Art of the Bank Robbery

When I was about 7 years old, I went on my first (and only) bank robbery.

I lived on a very quiet street in northern New Jersey filled with dozens of little kids who in early 1960’s fashion rode their bikes, played baseball in the backyard and went together for Independence Day celebrations in our modest downtown on Morris Avenue.
Jeff and Johnny in 1961

We lived on a circle and our next door neighbors were The Jacobs that included Art, Jane and Johnny. Art was the Dad who I remember as a tall and lanky guy who was pretty quiet and kept to himself. Jane, the mom, was also somewhat quiet and shy and came right out of the Father Knows Best neighborhood.  She too was tall, quiet but always very friendly.

Diane fixes Johnny's hat as Jane, cigarette in hand, looks on from behind

Then there was Johnny who was a little younger than me. Johnny could not say Jeffrey so he called me Duffy. I’m so thankful that nick name didn’t stick. Duffy Slater just doesn't have that certain something. 

We lived very close to our grammar school- The Raymond Chisholm School on South Springfield Avenue. It was a school for kindergarten through fifth grade and perhaps a 10 minute walk from my home. Some days we would walk to school and since my older sister Diane would be heading that way, she would walk Johnny and me to our classrooms. 

One day was very different. On that fateful morning, Art Jacobs drove us to school. It was an ordinary day and I don’t have any real memory of that morning. I’m sure I had my trusty briefcase filled with important papers and homework assignments but I can’t say that that morning really sticks out in my memory. The only thing I was packing was a tuna sandwich.  

Jeff with his trusty briefcase 

A 3rd Grade Robbery

After Johnny and I were dropped off at school, Johnny’s dad Art went and robbed a bank. Yes he robbed a bank. As in the phrase, "stick 'em up, I have a gun, give me your money."

My first heist…I was in the getaway car- before the robbery. How cool is this?  I only know this story from the police showing up at Johnny’s house and informing his wife that he was arrested and then the subsequent reports in the newspaper. It is surprising to me that Poppa George did cut out those stories and put them into my book. He probably didn’t want to create a problem since I’m sure that my parents were a bit freaked out. As the legend goes, it was an armed robbery so he must have been carrying heat. (I watch too many old AMC movies with cops and robbers).

"I have a gub" from Take the Money and Run

A real life robbery!
Several years later, Johnny and his mom moved away and I never heard from them again. I guess Johnny is now a 54 year old man in some other city and I haven’t a clue what ever happened to Art. I believe he went to the slammer.

Since that time, almost 50 years ago, I haven’t been involved in any other bank robberies either. I’m not too excited about the idea of going to jail, carrying a gun or stealing from others. It just isn’t my thing. I certainly don't want to wear one of those strange stocking masks over my face either. 

Johnny in plaid on the left with Jeff, Diane and Mitch
Johnny's Got his Thumb- an unlikely accomplice 
Jeff plays the drums (while Grandpa Sam helps)- Johnny on the right

Johhny is first on left side near the head of the table at one of my Pirate-themed birthday party.
Mom always went all out for themed our parties but we never did a bank robbery theme. 

The only kind of lineup I ever enjoyed.
Front Row:: Phillip Norulak, Jeff Slater (with cool cowboy hat), Johnny Jacobs, Someone I don't remember but he might be a Baime. Bonnie Ginter.
Back row: Dean Schaffer, Wayne Ginter, Diane Slater, Paul Cooperman, The Baime's daughter whose name I don't remember and Richard Schaffer

Banking a memory
I will always have a fondness for these memories and my first heist. Of course, I was just an  innocent child of about 7 so the police didn't question me and I really had nothing to do with this bank robbery gone bad. But like many wonderful stories from childhood (see Mashed Potatoes on Venetian Blinds as example), life at 20 Warwick Circle was always an adventure and I was never held up from having a good time. 

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