Blanket Fort Radio Theater

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

All three Shelton brothers are sentenced to 25 years in prison for the mail robbery in Collinsville; meanwhile, the body of patrolman Lory Price is found. Charlie Birger is arrested at his home, and Arlie Boswell is attacked and threatened by an anonymous letter.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

Shady Rest is destroyed in an explosion and four bodies are found at the scene. Soon after, state highway patrolman Lory Price, who remarked that he had seen Charlie Birger, Art Newman, and Connie Ritter driving toward the scene that night, goes missing along with his pregnant wife Ethel. Charlie Birger testifies against the Sheltons in the trial for the Collinsville mail robbery.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

With the murder of Joe Adams and the theft of a local reverend’s brand new red Chevrolet, the Birger gang’s criminal disruptions have pushed the law to its limit, and authorities devise a plot to arrest Charlie for good.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

A bank robbery, attacks on Shady Rest, home bombings, and even the murder of a mayor: the squabbles between Birger’s gang and his enemies grow increasingly violent as Birger’s notoriety spreads.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

When Birger and his gang have scores to settle, dressing in drag might be their best option to take care of their dirty business. Meanwhile, Birger resorts to threats of violence to keep the doings of his gang under wraps.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

The war between the Birger and Shelton gangs rages on, with Charlie Birger desperate to get his hands on the Sheltons’ prized tank. In October, the bodies of two gangsters are discovered, with no culprits in sight.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

Summer and fall of 1926 sees several attacks and murders in quick succession between the Birger and Shelton gangs. The Sheltons’ attack on their former friend Art Newman and his wife Bessie causes Newman to reconsider his allegiances.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

This week on Inside The Blanket Fort learn more about Blanket Fort Radio Theater's production of "A Knight of Another Sort: Prohibition Days and Charlie Birger" by Gary DeNeal. 

Blanket Fort Radio Theater is a storytelling initiative of SIU Press in collaboration with the SIU Creative Writing Program and WSIU Radio.  Listen to the latest podcast episode of "A Knight of Another Sort" here.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

Relations between Birger and the Sheltons break down, owing to a variety of circumstances, including Birger’s refusal to pay the Sheltons their cut of the proceeds from local slot machines. Tensions in Williamson County are nearing a breaking point.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

New Illinois Supreme Court rulings force Attorney Arlie Boswell to dismiss dozens of liquor cases. In 1926, a Herrin election sparks another battle between the Klan and bootleggers, which spells the ending of the Klan’s influence in Southern Illinois.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

One of a string of burglaries south of Harrisburg in 1925 leads to the arrest and trial of one of Birger’s most notorious gangsters, a man known by the pseudonym “Steve George.” In 1926, Birger marries his new wife, Bernice.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

A shootout ensues when Earl Shelton’s bulldog kills Charlie Birger’s in a dogfight, one of the common forms of entertainment at the bootlegger’s hideout, Shady Rest.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

After escaping suspicion in the investigation of a bloody shootout, Charlie Birger serves a month in jail for possessing intoxicating liquor and then, a free man again, builds his most notorious entertainment complex, Shady Rest.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

As dangers mount, Beatrice Birger draws away from her husband, but Charlie is obsessively desperate to keep her.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

On March 26, 1924, Charlie Birger is found guilty on several bootlegging-related charges and sentenced to a year in prison. Meanwhile, Carl and Earl Shelton ambush S. Glenn Young and his wife and take part in a Herrin shootout.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

In December of 1923, a war sparks between bootleggers and law enforcement, many of whom are prominent Klan members. When Carl and Earl Shelton are indicted for the murder of one of these members, they seek out an alliance with Klan-connected Marion attorney Arlie O. Boswell.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

After escaping another murder conviction, Charlie Birger is injured in a fight but recovers in a hospital in Herrin, where his wife Beatrice encounters one of his mistresses for the first time.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

A complicated man to say the least, bootlegger and murderer Charlie Birger gains a reputation among locals for extreme acts of kindness. However, his deadly temper always lurks beneath the surface.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

After Charlie Birger establishes the profitable “Near Bar” in town, Beatrice recalls her husband’s ability to “operate with minimum of interference” due to his weekly payoffs of certain local law enforcement.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

In the summer of 1919, Charlie Birger meets and marries 18-year-old Beatrice Bainbridge in Harrisburg, much to the dismay of her parents. Beatrice becomes the reluctant stepmother of Charlie’s daughter Minnie, and the three of them take up residence in Harrisburg.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

When police raid a local saloon, Charlie Birger uses it as an opportunity to take down one of his competitors in the liquor business, but not everything goes to plan.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

As Blanket Fort Radio Theater premiers, join Amy Etcheson of the SIU Press and Pinckney Benedict of SIU's Creative Writing Department as they take a look at how A Knight of Another Sort came together.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

In 1913, southern Illinois bootlegger and former cowboy Charlie Birger moves to the small mining community of Ledford, where he quickly ingratiates himself by selling liquor to the locals and providing them with employment.

However, not all the locals are fond of his breaking the law.

Inside The Blanket Fort
SIU Press

Charles Birger has gone down in southern Illinois history as a bootlegger, enemy of the Ku Klux Klan, and even as the reigning "kingpin of the Saline County underworld" during the Prohibition Era.

In this episode, we meet Charlie as he emigrates from Russia to America, escapes a murder conviction, and settles in southern Illinois, his home for the rest of his life.