Longform

The Gallows and the Deep

Page 7 of 7

Only one of the original Coast Guardsmen, Frank Tuten, was there to hear it.

As if to make up for the secrecy of the hanging, Alderman's funeral was beset by more than 7000 people. Some may have wished they'd stayed home, because the eulogy went on for nearly four hours. The largest of the many floral arrangements covering the gray casket was one inscribed simply "From Your Buddies."

Beginning in January 1928, the Coast Guard in Washington ordered new reinforcements to Fort Lauderdale: 300 men, twelve ships, and a pair of seaplanes equipped with top-of-the-line radios.

The Fort Lauderdale Daily News reported that "the present concentration of forces in Florida and the active war against rumrunners is said to be directly traceable to the killings... by Alderman."

Reviewing the Alderman episode, one government analyst in the booze war wrote to his superiors saying he was concerned that Alderman's name might live on long after his execution:

The aftermath of this horrible affair indicates as nothing else could the deplorable state of affairs on the southeast coast of Florida and points unmistakably to the course which it seems we must follow in the near future. It appears that the decent element in these communities is so overawed by the criminals that they are unable to bring about any public condemnation of Alderman....

Not long after, according to press reports, South Florida smugglers offshore began using carrier pigeons to communicate with their confederates on land. One rumor had them using wireless robot boats to carry their cargoes. Alderman was many months in the ground before federal officials realized that rumrunners were turning more and more to airplanes, beginning to land them routinely by night in the Everglades.

The last document in Alderman's court record, now housed in a federal archive in Atlanta, is a May 17, 1932, plea by Alderman's wife, Pearl Alderman, to return her husband's pistol. There is nothing in the record to indicate that the government complied with the request.

The petition was entered a few months before the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

Alderman himself lies in lot 5, section C, of Miami Memorial Park, a cemetery in South Miami. The grave is situated next to a hurricane fence, and standing beside it one can hear the low noise of traffic from two expressways.

The grave is unmarked, and according to the cemetery's keepers, no one has asked to see it in many years. Alderman's original request was partly granted: he was buried in a white suit, but carried no rose to the gallows.

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Sean Rowe