Thursday, July 16, 2015

Episode 7 - The Contingency Plan Unfolds

SUMMER OF '65 EPISODE 7 – The Contingency Plan Unfolds

 Image result for Flanders Hotel OCNJ
The Flanders Hotel - Ocean City, N.J. Boardwalk

The meeting took place on a Sunday afternoon in Elwood Kirkman's penthouse apartment on the top floor of the Flanders Hotel.

From the front windows, or from the throne of Kirkman's private commode with the gold faucets gave a picture window view of the scenic blue ocean horizon and the beach and boardwalk just beyond the huge Olympic sized pools.

The original boardwalk ran right in front of the Flanders boardwalk door but after the fire and they moved the boardwalk a block closer to the Ocean, Kirkman had the pools built out to the new boardwalk. At the end of the street was the pavilion where most of the old folks retreated to after the hippies took over Shriver's Pavilion. Just across the street on the corner was Copper Kettle Fudge, and Harry Anglemeyer's second floor apartment.

Kirkman looked out the window and winched when he noticed a long haired hippie playing guitar, serenading some of the old folks, who didn't seem to appreciate the entertainment.

Kirkman owned the Flanders Hotel, the Boardwalk National Bank, a title company, a few Atlantic City hotels, the Seaview Country Club and most of the motels on the Black and White Horse Pikes to Atlantic City, which were popular before the Expressway and Parkway came in. Kirkman held the mortgage on most of the commercial businesses on the Atlantic City, Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Wildwood boardwalks, except those owned by Mrs. Schilling and what Harry Anglemeyer owned before he was killed. Kirkman was the Georgetown Law School roommate of H. Hap Farley, the Atlantic City boss who took over the Atlantic City rackets and Republican political machine when Nucky Johnson went to prison, and Kirkman made sure that Nucky stayed retired after he got out of the joint.

Kirkman was the richest and most powerful man in Atlantic City, other than Stumpy Orman, who ran the Absecon Island rackets for Farley and Angelo Bruno, the Philadelphia don who was a Commissioner on the board of the national crime syndicate. Orman was a phone call away and right then holding court out of a booth in a nearby Margate restaurant.

Turning back to his sprawling, split level apartment, furnished in an out dated Spartain 50s post-modern style, Kirkman looked around the room and only recognized the Mayor, the chief of police and D. Allen Stretch, the public safety commissioner.

Kirkman sat down and leaned back in a lounge chair as he was introduced to the new faces in the room, including representatives from the governor's office, the New Jersey State Police, the federal FBI's gang unit, the Somers Point Police Department, the N.J. state Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), whose undercover agents were trying to infiltrate the local one percenter gangs, and the N.J. State Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, who owned the patch of sandy wetlands between Somers Point and Ocean City, ground zero for Plan A.

One by one the mayor introduced them to Mr. Kirkman and when he was finished Kirkman said: “I'm too busy to deal with this small town shit! I'm depending on you boys to deal with this kind of stuff, protect the public safety and see that the business and commerce isn't disrupted."

“Well,” the mayor said, “Mr. Stretch and the chief here have, in consultation with the Somers Point officials, the Governor, the FBI gang unit and the State Police, they have come up with a contingency plan that I had requested. Chief, will you explain it?”

The chief then got up, picked up a long stick and pointed it at a big map of the area propped up on an easel and began to lay out the plan.

“We've carefully studied the way other communities have dealt with this threat,” the chief began, “starting with Holister, the California town that experienced an influx of outlaw motorcycle gangs that inspired the movie 'The Wild One,'the that starred Marlon Brando and James Coburn.”

“A copy of the film was obtained by Mr. Oschlager, Mrs. Schilling's movie manager, and it will be screened after this briefing.”

“We estimate that they may have as many as fifteen hundred bikers, and we can match them in numbers,” the chief droned on, “if we bring in support from other local police departments, and buttressed by the State Police gang control unit, the 300 cadets from the State Police Academy, that will be bussed in, and some federal officers. And the governor has the National Guard on alert if they are needed.”

“Because of the unique series of four draw bridges that provide the only accesses to the island, two of them being together on the causeway, we have decided to use them to our advantage, as we can raise and lower them when we want to at strategic times for tactical purposes.”

“So we will let the bulk of the incoming bikers, as they arrive, to cross the first bridge from the Somers Point Circle, where Lieutenant Bader will supervise the situation, supported by the State Police. After the main body of the bikers have crossed that bridge, we will raise the other bridge at the base of Ninth Street in Ocean City, so they will be trapped on the patch of land between the two bridges on the causeway. There they can be contained and controlled by the State Troopers, Ocean City and Somers Point police who can search them and arrest them for controlled substances, DWI, parole violations and outstanding warrants. Judge Helfant has agreed to keep his court open as long as necessary to process them and we have sufficient detention facilities to hold them all.”

The mayor was the only one to speak up and question the plan,.

“I'm not so sure they will all arrive together,” he said. “I've read the reports from Hollister and other places this sort of thing has happened, and they all indicate the bikers don't arrive in one mass, but rather they come sporadically in small groups, not all at once.”

The mayor also noted that he personally felt he connected with the head Angel, the leader of the pack who Officer Warren had ticketed for speeding, and thought that he could work something out with him if they ever got together again. The mayor was convinced that if they could talk and reason together they could come to some mutually agreeable resolution and amiably resolve the situation before it escalated to the level of violence and anybody getting arrested.

Making a reference to JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the mayor said, “we can work this thing out without starting a war,” he concluded.

“These are one percenters,” the FBI gang squad agent spoke up. “These guys are mainly disenchanted veterans, hard assed criminals and gang members who sell drugs, run prostitutes, steal what they can and will break a baseball bat across your scull without batting an eye.”

Kirkman then looked at the mayor and said: “You can try to reason with them if you want to, but we're making this contingency plan operational and putting it into action. And I don't want to hear about this anymore unless something goes terribly wrong.”

They then decided to put a news blackout on all of this and not inform the media, who were bound to exaggerate the situation for readers and ratings, or tell the public, who were susceptible to panic. So there was to be a total news blackout on this operation - that was given the code name Operation BARBARIAN. 

The Barbarian Task Force - BTF - as the feds called it, was scheduled to confer by phone daily and meet once a week until the week before Labor Day, when they would meet daily and confer hourly until after the crisis was over.

While Mister Kirkman was a congenial host, with waitresses circulating the room with snacks and drinks, not everyone stayed for the screening of “The Wild One.”

And even though it was a state secret, purposely kept out of the press and none of the officials in the room leaked the details, one of the waitresses told her boyfriend some of what she heard, and before long it was all over the beach, the boardwalk and Bay Avenue – the Barbarians were coming!

The mayor and the chief didn't stay at Kirkman's apartment as they dimmed the lights and the movie projector began to click and begin the credits to “The Wild One.”

They walked out of the Flanders and down the boardwalk, headed to their office when they heard someone call their names. It was Roger Monroe, the owner of the bookstore next to Shriver's Candy store. It being Sunday Monroe’s book store was closed, but Monroe himself was sitting in front of a portable card table on which there was a large hard bound copy of the bible, a stack of Playboy magazines and a petition on a clipboard with a pen dangling from a string.

Monroe asked them, “Will you sign my petition to get rid of the silly blue laws so I can open for business on Sundays?”

The mayor and the chief stopped and shook Roger's hand. He was a good, legitimate businessman who attended all of the city council meetings and had taken up Harry Anglemeyer's crusade against the blue laws, despite what happened to Harry.

“You see how silly it is?” Roger asked, as he held up the bible in one hand saying, “I can't sell you a bible on Sundays, but I can sell you this trash,” holding up the Playboy in the other hand.

The mayor looked at Roger and politely said, “I understand,” while the chief took a closer look at the Playboy cover – one that featured a scantly clad voluptuous blonde draped over the monkey bars of a motorcycle.

The chief then looked at the mayor and asked, “Do you know where your daughters are?”

NEXT EPISODE EIGHT – Infiltrating Bay Shores during the Peak of the Heydays

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