Submitted to us by relative, Jerry Hammons, below are portions of a 1970s manuscript of Ralph Tedrow (Sandy) Hood. His years of service were 1935 to 1946 and this manuscript provides highlights of his career as recalled by him. SAs Clarence Hurt and W. L. Buchanan, mentioned as good friends of Hood's, are documented at other locations on this site, including the Karpis arrest scenario.
In the interest of historical accuracy, we find it necessary to mention that Hood's statement that SA Clarence Hurt killed gangster John Dillinger was probably an effort to explain that actually, Hurt was one of three who fired on Dillinger; the others being SAs Charles Winstead and Herman Hollis. Winstead has always been credited with firing the fatal shot that exited Dillinger's right cheek.
SA Hood's interesting manuscript provides rich insight into the day to day life of an FBI agent during those early years...
We are grateful for the submission...
I, Ralph Tedrow Hood, am the youngest of the children. When I was six years of age , I started selling the Denver Post and the Saturday Evening Post, giving my earnings to mother. Bob, who was more of a father then a brother, gave me a weekly allowance,
Mother owned the home, originally two rooms but building additions tripled it in size.The house was located on a half-block with a large orchard, huge grape arbor and a large garden plot. During the season, Thelma and I sold fruit, berries, grapes, and garden produce in Erick. We fattened hogs and kept chickens and a milk cow, usually butchering a calf. We bought nothing in the grocery except items that we could not raise such as sugar, salt, spices, etc. We never were aware that we were poor.
I graduated from high school in January, 1922, and was Co-Valedictorian of my class. I did not return for graduation as mother had purchased a home in Norman and I entered OU in the second semester of 1921-22. We lived there together with Fred until his marriage in 1924 , when mother returned to Erick and I lived either in a boarding house or at Kappa Sigma. I worked as a waiter and/or cook at the Varsity Shop, a noted campus restaurant , each year until I graduated with a BA degree in 1925, taking one semester in law school in my senior year.
I taught history, speech and sociology in Erick High School for three years, becoming principal during my last year and serving as assistant attorney during the summer of 1930.I returned to OU in 1929 and completed law school, graduating with a LIB. degree.
While I was in law school, I worked for the university in the Extension Division as a tutor at the Kappa Sigma House. I successfully passed the bar in 1930 before finishing law school. My class was the first that was not admitted on motion.
After graduation in January, 1932, I returned to Erick and opened a law office on the second floor of the First National Bank, borrowing a table and chairs from mother. My law books consisted of a set of 1910 Oklahoma Statutes and a new Kleinschmidt and Highly Form book. Walter Ellis, an experienced attorney in an adjoining office, helped me considerably.
I ran for county attorney in 1932. against two opponents without a run-off, winning 38 or 39 precincts. In the two Erick precincts , I received 990 votes of slightly over 1,000 cast. Mother and I moved to Sayre and I assumed office in early January, 1933. I was re-elected without opposition for a second term, resigning in February, 1935 to enter the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The first time that I saw Dorothy Hammons was in 1933. I had gone to the local hospital to get a signed statement from a man for drunk driving, he being injured in the accident. I was writing the statement on a portable typewriter and a nurse, Dorothy, made me stop and leave as I was disturbing the patents. We were married on October 29, 1934.
I entered on duty with the FBI on March 25, 1935, at which time the Bureau was small with less then 300 agents. During the summer of 1934, after the Lindbergh case, the agents were given the right to make arrests and carry weapons. It was during this time that we became known as "G Men" because of the movie with Cagney and Robinson. My training course was 16 weeks. Dorothy was with me in Washington.
Just before my class graduated, the Weyerhaeuser boy was kidnaped in Tacoma, WA. To my surprise, I was assigned to the Portland office. covering Oregon and Washington. When we arrived in Portland, there were only two agents on general assignment, the remainder assigned to a special Weyerhaeuser squad with about 15 agents sent in from other offices. About three months after my arrival, I was sent to Spokane, WA as resident agent . It was a real break for me as I handled many different and major cases that under ordinary circumstances I might not have handled for several years. Also, the old-timers assigned to the special squad and working out ofSpokane gave me advise and assistance. I feel that this assignment causes an advancement of at least three years in my career.
Janis, our first child was born in Spokane on Nov. 17, 1935. I had been handling a white slave case against Spokane Harry Conrad. He entered a plea of guilty and received a light sentence the day before Janis’ birth and was waiting transfer to prison. A reporter had noticed my absence from the office and insisted on knowing what I was doing. He was told that I was breaking a "G-Girl" who had just arrived in Spokane.
He wrote an article about the arrival of the "G-Girl" but the next day published a correction mentioning Janis’ birth. Spokane Harry wrote a poem, "G-Girl of Spokane", about Janis and gave it to me.
Shortly afterwards, I was assigned to the kidnap squad. Another agent and I were assigned to a 24 hour surveillance and tail job on a former girl friend of Bill Dainard, the Weyerhaeuser kidnapper. I was able to see Dorothy only once or twice a week during night hours. After 4-5 months, Dainard was captured and I was transferred to St. Paul, Minn.
During April or May 1936, Alvin Karpis, a leader of the Barker - Karpis gang was arrested in New Orleans, the actual arrest being made by Clarence Hurt and W. L. Buchanan of the Oklahoma City office who later became very close friends of mine. J. Edgar Hoover and Inspector Connelly were nearby and received credit for the arrest but it was not true according to what Karpis told me and which was verified by Hurt and Buchanan. Karpis told me that if it hadn’t been for Hurt, he might have been injured by the excited Hoover and Connelly.
This was the first arrest participated in by Hoover who had been embarrassed at a Senate hearing by questions as to why he had never made arrests. Within a period of a week, Mr. Hoover was a participant in the arrest of four major criminals.
I arrived in St. Paul in May, 1936 and was assigned to the Karpis guard detail in the RamsayCounty jail. He was awaiting trial on four charges of kidnaping Hamm and Bremer. I worked from midnight to 8 a.m replacing DA Bryce in a run of a three cell block in which Karpis was held. We agents watched Karpis to: (1) prevent him from committing suicide and (2) to get information about his criminal activities , especially relating to the killing of a sheriff inMissouri. Karpis did not like the agent with him during the day, so he would stay awake during my shift so he could sleep through the day shift. We played checkers and cards. About September, he plead guilty and was given life sentences in Alcatraz. Shortly after the end of this assignment, I received a $600 raise out of turn and did not know until the following year that the raise was the result of a letter of commendation to Mr. Hoover from Karpis.
I was transferred to St. Louis about September , 1936, but was slow in leaving St. Paul and my transfer was changed to Butte, Montana where there were only four agents assigned to coverMontana and Idaho. I was on the road most of the time covering the western half of Montanaand the eastern half of Idaho and the Idaho panhandle.I was designated the number one man or as is known now, the assistant agent in charge.
In late December, I was sent on a special assignment to Tacoma, Washington on the Matson kidnaping after the boy’s body was found near Everett , WA. I was sent to Everett handling all leads North of Seattle in Canada. Dorothy and Janis joined me on Valentine’s Day in 1937, but in March , I was sent to Washington, D.C. for in-service training while Dorothy and Janis visited in Oklahoma.
While in Washington, Dorothy’s sister , Doris, a hostess for TWA, was killed in a crash nearPittsburgh, PA. I talked with Mr. Hoover, who told me he would transfer me to Oklahoma City. I went to Everett for my car, to Portland for articles in storage and then to Butte, where my transfer was waiting.
After arrival in Oklahoma City, I was assigned the western half of the most efficient office who had eleven agents and each of us would have been listed in the top half of the Bureau. On Labor Day, 1937, Clarence Hurt and I were sent on a special assignment to Chicago covering the Ross kidnaping. Clarence was the person who killed John Dillinger and with W.L. Buchanan of theOklahoma City , arrested Alvin Karpis. One night, Clarence and I passed the Metropole Theater and he showed the set-up and the sequence of events when Dillinger was killed. Incidentally, I was interviewed by Melvin Purvis who led the Dillinger squad, as an applicant for the FBI.
Dorothy and Janis joined me in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day and remained until about March, 1938 after the arrest of Siedland , the Ross kidnapper.
Upon return to Oklahoma City, I was designated number one man. About May, I was sent toNew Rochelle, NY on special assignment on the Levine kidnaping. However, I had to return toOklahoma City under subpoena and remained in Oklahoma.
In 1939, there was a large expansion in the Bureau and the Oklahoma City office due to the threat of war. I was restricted to administrative work and teaching as the assistant agent in charge. I was fortunate in working under three fine SAC’s - Clint Stein, Harold Andersen and Howard Fletcher. In 1940 and 1941, I was sent on special assignment in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, and San Francisco, the last after Pearl Harbor when I was slated to go toHonolulu but was able to avoid it.
In early 1941, Guy Bannister came to Oklahoma City as SAC. He did not like desk work. He is the one of the two men in my lifetime that I could not get along with as he would not perform his share of the administrative work. In 1942, the condition became too harsh and I requested a transfer. Two days later, Myron Gurney, head FBI Inspector , arrived to make inquiry. Every clerical employee and all but two agents, stood by me. My only statement to Gurney was the Bannister expressed dissatisfaction with my work.
I was transferred to Dallas, my second office of preference and Bannister was transferred to Butte. Upon my arrival in Dallas, I was asked to take the assistant SAC job, but I declined and asked for a road territory in northeast Texas. For several months, I could not find a house so the family remained in Oklahoma City. The new SAC in Oklahoma City came to Dallas and asked me to return to Oklahoma City as ASAC, saying Mr. Hoover had approved it , but I declined. My efficiency reports in Dallas were superior. In fact, I never received an efficiency report in the Bureau less then excellent.
In early 1944, I was in Washington for retraining and talked with Mr. Hoover. I asked him if he doubted my loyalty to the Bureau because of my request for a transfer from Oklahoma City. He asked me if I had received a cut in salary and I replied "No". He stated if he had doubted my loyalty, I would not have been transferred to my second office of preference and would have received a cut in salary. On the same trip, Gurnea showed me the report of his investigation in which he recommended that Bannister be transferred and I be designated SAC in Oklahoma City. Mr. Hoover declined saying it was "too soon."
We lost our house in Dallas and upon my request, was immediately transferred to Oklahoma City where I refused an administrative assignment. Things went well with us.
In December 1946, Raymond Bayer and Bill Pugh of Guthrie asked me to go into the ice and locker business with them, paying for my one-fourth interest out of the profits. As I was away from home 3-4 days a week and as I wanted to be with my family, I resigned from the Bureau on Dec 16, 1946 and we moved to Guthrie. The only time that I ever regretted the move was when I would have reached retirement if I had remained with the Bureau.
Business was tremendous for several years. Then rural electrification came into Logan Countyand the ice business started to decline. We had the largest storage house for ice in Oklahoma, 2,000 tons. We would operate in the spring, fill the big house, leave the tank frozen and again operate in the late summer. About 1960, we could buy ice delivered from Oklahoma City cheaper than we could make it, so we sold our machinery to a firm in Tampico, Mexico and operated both the ice and locker business at 310 South Division.
In May, 1950, Gov. Roy Turner appointed me to the Pardon and Parole Board. I continued on the Board until 1961, receiving interim appointments from Judge John Brett of the Court of Criminal Appeals and from Governors Johnson Murray, Raymond Gary and Howard Edmondson.
/s/ Ralph Tedrow Hood (circa 1978)
Ralph Hood continued his professional career in law enforcement after leaving the FBI. The following information was obtained from various newspaper articles:
(1) Served as member of Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board (1950 to October 1961) Appointed Chief of the Parole Board 1952.
(2 ) Agent and Chief Enforcement Officer for Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (1960 thru October 1963)
(3) U. S. Dept. Of State - Agency for International Development (AID). He had several tours inWashington, D.C., Monrovia, Liberia, and Saigon,Viet Nam, (October 1963 to 1972)
Ralph Tedrow (Sandy) Hood died on September 03, 1982 at the age of 76.