A Bulletproof Car for the President.
January 31, 2014
There is a reason I like the past.
There is a reason I like living in the past.
There is a reason I like writing about the past.
While researching, I often stumble across nuggets of information that played an important role in history, bits and pieces I didn’t know existed.
One nugget arrived in an email this week.
It seems that, on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service was facing a crisis.
Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
So much of the American fleet had been knocked to the bottom of the ocean.
So many American sailors and soldiers had died.
The nation was in state of shock.
Grief gripped every heart.
Sons and daughters would not be coming home again. There would be gold stars placed on their homes.
It was indeed a day of infamy.
And here was President Franklin D. Roosevelt dead set on speaking to Congress and the American people the next day.
He was their leader.
They were on the verge of panic.
He was the only hope they had to set their fears at ease.
The journey from the White House to Capitol was not very far at all.
The President had made it many times.
But this time it was different.
Was Pearl Harbor merely the first attack?
No one knew.
Would there be more?
Was America under siege?
Were Japanese agents planning to assassinate the President?
Was he the target of their next assault?
The agents pleaded with Roosevelt to to remain in the White House.
No, he said.
He was going to Congress.
He was going to the people.
They could go with him or get out of his way.
Roosevelt had a job to do, and only he could do it.
Safety be damned.
The Secret Service was frantic. What could they do to protect him?
Then one discovered that the U. S. Treasure had seized the car owned by gangster Al Capone before he was arrested and sent to jail a decade earlier. It was a 1928 Cadillac 341 Town Sedan.
It had hauled gangsters.
It had hauled illegal whiskey.
It had hauled hit men.
Now it would be hauling the President.
The agents brought it out of storage, cleaned it up, added a touch of polish, and, sure enough – after mechanics worked all night to check each feature and movable part of the vehicle – the motor still ran as well as it did when the car negotiated the dark streets of Chicago.
The Cadillac Town Car had been painted black and green so it would appear to be one of Chicago’s police cars when it wheeled past.
It had its own siren.
Flashing lights were hidden behind the grille.
A police scanner radio cut through the static.
The car looked good.
It looked official.
It was fit for a President.
More importantly, however, gangsters had outfitted the Cadillac Town Car with three thousand pounds of armor and bulletproof windows an inch thick.
The Commander-in-Chief rode comfortably.
He rode in style.
He rode safely to the doorsteps of the Capitol.
America would never forget his “Day of Infamy” speech.
America never knew how he had traveled from the White House.
The country owed Al Capone a debt of gratitude.
It was a debt never paid.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his books. He writes about a lot of history in his fiction and nonfiction works. His Secrets of the Dead is a novel set just before World War II.