The common belief is that 1930s gangsters' molls were selfish, self-centered and spoiled creatures who lived only for pleasure. Due to J. Edgar Hoover's smear campaigns against them, the public misconception is that they were soul-less, gutless women who cared for nothing except a few strings of ill-gottten pearls. Opal Long was a woman who contradicted this stereotype. She was the most faithful moll of the Dillinger gang that has come to be called the "Terror Gang." This group was comprised of the members of the Michigan City breakout of September 26, 1933. When they assembled in Chicago, after the crashout, they were met by a few women who had aided in the escape, primarily Mary Kinder and Pearl Elliott. Other women soon joined the gang as girlfriends - Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, Patricia Cherrington and her sister, Opal Long. It was an exciting time - in fact, Pat Cherrington later reported that they "thrived on excitement." Pat Cherrington's sister, Opal Long, lived with Russell Clark and Charley "Fat Charley" Makley. She scrubbed for them, and cooked Charley his "3-5 minute eggs." Opal Long was devoted to her caregiving role. She was also described by members of John Dillinger's family as being considerate of others. She was the type of person who would stand,offer her chair, and remain standing while everyone in the room sat comfortably. She always put others before herself. This was her true character; she prided herself on her loyalty to the gang members, or "the kids," as she called them.
She was a big woman, red-headed and near-sighted. She listed her birthdate as March 20, 1906. She said she was born in Texas. She worked as a waitress in Chicago from 1926 until her arrest by Chicago police on June 2, 1934, in the company of her sister, Patricia Cherrington. She got along well with the other molls of the "Terror Gang" - Mary Kinder, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, and of course, her sister. The moll from Kokomo, Indiana, Pearl Elliott, had hosted Patricia Cherrington in her roadhouse. A man associated with Pearl and her husband, Dewey Elliott, and related to Pearl's business associate Ruby Ickes, later became Opal Long's husband after the Dillinger era ended.
Opal Long travelled with Russell Clark until the sensational arrest in Tucson, Arizona on January 25, 1934. She fought like a tiger during the arrest, breaking a policeman's finger and receiving multiple facial lacerations.
Opal Long was released in the company of Evelyn Frechette, and afterwards, worked tirelessly to raise money for Clark's appeal. While she devoted herself to visiting Russell Clark in the Lima, Ohio holding pen and later, the State Penetentiary at Columbus, Ohio, she begged Dillinger for money. She visited the offices of Louis Piquett, attorney to John Dillinger, from February to May, 1934, and also the offices of Jessie Levy, in the hopes of raising money for the appeal of Clark, Harry Pierpont and Charley Makley.
After Clark's arrest, she became an unwanted visitor to the band of outlaws formed by Dillinger after his Crown Point, Indiana, escape from the St. Paul apartment in March, 1934. Blamed specifically for the raid on Dillinger's St. Paul apartment, and indirectly for the subsequent death of Eddie Green, Opal was then treated as an outcast. Dillinger saw her as a person who was only looking for money for Clark's appeal. While he wanted to help her, he had to help himself as the net was closing in.
She was arrested on June 2, 1934, in the company of her sister, Patricia. They were turned in by informant Larry Streng, who also played a role in turning in Evelyn "Billie" Frechette to authorities the previous April.
Louis Piquett, Dillinger's attorney, provided no legal help after her arrest. She was destitute, and pleaded quilty to having harbored John Dillinger and John Hamilton, on the date of March 30, 1934, in the St. Paul apartment on Lexington Avenue. She was sentenced to 6 months in the Minneapolis Workhouse. She refused to give any information about the gang that would have made her life easier while in prison. In other words, she never became a "stool pigeon."
She was parolled in November of 1934, and remained in Chicago.
1. Was Opal Long called "Macktruck"?
A - Not to her face. It was said of her, "she was big as a macktruck." She was never directly addressed as "Macktruck." The gang members called her "Bernice," as that was the nickname she preferred.
2. Was she married to Russell Clark?
A- The most probable answer to that question is "no." Until more conclusive evidence surfaces, it has to be assumed that they were not married legally.
2. Why did she call herself "Bernice?"
A - Bernice was a nickname that she used. It is believed her true name was "Opal."