Blog entry August 25,2022
Mickey Mathews, a native of Flint, Michigan, and a 1933 graduate of Michigan Normal College (today’s Eastern Michigan U), met his best friend Frank Tuttle in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1941. Mickey flew to Hawaii in early 1941 seeking story about possible Japanese espionage at Pearl Harbor, and Major Tuttle, a G-2 expert, had just retired after a 30-year career in the Army.
By 1945, Mickey and Frank had met President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a handful of occasions, first when they were investigating a murder and Nazi threats at the Bomber Plant in Willow Run, Michigan, in 1943. Later, in a book set in early 1945, Mickey detailed the efforts of him, Frank, and Tommy Jefferson in handling death threats against the President and what resulted at FDR’s retreat in Georgia.
FDR at his Warm Springs Retreat
What follows is an excerpt from Warm Springs Mystery (From Chapter 12: “Visiting Roosevelt”):
Out of the van stepped a tall man with a mustache wearing a white uniform topped by a blue baseball cap. Smiling, he was carrying a small box of baked goods. He said something to Goldberg, but his words were too faint to be heard.
Mickey stood up straight, watching the two men. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Frank lean down and pull his .45 from its ankle holster. The former major held his right arm with the weapon behind his back. The hair on the back of Mickey’s neck stood up.
Goldberg came within a step of the gray-haired man, and suddenly the driver dropped the bread and pulled a large knife. Raising his right arm, he stabbed the agent in the shoulder. It happened in a flash, but Ted saw the knife coming and tried to dodge, or he would have been knifed in the chest. As he saw the stabbing, Mickey realized the assailant had to be Wilkes. Frank had his weapon raised and pointed, but he didn’t shoot, not at that range.
Mickey knew Frank would kill the attacker when he got close enough. As those thoughts raced through his mind, Tommy moved to meet the attacker, his big fists doubled. Mickey realized the burly onetime Golden Glover was risking his life.
Wilkes was halfway to the porch. Goldberg had rolled over, drawn his weapon, and aimed it at the man’s back. Realizing he had no shot without the chance of hitting one of the men on the porch, he yelled, “He’s got dynamite!”
Even as Ted yelled, Wilkes moved his left hand from behind his back. He was holding a stick of dynamite rigged with a fuse. With the other hand he drew a long-barreled .22 caliber pistol from his belt, raised it, and fired. The barrel spit blue flame, but no sound followed. The bullet hit Tommy in the right shoulder, and he winced…
Reacting, Mickey ran toward Tommy, knowing Frank had no clear shot with their friend on the sidewalk. As Tommy got within three feet of the attacker, he feinted and slammed a right fist to the jaw. Wilkes, stunned, staggered for a few moments. Again he raised his pistol. Before he could fire, the former boxer landed a left to the side of Wilkes’ face. Again he staggered, and this time he groaned. In a flash Mickey’s right fist chopped down on the shooter’s gun hand.
Wilkes screamed, dropping the pistol. But quickly he whipped out a cigarette lighter and flicked it. For an instant the wavering flame made his dark eyes glow. His pallid features and his clenched teeth helped give him the look of a dead man…
Wilkes was focused on Tommy, a black man unafraid of him. Mickey heard Tommy say, “Old man, you’re a coward!”