 'Alexander').

Look carefully, Jelly is not saying that he has not shot this revolver in five years, but that HE has not been shot while he has carried it over the past five years. He and Jerry Campbell purchased identical revolvers in 1927 and Jelly shot his plenty.

Anyway -- it struck my fancy that one of her ocean voyages notes her as five feet, two inches tall, with blue eyes. And I am not so young that I don't know the 1925 song 'Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue' that keeps bringing me back to the search for her after 1940. This is one of the YouTube appearances with an early recording:

I reckon the lyrics suit her perfectly and the song helps explain her appeal to Jelly. After all his was the era of the gangsters that the song came to epitomize and he met her in Chicago by 1935 or so. Hell, the big names in gangland had just begun to fall in '33 and '34 including Ma Barker and Machine Gun Kelly (Doc White was 'the man' in those two). And a bonafide gangster hunter for a girl in the Chicago of the mid 1930s?! Hubba hubba; a rockstar.

Machine Gun Kelly was a figment of his wife Kathryn's imagination -- he was a model prisoner during his life term in Leavenworth until his death in '54 by which time Doc (the red arrow above) was retired five years. But first thing a guy does after the Lindbergh law passes, is kidnap a billionaire and hold him for ransom? Life imprisonment for both Kellys though she was released in '58.

If these agents (of the DOI because the agency wasn't the FBI until mid-1935) seem overly stern as they excort MG Kelly from his sentencing in Oct 1933, consider that gangland killings called the Kansas City Massacre in the Jun just prior; when Pretty Boy Floyd attempted to free Frank 'Jelly' Nash from agents there (see below). Oops, it was Jelly Nash who was killed.

If you're older and have heard the song often enough, likely you still think that the famous line is 'coochie coochie coo' (which word was slang for pussy then) but instead the line is "could she love, could she woo; could she, could she, could she coo'. Nowadays you youngies will have to scramble to look up what 'woo' and 'coo' are because it's all just become 'fuck' for you today. Even the phrase 'making love' didn't originally mean actually bedding a girl; but rather to make her fall in love by saying and doing all the right things.

My one-time mistress having been just such 'une petite fille' I can see Minnie's attraction for Jelly; I sure know that I was helpless. And that Lancashire accent would've caught his attention though it's not the classy London accent; but rather that of the Beatles (very broad and more reminiscent of the Cockney accent).

Minnie's arrival in 1930 (above) as Minnie Kirkman and traveling third class; very unlike, say, either Ian Fleming, his mother, or one of Fleming's friends who was married to the richest woman in America: first class all the way for each of them, on the Queen Elizabeth to boot.

Surely she was also after a 'green card' though they weren't called such then. At the outset of WWII she would have had to confront the Alien Registration Act and the Nationality Acts, both of 1940, that would have affected her ability to remain in USA. Below may be her own remarriage in '66 as Sandra Bryce; or not because I can't get past this record though it is quite near to Liverpool. The name at right is the husband's surname and notice there are two other Sandra Bryces listed in this record alone; that combo and the Minnie Kirkman combo (her maiden name) are really common in UK! For that very reason I gave up on the possibility of a Minnie A Bryce living near me in early '60s England as being 'my gal'.

The 1950 census results are due for release in a year and I'm counting on them to lead me to the rest of her lifetime.

"Has anyone, seen my gal?!"

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