One cold afternoon, a white Rolls Royce pulled up to Rue Lafayette, like something out of a movie, a couple of guys got out of the car looking like John Gotti and his gang. They were gentlemen. As I served them, I asked the owner of the Rolls if he was some kind of “Godfather, a Wise Guy?” he laughed and introduced himself as “Jelly Roll”. His friend was the Geese and the other the Moose (I guess I didn’t need to know real names). They were upbeat, polite, very friendly and were very complimentary. After having coffee and pastries they went on their way. A week later, they came back. Jelly Roll brought a box of books with him, the book is called: The Big Book of St. Louis & Southern Illinois Crime. At this point I’m thinking that I wasnt’ too far off with the whole Godfather thing. It turns out Jelly Roll had been a bank robber, and he had done many years in prison. He almost went to Alcatraz it if hadn’t been shut down the very year he was scheduled to be sent there! He took hostages during his bank robbery and had a police chase that can easily beat any De Niro/Pacino movie car chases! He’s a good guy now. The best part of his story is that when he got out of prison he BOUGHT the bank that he had ROBBED and that’s where he ran his business out of until he retired! We’ve become fast friends and he told me his entire story, I produced a documentary on his story. Filmmaker Michael Lynch did an amazing job on it.
I’ve had great conversations and lots of laughs with Jelly Roll but I have a few favorite memories with Jelly Roll, one: he came over to Rue to bake with us one cold winter morning. He taught me how to make Pop-Overs. The oven door was not shutting properly so he stood next to the oven and held the door for what seemed like an eternity. I was so embarrassed and told him that I felt bad that he had to stand there. He told me “It’s nothing, I did a YEAR in solitary confinement!”.
Another very memorable day was when Jelly Roll, the Moose and the Geese wanted to meet my husband to see if he was a “good guy”. They came over and invited him for a “ride”. Rick was so scared! ALL of the stereotypical gangster movies came back to him. He thought they would “Wack him” or “make him sleep with the fishes” or “put a tail on him”. Lucky for him, they approved.
The story of Jelly Roll is in the book, sold at Rue Lafayette. I have autographed copies: