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
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, Im 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 didnt 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 didnt 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.
Nows the time.
here to solve the Case of the Missing Bohemian.