On a slushy night in January 1945, a woman named Pearl Von Wald was stepping out of the Pantages Theater onto the sidewalk when somebody blew the horn at her. It was Art Kasherman, a guy she’d known for years, pulling up to the curb in an Oldsmobile Coach.
Von Wald wore a sharp white overcoat. She also sported a shiner, bestowed upon her the previous night by a drunken gentleman friend. That man, Red Sullivan, had spent a fair part of the day in jail, but Von Wald’s ordeal, worn like a purple badge under her eye, wasn’t going to keep her from going to Hennepin Avenue to take in a movie. Or from getting into a warm car with another male friend to take him up on his offer of some late-night chow mein. Kasherman was 44 years old, and though his wallet was light, he always dressed snappily. The two drove across downtown.
Earlier that day, Kasherman was hanging round City Hall, just like he always did. By one account, he walked into the Hennepin County sheriff’s office with some information about a dice game on Nicollet Avenue that was sending big money to the Chicago mob. Later on, he stopped by the office of the Star Journal. Another edition of the Public Press is coming out, real dynamite this time, he bragged.
“Better watch out, Art,” someone bantered. “Look what happened to Guilford and Liggett.” They said it all the time. He was so identified with those two that the reporters thought it was fun to taunt Kasherman with it.
They can’t scare me, he answered.
It was 11 p.m. when Kasherman parked the car just across the street from Hannah’s Café at the corner of 15th and Chicago. He and the woman with the white coat and the black eye went inside the restaurant. They took their seats at the second table on the left.
While they were eating their chicken chow mein and drinking steaming cups of tea, things were happening outside, in the darkness. Someone walked up to Kasherman’s parked car. A knife was jammed into left front tire, and the air quickly escaped.
The couple finished up in about 30 minutes. Kasherman walked up to the register and paid the check. He and his date put on their coats and stepped through the double doors into the night. It was about 11:30. Across the street, the organ player at Danny’s Bar was making a racket. Down the block, a newsboy made his way home, his last newspaper sold. The city streets were covered with ice and slush. The couple crossed 15th Street, to Kasherman’s mud-spattered Oldsmobile.
Pearl Von Wald got into the passenger seat. Arthur Kasherman got behind the wheel. He started it up and turned the wheel. The Oldsmobile wouldn’t pull out. Must be stuck in the snow. He tried to rock it back and forth. A man came out of the restaurant and saw Kasherman spinning his wheels. He walked over to the back of the car to help him with a push. Then the guy looked down. Hey, your tire’s flat. Kasherman got out of the car to see for himself.
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” said the good Samaritan. Then he got his own car and drove off.
Kasherman got back behind the wheel and closed the door. He turned the key to start it up again, and give it another try, rocking the car back and forth. The windows were all steamed up. They couldn’t see what was happening on the street.
A large dark sedan swerved around the corner from Chicago Avenue and stopped. A man got out and stepped up to Kasherman’s car. In his hand was a .38-caliber pistol.
The driver’s side window exploded. Kasherman screamed as a slug ripped through his cheek and shards of the shattered glass drove deep into his face and neck. He fell over on Von Wald, spots and rivulets of blood painting her white wool coat. She had already crouched down in terror, but the weight of Kasherman pushed her out of the car onto the running board. The shots kept thundering into the car. Kasherman forced his way over her and made one last dash for his life. He ran toward Chicago Avenue, only a few paces away. His head was streaming with blood. The man with the gun followed.
“Don’t shoot, for God’s sake don’t shoot,” Kasherman said. Then he said a name, a short nickname, Bob or Joe, like he knew the person who was killing him. Von Wald heard the name, but she said she didn’t remember exactly what it was.
The pistol roared. A .38-caliber slug pierced the newsman’s chest. Kasherman fell face down on the sidewalk. The killer got back into the passenger’s seat and the big dark sedan sped off down 15th Street with its headlights off, the gunman’s hand out the window, firing two more bullets into the night.
A crowd gathered near the corner of 15th and Chicago to look at the lifeless form on the sidewalk. Somebody who lived nearby at first thought it was just a drunk. There were a lot of those on this corner. Soon the flashbulbs of the Daily Times, the Tribune, the Star-Journal, the Dispatch, the Pioneer would be lighting up the street, and pencils would scratch in notebooks about the gangland-style murder of this curious character. Kasherman’s prophecy was, at last, front page news, all over town.