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"The Horace Alderman Story"

By David Brandt Berg, 5 August 1975 NO.993
Horace Alderman
James Horace Alderman

I CAN REMEMBER WHEN I WAS A BOY THEY WERE STILL RUM-RUNNING and BOOTLEGGING LIQUOR into Florida during the days of Prohibition. Prohibition was a great blessing to the gangsters and the bootleggers. That's how the Kennedy Family made their fortune in Seagrams Liquor--importing Seagrams Liquor into New York during the Prohibition days. And I'll tell you, some of was blood money, probably one reason every one of those boys have died a violent death!--And that's I'm sure the reason why Kennedy was reluctant to run for President too, he knows if he did he'd be next!

THEY'VE GOT PRETTY GOOD EVIDENCE NOW THAT THE OTHER KENNEDY WAS ALSO FRAMED.--And they've even suggested FBI involvement in John Kennedy's death. They say that the shots came from three different directions. There were people there who testified that the shots came not only from the building, but from the top of a little knoll. In fact when some of the security men raced up the little knoll toward where they heard shots coming from, there was a Secret Service man standing up there with a gun in his hand! They grabbed him and he just produced a Secret Service badge and said, "I heard shots so I came."--He probably fired them!

BUT BOOTLEGGING WAS A GREAT BUSINESS IN THOSE DAYS and some of those guys made a lot of money, especially down in the Florida Keys where there are a lot a little coves and bushes you could hide your boats under and they couldn't be spotted from the air or sea or anywhere! These guys built themselves some nice big mansions down on some of those Islands, and boat slips where the boat zooms right underneath and out of sight. Most of the rum-running came from Bimini, which is the closest Bahama Island, only about 30 miles off the Florida shore. It was British and there was no restriction of liquor there.

THE BAHAMAS MADE A FORTUNE DURING PROHIBITION IMPORTING LIQUOR FOR THE U.S. A lot of tourists would go over to the Islands and then come back with liquor hidden in their stuff. I saw a guy one day who must have been drinking, he must have been crazy to do it!--He came off this big boat that had been over to Nassau and he had two bottles of whiskey hidden inside of his shirt. The Feds spotted him and he began to run and we saw they were about to catch up with him!

THEY HAD TO PRODUCE THE EVIDENCE THAT YOU HAD IT ON YOU, so he threw himself on his stomach and broke both bottles, but he also made a bloody mess of himself!--But they couldn't arrest him then, they had no evidence. You're not guilty of an empty or a broken bottle--they can't prove that it had liquor in it or that you had it. In those days they had to confiscate the actual evidence, liquor in the bottle!

DAVID NIVEN WAS TELLING ON BBC THE OTHER NIGHT HOW HE WENT TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST SWANKIEST SPEAKEASYS IN NEW YORK during those days, and they were always ready for raid! It was one of the Kennedy Speakeasys and it's still a famous-name restaurant. They always had a warning that the Feds were coming because they couldn't get through the door without breaking it down! There were always guys looking through the peephole to see who it was, so they had a little time.

THE MAIN THING WAS TO TRY TO SAVE THE CUSTOMERS from getting arrested because the customers, of course, were their business, and if any of them got caught that would kill the business. So the minute the alarm light flashed, the waiters were trained to grab all the drinks and all the bottles, everything that had any liquor in it, off the tables, set in on the bar real quick, and then the bartender pulled a lever and the bar turned over and dumped all the drinks into a chute that went down into the basement! As long as they couldn't find any actual liquor on the premises, they couldn't bust them for it. It was really something!

PROHIBITION DAYS PROBABLY INCREASED GANGSTERISM and was the biggest incentive to the rise of organised crime of anything that ever happened in the United States! It was a multi-million-dollar business importing liquor and distributing it. It was already illegal, so it was the perfect thing for the bigtime racketeers and gangsters and big gangs. That's in the days when Dillinger and Al Capone and all those guys made their money, and the main product they were handling was bootleg liquor.

WE HAD SOME TEENAGE KIDS IN OUR CHURCH WHO GOT SAVED and WERE ALWAYS ASKING PRAYER FOR THEIR FATHER because he was a rum-runner.--Horace Alderman was his name. They were scared stiff he was going to get caught, which he finally did. He'd also been engaged in importing Chinese, and they claimed that if the Feds got too hot on his trail he just made them walk the plank! That sort of thing is still going on up around Britain. They dumped whole boatloads of those Indians and Pakistanis in the Channel up there to keep from getting caught with them!

SO HORACE ALDERMAN WAS A LEGEND AROUND MIAMI IN THOSE DAYS. This guy had such a powerful fast boat that the cops could never catch him.--But he got caught by surprise once. He always thought that maybe some jealous operator that was in the same business probably tipped them off. He got caught and they were so furious at him that they pinned him to the deck with icepicks! That was in the good old days when they used to have block ice--25 pounds for ten cents!

SO THEY PINNED HIM TO THE DECK WITH ICEPICKS, JUST LIKE HE WAS BEING CRUCIFIED! An icepick has a wooden handle and then is long and sharp just like a nail only thicker and stiffer with a real sharp point, sort of like a big screwdriver only with a sharp pointed end. They drove these things through his shoulders on both sides, and then these five Feds who had caught him went down in the cabin to drink up his liquor, celebrating that they had finally caught the infamous Horace Alderman!

WHILE THEY WERE GETTING DRUNK HORACE MANAGED TO PULL HIMSELF LOOSE, went to the cabin--and by this time they were pretty drunk--grabbed one of their guns and shot three of them dead before the others shot and wounded him, but they didn't kill him. So they brought him in and he was like a maniac! They kicked him and beat him up and really tortured him, they were so mad because he had given them the slip so many times and then shot three of'm!

THEY PUT HIM IN MIAMI JAIL AT FIRST BEFORE THEY TOOK HIM AWAY UP TO THE BIG FEDERAL PENITENTIARY while his case was being heard and appealed. While he was there dear Fred Haas, my mother's business manager, had his regular visits to the jail to preach to the prisoners. He was a real witness and a soul-winner, an insurance man. He asked to see Horace Alderman and they said, "Oh, he's in a top security cell, you can't see him!--Besides, he wouldn't listen anyhow, he does nothing but curse and scream and he hates God, he doesn't even want anything to do with God or church people or anything!"

BUT HAAS WAS PRETTY WELL-KNOWN THERE and HAD A LOT OF INFLUENCE, he'd had a lot of good effect winning prisoners to the Lord, tough cases. He said, "Well, why don't you ask him. Tell him that the famous woman preacher here where his wife and children go to church asked me to come to see him, and his family wants me to see him." I think he had a letter from her or something, and he got in.

TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, HE DEALT WITH HIM and WENT TO SEE HIM TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME. The first time he went there he brought him soup, trying to be nice to him, and he threw it in his face! But he just showed a sweet spirit and sort of just wiped if off smiling and said, "I know you're real mad at everything that's happened and I can't blame you."--He just used a lot of wisdom with the fellow, and patience and real love and kept coming back in spite of it all.

AND FINALLY HE LOVED and WON HORACE'S HEART TO THE LORD! The Lord apparently had him there just long enough for that, because they shipped him out then to a big Federal Penitentiary up near Jacksonvile. I remember Mom had the front page of a newspaper with big headlines reading, "Revival in Federal Pen"! He was so turned on to the Lord and so on fire and filled with the Spirit that he went up there and began getting those boys saved right and left, until they had more saved guys in the pen than outside!--And the wardens got saved and he was just turning the whole pen inside out! It was really really terrific!

HE TURNED INTO THE SWEETEST FELLOW WITH THE MOST LOVE and JUST WONDERFUL! He still had to go through his trial and they pronounced him guilty of killing three Federal officers and the penalty was hanging. Of course everybody by this time loved him so much, it was only the relatives of the guys he'd killed who were bugging and pushing the case. Everyone saw he had had such a change and was such a wonderful fellow now, that they didn't really want to have him hung. So he had lots of friends, the Governor and everyone else who were trying to get him off the hook. The Governor couldn't pardon him because it was a Federal offense and would take a pardon straight from the President.

SO THEY CARRIED THE APPEAL CLEAR TO THE SUPREME COURT and my mother even went up there at that time to talk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and to the President to try to get him a pardon. But they said, "If it had been anybody else but this man we could have pardoned him."--But he was so wanted and had made the Feds so mad and these families had powerful influence that were wanting his death. They said, "We would do it, but we feel we just can't.--If we let this guy go we'll never hear the end of it!" You talk about politics, those hard-hearted politicians! They said, "If it's not his neck it would be ours!"

SO HE WAS SENT DOWN THEN TO BE HUNG IN FT. LAUDERDALE in the district where he was caught, and it was to be a semi-public hanging with reporters. When he got there he started a revival in that prison too, getting guys saved right and left! Mr. Haas went for the last time to go with him to the gallows and said he wasn't nervous at all, he was so happy and perfectly in peace much more so than the guards or the jailer or the wardens or anybody! They were all fidgety and nervous and some of them were crying because they loved him so much. But he was just radiantly happy!

WALKING TO THE GALLOWS THEY ASKED HIM FOR HIS LAST REQUEST and he said he wanted them to sing a hymn. The guard came with the chain to put on him but he said, "You know I don't need those things, I'll go with you"--and he walked out unchained to the gallows. They sang the hymn and just before they put the black hood over his head he quoted that famous quote from Dr. Moody when Dwight L. Moody died. He said to Mr. Haas:

"THIS IS MY CORONATION DAY! I'M GOING TO SEE HIM BEFORE YOU DO!"--And they put the hood on his head and he went to be with the Lord. They said the jailers and everybody in the crowd, the reporters and all were standing there boo-hooing, just crying, they were so touched!

SO YOU SEE, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO YOU ARE, THE LORD CAN SAVE ANYBODY, including murderers, and turn them into real witnesses for the Lord! Whatever he'd done he'd done with all his heart. When he was a criminal he was 100% criminal, but when he got won to Lord he was 100% for the Lord! I can remember his kids, they were kind of tough kids. But praise the Lord, that was one fruit of the bootlegging era that we'll see again one of these days, Horace Alderman!

IT ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY...I was there when it happened so I know it's true. I was too young to go to the hanging, but I don't think I would have wanted to anyhow. What kind of a grim, morbid disposition anybody has who wants to see a hanging, I don't know!--Morbid sense of curiosity! So, PTL.

THE MORAL OF THAT STORY IS NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER, where there's a will there's a way, and nothing is too hard for the Lord, amen? With man it's impossible but with God nothing shall be impossible! All things are possible to him that believeth, praise the Lord! Amen? (Mt.19:26; Mk.9:23.) There's a lot more to the story, but I figure you don't have time to hear all the gory details. I don't think anybody's ever written it that I know of, although I thought I told this story in one of the Letters once. Some of the reporters wrote in the article about him that his face was as radiant as an angel! So you see, the Lord can do anything if you'll just give Him a chance. PTL!

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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James Arendt

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