Pretty Boy Floyd’s Last Meal of Spare Ribs, Potatoes & Pumpkin Pie
Pretty Boy Floyd was a bank robber who operated in the Midwest states during the early 1930s. He had a particular talent for theft and burglary and an even better nickname to accompany that. However he didn’t quite fit the bill for a stereotypical bank robber as we think of them today. If you're from reddit and don't want to read the same thing, click here.
Floyd was portrayed by the police and media as a murdering, blood-thirsty, bank-robbing psychopath which, in part, was true. He did kill at least 1 person and he did rob banks, however Pretty Boy Floyd also had another side to him and was dubbed ‘The Robin Hood of Cookson Hills’ by Oklahoma locals.
According to accounts who knew him well, including his own son, he was described as a loving and caring father, son and uncle. He often gave money to families in need during the bleak and grim times of the Great Depression, he would regularly bring groceries back for the surrounding neighbours of wherever he was hiding out at the time and he also came across as 'charming, charismatic and gentle' when giving interviews to newspapers.
It seems that Pretty Boy Floyd was also aiming for the Robin Hood character that fellow bank-robber John Dillinger had also achieved. Similarly to Dillinger, the accounts of Floyd from those who knew him personally are a strong contradiction to the portrait painted of Public Enemy Number 1 by the newly-formed FBI.
The head of the FBI was the very ambitious J. Edgar Hoover who hated the fact that criminals during the 1930s were glamorized by a public who didn’t have much to get excited about after the thrill of the Roaring 20s had fizzled out. Criminals such as Bonnie & Clyde, Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson had all received mass amounts of coverage from the media, oftentimes generating a fascination from the public.
J. Edgar Hoover was quick to shoot down any glorification of said criminals, especially the Robin Hood character that Pretty Boy Floyd was being depicted as, which would create infatuation in the media. One particular rumour that was circulating and gaining momentum in the press was that Pretty Boy was destroying mortgage documents whenever he robbed a bank, freeing hundreds of citizens from their debts and potential homelessness.
The fact that Floyd was involved in many bank robberies and murders yet was able to maintain a positive public image infuriated J. Edgar Hoover and he would eventually step up the manhunt for Public Enemy Number 1 by sending his trusty agent Melvin Purvis after the scent of Pretty Boy Floyd, whenever he left one.
Floyd had been hiding out in Buffalo, New York with his bank-robbing accomplice Adam Richetti. Since being named Public Enemy Number 1 by the FBI, the heat in the west and central states, where he had pulled off over 30 bank robberies, was increasing. The pair, with their girlfriends, lived in complete isolation in an upstairs apartment in Buffalo, praying that the manhunt would ease off.
After 12 months of hiding and unbearable cabin fever, country-boy-turned-bandit Charlie 'Pretty Boy' Floyd suggested that the foursome return to his beloved Oklahoma Hills. Floyd knew that he could rely on the locals of Oklahoma who regarded him as a hero, not a monster. They referred to him as the ‘Robin Hood of the Cookson Hills’ and the anecdotes of his generosity to those families struggling during the Great Depression would become legend.
They acted on Pretty Boy Floyd’s suggestion and on the night of the 19th October 1934, on route to Oklahoma, they had an accident just outside of East Liverpool on the Ohio River. Floyd and Adam Richetti decided to wait on a hillside in Wellsville, where they had crashed and sent the girls in the car, which was still driveable, into East Liverpool to get it repaired so they could continue to their destination.
Whilst on the hillside, the outlaws were spotted by numerous locals who reported them to the local police. When they were confronted a gunfight ensued and Adam Richetti was taken prisoner, whilst Charlie escaped - something he was very good at.
At first Adam Richetti gave a false name and wasn’t identified however when his mugshot was recognised, which was regularly published along with Floyd’s in the national papers, local police were now aware who Adam was and informed federal officers that his accomplice was Public Enemy Number 1. Melvin Purvis and his G-Men picked up on the scent and the hunt for Pretty Boy Floyd was on.
Floyd hid out in the surrounding woods for 48 hours with no shelter, food or water. Eventually, on the 22nd October, he approached the farmhouse of a widow named Ellen Conkle, about 16 miles from where the gunfight happened. He explained to Ellen Conkle that he had been out squirrel hunting and drinking with his brother when he got lost. Mrs Conkle knew that the man at her doorstep, in an expensive suit and necktie, wasn’t a squirrel hunter however she fed him anyway as it was rare in those days for someone to turn you away at the door.
She made him Spare Ribs, Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie (which I recreate in this week's video) and he ate this meal whilst reading about the capture of his pal Adam and the hunt for himself. If Mrs Conkle had just looked at the full-page mugshot, in that same paper, of the man sitting on her patio she would have known that it was Pretty Boy Floyd.
He finished his meal, declared it fit for a king and then paid her $1. Floyd noticed there was a car outside and asked who it belonged to. Ellen Conkle informed the fugitive that it was her brother’s who shortly after, agreed to give Floyd a ride. As they turned out of the farmhouse, their exit was blocked. Melvin Purvis and local law enforcement were going from farm to farm searching for Pretty Boy Floyd and struck it lucky.
Floyd leapt from the car when he saw the agents and proceeded to run through an open cornfield, zig zagging across the ground towards the woods he had been hiding in. With no cover, he was an easy target for the law enforcement which included World War 1 sharp shooter Chester Smith. With a Winchester Rifle, after Floyd ignored orders to halt, Chester Smith shot Pretty Boy Floyd twice and he dropped to the ground. Melvin Purvis then approached the outlaw and interrogated him on the Kansas City Massacre. He denied all involvement and died 15 minutes later. His last words were ‘I’m done for, you’ve got me twice’.
Charles Arthur Floyd’s body was returned home to the Oklahoma Hills, which was initially his end destination. He was buried at Akins Cemetery, on a plot of land where his other relatives were buried. A year before his death he told his mother as he pointed to the plot of land “Right here is where you can put me. I expect to go down soon with lead in me. Maybe the sooner the better. Bury me deep.” Over 20,000 people attended his funeral on October 28th 1934 and his gravesite and Ellen Conkle’s farm are still a tourist attraction today.
His life and generous acts towards the people of Oklahoma was that of legend and Charlie Floyd was immortalised in Woody Guthrie’s ballad ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’. I’ve picked a verse or 2 from the ballad which I think resonates well with Pretty Boy Floyd's life and the people of Oklahoma’s fondness towards him '
But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.
Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.
It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:
Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.
Moments before Melvin Purvis & co gunned the outlaw down, he enjoyed a last meal of Spare Ribs, Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie and it is that meal that is the focus here.
If you'd like to know more about the life and crimes of Pretty Boy Floyd, it'll be after the recipe.
2.5lb Rack of Ribs
2 tbsp Liquid Gold
2 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Onion Powder
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
8 tbsp Ketchup
1 tbsp Brown Mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp Honey
600 g Baking Potatoes
150g Plain Flour
75g Unsalted Butter
50g Icing Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
25g Melted Butter
1 can of Pumpkin Puree
140g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Nutmeg
1 tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tbsp Ground Cloves
1. Remove the white membrane from the ribs, pat dry & rub in a tablespoon of liquid smoke onto both sides
2. Make a dry rub with the paprika, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt. Rub thoroughly all over the ribs, reserving 1 tablespoon
3. Wrap tightly in foil and place into a preheated 250F oven for 2.5 hours
4. Whilst they are roasting, make a simple BBQ sauce by combing the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and the honey. When homogenous, add the reserved dry rub and stir through
5. Slice your potatoes into wedges, toss in oil, season with salt and pepper and place below the ribs when they have 1 hour of cooking left
6. After an hour, increase the oven temperature to max, remove your ribs and glaze generously with the sauce and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove your ribs and potatoes and leave the ribs to rest for around 15 minutes before serving
7. For the pumpkin pie (which can be done a few days in advance) pour the plain flour into a mixing bowl and add the softened, unsalted butter and rub with fingertips until it resembles a breadcrumb texture
8. Add the icing sugar, salt and egg yolk and mix. If your dough is too dry add a touch of water then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes
9. Remove from the fridge and roll the pastry to a suitable for your tart tin. Lift and drop making sure the bottom and sides fit flush to the tin and then line the pastry with baking parchement and baking beans and bake at 180F for 15 minutes
10. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter and then add the pumpkin puree and mix. Add the caster sugar, half a tablespoon of salt, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ground ginger and mix together and then ladle into your pastry
11. Bake for around 40 minutes (NOT 50 LIKE ME!) and leave to cool completely before slicing and serving
12. Plate up and enjoy! Just please don't rob any banks.
The Life, Crimes & Last Meal of Pretty Boy Floyd
On February 3rd 1904, in a small city in Georgia called Adairsville, one Charles Arthur Floyd was born. Small in stature but with a tough-guy nature, young Charlie was raised on tenant farms, working corn and cotton fields with his family.
He escaped the monotony of farm-life repetitiveness by daydreaming about the adventures of Jesse James, Billy The Kid and other outlaws who he heard about growing up.
Charlie didn’t wait long to grow up and by the age of 17, in 1921, he was married and money was tight for a young family. With occupations also not plentiful, Charlie committed his first robbery aged 18, stealing $3.50 from the local post office, the equivalent of about $50 today. Floyd like the taste of the easy pickings and began rising up through the ranks of the criminal underworld.
During the 1920s, when prohibition was in full swing, Charlie worked in East Liverpool, Ohio, operating along the river for bootleggers as a hired gunman and a lookout. He was arrested occasionally and spent a few months inside prison. After his stretch he went west to Kansas City where he would commit his first bank robberies over several years and it was during this time that he acquired his famous and quite memorable nickname.
There are numerous accounts to how Charlie became Pretty Boy Floyd but the most credible is an account where he, Adam Richetti and few Kansas City underworld figures were sitting in a speakeasy playing cards and drinking. An off-duty local madam of a brothel came over and placed a drink down next to Floyd and said ‘What’s your name, Pretty Boy?’. The nickname stuck from thereon which was one that Floyd detested. He preferred to be called ‘The Robin Hood of Cookson Hills’ which the Oklahoma newspapers often referred to him as.
Aside from the 30+ bank robberies the Midwest that Floyd pulled off, he was also a main suspect in a number of murders resulting from shoot-outs with police or other criminals. It has been said, namely in the aforementioned Woody Guthrie ballad, that at one point every crime in the Midwest was pinned on Pretty Boy Floyd, but the Kansas City Massacre was the crime that would pin him down and increase the heat.
On June 17th, 1933, four law enforcement officers and a prisoner named Frank Nash, who was being transported, were murdered in a botched rescue attempt outside the Union Station in Kansas City. Frank Nash was a convicted criminal and apparently an associate of Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Richetti. Two federal agents and 2 Kansas City PD Officers loaded Nash into a Chevrolet Car to take him back to prison where he’d escaped from a few years earlier.
As they were about to set off they heard a voice echo through the car park shouting ‘Let em have it’. 3 Gunmen unloaded their Thompson submachine guns on the suspecting officers killing all 4 officers and the criminal, Frank Nash. Upon realising Nash had been killed also, the gunmen fled.
Inevitably, the crime was pinned on Pretty Boy Floyd and they became the prime suspects in the Kansas City Massacre. This bloodbath gave the FBI and their ambitious leader J. Edgar Hoover the empowerment they needed to make Pretty Boy Floyd Public Enemy Number 1 and and pursue him using any means necessary.
They put a bounty of $23,000 on Charlie’s head, about the equivalent to half a million dollars these days and offered the money for the outlaw dead or alive, which was a very attractive sum for many during the Great Depression. Floyd maintained his innocence on this crime right up until his death in that corn field just outside East Liverpool when he was shot by Chester Smith on Melvin Purvis’s orders.
Pretty Boy Floyd's crime spree was over and the FBI finally got their Public Enemy Number 1. Immortalised in films, folk songs and even through my video, if I can say so myself. Pretty Boy Floyd is a legendary villain and will go down in history for the bank robberies he committed.