Down at the Radio Café – Cast of Characters: Part 2

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Gross, George

The long-time Head of Denver NAACP, a Republican, politically well-connected as he held the title of "Official Messenger" for former GOP Governor Oliver Shoup. He personally blocked the incorporation of the KKK in Colorado, leaving it an officially "unofficial" fraternal organization. There is no historical record of whether he was a member of the Denver Boule society but it is inconceivable that he would not be. 

Note: in the 1920s, most African-Americans still identified as Republican, the party of Abraham Lincoln. Following WWII, the GOP identified more and more with Southern Conservatism and the Evangelical message that was heavily influenced by the 1920s KKK, which drove Blacks out of the party) 

2nd Note: the Boule were real. Houses owned by black families were bombed. The KKK was so incompetent it didn't connect the fact that nobody was ever killed in these night-time bombings. 

George Gross
George Gross

• • •

Klein, George

Jewish Detective Sergeant. His murder (three shotgun blasts as he exited his car to his front yard) remains unsolved today. He was named to run the Bootleg Squad when Colorado passed its Prohibition law before the rest of the country, in 1915. The rest of the country followed suit in 1920, even though the problems with organized crime were already apparent through Colorado's experience.  

George Klein
George Klein

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Lindsey, Benjamin

Juvenile Court Judge, friend of Hornbein, shared in racial animosity towards Blacks and Mexicans (as apparently everyone did in this generation, pointing to the since-debunked "science" of Eugenics) but opposed to the Klan for its corruption and "secret" rule by an un-elected authoritarian like Locke. He was in fact a fan of boxing for young men as a way for them to get out aggression without causing violence and ran a team out of the Denver Athletic Club. Eventually, Lindsey became internationally famous for his progressive judicial approach to juvenile crime and also very ahead-of-his-time views on marriage, divorce and birth control. (Hitler's Nazis ceremoniously burned his books in the 30s). After being driven out of Colorado, he went to California where he practiced successfully and became a member of California's Supreme Court.

Judge Benjamin Lindsey
Judge Benjamin Lindsey

• • •

Locke, John Galen

Grand Dragon of the Colorado KKK Chapter, also called "Dr. Rex" and sometimes "Jack" - until his fall due to tax evasion charges in 1925 he was one of the most powerful KKK leaders in the US and essentially ran Colorado from 1922-25, putting in place toadies to be the Governor, Senators, city mayors and state legislators, as well as running the police department of Denver all but directly through Candlish. Died of stroke on April 1, 1935 while working on a political comeback. The description of his basement auditorium and office is accurate, including the throne dais and mechanical door. His building was torn down in the late 50s. 

John Galen Locke
John Galen Locke

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Morley, Clarence J.

Elected Governor in Nov 1924. He was completely beholden to Locke & took instruction from him even when Locke was jailed for tax evasion and fraud (late 1925 - the beginning of the end of KKK in Colorado). In later years he was federally prosecuted for fraud and embezzlement of public funds and served time in Leavenworth prison.

Clarence J. Morley
Clarence J. Morley

• • •

Neusteter, Mayer

  

Owner of the exclusive department store, Neusteter’s. Mayer travelled widely and brought fashion and dry goods to the Denver market that was unavailable even in the larger stores such as the Denver Dry Goods (right across the street at Stout and 16th). Neusteter’s was officially boycotted by the Klan but did expand in the fall of 1924 due to outstanding business. Most Klan-boycotted businesses, however, suffered terribly and many had to shut down during the height of the KKK power years (1922-25). This picture was taken in 2018, although few notice the Neusteter's sign above the second floor window anymore.

Neusteter's department store sign today.
Neusteter's department store sign today.

• • •

Oeschger, William

Reverend of the influential Highland Christian Church, he rose to become a Grand Cyclops in the Denver Klan. In 1963 tape recordings (available through the Denver Public Library), Ginsberg called him one of the worst in the entire organization, for cynically recruiting dupes in order to make money from their membership. Eventually he was prosecuted for embezzlement of church funds and served time in Colorado state prison. 

 

He eventually moved to Kansas and created another life for himself there, remarrying and having a family. He died in 1950 at the age of 89. 

William Oeschger
William Oeschger

• • •

Peterson, William "Bill" (NOTE: this name has been changed)

A close friend of John Galen Locke, he was also a member of the police department and a peer of Harry Bellow's (Bellow was Candlish's favorite; Peterson was a Locke favorite) He was known to spend long hours in Locke's basement "auditorium" as a courtier to the Grand Dragon. 

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Reynolds, William "Doc"

The founder of the first Denver radio station – KLZ – he was sympathetic to the Klan. He did, indeed, broadcast from the Radio Café restaurant at 15th and Arapahoe Streets. He also wrote for the Denver Post and other print media outlets. 

William "Doc" Reynolds
William "Doc" Reynolds