OFFBEAT: Dillinger Family now using guns for good cause

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-03T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Dillinger Family now using guns for good causeBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Crime writer Carol Sissom of Indianapolis always keeps me up on the latest details of the Dillinger Family, forever infamous for their connection to gangster John Dillinger, this elusive man famous for robbing banks and escaping jail cells.

Her book "Banking with Dillinger" (March 2009 Carol's Adventures Publishing $17.95) is a favorite of mine. The 200-page paperback has rare photos and facts never before made public, including some amazing letters written by Dillinger to his family while he was serving time at both Michigan City State Prison and the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.

Sissom's book includes a "special thanks" page with a photo of Dillinger and the caption: "Public Enemy No. 1 or Robin Hood? You decide."

She also includes a special message reading: "Special thanks to Frances Helen Dillinger (John's baby sister), Mike Thompson (Dillinger's nephew) and all of John Dillinger's family for their willingness to get the truth about John Dillinger out to the public."

Frances, who still lives in Mooresville, Ind., just turned 90 last year!

And I'm told she's doing just fine.

As for nephew Mike and great nephew Travis Thompson, the two have been working hard to change the family's association with guns and misdeeds to a reputation of charity and helping others.

Recently, they helped with a charity event at Indy Trading Post in Indianapolis to not only promote gun safety, but also to share the theme: "Say No to Murder and Residential Robbery."

I'm told proceeds from a raffle are going to a reward fund to catch the murderer of Charles "Buck" Hanna of Indianapolis, who was killed Oct. 6, 2010.

"Hanna was a family man and a gun enthusiast who was murdered so thieves could rob him of nearly $100,000 worth of high end guns and military paraphernalia," Sissom said.

A big birthday

June 22, 2013 marks John Dillinger's 110th birthday.

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has already started early celebrations to recognize this magic number milestone.

As mentioned in our Friday On the Go section, the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond opened up the John Dillinger Museum for free for guests.

But even if you missed yesterday's opportunity, there's still plenty of time to stop in and explore the life and times of Dillinger and his gang.

There are even clips from "Mysteries at the Museum," which features the history behind the infamous "wooden gun," showcased for audiences inside the In-Vision Theatre.

The Dillinger Museum is inside the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Dr., just off the I-80/94 Expressway in Hammond.

Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and older. There's a 50 percent discount for law enforcement professionals. It's open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. FYI: (219) 989-7979 or visit

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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