The strange attraction to Dutch Schultz
What is it about the delirium-tainted ramblings of a dying 1930s gangster that still incites so much passion among NDE researchers, treasure hunters, the literati, and perhaps most of all, Surrealists like myself?
A little backstory first: Dutch Schultz was born in New York in 1901 and was killed in 1935 at the young age of 34. He had rapidly moved up in the mafia ranks and became a mob boss, raking in millions in the numbers racket, prostitution, and rum-running, until weakened by two (not guilty) tax evasion trials doggedly pursued by crusading prosecutor Thomas Dewey. Schultz went before the Commission (an early version of the 5 Godfathers) and asked permission to kill Dewey, which the Commission refused, fearing it would bring the heat down on them all.
Schultz defied the Commission and ordered a hit on Dewey, which failed. The Commission then gave the go-ahead for Schultz’s assassination, which was carried out by three gunmen who also gunned down Schultz’s two bodyguards and his accountant (who all died as well) while they were eating supper at the Palace Chophouse.
When Schultz, still clinging to life, was brought to the hospital semi-coherent and rambling, with two bullet wounds to the abdomen, the police and FBI brought in a stenographer to take down anything he might say. You see, fearing his enemies on the Commission might attempt a hit, Schultz had ordered the building of a special safe in which he placed $7 million in cash and bonds. Schultz and his accountant then drove off with the safe to a secret location somewhere in upstate New York and buried it. (His accountant, remember, was one of the three other men also killed in the attack on Dutch.)
“Lucky” Luciano, according to gangland lore, spent much of his life obsessively trying to locate the safe but if the FBI or anyone else thought his dying utterances might prove useful, they’d soon be sorely disappointed. Some are pure poetry: “A boy has never wept, nor dashed a thousand kim,” Others are more whimsical, “Oh, oh dog Biscuit, and when he’s happy he doesn’t get snappy.” His last sentence was a reference to the delights of French Canadian bean soup!
A number of writers have devoted works to his last words, including William S. Burroughs’ novel “Last Words of Dutch Schultz” and Robert Shea and Robert Wilson’s “Illuminautaus Trilogy.” In the novel, Billy Bathgate, the hero, discovers clues in Schultz’s fevered ramblings to locate his hidden treasure. Treasure hunters meet yearly in upstate New York gatherings to hunt for the buried safe, as seen in the 2001 documentary film “Digging for Dutch.”
So now, with the vermouth-lipped Duck of Doubt slowly roasting in my fierce Oven of Truth, I bid you Adieu. Keep spreading the word; Soylent Green is People. All Homage to Xena!