Carl Webb, the lookout.
Carl Webb was recognised as a nit keeper – a lookout for an illegal baccarat den in Lonsdale Street Melbourne and identified as such by ‘two prominent players’ (see link) who unsurprisingly preferred to remain anonymous. That being so Webb would have been a trusted employee of criminals and who was paid to spot undercover police, police informers, known cheats, competing gangsters, signs of an imminent raid, players known to use counterfeit notes, previously banned players, men known to carry guns, men known to carry knives, local politicians on a mission, men intent on robbing the take, known drunks, unwanted drug dealers, cadgers, journalists, bludgers, troublesome professional women, standover men, drug addicts, pickpockets, crooked dealers and other unwanted and unsavoury characters.
However it wasn’t unknown for Salvation Army cup rattlers to gain entry.
Webb would have been paid to keep his eye on the street as well as inside the rooms and his local knowledge of the men and women who thronged Lonsdale Street would have been valuable. His presence at those times when a player’s emotions got the better of him would also have been required and he would have been a useful hand when it came to chucking out a bad loser. Perhaps he used the facilities of a local gymnasium to improve his strength and build up muscle tone as he wasn’t a big man.
And no doubt the credentials he brought with him in order to secure the job included a subtle recommendation from his brother’s father in law, Joe Gavey, a friend and accomplice of Squizzy Taylor, one of Melbourne’s very hard men and reputed owner of more than one illegal baccarat den himself, possibly the one where Webb was employed.
As it’s always best to keep such things in the family.
Header pic is George Lane, Little Lonsdale