ESQUIRE

'YOU ALL KNOW ME I’M JACK RUBY' ARTICLE BY GARY WILLS & OVID DEMARIS FROM ESQUIRE MAGAZINE MAY 1967

At The Silver Spur, there were many plays Jack had to take away. He was not a big man—five-foot-nine 175 pounds—but he was brawny in the arms and shoulders, and fast, and deft at his tactic of the seized initiative. We found no memory, in the jumbled fight stories from his ‘bucket-of-blood’ days, of his ever losing the play. He struck fast. Once, though, having struck, he left his hand too long in an opponent's face; ‘Dub’ Dickerson chomped down on his finger and would not let go. By the time Jack shook him off, the flesh was mangled and one joint of his left index finger had to be amputated. Typically, Jack and Dickerson were friends when they met after this.

Even on South Ervay, Jack maintained strict, if eccentric, standards of decorum. ‘He didn't let no 'characters' in,’ one character told us. (‘Characters,’ in Ruby's world, is the truncated form of crime-story phrases, like ‘suspicious characters’ and ‘questionable characters’) ‘He threw me out four or five thousand times.’ The speaker is a wry young man with a sullen pout, Gilbert ‘Corky’ Crawford. ‘I have a record, you see’ a five-page record of arrests, to be precise, often on charges of pandering), ‘and police would come in and sometimes take me out and sometimes take me to jail, So Jack said he didn't need my' business.’ Did he ever throw you out physically? ‘Oh no!’ Buddy Walthers one of Sheriff Bill Decker's most promising young understudies (one of those who wear Decker's Dick-Tracy-style hat, not a Stetson), snorted at this. ‘He beat the hell out of Corky.’ Ruby, who despised ‘punks’ and ‘characters,’ rarely: found other ways of expressing disapproval. He moralised with his fists.

Decorum meant a great deal to Jack Ruby. He did not smoke or drink (his father was a drunkard. He rarely talked Yiddish (the language of his childhood) he was content on perfecting his Bottom-the-Weaver English (his mother could not write her own name). Alas, the only verbal mastery he achieved was in the realm of imaginative obscenity. (‘He could cuss straight on, like saying his prayers,’ one of his friends said admiringly.) And his ardour for decorum manifested itself primarily in a readiness' to flatten any patron who put his feet on the table. His determination to run a ‘clean club’ made many strippers wonder how they could find protection from his protection. One girl told Jack she was given her black eye by her husband, and she was leaving him, the next time the poor fellow appeared at the club. Ruby pitched him down the stairs, though the couple had been reconciled and the girl was pleading, ‘Jack. I don't want you to hit him.’

In 1952, Ruby tried to open a new place, and lost both it and The Silver Spur. It was the first and the harshest, of his business failures in Dallas. Eventually he got The Silver Spur back, but by now he had his eye on the ‘respectable’ downtown clubs. His first real advance toward that goal came when he went in with Joe Bonds at The Vegas Club—which meant a switch from hillbilly music to rock-end-roll. He ran dance contests to bring in the young crowd, and kept the place even cleaner of ‘characters.’ ‘Oh yeah,’ Corky says. ‘he threw me out of The Vegas, too.’ Jack lived for this club—as manager, bouncer, advertising agent, promoter, M.C.—until the day when he took his farthest step up and moved into the center of town, right next to Abe Weinstein’s Colony Club, back at 1312 1/2, where ‘Pappy’ had started in the Thirties. In 1961 he opened The Carousel, which he thought of always as his ‘high-class place,’ his first club with strippers and a real ‘show.’ He left the old club for Eve to manage; Bob Larkin, a giant blarneyer, became the ‘houseman’ (polite for bouncer) of The Vegas...

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