One of my favorite parts of OnMilwaukee.com is "This Day in Milwaukee History." We built this homepage widget a decade ago and have continued adding to it ever since.
Occasionally, it teaches me something. Today's entry is:
Nov. 9, 1935 â€“ Before the city can respond to his ransom demands, Idzi Rutkowski, the "Mad Bomber of Milwaukee," dies when his dynamite cache explodes.
I have heard of this Mad Bomber before, and in fact, I think I saw a documentary that briefly touched upon his story. But I wanted to learn more.
That's when I found this fascinating story in the Milwaukee Polonia Project. You should definitely give it a read.
Some of the nuggets include:
"On October 2, 1935 he took the first step in this plan when he stole 150 sticks of dynamite, blasting caps and fuses from the Estabrook park CCC camp. He had tried to get a job there earlier in the year, but had been rejected because of his bad teeth."
In other words, his crime spree began because he had bad teeth. We're talking about 1935 here, when I'm guessing most people had "bad teeth." Makes me wonder how bad his teeth were.
And check out this account:
"The next bombings occurred less than twenty-four hours later when two banks were targeted. At 6:10 p.m. on October 27th, another bomb went off against the rear wall of the Citizens branch of the First Wisconsin National Bank located at 3602 W. Villard Ave. It weakened the building's foundation and sprayed glass over the surrounding homes. Using his stolen car that was made up to look like a police vehicle, Idzi then sped away to the site of his next target. Less than 30 minutes later, another bomb exploded, this time at the East Side branch of the First Wisconsin National Bank at the corner of N. Farwell and E. North Avenue. The dynamite had been placed on the ground at the rear of the building, so much of the force of the explosion went outward, wrecking near-by parked cars."
That East Side bank is my bank, the one by our old office. The one that's been robbed at least five times this year. I guess it's had its problems for 80 years.
Finally, read how the Mad Bomber met his demise:
"The bits and pieces of Idzi and Paul that could be collected had to be buried in the same coffin because there was no way to tell them apart."
Gross. Fascinating and gross. Milwaukee's history continues to enthrall me. I wish my grandparents were alive today; I'd love to hear more about how one crazed bomber held Milwaukee hostage.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Aug. 29, 2016
Today, Verizon data speeds got faster. Verizon just rolled out its LTE Advanced technology to bring 50% faster peak wireless data speeds to more than 288 million people in 461 cities, including Milwaukee.
Published Aug. 22, 2016
I've said it for years. Door County means different things to different people. Whether your idea of this magical peninsula is nature or adventure, shopping or relaxing, friends or family - or a mix of everything above, one storyline arcs above all the rest: Door County is what you make it.
Published Aug. 19, 2016
My friend Drew Olson has a new work address. The veteran Milwaukee sports journalist / broadcaster - and former OnMilwaukee.com senior editor - ended an 11-year run as a talk-show host at ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM) last week and will begin a new chapter with The Big 920 (WOKY) on Monday.
Published Aug. 18, 2016
This Saturday, Priscilla Presley - actress, activist and, perhaps most notably, widow of Elvis - is coming to Milwaukee for "Elvis and Me," an open conversation at The Pabst Theater about the life and experiences of the original First Lady of rock 'n' roll.
Published Aug. 3, 2016
I didn't really even know I was interested in driving a motorcycle until the House of Harley invited me to take a Riding Academy New Rider course. In three days, I checked something off my bucket list that I didn't know was on it. I took it seriously, and it was hard. But also really satisfying.
Published July 25, 2016
Jessica Tighe is an appreciative person. While the Elm Grove native has worked in West Virginia, the Quad Cities and La Crosse, now she's home and co-anchoring the morning news on CBS 58. Ask Tighe how it feels and she actually gets goose bumps: "I have family here. I'm invested in this market," she says with a smile.
Published July 11, 2016
Summerfest 2016 may have come and gone, but the memories will live forever - because we at OnMilwaukee took enough photos and video to fill a large hard drive.
Published July 9, 2016
Playing before the Barenaked Ladies and OMD, Howard Jones got the 6 p.m. spot at the BMO Harris Pavilion Saturday night, and while that's not exactly top billing for an artist who had 15 top 40 singles during his career, I'll take it.
Published July 9, 2016
In a word, Paul McCartney was amazing tonight. I feel beyond fortunate that I've now seen him play twice. Now back at the office, at midnight, Bobby is writing the main review, but I have some stuff to say, too. Random stuff, so please indulge me.
Published July 7, 2016
Go ahead; get those laughs out of the way. I'm trying to write a serious review of Anthony Ray's Big Gig show. You, of course, know him as Sir Mix-a-Lot, and unless you listened to his tapes in the early '90s, you probably recognize just one of his songs.