"In my active days before my retirement five years ago all I had to do was talk to the prisoners and if they told me they would pay me I could bet my last dollar they would. It wasn't necessary to get their signatures, jewels or anything else," Louie said. He related several instances when he bailed famous confident men out of jail, posting as high as $5000, only to find when the trial came up the men left town rather than face the charge.
"Even though I forfeited the bond I wasn't a bit worried," Mr. Wittenberg said, "because in a few days I would receive a letter with all of the money and any fee or some part of a promise of the balance soon. The balance most all came too."
Sky Is Limit
Louie said he was at a dog track last winter in Florida watching the races and was surprised to hear his name mentioned. He said he turned around and behind him were three prosperous confident men whom he had bailed out of jail 18 years before. "The sky was the limit with those fellows. They took me all over. Introduced one of their friends and showed me a big time in general!," Louie related.
Louie says prohibition is the cause of the more modern crimes. It is his opinion that many of the cases are not handled properly in police court. "Take for instance when I was a probation officer in Judge Austin's court many years ago I always recommended a first offender be given a chance," Louie said. "Usually the judge would give a suspended sentence and 99 out of 100 times the offender would go straight."
Soon Learn To Cheat
"I've always contended," he said, "you make criminals by sending first offenders away to prison. There they mingle with other crooks and are soon taught the game of cheating the law." Louie said there was quite a bit of comment when Judge Austin appointed an ex-saloon keeper a probation officer but he only replied that he was the proper man for the job because he could more readily mingle with offenders rather than a person higher up in society. Mr. Wittenberg was born in Bialystock, Poland, September 15, 1866. He worked more than 18 hours a day in his uncle's fur store there to earn enough money to come to America. 15 years later, to obtain what he calls his "freedom." When he landed in New York City he remained with an uncle for two months and moved to Port Chester, N.Y., where he obtained employment in a foundry. Believing he could not make any money working for someone else he started in business for himself.
Sells Optical Supplies
He had saved $30 from the hard work in the foundry and with it bought a supply of picture frames which he peddled from house to house. The picture frame business took him to Cincinnati where he was induced by a friend to sell optical supplies. After joining up with an optical concern he went back to Port Chester and was married. From there he moved to Toledo and later decided to go into the saloon business because his wife did not relish the idea of staying alone while he traveled the road. He opened his first saloon in 1889 at Jackson and Michigan streets. Later he moved across the street to Jackson and Canton streets. Looking for better locations he again moved to Canton street and Woodruff avenue and then again to Southard avenue and Canton street. During this time three sons; Meyer, Earl and David were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wittenberg. The sons are now carrying on in the bonding business their father started.
Proud of Family
Louie has one other son too young for the bonding business and two daughters. The younger son was born to his second wife whom he married 23 years ago. Louie is proud of his boys and girls and especially fond of his two little grandchildren. "Be sure and mention that I was once a pretty wealthy man but now I'm right back where I started. The stock crash in 1929 got me too," Louie said grinning. "I haven't any money to speculate anymore but I still can manage a little race horse bet or a game of pinochle."