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Tom Dooley made a career of dealing cards in Hannibal

This photo, estimated to have been taken in 1946-47, was taken in the backroom of the Illmo cigar store at 209 S. Main, Hannibal. Starting at the far right, the men are identified: Diz Gurleman, Nick (The Greek) Gramatick, (?) Bill Docker; John Ewing; Cocky Stoddard; ?Don Salter; Grover Waid; Tom Dooley; ?Fred Cooley; Everett Dooley; Estel Norvell; Brownie; Gene Dooley; ?; Whittamore; and ?. Photo contributed by Bob Dooley. Represented in the photo are three generations of Dooleys. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB DOOLEY


Tom Dooley was a full-time, professional card dealer.

These are the words of his grandson, Robert (Bob) Dooley, the youngest and last surviving member of four generations of Dooley men who once called Hannibal home.

First there was Everett Littleton Dooley, (1977-1965), and his son, Tom, (1900-1976). Following in line of succession was Gene Dooley ( 1922-1990) and his son Bob, who was born in 1942, who now lives in St. Charles, Mo. Bob said that all the local Dooleys originally came from the Stoutsville area. Surviving members of his family still living in Hannibal are Tom Dooley’s only daughter, Delores Andrews, and Bob’s nephew, Dennis Dooley and his family, and niece, who lives in Quincy, Ill.

Among Bob’s treasured possessions is a photo taken inside the Illmo Cigar Store at 209 S. Main, Hannibal, circa 1946-47. In the photo are the elder three Dooley men, Everett, Tom and Gene.

Young Bob, born in 1942, was not allowed to enter the store because he was under age, but he does remember the neighborhood. “On the corner (of S. Main and Church) was the bus depot, then the Crystal pool hall, which had six bowling lanes on the second floor. Then there was a bar, the Illmo, Sweeties popcorn, the Star theater, and a bar on the corner. Around the corner was the 3400 Cab Company.

“This photo represents a very important part of Hannibal lifestyle for a long period of time,” Bob said. The picture (was taken) in the backroom of the smoke-filled room (at the Illmo Smoke House, 209 S. Main, Hannibal) with a card game going on. My grandfather, Tom Dooley, (white shirt, suspenders and a hat) is standing, watching the players.”

Tom’s father Everett is seated at the right of the table, contemplating a card move, with his hand resting on his face. Directly across the table, with slicked-back dark hair and a white shirt, is Gene Dooley, Bob’s father.

“During that time Hannibal had many ‘smokehouses,’” Bob said, “providing an all-male, customers only, 24 hours poor man's card emporium of dubious reputations throughout the city of Hannibal and Oakwood.

“Customers were mainly railroad workers, construction and blue collar workers, with anyone, trying to win enough to buy a meal. The games were mainly poker, 25cent ante, with house taking 10 percent of each ante.

“My grandfather Tom was the house manager and dealer most of his adult life. Limits varied based on house rules, with a floor manger or house dealer, setting the limits. Also available daily were smaller side games, such a 10 cents Seven Card Rummy or 5-cent game called Tonk.

Smoke houses

1914 – John A. Moore was a cigar manufacturer at 209 S. Main.

1925-1937 – Lemar G. Brown owned and/or managed the Illmo Cigar Store, 209 S. Main.

1946 – Ira R. Bastian owned and/or managed the Illmo Cigar Store.

1950 – Lee E. Hawkins owned and/or managed the Illmo Cigar Store.

1950 – John Ewing was manager of the Sun Pipe Shop, 221 S. Main, where Tom Dooley worked for a time.

1953-1955 – Opal M. Bastian and Lee E. Hawkins owned and/or managed the Illmo Cigar Store. (By 1955, Tom Dooley was once again working at the Illmo Cigar Store.)

1957 – Lee Hawkins owned and/or managed the Illmo Cigar Store.

Dooley Grocery

The second half of the 1950s brought change to the cigar store business. They faded out, until the only remaining store was Schaffer’s Smoke house at 308 Broadway.

“I would estimate at one time there were at least 15 different cigar stores in operation, last one that was still in operation in the 1980's would be Schaffer’s Cigar Store, near where the old Maryland Hotel use to be,” Bob said.

In 1957, Gene Dooley and his wife Ruth opened Dooley’s Market at 1623 Grace, three houses to the east of noted minister, the Rev. Johnny Golden’s house. “There was a living room, kitchen and bath – a five-room apartment – behind the grocery store,” Bob said, and that’s where his grandparents lived. The Dooleys continued to operate this market through most of the 1970s.

Names and faces

Some of the men’s names are hand-written on the back of the Illmo Smoke House photo.

Nick Gramatick

Nick Gus Gramatick, (second from the right, standing, wearing a railroad cap) stood at 5’7’’ and weighed in at 154 pounds in 1942. An electrician by trade, he was one of hundreds of men who were employed in the CB&Q Railroad shops at Hannibal during that decade. Without family in Hannibal, on his World War II registration card, he listed a coworker, John H. Pittman, as the person who would most likely always know his whereabouts.

Working on the South Side, and living at 303 Jefferson St., also on the South Side, it was just natural that Gramatick – a bachelor born in Greece who immigrated in 1914 - and who was known to his friends as “The Greek,” would frequent the blue-collar cigar shop known as Illmo, located at 209 South Main Street. Gramatick was naturalized as an American citizen on Dec. 2, 1946, and in 1959, he was living at the Windsor Hotel, 125 South Main Street– a half block from the cigar shop. That hotel was destroyed by fire in 1962. His death date is unclear.

Everett L. Dooley

In mid June 1899, Everett Dooley (one of the prominent young men of Stoutsville) married Miss Emma Woodson (one of the belles of the Seven Hills) at the home of her sister, Mrs. M.B. Turner of Monroe City. In 1917, Everett was section foreman for the MK&T Railroad. When he registered for military service prior to the first world war, he was described as medium built, stout, with gray eyes and brown hair. In 1920, Everett was working at the Cement Plant, and he and Emma were living at 2000 Spruce St. He worked as a foreman for the Wabash Railroad in 1937, and, according to his great-grandson, in the 1950s, Everett “folded towels at White Star Laundry.”

John W. Ewing

Born in 1911 to Dave A. and Cora Ewing, John W. Ewing (fourth from t he right, light jacket, wearing a hat) was among the oldest of a large family. Learning the butcher trade at his father’s side, John Ewing was called upon to shoulder some of the responsibilities of caring for his younger siblings, following his mother’s untimely death in 1931.

In 1939 Ewing was working as a butcher for Iamo Food Market in Hannibal, and was married to Nina. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 1943, well prepared for service, working as a ship cook and butcher.

After the war he returned to Hannibal, working primarily in the role of smoke house operator.

His marriage deteriorated, and ultimately ended in divorce.

He died in 1952, at the age of 41. The cause of death listed on his death certificate was chronic alcoholism.

Fred Cooley

Fred Cooley (seated to Everett Dooley’s left, smoking a pipe) first shows up in Hannibal city directories in 1939, working as an auto mechanic for Fowler’s Service Station, and residing at 1307 Broadway. In 1959 he was a dispatcher for Yellow Cabs of Hannibal, and was living at 209 S. Eighth.

Diz Guerleman

Elmer R. (Flora E.) Gurleman, (seated at the far right of this photo) resided at 1234 Church Street in 1937. He was a molder for Duffey-Trowbridge Stove Co.

Estel Norvell

Estel M. Norvell, (Tonica O.) employee of Midwest Mower, home, 308 Olive (1959). (Seated to the right of Everett Dooley, dark hair with a widow’s peak)

Five generations of Dooleys. Bob Dooley is the baby, born in 1942. He is seated on the lap of his father, Gene Dooley. Standing to the right of Gene is Bob’s great-grandfather, Everett, and Bob’s grandfather, Tom. Seated in the rocking chair is Bob’s great-great grandmother, Mrs. Fannie Ann Dooley. She died in January 1947. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB DOOLEY

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