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I received a nice email from Michael "that crazy Englishman" Murphy. Here is what he had to say.
Date: Monday, August 16, 2010, 2:56 AM
Hi Jeff, sorry to take so long in replying, as its summer time I spend a lot of time at shows with living history, and do not have much time for reading, I am up to chapter five at the moment, and it is a brilliant book well researched and I think your great grandfather was a very intelligent man, with his skill and backing from so many people is his group I think if he was alive and changed from what he did today he would have made a great president. I am still trying to work out the soap/money con with a spectators hat, obviously a hidden compartment in the hat so when he was shuffling the soap bars inside they could be switched but that must of made the hat misshaped. It was a shock to read Bat Masterson was one of his troupe at one time and the professor how did he learn all those Masonic handshakes, really in 5 chapters I have learned that to be a con man you had to be very clever, I have trouble when dealing Faro in shows to be able to cheat even though I tell the people it was common but its not as easy as it is made out, I have also read was it in True West forum that someone has found out information about a sheriff/Marshall and you are back on the trail in the research department again, good luck. hope to hear from you again, all the best to you and your family.
I love hearing from people who are reading my book. Below is my reply I emailed back to Michael.
Friend, Michael. (by now you note that many of the letters began with "friend.")
It is a big book to say the least, and not one that can be read quickly! It took me six months to get through it the first read-through. I'm reading it again because there is so much detail that I can't possibly remember it all when talking about him, lol.
You are not the first person to mention that he might have become president of the U.S. Hell, he tried becoming king of Mexico, why not the U.S.!
Regarding the soap con: I have a large derby that has been modified with a "switch" compartment. I usually end up wearing it myself but a well trained shill would be far the best route. Problem is, you can't hang out with the shill afterward, lol.
You are not alone regarding faro and cheating. All the big faro people I know have discussed the same situation. I believe it's the reason a good cheating faro team was in such high demand and pay. I assume you know about gaffed dealing boxes, etc.