Two Great-Grand “Gamblers & Thieves”

Allegedly both of my paternal great-grandfathers were gamblers and thieves!

Lawrence Ambrose Reilly worked in the finance industry as a clerk as a young husband and father.  On 21 November 1925, two articles were published with the following headlines:

Brokers’ Clerk Held

Reilly Accused of $10,000 Theft

The first article is a short two sentence bit that states that Lawrence while working as a clerk at Carden, Green & Co., is accused of taking $10,000 from the firm to play the cotton market.  The second article provides a little bit more information, explaining that he was arraigned in the Tombs Court in New York City on a charge of grand larceny.  He had been arrested by Detective Jesse Upham, after a firm higher-up told the police that Lawrence had stolen the money through forged endorsements that looked like the funds had been given to the firm’s clients. (Full Newspaper Page – column 2 towards the bottom of the page & Full Newspaper Page – column 6 mid-page)



I’ve been unable to locate any additional articles that follow up on these stories about Lawrence.  It worked later in life as an accountant, so it’s hard to imagine that he ended up being convicted of a crime, given he kept working in the financial industry, but without additional information, it’s hard to say how this story actually ended.

In 1928, my great-grandfather, Gerald Thomas, was a postman in Brooklyn, New York.  He was married with two young daughters at home – my grandmother Marion was only two years old at the time.  According to an article in the Brooklyn Standard Union on 8 September 1928, “Postum Under Arrest On Mail Theft Charge”.

Brooklyn NY Standard Union 1928 a - 1033


According to the article, he stole a “test” letter that was sent through the mail as part of an investigation into mail theft.  He also had another letter with $2 in it.  Allegedly, the thefts were a response to losses he suffered while betting on the ponies.  (Full newspaper page – the article is at the bottom of the 2nd column)

In follow-up articles in both the Brooklyn Union and The Daily News, it turns out that Gerald was a part of a ring of postal thieves.  According to the article, there were a total of five thieves arrested, one of whom was a woman.  Gerald was one of three out of the five who pled guilty, and was sentenced to one year in the Federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Full newspaper page – the article is at the bottom of the 4th column & Full Newspaper page – 1st column)

Brooklyn NY Standard Union 1928 a - 1251.jpg


After he was released from prison in Atlanta, Gerald moved the family from Brooklyn to Queens.

Letters from Larry – 8 October 1942

8 October 1942 – Queens, New York

Dearest Marion,

I only have about 8 minutes in which to write to you.  Well honey I love you and still want you more & more to myself.  About the way I asked if it would be alright with you if I didn’t come around tonight.  I[‘m] sorry hon I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.  I like to see you every night.  Tonight I have to go over Adam’s to a meeting of some sort of the Air Wardens.  They are going to have a lot of speakers & awards.  You didn’t say anything about going to Bellevue to give blood so I didn’t think of it either until this morning, but I guess your not going or you would have said so.  Well my times up now.  I’ll see you tomorrow night.  We’ll go to the movies.

Love Larry

P.S. I love you.

PPS. I love you.

PPPS. I love you

1,000,000,000 times


Note: Air Raid Wardens were volunteers at home during World War II to watch the skies for signs of enemy airplanes, and protect the cities against possible bombings.

Air Raid Warden recruitment film

Letters from Larry – 17 August 1942

17August 1942 – Queens, New York

Dearest Marion,

I love you, I love you, I love you.  Just a little reminder about tomorrow night (Friday).  Leave the house at 4:30 the latest. Take Fulton “L” to Rockaway Avenue, change take subway to Hoyt & Schermerhorn Street.  Watch for the stations so that you won’t miss it.  I’ll meet you at the change booth.  Just in case I’m not there wait for me.  But I’ll probably be there.  I’m sorry I didn’t get to see Wed. night but the meeting ended at 10 o’clock.  We were practicing for the Demonstration.

Well now that that’s over I can tell you I love you again.  Your wonderful dear. I adore you.  I just happened to think if you out with one of those sailors we won’t be going “steady”.  Shux, I don’t like that so much.  That’s about all for now.  Goodbye sweetheart.

Sincerest Love,


P.S. In my dreams tonight I’ll say “Come to Poppa” L.R.

Note: Based on the description, this was instructions to take the subway from the Rockaway area of Brooklyn to the area of Brooklyn just west of Fort Greene, on what was then known as the Interborough Subway (IRT).

Letters from Larry – 14 August 1942

August 14, 1942 6:25 a.m. – Queens, New York

Dearest Marion,

Well honey I’m trying to write something to you. Still feel bad about last night.  Please don’t.  I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.  Gee, I love you so much that I feel like staying home from work today and coming around to see you.  I served 4 to 6 in the Air Raid Wardens and I was awake about a half-hour thinking about you.  That was at 4 o’clock and the same thing at 11:30 last night.  Some day hon I won’t have to send you notes.  I’ll be able to wake you up at 6 [in] the morning to tell you I love you.  Won’t that be nice?  (Or will it?)  I’ll be thinking about you all day today and you’ll be in school.  (Darn it).  I’ve been writing 15 minutes now and didn’t say very much and now its time to leave.  Well so long honey.

Love & kisses


P.S. If you want to you can write a note to me and leave it with my grandfather this afternoon.  L.R.

(Finished 6:41 a.m.)


Note: there are 8 red lipstick blot marks on the backside of the letter.

Letters from Larry – 7 August 1942

7 August 1942 – Queens, New York

Dearest Marion,

I received your card & letter.  If I didn’t get a letter from you I was going to spank you good and proper.  Well how’s my little angel.  I miss you so much.  I wish I was out there or you were home.  If you go out in the boat again don’t fall overboard.  Jimmy, his mother and myself went crabbing Wed. and we only got 5 crabs from 9 to 7:30.

Eddie, Moe & I are going fishing tomorrow.  Enough of that now.  Every night before I go to sleep I think about you and practically go nuts.  I really miss you and I want some of your lovin’.  I want you to know I love you so much I keep wishing you were mine, all mine.  Honey, tell me you love mell [sic], please.  I know you do but please write it anyhow.  Well sweetheart, I can’t write anymore now its time to eat.  I’ll tell you how much I love you when you’re home.

Love from the bottom of my heart,


P.S. I adore you.  L.R.