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Hot Springs has a history colorful enough to justify its own version of “Boardwalk Empire,” and some of Hot Springs’ real-life sporting figures are part of the fictional world of HBO’s Sunday night drama set in 1920s Atlantic City. Hot Springs was considered neutral ground on which rival gangsters could rub elbows at the craps tables and card games, or soak in the stately bathhouses, without fear of suffering anything more harmful than a hangover or a scalding. Al Capone vacationed there, and Lucky Luciano was arrested in 1936 by the FBI while ambling along Bathhouse Row, reportedly in the leisurely company of Hot Springs’ chief detective. Garrison Keillor quipped that Hot Springs is the “loose buckle on the Bible Belt.” Alas, the Illegal casinos were shut down in 1967 on the watch of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. There’s a big-time St. Louis connection to the late Governor Rockefeller, who was the younger brother of Nelson, David, Laurance and John D.,III.  As chairman of Colonial Williamsburg, the “Arkansas Rockefeller” worked closely with our own dearly departed beer baron Gussie Busch to develop the historic site along with the Busch Gardens Williamsburg attractions.


  • KITTY says:

    Thanks, Bergermeister, for sharing gangsterisms with us. Boardwalk Empire is a 5 Star series. One of the regulars is Meyer Lanksy. Could you please share with us some tales of him? Didn’t a St. Louis family have close connections with him – in a scandalous way? Come, now. Share!

  • LUCKY7 says:

    I think the name Kitty is groping for is Morris Schenker, St. Louis attorney who had most colorful clientele with interests in Vegassssssss.

  • Towncar07 says:

    They used to be known as the “Big 3″…Morris Schenker, Harold Koplar, and Al Cervantes…the pals that hung around with varied business interests…Continental Connector Corp. was their “Holding Company”…yeah, what a group.

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