JOHN HERBERT DILLINGER

During the 1930s Depression, many Americans, nearly helpless against forces they didn't understand, made heroes of outlaws who took what they wanted at gunpoint.  Of all the lurid desperadoes, one man, John Herbert Dillinger, came to evoke this Gangster Era, and stirred mass emotion to a degree rarely seen in this country.

Dillinger, whose name once dominated the headlines, was a notorious and vicious thief.  From September, 1933, until July, 1934, he and his violent gang terrorized the Midwest, killing 10 men, wounding 7 others, robbing banks and police arsenals, and staging 3 jail breaks -- killing a sheriff during one and wounding 2 guards in another.

John Herbert Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903, in the Oak Hill section of Indianapolis, a middle-class residential neighborhood.  His father, a hardworking grocer, raised him in an atmosphere of disciplinary extremes, harsh and repressive on some occasions, but generous and permissive on others.  John's mother died when he was three, and when his father remarried six years later, John resented his stepmother.

In adolescence, the flaws in his bewildering personality became evident and he was frequently in trouble.  Finally, he quit school and got a job in a machine shop in Indianapolis.  Although intelligent and a good worker, he soon became bored and often stayed out all night.  His father, worried that the temptations of the city were corrupting his teenaged son, sold his property in Indianapolis and moved his family to a farm near Mooresville, Indiana.  However, John reacted no better to rural life than he had to that in the city and soon began to run wild again.

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