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Alias Soapy Smith

Lou's Double Life.

 

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Denver Post, April 20, 1923

DOUBLE LIFE CHARGED TO LOU BLONGER IN DENVER MAN'S SUIT FOR DIVORCE
Bunco King Has Lived With Girl Five Days of Week, And Other Days With Lawful Wife, for Twenty Years, Husband Says.
The skeleton of the private life of Lou Blonger, convicted king of the Denver bunco ring, was dragged from the secret recesses of its closet and injected into a divorce suit filed Friday in the district court by George B. Suter, 264 South Corona street, against Prudence Suter.
In his complaint, Suter charges that his wife's daughter by a former marriage, whose name he does not reveal, has lived with the convicted bunco king for twenty years.
Suter charges that his wife's daughter lived with Blonger five days out of each week until he was placed in the county jail and that the other two days of the week Blonger spent with his lawful wife.
He charges further, in his complaint, that the alleged relations between Blonger and his wife's daughter began when the latter was 15 or 16 years of age and that when he remonstrated with Mrs. Suter over the alleged conduct of her daughter she flew into a fit of temper and insinuated he should get into the bunco game.
Suter charges that his wife declared that Blonger was better than he and that if he would follow Blonger's example he could provide a better home for his wife.
In his complaint, Suter, who charges his wife with cruelty, states they kept boarders as a means of livelihood, and that during the course of the bunco trials in the west side court Mrs. Suter became more unbearable and nagged boarders and became sullen because they did not agree with her concerning the guilt or innocence of Blonger.
Further, he sets forth in his complaint, his wife's temper was so bad that she drove all the boarders from their home. In support of his allegations of cruelty, Suter sets forth in his complaint the charge that his wife threatened to kill him, saying "she would shoot him full of holes." He contends she called him vile names and that when he passed a dish to her at the dinner table she would exclaim: "Put it down. I don't want you to pass me anything."
He charged his wife being a chronic kicker, a growler and a nagger.
In addition to a divorce, Suter asks the court to give him the home at 264 South Corona street, which, he says, stands in his wife's name, but which he says he paid for with money he earned. He also asks the court to award him the furnishings.

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Denver Post, April 21, 1923

BLONGER'S WIFE REVEALS SHE KNEW ABOUT "OTHER WOMAN," KEPT BY SPOUSE
"I Want to Be Alone," Cries White-Haired Mate of "Bunco King," Declaring She Had Been Merely His "Friend" for Last Twenty Years.
By FRANCES WAYNE.
"The mills of the gods grind slowly but they grind exceeding fine."
A woman, past middle age, with white hair brushed from a broad brow; brown eyes overflowing with pain and lips murmuring, "I want to be alone," as she leaned against the wall of her apartment, was a living witness of how the spirit of one may be destroyed when one is caught in the web of fate and held there by another.
It was Mrs. Lou Blonger who said: "I want to be alone," when, Saturday, she was asked for her opinion of the charge made by George A. Suter in a divorce complaint filed against his wife, Prudence A. Suter, to the effect that Lou Blonger, head of the imprisoned bunco pack, has for many years led a double life with Suter's stepdaughter as the "other woman."
How Mrs. Blonger, wife of the leader of the bunco pack, met her husband she did not say. She does not look like a woman whose path has been a rosy one. Instead her face and figure give the impression of a woman whose way has been a dolorous one wherein patience had been cultivated as chiefest of the virtues.
RELATIONSHIP WITH HUSBAND THAT OF "FRIEND."
"For twenty years we have been living separate lives," she said. "He has gone his way and I have gone mine. Such relations are possible when people agree that such a way is for the best. Mr. Blonger's religious views precluded divorce. He is Catholic, and I was satisfied to let the relation which had come to be that of friend stand as it was and is. This latest revelation will doubtless have an ill effect on Mr. Blonger's health. I should not be surprised if the end is near for him, since his heart is weak and he is old and very broken."
Of the other woman, Iola Readon, or Blanche Bush, or Blanche Blonger, Mrs. Blonger refused to speak, other than to say: "It is not news."
According to Suter's complaint, Blonger met the other woman when she was 15 years old. How, or where, Suter does not say in his complaint.
In those days there may have been a statutory law which would have held Blonger accountable if his relations with the girl were improper, or, seeing the part Blonger played in his relation to the government in those days, there may have been no such law applicable to him.
At any rate, according to Suter, Blonger and the younger woman lived together five days of the week and he returned to the older woman, his legal wife, for the other days.
Whatever life may have to offer Mrs. Blonger, it can hold no shocks nor assure happiness, if the drooping lips, the leaden voice and attitude of dejection which envelops her whole being may be taken as criterions.
She believes, judged by one sentence creeping thru her lips, that to the sinner returns the sin, to the sower comes the harvest of the seed he has planted and to all judgment for his deeds.
DREADS EXPOSE'S EFFECT ON HEALTH OF SPOUSE
Judged by appearances, the wife of Lou Blonger, who has drained the cup of bitterness to its dregs, is one who will not desert him in any hour, be it ever so dark. From force of habit, if for no other reason, she will carry on. For the maternal instinct, starved and thwarted tho it may be, is strong in such women and by that she will be guided to do what she can to protect that which is hers - no matter how unworthy.
It is this instinct which makes her cry out to be alone when she is urged to tell what she knows about her husband's relations with the other woman.
It is this instinct which makes her dread the result of the latest expose of her husband's irregular manners and customs in a Christian community.
It is this instinct that will insure Lou Blonger one friend when all others forsake him - the mother instinct surviving in the wife.
Iola Reardon, or Blanche Blonger, the girl Lou Blonger is charged with having with lived with during week days, spending only his week-ends at home with his wife, lives in an elegant residence at [-] Williams street, in the heart of the fashionable and exclusive Country club district, according to Attorney Frank L. Hays, who filed the divorce action for Suter.
The wonderful home Blonger is alleged to have provided for his "soul mate" is in the same block with the ultra-fashionable Church of the Ascension.
All the curtains to the mansion were drawn tightly Saturday. Callers at the house were not admitted. Neighbors declare they understood Iola Reardon, or Blanche Blonger, was a sister, a daughter, a niece, or some relative of Blonger's.
GIRL DRIVES BIG AUTO DECLARED BLONGER'S GIFT.
The girl drives a big limousine which Blonger is said to have given her, and often calls on her mother, Mrs. Suter, in the big machine. There is a spacious, elaborately equipped garage in the basement of her home.
For many years Blonger was a frequent caller at the place, neighbors say, and they assumed, of course, that he was merely paying his respects to some young relative of whom he seemed extraordinarily fond.
Blonger insists the charge against him is a "frameup." He said:
"It's blackmail - that's all, blackmail. I don't see why this man wants to bring me into this divorce case. How can I help this case, one way or another.
"Everything between me and my wife is on the level. She's a good woman.
"What would a girl want with and old man like me, anyway? Do I look like I'd be running around like some of these young fellows? I know enough to know if I was putting out money for some other woman, somebody else would be helping her spend it."

NOTE: Iola's surname is spelled both correctly (Readon) and incorrectly (Reardon) in this article and various other sources.

Rule

Rocky Mountain News, April 21, 1923

BLONGER SAYS TALE OF DOUBLE LIFE IS BLACKMAIL ATTEMPT
Bunko Leader's Wife Admits She Has Known of Other Woman for Years.
While Lou Blonger, seventy-three-year-old leader of the Denver bunko pack, cried "Blackmail!" when informed of exposures concerning his alleged double life during the past twenty years, Mrs. Blonger made an admission that she knew of her husband's "soul mate" yesterday.
The revelations concerning the aged bunko leader's private life, held secret from his most intimate friends, became known for the first time when George A. Suter filed suit for divorce from his wife, Prudence A. Suter. The suit alleges that Blonger was one of the principal causes for divorce and set forth that the bunko man lived for five days each week with Mrs. Suter's daughter by a former marriage and the other two with his lawful wife. "It's blackmail - some one has worked a 'frameup,'" muttered Blonger hoarsely when questioned behind the bars at the county jail, where he is held pending sentence of one to thirty years in the penitentiary.
"I am sorry, but I cannot help it," said Mrs. Blonger quietly when asked the same question.
"I saw it in the paper," Blonger declared nervously at the county jail. He cringed visibly when mention was made of the "other woman," although facing without a tremor the penitentiary sentence that will be given him as the result of his conviction on the bunko charges.
Blonger, palsied and pale from his imprisonment, talked freely of the charges against him in the bunko cases, but with the exception of the one involuntary exclamation, he refused to comment about the woman who is alleged to be have been his "soul mate."
"I don't want to be quoted," he said. "It is blackmail - that's all, blackmail. I don't see why this man wants to bring me into it anyway. How can I help his divorce case one way or the other? How can I, I ask you? I don't even know who this man is. If I did know I wouldn't want to know him. I wish you would tell the paper that everything between my wife and me is on the level. She's a good woman. Why, she will be over here in the morning with my clothing."
"Say, what would a girl like that want with an old man like me," Blonger queried and laughed. "Do I look like I'd be running around like some of these young fellows? I'll tell you one thing, I know enough to realize that if I was running with some other woman and putting out any money that somebody else would be spending it."
Women Loose Tongued.
The aged confidence man, however, refused to deny that he had been living a dual existence and that he remained with his wife but two nights of each week.
"I won't be quoted on anything like that," he said flatly.
When questioned as to the statements made by others involved in the disclosures, Blonger grew confidential.
"Say, you know these women talk too much," the aged man said smiling. "You know how they talk. My wife's the same way. I suppose she talked a lot and maybe made things worse. Women are always that way. Anyhow I haven't got anything to say."
The two women, one Blonger's wife, now living at 1540 Grant street, and the other Iola Readon, also known as Blanche Bush, and Blanche Blonger, knew of each other's position in the life of the man they loved, yet neither complained, it was revealed by the principals in the case yesterday. Iola Readon, it was charged in the divorce case, lived with the aged confidence man in a $25,000 home at [--] Williams street.
Blonger's Wife Sympathetic.
While her husband kept the inner secrets of his life behind his closed lips in the county jail, Mrs. Blonger admitted some dual life by her husband and outside of an admission that she had heard of the "other woman" five years ago, would make no statement concerning her husband's double life. She accepted the exposure of his conduct calmly and pointed proudly to the message on the coat of arms of her family, "Without Fear."
"I would not be surprised at any tragedy which might result from this," she said, "for knowing Lou Blonger as I do I know that he has a weak heart and that after the shocks which he has withstood in the past year, there is no telling what shock might do to him. He is old - weak and broken.
"Toward Lou Blonger I have the same kindly feeling as I would for a brother who had always been kind to me. For the past twenty years he has lived his life and I have lived mine and we have in no way interfered with each other.
"If he has become involved with another woman and if his name is to be dragged thru another scandal I am sorry for him, but I cannot help it for I believe that what he is now suffering is only retribution for the past which he has lived."
"He has never wanted a divorce - in fact, he was christened in the Catholic church and has never believed in divorce. Had he wanted one I should have given it to him twenty years ago. As it is, we have gone on living our separate lives, he with his friends and I with mine."
Never Met Other Woman.
Asked concerning the other woman and the duplicity in his life, Mrs. Blonger was reticent in talking. She admitted, however, that she first heard of this woman five years ago and that since that time their paths have crossed but they have never met.
During the trial Mrs. Blonger never went near the courtroom, and since her husband has been confined in the jail she has been a visitor there but three times. These three times it was to take him clothing which he asked for, and each time that she visited the jail she chatted in a friendly way with him, inquiring as to his health and as to his needs. Yet each morning, and each evening, according to Mrs. Blonger, her husband has called her on the telephone at home.
If Mrs. Blonger has suffered during the recent trouble, she fails to show it, for she has a young face with deep brown eyes, despite her prematurely white hair.
In the offices of his attorney, Frank L. Hays, Suter, in an interview, told of the alleged hitherto hidden episode in the career of the imprisoned bunko expert.
"Blonger has had two wives for a score of years," said Suter. "One of them is in his legal mate and the other has been rather of a soul-mate. She is my wife's daughter thru her first marriage and lives at [--] Williams street."
Second Wife Young.
The "other Mrs. Blonger" was a young girl of 15 years when Blonger took her over as his common-law wife, gave her a home and an automobile and consorted with her five days and night out of every week, Suter declared in his suit and verified yesterday.
In a purring sedan, which, Suter stated, Blonger had bought for her, the "other wife" called at the Blonger residence every Monday night and took Lou Blonger to the mansion on Williams street. Then the following Saturday, Suter says, she drove him back to his home and left him there until the following Monday. Blonger spent his week-ends with his real wife and that was all, Suter said.
"Once the two of them took a trip to Havana and another to Florida - that was about three years ago," said Suter. "As for the real Mrs. Blonger, she never seemed to enter the scenes and Lou kept them apart and did not let them see each other, tho each knew of how matters stood."
Girl Is Defended.
"That was the cause of trouble which led to this divorce," said Suter. "The girl kept rising up between us. Whenever I would remonstrate with Mrs. Suter about the conduct of Iola, her daughter, she would fly into a rage and nag and growl and defend Blonger on plea that he had lots of money and her daughter was happy."

 

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