Flea drivers and nitpickers.
I’ve succumbed to immense peer pressure and decided further idiosyncratic contributions to the Somerton Man Mystery are in order, besides, what do we have other than Chuck Webb’s name to write on his body’s toe tag, or toe bone tag, that old casket must have been mighty dusty.
Reading Dome’s site is a bit of an ordeal lately with all the earnest family gatherers competing for a headline and Cramer definitely needs a serious head-check, losing the six-foot two inch saddle-nosed fully toothed Fedosimov (pic) as a likely suspect must have hurt his prodigious ego immeasurably.
Chuck, the mystery body. Fit as a ripe orange but no war service, wearing his dead brother-in-law’s singlet and tie and here he is showing up in Adelaide where he frightens the bejasus out of an innocent young mum who has shacked up with a known villain with deep and everlasting connections in the second-hand motor industry in at least three states – Victoria, West Aussie and South Australia – a very busy post-war industry known for its addiction to fast and tax-free money. And not just hot cars. Taxis played their part in this game as well. Cocaine no stranger in town either and add to that SP betting, fixed horse-races, sly grog shops illegal betting parlours and busy brothels. All of this under the very noses of honest coppers all too busy directing traffic and helping little old ladies cross busy roads.
Prosper did well, buying and selling cars, renting limos, looking for factory space, swapping houses. He fit into Adelaide like he was born there and if anyone seriously thinks a new bloke in town can survive in a business like that without paying what the yanks call a little vig* into the right hands then you haven’t been reading the right literature.
You’ve gone ahead and read it, right? And even though it’s a 1955 article maybe you’re linking the tools found in Chuck’s suitcase with the manufacture of phoney taxi plates and dodgy compliance stickers and wondering if our man’s relationship with young Jessica began in Melbourne when she was out and about with Prosper, aka George, fully pregnant with a little tacker whose DNA hasn’t yet been fully determined. And maybe you are wondering if these circumstances had anything to do with Chuck deserting his wife in ’47, the same year Jessica slipped out of Melbourne for Adelaide’s bright lights.
Chuck’s wife didn’t take the separation too well we read, clearing out of cosmopolitan Melbourne and opting for Bute, a sun-baked little town situated way beyond the black stump where it is yet to be established if she had any relatives living there.
Ironic isn’t it, how Dome once proposed that Webb may have been a nitpicker when in reality he could have been a flea driver.
*Vigorish or Vig: a charge taken (as by a bookie or a gambling house) on bets.
I kind of wish it was over but, unfortunately, it’s not.
It’s the same kind of thing with everything somehow leading to nothing.
There are some twists and turns. (Yes. There are.)
You have been there all the way through. Don’t give up now.
Maybe you need some roses?
Thanks for the article, and certainly worth the posting. Another pastime happening from ‘45 to ‘48ish and on was the search for a glowing element at Mount Painter and Radium Hill around the Flinders Ranges. A bit up from Bute. Sometimes yellow like gold (hello Harold Bell Lassetter) and other times dirty brown or red, but the gigacounter soon knew. UK and AU Govts were offering £25,000 for anyone finding the stuff so it brought in a lot of lonely deserted searchers to the area. And it was on the “qt”.
Another question without notice:- Is it possible the reference to George being Prosper is anecdotal and perhaps incorrect, with the two being almost inseparably close buddys just not the same person?
The word is that he fancied being called George, Prosper a bit of a mouthful.
Edit:- Sorry, Geiger Counter
Yep he definitely went by George in SA in the car trade where he was well known in the Prestige Motors days.
Strange(?) that Prosper used the name ‘George’, when another ‘George’, Joseph Saul Marshall was found dead with a copy of the Rubaiyat by his body.
We know PT got done for his flea cab driving exploits in Adelaide. I also remember reading somewhere that PT was known to “run the cabs ranks in Mentone” if memory serves me.
We know Carls brother Roy’s listed occupation when he enlisted was “driver” which seems a little vague, almost deliberately so.
I think I’m pretty well on record in my belief that the potential reason as to why there’s little to no record of Carl work wise in the 40s and why he could have vanished without any follow up is that he was working off the grid.
This could have well been any number of occupations including a flea cab driver and various other side lines.
I reckon Carl was that guy usually referred to in terms of “I know a guy who knows a guy” who could get stuff done cash questions.
So you could say that not only did Chuck and George know each other in Melbourne, professionally speaking, they carried on the relationship in Adelaide, Webb possibly visiting Moseley St from time to time. Which raises an interesting point about some of the ads that were running at the time, all of which were attributed to PT’s dealings. What’s to say that wasn’t necessarily the case?
Dude, Clive … what was a home similar to Moseley St worth in 1948?
have a recollection of seeing ads for those blocks – can’t remember if it wiv or wivout a building on them for 850 or 950 pounds (trove circa 1945).
Oh, also, welcome back – I get the impression you’re not the only one finding the sudden influx of detective’s at dome’s house a touch tedious.
Thanks Lurk, on with the show eh?
Seen a couple of houses for sale about $1250.00 in Glenelg area. Blocks of land in Somerton Park about $700.00
Yep Clive is on the money.
Ain’t he always …
Pete- I am mighty glad your site is off the side line and back into the action!! There needs to be a friendly place like this to critically ponder the likely scenario that binds all of this together.
Also happy that the suspicion has started to turn onto PMcTT and his dodgey dealings. Can’t get past how he has just been under the radar yet the most likely person (connected to this case by his residential address) to moving a full grown dead man from where he died down to the beach.
Some folks manage to get under the radar because they have a meaningful relation$hip with the radar operator. And thanks for the wrap, Dogger, appreciated.
There might have been payola back in the day by the more organised crims for the coppers to look the other way… but who is paying the Professor to never mention PMcTT? He’s still hot for the nurse only at the end of the phone line at 90A and can’t seem to take those blinkers off.
The very fact that the phone was in the nurses name is odd. She wasn’t a sister nor was she a Thomson as advertised and Prosper was paying the bill. So why put the phone in Jess’s name? My guess is either he had bad credit and couldn’t get a connection in his name or more likely not inclined to advertise his whereabouts in the phone book. If the latter was his strategy then it was pretty effective as all the heat went on Jess.
PT seemed to be pretty busy going by the frequency of his ads … which could mean Jessica handled the sales enquires while he was out and about, making her a partner in his business.
As they say, it takes two to Tango. So I would have thought that PMT would have been interviewed, especially as he was known to SAPOL Even more so when Jessie stopped talking, perhaps PMT was ‘protected’ against possible self incrimination?
I think she shrew the perfect red herring and the dopey plods bought it hook line and sinker with this “whole don’t tell my husband business” Seems like then “very acceptable” Jess could wrap blokes around her finger in her prime.
I think Prosper had his home phone number in Jessie’s name, possibly to stop certain individuals turning up at his house looking for him and, going by some of his dodgy deals, forming a queue. After all, surely a ‘Sister’ Thomson, living in respectable Glenelg, wouldn’t be living with a suspect car dealer?
Many a dodgy dude has had his phone listed in his girlfriends name. Often because Telstra had barred them for un paid bills but often it was also for the reasons you say Clive. Guys like PT will have a succession of people looking for him including people he’d shafted with dodgy goods , debt collectors and other unsavoury character they tend to rub shoulders with. Why else would the phone be in the nurses name.
And another thing ! The nurse wasn’t too keen to be tracked down either listing her surname as Thomson when she was, at least at the time of listing, still a Harkness.