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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Unofficial A-Z Challenge: T Is For Squizzy Taylor, U Is ForUnderbelly(T-Shirts)

Squizzy Taylor

Public domain

Joseph Leslie "Squizzy" Taylor was a thief, blackmailer, drug dealer, standover man, seller of illegal booze and much else, but mostly managed to avoid prison.  Firstly, he picked easy crimes, such as blackmail. Secondly, by the time the law became involved, people had "forgotten" what they thought they'd seen.

Born in 1888, in Brighton, now a Melbourne suburb, he began as an apprentice jockey, but soon decided that crime paid better. He was imprisoned in 1908 for picking pockets as part of a gang. That was two years. In 1916, he literally got away with murder when three witnesses changed their minds; he served a year on a smaller charge. 

He was finally killed in 1927, when Snowy Cutmore, a former gang member, returned from Sydney and interfered in one of Squizzy's illegal businesses. Furious, Squizzy stormed into Snowy's Fitzroy house, where Snowy lay sick in bed, but armed. The two men shot each other. Squizzy staggered into his waiting taxi and went to hospital, where he died. He was buried in Brighton Cemetery, where his grave can still be seen.

U Is For Underbelly T-Shirts

TV series Underbelly, based on a book by two Melbourne journalists, was hugely popular in Australia in 2008.  It told the true story of Melbourne's gangland wars, with local crime families such as the Moran and Williams families as the protagonists. Everybody was watching and talking about the series, pretty much as they do about Game Of Thrones now. 

So it's probably no surprise that people cashed in. T-shirts showing the wearer to be a supporter of either the Moran or the Williams families were for sale on eBay! Undoubtedly, somewhere someone is wearing a faded t-shirt with Moran or Williams on it and wondering why they ever ordered it... 

If you enjoyed these stories, why not find the book and others on the web site of Ford Street Publishing  at this URL:

A free sample chapter is here.

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