The Birmingham Free Press, Inc. est. 1998
All The Truth and More

Unlike most newspapers, which pride themselves on their "no bull" policies, we here at the Birmingham Free Press are full of bull. The bull we happen to be the most filled with is our own immortal Bull Connor. Bull put a face on a city that without him might have been remembered only as a bastion of heroic do-gooders. But thanks to Bull we are now known throughout the world as one of the last holdouts for blind hatred and ignorant racism. You know the old saying: "any press is good press." Now this is diametrically opposed to that other old saying: "no news is good news." Well, you be the judge.

If you really want to understand a guy like Bull, you have to understand the world he grew up in. It was strange world. A world so strange that half the town fancied themselves to be costumed crime fighters and the other half fancied themselves to be costumed crime commiters. Yes it was hard on the young lad, set on becoming a police officer, that his entire city has made a farce of law enforcement.

Bull Connor might be most remembered for his role in never solving the Ensley murder case back in 1968, but there was another mystery, forty years earlier, that he also had no part in. Yes, I’m referring to The Case of the Missing Bohemian.

1928 was the year of the Steiner Bank scandal. The Bohemian-born brothers, Burghard and Sigfried Steiner, pulled the strings of this town like the puppet masters they were. The Steiner bank held the mortgages for 92.6% of the entire city. But even as they were flexing the thickest biceps of their political muscle one of the brothers turned up missing. That is he didn’t turn up at all. Within hours of the announcement that Sigfried, the eldest Steiner, was heir apparent to the throne of Greater Bohemia he disappeared. This left Burghard next in line for the throne. To the people of Bohemia either brother would have been a welcome change from the murderous and sadistic king that had made their lives a living hell for so many years.

Other strange things were afloat in 1928. There was a particularly popular comic book character of the time called the Batman. Secret societies and social clubs sprang up all over Birmingham celebrating the cult of personality around this fictional crime fighter. Some of these people were quite fanatical and even took to parading around town dressed as the deities of the Batman pantheon. This was a time when it was no great shakes to find yourself sitting beside the Penguin on the bus or waiting in line at the hotdog stand behind Alfred and Commissioner Gordon. Yes, I think it might be fair to refer to this time as a strange time.

Also this was a time that Tallulah Bankhead had yet to make her debut as an actress. She was still working as a loan officer at the Steiner Bank, much to the chagrin of the Steiners. Tallulah didn’t actually work so much as lounge about complaining. But the Steiners owed Papa Bankhead a few favors and Tallulah needed to go through the motions of work to get an idea of just how the other half lived.

What say we go back to those golden days? What say we go back to the time when Batmen strolled casually down Main Street? A time when a man could smoke a cigarette without being hassled by some uptight hippy. A livid time. A gray time.

Now’s the time.

Click here to solve the Case of the Missing Bohemian.