The year is 1934, and it is the age of radio
. The era of the heroicized
gangster seems to be coming to a close, and in the public's mind, much of the
credit goes to the Special Agent In Charge
of the FBI
's Chicago Office-- a
man named Melvin Purvis
In July, Purvis and a group of agents from the Chicago Office
brought John Dillinger down in a hail of gunfire behind that city's Biograph
Theatre. The next day, the likeness of Purvis graced the front page of every
paper in the United States. J. Edgar Hoover had been furious, having wanted
the spotlight not on Purvis but on himself and the Bureau. Four months later,
the ink is just beginning to fade when the Chicago Office closes another
high-profile case with a spectacular shoot-out. This time, it is George
"Baby Face" Nelson's death that brings headlines, and again the name on
everyone's lips is not "Hoover", but "Purvis."
The jealous Director is
so enraged that he begins a campaign of harrassment against Purvis, and in
1935 succeeds in obtaining the resignation of his star Special Agent.
In 1936, one year after leaving the Bureau, Purvis inks a deal in which his
name and likeness are used in a promotion for Post Toasties breakfast cereal.
Comic strips are printed, a radio serial is aired, and thousands of children
mail in two Post Toasties box tops in exchange for an appointment to the Melvin
Purvis Junior G-Man Corps. Each new recruit receives in the mail a package
containing the following:
- The operative's shiny new official Junior G-Man badge!
(The Girls Division badge is smaller, but it has wings!)
- A Manual of Instructions that details the basics of law enforcement
includes the Junior G-Man pledge, and carries a
message from Chief Special-Agent-In-Charge Melvin Purvis himself!
- A catalog of other exciting "free" prizes!
The new operatives of the Junior G-Man Corps learn about secret
fingerprinting, self-defense, why Melvin Purvis himself eats Post Toasties for
breakfast every morning... and all the other neat stuff1 they can get for sending in more Post Toasties
For about a year, bank robbers, kidnappers, and organized criminals don't
stand a chance against the Toasties-fortified, premium-equipped operatives of
the Melvin Purvis Junior G-Man Corps, and crime takes a sharp dive. Too soon, though, the promotion draws
to a close, and with nothing to stand in its way
but J. Edgar Hoover and his beleaguered FBI, the underworld again runs roughshod over the law-abiding citizenry.
1. This is not an exhaustive list
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