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Sunday, February 5, 2012

It turned out that the three men really were desperadoes. They were from Clinton

This from my friend Jim Ridings in his history of Kankakee. The story is a little rough, but you have heard worse.

Raymond Parker owned a gas station and lunchroom one mile east of Grant Park. It became a target of several armed robberies in the 1920s.

At 5:45 a.m., on March 9, 1928, three men -- two white, one black -- walked into the station. Parker thought they were acting suspicious, as they walked in and out of the place a few times. He thought they might be robbers, and he kept close to his gun under the counter.

The men asked for hamburgers. Parker said he “did not serve colored people.” Walter Reynolds, the black man, “laughed and said it would be all right with him.” The white men, Kelse Humphrey and Harold North, said they would all eat outside in the car. Parker cooked six hamburgers and the men paid the bill

Reynolds seemed to be reaching inside his coat. Parker saw a gun in there. Parker pulled his gun and shot Reynolds in the head, killing him.

Parker, who also was an auxiliary sheriff’s deputy, took Humphrey and North to the county jail.
It turned out that the three men really were desperadoes. They were from Clinton, and earlier in the day they had stolen a car from a showroom in Johnson City, then broke into a hardware store and stole numerous items, including bullets. They had armed robbery in mind as they drove north and stopped in Grant Park.

The gas station was the target of an armed robbery prior to this. At 1 a.m., on March 29, 1925, two men walked into the gas station and pointed guns in Parker’s face and ordered him to put up his hands. Parker smashed his large fist into the jaw of one gunman, knocking him down. The other robber ran away. As the first man was getting up off the floor, Parker pulled his own gun and shot the man in the neck.

It was not a serious wound. Two hours later, the robber was in the county jail. He gave his name as Andrew Thomas, and later was identified as Oliver Black.

A third robbery happened on Aug. 8, 1928. Four men came into Parker’s gas station at 4 a.m. After eating sandwiches, the men got up, and it looked like they were going to pay. Instead, they pulled guns. They bound and gagged Parker and robbed the business.

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