History of Hargrave Secret Service


This is my attempt to recreate the billboard ad, in the advertisement blotter. I copied the Hargrave-bird logo from one of the many Hargrave signs. I used MS Paint to white-out the surrounding detail, and pasted into WordPad. Then I used MS Paint again, to move the text further up each side of the logo.

Hargrave Secret Service – Company Information

Hargrave Secret Service was one of the oldest protection and investigative companies in the United States with branch offices around the world. This was a world-wide network of Hargrave branch offices and/or investigative correspondents.

During the years that George Hargrave was president, he was known throughout the world as the granddaddy of private investigators.

One of the company’s more famous cases was the capture of John Dillinger in Chicago. The “lady in red” that acted as an undercover agent in the capture and shooting death of Dillinger outside a Chicago theatre was employed by the Hargrave Secret Service.

A uniformed guard of Hargrave Security Services, 1978

The Hargrave brand name has been in existence ‘since 1888’, it later became franchised nationwide. With international correspondents worldwide. The company has had a complex history of reorganizations, franchising, branches spinning-off after franchisor company dissolved, and the international operations (which had been independent) involved in mergers.

Hargrave Secret Service – Detective Agency Advertisement Blotter (1920’s)

In 1888, Edward J. Hargrave established the EDWARD J HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE, a proprietorship founded in St. Louis, Missouri. By the 1920s, the firm was marketed as Chicago’s leading detective service. In the 1920’s the words “Edward J” were dropped from the company name. Edward J. Hargrave passed away in 1932. leaving the firm to George E. Hargrave. The Chicago office was the principal office, the business was franchised, and the company incorporated by July 1st, of 1969. The prior incorporation during the 1920’s, was Edward Hargrave’s incorporation of the business.

The original desk of Hargrave Secret Service, from 1888.

At the time, these companies were more like family companies. It was common for the sons of the owner, to open branch offices in principle cities, such as Chicago. Not just Hargrave Secret Service, but also the Pinkertons International Detective Agency and the William J Burns International Detective Agency. And used franchising to expand and grow their respective companies.

Original desk, front view.

On November 12th, 1932, Edward J. Hargrave, head of the Secret Service firm which beared his name, died in the afternoon at his home after two days of illness. Edward J. Hargrave was 64 years old.  Source: New York Times – Nov 12, 1932.


Hargrave sign 1 (EJH)




These are artifacts from the original ‘Edward J Hargrave Secret Service’, from a past era when the firm was  owned and operated by if’s original founder.

Dillinger and the ‘Lady in Red’


Dillinger FBI fingerprint card with mug shots of front, and side of face.

Driving across the Indiana-Illinois state line in a stolen vehicle, Dillinger violated a federal law and thus caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An investigation concerning the facts of the escape had been carried out some time later by the Hargrave Secret Service of Chicago, Illinois on  the orders of the Illinois governor. The governor and Illinois state Attorney General Philip Lutz eventually chose not to release information because they did not want Dillinger to know of the informants with whom they spoke. As a result the findings about the gun in the escape were never made public, and this, coupled with Dillinger himself actively perpetuating the wooden gun story as an ego boost, is a reason many believe the “wooden gun” escape was real. The truth behind the infamous gun may never be known.

The woman who gave up Dillinger was a paid operative for Chicago’s old Hargrave Secret Service, a private detective agency.

Lady in Red

Anna Sage the “Lady in Red” was a paid operative for Chicago’s old Hargrave Secret Service, a private detective agency established in 1888.

Dillinger’s last day of freedom was July 22nd, 1934. Dillinger attended the film Manhatton Melodrama at the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and grothel owner Ana Cumpanas (a.k.a. Anna Sage), who was facing deportation charges. Sage worked out a deal with Purvis and the FBI to set up an ambush for Dillinger and drop the deportation charges against her. When they exited the theater that night, Sage tipped off the FBI who opened fire into the back of Dillinger, killing him. Sage had identified herself to agent Melvin Pervis by wearing an agreed-upon orange and white dress, which due to the night lights, led to the enduring notion of the “Lady in Red” as a betraying character. Though she had delivered Dillinger as promised, Sage was still deported to her home country of Romania in 1936, where she remained until her death 11 years later.

Interestingly enough, in 1991. While I worked at Wisconsin Electric Power Company, in downtown Milwaukee for Burns International, part of a made for TV movie called Dillinger was being filmed. Probably because of all the marble walls.

Antique Hargrave sign used to deter burglars and vandals.

CIA Connection

In 1963, after the presidential assassination of John F. Kennedy, the CIA considered using Hargrave Secret Service, for investigating the homicide.

Click on the links below “Page 1” and “Page 2”  to see the documentation.

MEMO: HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE                                                                                NARA Record Number: 104-10164-10463

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM                                                                                  RELEASED IN FULL 1998

Page 1

Page 2

Information from declassified CIA documents pertaining to Hargrave Secret Service:

Hargrave Secret Service, 6 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL

The telephone directory reflects the company was formed in 1888 and has offices and/or representatives in the principle cities of the world.                           Albert Johnson, an ex-FBI man doubts that these are any more than investigative correspondents.

George E. Hargrave is sole owner, and is the son of the founder.                               He is a big, 250 pound man who has been married 5 times.                                       In business, he is the type to put on a big show and is not averse to putting more men than necessary on a job in order to charge his client a higher price and profit accordingly.

Richard Cain, Chief Investigator, Cook County Sheriff’s office distrust Hargrave. He said he knows him personally and does not regard him as a discreet person.

CIA document from December 23, 1963, Released as Sanitized in 1998.

The Milwaukee branch of Hargrave Secret Service, had been franchisee-owned (1972).

My father’s business card, which my mother wrote on from the 1960s.

Hargrave Badge & Patch Sets (if available), & Trade Names

HARGRAVE SECURITY INTERNATIONAL, INC. The international operations had spun-off in 1978. At the time George E. Hargrave (the franchisor) dissolved his corporation. This was the Hargrave entity that G4S acquired in England/Europe. Hargrave Security entities in the United States were unaffected by this, and were not acquired.


Hargrave Security badge & patch

In 1970, the largest private detective agencies re-structured themselves as private security (guard) agencies. This is called the ‘security-boom’. They shedded private detective work, except for that which pertains to combating industrial espionage. As industrial plants were their target market.

Hargrave Security Service badge

Hargrave Security Patch of the 1970s.

In 1970, the top private detective agencies restructured themselves as private security agencies, and dominated the market.

HARGRAVE POLICE –  (late- 1960’s/early-1970’s style)


Patch Comparison- Original Hargrave Police & Milwaukee Police Department (mid-1960’s styles)

This HARGRAVE POLICE patch is based on the Milwaukee Police patch, of the 1960’s era. Notice that the pattern design of the outer edge of the Hargrave Police patch is less defined, than the MPD patch it’s based on. Also the Hargrave Police patch has a larger, 6-point star (the color is yellow), and that it’s location is lower. The patch cloth is navy blue cheesecloth.

The other style I’ve seen is based on the Wisc Highway Patrol patch (upside down triangle), with red boarder, the words “HARGRAVE POLICE” in red lettering (on upper half of patch), and a red 5-point star on lower half. This earlier patch, has the words larger, and too close to a 6-point star, which itself is much larger.


The above pictured HARGRAVE POLICE badge, is of a lower number sequence, and does not continue where the MERCHANTS POLICE, INC. badge number sequence left off.
This is because, this is an earlier HARGRAVE POLICE badge. But still newer, than the HARGRAVE SECRET SERVICE OF WISCONSIN, INC. badge (franchise-style), also pictured in this article.

This Hargrave entity only operated out of the Milwaukee branch office, and did not exist anywhere else.

Hargrave Police, badge and patch set.


This photo appeared in an advertisement for Hargrave Security Services,

in the Milwaukee Sentinel, October 20th, 1975.

The people in this advertisement represent undercover, private detectives and one security guard from Hargrave Police, affiliated with Hargrave Security Services. Whether these persons are actually private detectives and a Hargave Police security guard, or just actors for the ad, is unknown. I think they’re actors. The Hargrave Police patch, worn by this security guard, is the same one that I have closeups on in this article.

Ralph P. Utt, Chief of Investigation, Hargrave Secret Service of Wisconsin, Inc.

The state-license number of his private detective license is 1070-63.

This was my father’s boss at Hargrave. My father David L. Griffin, was a private detective (state-license #423-63), Security Manager (during the 1960’s), and had also underwent training at a polygraph school in New York, during which he stayed at the Plaza Hotel.

The franchise-owner with permission to use the Hargrave name, was Harold S. Leich. Another state-licensed private detective, whose credential number was 2766-63. Harold S. Leich also owned two (2) other private protection agencies, Merchants Police, Inc., which was founded in 1893, by his father, Frederick Leich (a former Milwaukee County Coroner). Merchants Police, Inc. was the largest contract security firm in Milwaukee, and in the State of Wisconsin, from the time it was established (1888) to 1973. The Badge-R Protective Services, Inc., is the other security firm, and he also owned Guardian Janitorial Services, Inc.


Franchised versions of the Uniformed Division of Hargrave Secret Service badge and patch.

Incorporated and then franchised by George E. Hargrave, the son of the founder. Their target market is presumed to be grocery stores, to which they offered store detective and retail security guard services. They offered general detective work to the public, businesses, and government.

Office Building where Hargrave Secret Service of Wisconsin, Inc. was located during the 1960s.

Hargrave Security Service of Wisconsin, Inc.   (invoices)







Founded in 1888, by Edward J Hargrave (the founder), the company was a DBA, as it was unincorporated while he owned it.

If anyone has any photos ( .jpg ) of any Hargrave Secret Service or Hargrave Security Services or Hargrave Police, that they would like to see added to this article, just let me know, and I’ll add it.

I have an image of my father’s business card and some images of Hargrave Security Service patches (for the left shoulder area). One idea is if anyone has any of other Hargrave patch or badge designs, or even a sample of the company letterhead. The Detective Agency Blotter from the 1920’s era, is a good example of a photo adding more to this article.

Hargrave Secret Service and Hargrave Security Services were of the franchise.

Hargrave Police was operated only in Milwaukee, during the 1964 to 1970 era.

19 Responses to “History of Hargrave Secret Service”

  1. mike chiappetta Says:

    Hi, I’m Mike Chiappetta I was a friend and license holder for George in 78-79 I was with him in his days on Illinois Street. I have lots of articles including two small cases of what probably are the last signs.I also have one blue brass sign saying the Edward J. Hargrave and hargrave patrol & watch service this is probably from his father. George use to talk fondly of the Milwaukee office. Glad to see you’re keeping up the name. I also have case boof from the 30’s please comment Mike 630-546-1837

    • griffyclan007 Says:

      Hi Mike, if there are any articles that you want to have shown in this article, just send a JPG-image, and I’ll post.

      The blue brass sign worded “EDWARD J. HARGRAVE” and “HARGRAVE PATROL & WATCH SERVICE” sounds very interesting. If you have a JPG-image, just email and I’ll post it.

      Sorry for taking so long to reply, was very busy during the summer.

  2. Guy Parent Says:

    Hello Mike et al…. Guy Parent here formerly Windsor, Ontario and started with Jack Forrest in 1976.
    Jack passed away a few years ago and fondly remembered as my first security mentor. Mike, I’m sure that Dan Dragovich (the Yugoslavian terror from hell) would want me to say hello. We’re still best buddies and keep in touch all the time.
    I was surprised to find this site and grateful that the memory lives on.
    I ‘ve had my own Investigation Agency since 1988 (funny exactly 100 years after Hargrave Secret Service began) and all that I owe, I owe to my experience with Hargrave.
    Keep it going and thanks very much.

    You can reach me at gparent@corporateinvestigations.com

  3. Guy Parent Says:

    Hello Mike, Guy Parent here formerly of Windsor Ontario, (Jack Forrest and Dan Dragovich) Jack passed a couple of years ago and Dan is on the final stretch posted overseas.
    I can attest that Jack Forrest was the man who mentored me when I started with him in 1976 with Hargrave’s first international venture to Canada. Great times, lousy pay and fly by the seat of your pants fun for all. Those were the days…. I’ve owned my own PI Agency now for almost 25 years and really enjoyed going down memory lane on this blog ….. Dan says to say hello Mike.
    Any old Hargrave’ers are welcome to contact me at gparent@corporateinvestigations.com Best regards and thanks again. Guy

  4. mike chiappetta Says:

    One of George Hargraves last cases….It was Easter Sunday morning, 1977, I was all decked out in a dark jacket, beige double knit slacks, new white shirt and tie and a cool pair of italian loafers-looking good, pimped out. Our marriage was rocky, and the wife and three kids and me went to early mass. After, I had to kill a little time at home when my mentor , George Hargrave called , he was famous for calling at the wrong time with a bad job but it was George ,a legion in the Chicago PI seen, and I was his guy and as usual the retainer was in cash.
    He needed two guys for a body guard job like right now, the few details he gave me was “some joker just released from JAIL got a court ordered visitation to see his young son, the wife is a little concerned , no big thing. I was on my way in five minutes after calling Bob Morales, a trusted armed guard who was just getting off a 16 hour shift, but, knowing Bob, he was well rested after sleeping 14 hours and most likely well feed.

    Just for the heck of it a grapped my HI-Standard .22 mag derringer just in case. Good thing because what George failed to mentioned was the “joaker released from jail”, was actually a convict just released from Marion State Prison, 5’8″ hard as nails ,redfaced , red mohawk haircut with big hairy arms and tatoos. He did three years for beating up his wife, two cops a medic and a ice creme vender who was in the wrong place at certainly the wrong time. The guys last name was Hoban never will forget it, got the file lying around somewhere.
    When I got to the quiet south suburban town it was like a cake walk . pick up 250 cash, 50 for Bob,50 for George and 150 for me-an equal split? Keep in mind, I was trained by Hargrave.
    The women and her elderly mom were really happy to see me,they were scared , really scared, practically gasping, her hands shook while peeling 25 ten dollar bills in my waiting hands.
    Your just in time said the gram when the door was knocked firmly, why would Bob knock so hard I thought as I opened the
    door and was meet by the subject who looked tough and ready and shooving a court order in my face saying” who you?” The hair on my arms still rises 32 years later. I’m not ashamed to say it, I allways thought I was tough 6’1″ 210, and knew how to fight, but you know what I meen, I knew the guy could take me , fast too. My right hand went automaticly to my right pocket and held that Hi-Standard.Boy was I glad I had that.
    I was cool told him who I was , the name Hargrave Secret Service had a ring to it and intimated and meant business. Something happened when a guy became a detective for Hargrave, it’s hard to explain. Told him the rules ,I stay in the room, 30 minute visitation then gone no confersation with mom, no trouble. If I want to cut it short ,I’m the boss. He smiled and agreed. I peered out the window , no Bob, was concerned but didn’t act it ,I trust.
    The six year old boy came in the room sat quietly and they started talking. In a harsh voice, YOU miss me,and what did they tell you about me? Don’t believe anything they say about me especially your old lady and, looking at me , fucken cops. I looked out the window, no Bob,
    He started loud talking ” you know how to fight? allways hit a guy right away ” looking at me “and hard”. He began horse play, showing the kid a head lock squeezing a little two hard, how to make a fist grabbing the kids small hand with burly scared red fingers. I was getting hot, gribbing the 22 mag and looking out the window just in time to see Bobs dirty green chevy pulling up, very relieved.
    He grapped the kid by the shoulders ,hoisted him over his head and balanced him with one hand, looking at me with very stern grey eyes, tightening his lips, The kids face got red and he whimpered. I said ” times up , thats it, time to wrap it up. He put the kid down and the child ran by me . He looked petrified.
    Hoban looked at me moved a step closer and asked “what would you have done if I didn’t put him down?” I matter-of -factly whipped the derringer from my pocket and put it in his face and said I would have shot you in your big mouth. Just then Morales opened the door and squeezed his 350 pound 5’10″frame through the door saying whats going on?
    The party was over ,Hoban left ,Bob promised to stay a half hour after .The old lady gave Bob and I Easter bread and was relieved.
    Bob walked me to the car , I could have kissed him put instead gave him his 50 plus a 10 dollar tip, cash.

  5. Guy Parent Says:

    Sorry about the double entry up there, didn’t think the first one stuck.
    Great story Mike. Yes, it does seem like your accounting skills were in keeping with Hargrave tradition. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours… is just waiting to be mine”.
    The new “blotter” pic is interesting. Haven’t seen that before. Add a little snow on the ground and would make for a great Christmas Card and advertising from George. Can hear it now “we’ll send these out at Christmas so the wife or husband will have someone to call once the bills start rolling in, in January and they want to leave each other. We should be busy in February” ho ho ho

    • griffyclan007 Says:

      That’s a very interesting pic, the advertisement blotter. I think the time is the 1920s. It shows that Hargrave was already incorporated, much earlier than I thought. And that the company was already a leading detective firm, in that era. This is an example of a rare photo, that was on an auction site, briefly. If I missed that brief period, that it appeared. I would not have got a copy to post.

  6. Guy Parent Says:

    We had quite a mixed bag of nuts working in the Windsor office with some being nuttier than others.
    Jack Forrest eventually took over as President of Hargrave after George finally gave up the reins and what Jack sometimes lacked in the characters he hired, he made up with energy, enthusiasm and an insatiable nose for an opportunity to make money.

    Quick and funny labor strike story in Windsor….
    A former Windsor motor cycle cop who did some Detective work was brought on to head our Investigations. Not sure if he’d retired or was let go from the force but judging by his abrasive, condecending, holier than thou personality I suspect the cards would read that he was asked to resign from the PD.
    Anyway… “Buddy” was on the picket line taking pictures with his billion dollar pride and joy Hassalblad camera and there to report on who the agitators were on the line.
    After a couple of hours of bearing witness to the event, he developed the black and whites and called for a meeting with the lawyer and all the client management.
    Once gathered, Buddy spews forth with a grandiose intro of himself and his expertise as a Dick… I mean Detective …. building to the identity of this boistrous agitator and going into great detail describing him as the “obvious ring leader and orchestrator and root cause of the mahem that was occuring on the line”.
    Buddy unveils a photograph of the suspect and announces to all
    “…. and THIS is the guy who was doing all the talking and who all the strikers were listenning to”
    Management all looked at each other… looked back at Buddy and said “are you sure because we don’t think so”.
    Buddy went on and on going nuts confirming without a doubt and stopped only long enough to ask “and why, don’t you think so?”
    “Because he’s a mute”.
    Lesson here? It ain’t always good to be the first to laugh….

  7. mike chiappetta Says:

    Here’s one….1979 ,a brutal strike in LaSalle,Il Illinois Cement Company was sold to a outfit from Texas,a right to work state, there were fights,shootings, a guy got killed, the firemen wouldn’t cross the picket line etc there were also lots of invoices, tons of ’em guards were working 12 hr shifts 7 days a week and we were running out of guards so Jack brought guys from Canada and they were great, the best guy was a older guard with one arm, he was good with a new contraption called a video camera. The thing was Jacks idea and only the Canadaians knew how to use the damned thing. But it worked…
    As the invoices were flowing, wave after wave, that was my job, running the show making sure all were billed and paid . Jack was amazed that not only did we not have overtime we actually had a minus ..in other words we billed more hours than we paid, keep in mind that I was trained by George, but my invoices made even George blush.
    Anyway a new auditor came from Texas and couldn’t figure out my system so he took me to task and questioned the invoices we got mad and threthened to throw him to the strikers, he calmed down and brought up the guys from Canada and particually the camera man with one arm, he said why should he pay full rate for a disabled man. I said the contract called for ‘unarmed guards’.

  8. Guy Parent Says:

    The one armed guy’s name was Chico Brisson.
    He could drive, smoke, balance a coffee and write a report simultaneously.

  9. Kele Owens Bosaw Says:

    Hello there. I am Kele Owens Bosaw. My father, Kenneth Owens, worked for Mr. Hargrave in Chicago then later in Miami and Indianapolis. The desk you show is my father’s desk that Mr. Hargrave gave him and I now own it. I also have some pictures of Mr. Hargrave and some other documents. I would love to know more about the history of the company. You can contact me at bosaw2@hotmail.com.

  10. Mike Chiappetta Says:

    I knew your father well.I think he started in California. He was friends with Dan Connor from Florida. Did you ever here from Dan? Be well Mike Chiappetta

  11. Kele Owens Bosaw Says:

    My father started out in Chicago, then got moved to the Decatur office for a year then the Miami office for a couple years. We settled in Indianapolis. He worked with Dan Conner in Miami. The last time I saw Dan was about 14 years ago when Dad and I took a trip to Miami. I think he’s still doing a little PI work.

    I found this blog while trying to find more information about George Hargrave and the company. I have some pictures that I will try to scan and post. I also wish I could get more information about the history and origins of the desk.

  12. griffyclan007 Says:

    Hi, my name is Brian Griffin, I’m the author of this blog, my email is

    I don’t have a picture of George Hargrave for this article, but if you
    wanted to see him appear in this blog, then just email me a JPG-image of George Hargrave. I’ll post his picture in this blog. The images of the desk were the only ones that I found. I think that before it was George Hargrave’s desk, it was his father’s desk, Edward J Hargrave. The founder of the company.

    It is very hard to find information about the company, consolidated to fewer webpages. I think if’s of historical importance, in the private
    investigation and security services industry. That’s why I started
    this blog about Hargrave Secret Service.

    I’m getting images from other webpages, including auctions. And the stuff on auction sites, doesn’t stay on the Internet very long. They are on the Internet very briefly. So, many of images of the badges and patches are the result of some very good luck.

  13. Lee Voelz Says:

    I have a sign that was posted in an old building. It is different from what you have on this site.It says ” Warning protected by Hargrave Secret Srevice.” The bird emblem then ” Rewards paid for information.” On the bottom it says ” Representatives in principal cities of the world.” I would like to know what sign may be worth if I was to sell it. Thank You.

  14. Mike Chiappetta Says:

    A memoir……by Mike Chiappetta

    It was the dream job. Provide bodyguard service to a famous New York sports writer who was researching material regarding the first black high school team from the south side of Chicago who almost won the Sweet Sixteen Championship in Illinois in the late 50’s. A controversial call was made against the Du Sable Panthers in the last seconds of the game by a white ref from downstate giving the game to the team from Benton, a far downstate town mostly white. There were racial overtones and hard feelings. I needed this case like oxygen.

    All expenses paid, including $250 a day. A day was considered 10 hours; I figured I could charge a day and a half per day or more. Two days billed for one day is a good thing. I had to provide a vehicle and I just bought a new Olds 98. Big Blue I called her. I charged $75 a day for the car plus gas. I also needed a good appetite and plenty of stories to keep Ira occupied on our adventure to far southern Illinois; west to St. Louis and north to Godfrey to interview the ref, and a stop in Springfield to have dinner with a state rep who Ira was writing about and back to Chicago. At least three days–a nice job–big money, all paid by Doubleday Publishing.

    I met Ira Berkow when he wrote a book titled “Maxwell Street: Survival in a Bazaar”. I was a foot cop then and opened doors for him. We got along well. One of his articles titled “The Smell of the Ball” captivated me, the scent when you unravel the wrapping of a new baseball. He’s a great writer. I stayed at his apartment in New York a few times. I met a Sport Illustrated photographer and a lot of New York types. He got my Dad and I seats on top of the dugout for a Friday night game and a Sunday afternoon Red Sox at Yankees game. I was sandwiched between Elizabeth Taylor, who had like a halo around her looking like an angel, and sat just in front of Norman Mailer accompanied by two beautiful cream puffs, at the Frazier-Foreman fight at Madison Square Garden. Shook hands with Jack Dempsey–very hard grip!

    We were off and rolling. I was ready for a new adventure, money and laughs. But, just in case, I brought my snub colt 38, which another guy found out works very well, if you know what I mean. George Hargrave warned me about southern Illinois, especially Herrin, in Williamson County, or “Bloody Williamson”, as the book was titled. A documentary about a mine strike in the 30’s when Hargrave security guards and over a dozen strike breakers were lined up and shot dead. They were hailed by the county. These were the days of John L. Lewis and pitched wars between companies and organized labor. George paid for burying his men, left southern Illinois and got out of the guard business. George hated downstate and I was very concerned.

    We had a great ride going down. Ira had all his notes and folders, pencils and pads all over the place and it was a joy driving the big new 98. We stopped a few times and made it to Carbondale then settled for a nice steak and drinks at a Ramada Inn. I played photographer and Ira was Ira to the three women we met and had a ball. He looked like a cool, good looking Jewish writer from New York, and I looked like a wise guy Italian from Chicago with money and a big car, not exactly cool down there.

    I loved playing the part until we started getting bad eyes from the table of loud red-necks sitting next to us; made me uncomfortable. The ladies I was trying to impress were impressed and kept on asking me about Chicago in a rather loud tone, obviously getting the local guys a little hot. I felt that feeling and decided it was time to leave and asked for the check. Before the check came I put my hat on, a cool looking leather flop hat which was a “second” from Maxwell Street. Before the check came a rough looking big ol’ gal sitting with the good ol’ boys stood up saying, ” ah gotta go.” She put a large arm through the sleeve of a red coat. Slipped it right through and hit me on the side of my head knocking off my hat. I said, “Oh! What a you do’in?” After I picked up my hat she looked at her table and exclaimed, “… sure knocked that guy’s hat off.” Then there was a horse laugh showing crooked stained teeth. I gave a look, three guys stood up, and you know, it was one of those times when backing off was sounding like a great idea. I said something like, “I’m sorry, my head was in your way.”

    It was a great trip; Southern Illinois is cool; rolling hills, nice eye candy, especially in Carbondale, a college town. We had dinner in a nice Chinese restaurant, and Ira interviewed one of the players from the Benton team. It was the usual until Ira brought up the bad call near game’s end. The guy got upset. Keep in mind the game was in the 50’s and this was mid 70’s. Times had not changed that much in Southern Illinois. There were still prejudices, especially with the first black team from Chicago and two guys opening old wounds. But there was something else gnawing at these guys when the conversation centered around the ref, a bar owner with a checkered past from Godfrey, a river town north of St. Louis, once a haven for bootlegging, prostitution, and, if my hunch was right, gambling. We finished the night with a stopover in Benton where one of the players was now a doctor. We met at the hospital of this just right small town. Doc was cordial, quiet spoken, talked about the other players and didn’t forget to mention that Benton had a black on their team to disregard the black thing. But he bristled when Ira mentioned the ref and what he was all about. “We didn’t even know him. He was a fill in I heard.” “Where was he from?” “Don’t know.” He then wrapped it up saying he had to see patients or something. Walking back to the car I noticed in passing a guy by a car at the end of the lot in the shadows, couldn’t be sure. It struck me and stayed with me. Maybe the Bloody Williamson County thing was in my mind. We weren’t too far from Herrin where the mine massacre occurred.

    That night in a cheap motel that was conveniently located near the main road leading west to St. Louis and Godfrey, I heard a noise out our window. “Mike”, Ira asked worriedly, “do you have your gun?” “No.” I replied. “You said no guns in the room. Remember?” “Yeah, but…” he said, “I figured you wouldn’t listen to me.” I went out with my hand clutching a clump of keys. It had a small flash light and several large keys. I held it like a gun. I didn’t see or hear anything, nothing, just silence. I walked around edging close to the car. When I was close enough I darted for the trunk key in hand opened it quickly and had my hand on a nice warm .38 with six beautiful 158 grain shells. It felt great. I didn’t like the silence.

    I, no, we, didn’t sleep too well. I told Ira I was constipated, I wasn’t. Kept getting up and was glad we slept in one room, two beds. Ira wasn’t armed but I’ll tell you what, he ran miles a day, played pick-up basketball games in New York City, had a great jump shot and I’ll bet he could fight with the best. And he had guts. He interviewed Fidal Castro before it was chic, and besides, he came from Maxwell Street which gave him the edge. But, this was downstate where things aren’t exactly fair…truly happy when sunrise came.

    “You don’t need to run today.” I warned him as he put on his well worn gyms. “We want to run to the car and go,” as I put my gun in my waist. “I understand. Fuck the two bucks.” he said winging the motel key off the mirror into the empty ice bucket like a true hoop freak. “Two points!”

    When traveling, Ira would like to take the back roads, take in the countryside, meet people (we found an old Cub’s player who ran a bar in Normal; had a couple beers and a sandwich with him. Cool guy. Forgot his name but Ira wrote an article about him). But in this case, we took 57 North to 64 East and went straight to Collinsville. I knew people—well, let’s just say I could reach the right people in Collinsville. I knew a guy, Italian, from Taylor Street who got in a jam in Collinsville. A phone call was made to Chicago and in ten minutes an older guy, a moustache smoking an Italian cigar, pulled up in a black Caddie, talked to an officer and everybody went home. The “boys” had friends in Collinsville.

    Ira had written an itinerary on our trip to Godfrey with stops in Southern sounding names like Shiloh, Red Bud, Sparta. I bet they were nice places. Years later I had a case in Red Bud and almost got pinched and possibly shot. Well…never had a good time in Southern Illinois.

    We found the ref in his bar in Godfrey. It was on a winding road on a rise near the Mississippi River. It looked like a bar in the back roads of Georgia; pool table, good ole boys drinking beer from cans, a country boy with tawny chopped hair sticking from a John Deere hat, you know, toothpick and cigarette hanging. A guy about 6’2″, 190 lbs., black curly hair, looked like a guy just got out, pale, good build, the kind of guy who takes a Barlow and carves you up, dressed in a dirty black tee shirt and black worn jeans. The half smile never left his face as he eyed me while turning towards us as we walked to where a guy was sitting facing the door, reddish hair graying and thinning. He waved at us as we entered. Ira called him a few days earlier and he was expecting us; hence the welcoming committee.

    I sat down with a cold Bud, Ira, and the ref (forgot his name),looked like a hick, grey eyes, red-grey hair combed straight back, black jacket. Never seen him stand up; probably had a gun.

    He first established credibility. He has friends in Chicago, Sportsman’s Park harness track specifically, “…brought horses to my friends in Cicero”. Translation: he gave the outfit guys a ringer. And they owed him a favor. I could be that favor.

    He didn’t say much that I remember. I was too busy thinking how I would sprint to the car and grab the .38. For a private eye in an area like that you can’t bring a gun in a bar, they might be hooked up with the PD, that’ll get you locked up and probably a beating in the bullpen. It was all “ ah would never make a call based on race.” Ira and I grinned. Yeah, right. The ten minutes went by fast and he finished with: “If you’ll write anything I didn’t say, I’ll come up and kill both of you.” Not exactly a veiled threat.

    We boogied, grabbed the gun under the front seat but retrievable only from the rear, hopped in and drove straight to Springfield no stops, no pisses. I naturally kept looking from the rear view window and said to Ira, “You know what I get paid for?” “What?” “…looking behind me.”

    Footnote: 34 yrs later I’m in the cab biz in Oswego, pick up an older couple from downstate, got to talking, turns out they went to school in Godfrey, use to drink at the Hitching Post, said the owner was shady, use to treat the college kids. Translation: He would get the college athletes drunk or gleaned information from same and gave info to our mutual friends.

  15. Mike Chiappetta Says:

    Here’s a story I call Good Friday…Private detectives are liars, but we don’t call it lying. Lying is not a sin for us because it’s called pretext. I think George Hargrave invented the word, he was a master at the rouse, obtaining information under false pretences, that was his calling card.

    I’ll tell you what he did on Good Friday in 1977. We were sitting in the office , 69 W. Illinois Street near State. George believed that in this area which was just north of the Chicago River, is now referred to as River North. Back then, the Near North Side was great, Chicago Trib and Sun Times were within a block, along with the Merchandise Mart, AMA and the Law Bulletin were on the next corner. For drinks and relaxing there was Ricardo’s and the Original Billy Goat under Michigan Avenue. For just plain drinking you’d walk down the stairs to the Saint Louis Browns Club and drink with pros, where the printers and newspaper guys took breaks,and lunch and breakfast. They didn’t serve food. It was smoke filled, smelled of ink and booze, along with naptha and sweat. Bookies would take bets on the bar. Hookers did well as did the hustlers and conmen. It was a real joint. For jazz, Andy’s was down the street on Hubbard. There were jewish delis on State Street and Jerry’s on Grand Avenue-what a hood.

    About two o’clock, George and I were killing time. He sent the girl home at noon, and he and I could talk over old cases which he had in abundance.Because it was dark and rainy, he turned the inside lamp to reflect off a tremendous neon sign with a huge eagle, it read Hargrave Secret Service we cover the World. At four, a worried looking woman came in from the rain, wool hat, scarf, unbrella and black shoes . Her dark nylons had a run. She worked at the AMA building and looked tired. George, dressed in his usual black suit, winked at me when she asked quitely, “can I speak to a detective”. George stood straightened the dark red tie ,and he looked fatherly, strong and sympathetic. “Come in, get out of the rain, we’ll help you”. He had her.

    The interior of George’s office was out of Sherlock Holmes, Phillip Marlow, and most other famous and not so famous private detectives, props. There was a wanted poster of John Dillinger, the Lady In Red, Ann Sage, alledgely a undercover agent for Hargrave, was turned over to a friend of George’s, J. Edgar Hoover. Hargrave had a lot street level informants in Chicago and the world. He lined up a tail job with a private detective in London in twenty minutes, he had contacts in Berlin. He published a list of private eyes around the world calling each one a Hargrave Secret Service office. He was the best.

    The women starred at the microscope that was never used- broken lense and she focused on the .38 British Webley, the one with no firing pin, and the trench coat hanging and the pile of wires and head phones with small black cases dangling. I mean, the place dripped of serious detective nostalgia.

    She explained, her sister who wishes to remain anonymous, found a phone number in her husbands pants,and she was curious, the husband has been known to stray. In other words, she found a number while snooping around in her husband’s pants. We heard that one a lot. George said the cost for a unpublished number was one-fifty plus any cost if they’re out of the downtown area. She said she understood and handed over cash to George’s waiting hot hands. I figured we would call our friend at the phone company and for two-bits and lunch we get the address and charge two fifty, a nice quick profit of two hundred. Keep in mind in those days two hundred was like seven hundred now, not bad. Just then, George’s secret phone rang , the one that was a dummy, and rang when George pressed the hidden button. “Jack just broke that guy, he’s confessing to the holdup”. Ther client freaked, went pale as we ran out the office.

    Once in the poly-graph office, George jumped on the phone and called the clients number. He had a gizmo on the phone that made static, “This is Murphy from the phone company”, he pressed the static button . He gave a rouse, breaking with static ,he was on the pole and he might have to shut down the line. More static and he said he ‘ll call back. I heard the women on the other side say “hello, hello”, then George hung up. He called back in a few minutes and said “We’re shutting down from Lawrence to Irving and Halsted east to the Lake. “What asked George well, where are you? “What address on 31th street , static, what repeat, repeat what was that 834 west you say? Static, Ok, your line got mixed with the north side, I’ll fix it”. Hesitation..OK, OK there’ll be no charge this is Mrs. Segal, right,? Oh ,Miss Johannson, OK, thank you”. We had the name and address.

    Back in the main office, George told me to call a paddy wagon for Murphy, he’s getting locked up for strong arm robbery. He liked the name Murphy. She would have to come back in forty-five minutes and he needed a hundred for the extra cost. She was delighted.

    The woman came back and on Hargrave Secret Service stationary he wrote the name and address. She looked over her shoulder as she tucked the information in her purse and asked meekly if this was confidential? Absolutely, we’re sworn to secrecy. George gave me my cut, a hundred dollars.” George “I said holding out my hand, ”’ you owe me twenty five dollars” he said ,”what about expenses?” I said “George”, holding out my hand, “I’ll by dinner”. With that the burly old detective and I eased out into the street lights of the near north side with George telling me about Bugs Moran and how he knocked him over a chair with one punch. 0-0-0

  16. tim Says:

    Hello Brian, i came across an old post card or sign promoting “The Edward J. Hargrave Secret Service” while investigating (no pun intended) came across your cool site. I am wondering if this would be of interest to you, before i list it on ebay??I am not sure how to attach aphoto here so email me at timjbrass@yahoo.com and i will send yo the image. Thanks for your time and an interesting blog!

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