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Alias Soapy Smith

Incarceration.

 

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Denver Post, June 12, 1923

WIFE OF LOU BLONGER, DESERTED FOR YEARS, PROVES BEST FRIEND
Reconciliation in Jail Brings Aged Couple Together as "Brains of Confidence Ring" Fails Rapidly Awaiting Result of Court Appeal.
By JOSEPH E. COOK.
Deserted by false friends who acclaimed him in his more fortunate days, Lou Blonger, aged "bunco" king, turned Monday to greet the victim he had most wronged, but who alone has come to aid him in his days of trial.
It was the wife from whom Blonger had been practically estranged for more than twenty years — whom, it is said, he neglected for a younger and gayer companion he placed in a magnificent apartment and surrounded with every luxury.
Forgiving his faithlessness, she came Monday to tell Blonger that in the days that are to come, long, almost hopeless days, in which he will await the tidings of his appeal to the court of last resort, she will be by his side, endeavoring to lighten the burden which the 72-year-old leader of Denver's infamous "con" ring is bearing for his sins.
For several hours the couple were closeted in Blonger's compartment in the county jail. Flying visits of a few days ago, which brought out rumors of a reconciliation, were confirmed. Papers were signed, which, it is said, give to the wife property which will insure comfort in declining years. Others were prepared which will give her the money with which to carry on the legal fight which hereafter she will direct.
After the conference, she hastened from the jail. Motherly, gray-haired, she lingered for a moment to give a few last instructions. Attendants, not in the habit of obeying graciously the behests of inmates and friends of inmates of the county jail, were only too eager to do her bidding.
Left alone, the aged "bunco" leader gave himself to reverie. Blonger is growing older rapidly in confinement — broken in health and bowed by the weight of the punishment meted out to him for his crimes, he ages months in a week. But the fealty of his wife, his first true companion and evidently his last true friend, seems to have lightened slightly his heavy load.
WIFE KNEW OF DOUBLE LIFE.
Thru twenty years, the wife knew of her husband's double life, it developed after Blonger's arrest and imprisonment. She knew none of the details of the bunco game which mulcted tourists to Denver out of thousands of dollars, but she knew that Blonger had gone "wrong." And what meant more to the woman — she knew that he had forgotten his companion of his own youth to turn in his old age to youth in another woman.
At a divorce hearing in progress in a Denver court shortly after Blonger's arrest it was revealed that the bunco king had found a "soulmate." Five days of the week for many years the old bunco leader spent in her company, it was charged. The other two he spent in the company of his legal wife.
Mrs. Blonger knew of the existence of the girl, it was revealed. For many years she had tasted the cup of bitterness. She often passed a house at [—] Williams street, which report told her, was the home furnished by her husband for this youthful consort. A car flashed up to the place several times to her knowledge, and from it sprang her young rival. The car was Blonger's gift, too, she was told.
Then Blonger met his Nemesis. And thru the long days of the "bunco" trial, the wife held aloof, aiding where possible, but refusing to become an active partner in his defense.
But after the trial had gone against the aged "king," when fickle friends deserted him each day, she came to his side. What workings of a woman's heart brought about the reconciliation, only the wife of Lou Blonger will ever know. Her time to gloat, to rejoice in the downfall of one who had failed to giver her her due, found her enlisted in the task of making less harsh the days of his misfortune.
Blonger, doctors say, would never survive a prison term — may not even hear the result of his appeal.
Only one thing is certain now — that in the days he waits, there will be more comfort because of the sacrificing devotion of one whose loyalty he betrayed.

Rule

Denver Post, Oct. 18, 1923

BROKEN BY AGE AND SORROW, LOU BLONGER LEAVES FOR PEN WHERE HE EXPECTS LIFE TO END
Seventy-Four-Year-Old Bunco Convict Weeps as He Bids Farewell to Jail Attaches — Embraces Religion of His Childhood.
Broken and bent, tottering under his seventy-four years and his sorrow, Lou Blonger, convicted bunco man, left the county jail Thursday morning for Canon City to being serving a term of seven to ten years in the penitentiary, imposed on him by Judge George F. Dunklee.
Tears streamed down his wrinkled cheeks as he said good-by to jail attaches. To them he expressed the opinion that in going to the penitentiary he was going to his death. Disease has ravished his broken body and his years have taken toll of his strength.
Blonger said as he left the county jail Thursday that the grave will rob the law of its full measure of satisfaction.
No more pitiable figure ever has left the jail for the penitentiary, according to veteran attaches. Aroused at 6:30 o'clock Thursday morning, Blonger got out of bed reluctantly. He dressed, and those who passed in the corridor before his cell heard his sobs and beheld tears trickling down his wrinkled face.
Ready for the journey, Blonger took breakfast. Granted the liberty of the jail during his last few minutes there, he passed among the guards, bidding them goodby and good luck.
The sorrow which was on the man was evident. He cried like a child about to be separated from its mother.
UNABLE TO REPLY TO FAREWELLS.
As he reached the jail office Warden Thomas Clennan shook his hand and said goodby. Harry Livingston, captain of the guards, also shook his hand. To these farewells Blonger could not reply. A wave of the hand was his only acknowledgment. He could not speak.
When the iron doors of the jail clanged behind him Blonger was placed in an automobile of a friend. His physician and Harry Radetsky accompanied him. In this machine he was driven to the penitentiary.
Complying with a request made by Blonger Wednesday, his wife and his friends were not at the jail to bid him goodby. Many friends of Blonger called Wednesday at the jail. His wife was one of the last of the visitors. She left the jail, promising to return early Thursday morning to say goodby. Blonger pleaded with her not to come again, saying, according to jail attaches, that he would rather never see her again than have her come Thursday. Going away under such circumstances, he is said to have told her, would be unbearable.
EMBRACES RELIGION OF HIS CHILDHOOD.
Late Wednesday two Catholic nuns visited Blonger in his cell. A Catholic in his youth, Blonger had fallen away from his church, but since his conviction and confinement he has again embraced the religion of his childhood, and has been receiving instructions daily in the jail.
The meeting of the nuns and Blonger was another tearful scene. Leaving the jail, the nuns told attaches that the law was supreme and must be satisfied, but to them Blonger had always exhibited the best side of his dual personality.
"We have never known a more charitable man than Mr. Blonger," the nuns said.
The aged bunco man probably will reach the penitentiary late Thursday. His removal to Canon City virtually ends one of the most sensational chapters in Denver's criminal history. Walter Byland, one of the members of the bunco ring, still remains in the Denver county jail, but within a few days, it is said, he also will be taken to Canon City to begin serving the term imposed by the court.

 

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