The history of Captain Sherman I Helmey and the stories that started it all!!!
As far as information goes…I would like to say in my defense that all of these stories are second-hand. I either heard them from friends or straight from the horse’s mouth, which in this case was my father. My father was 51 years old when I was born. So therefore I, Captain Judy Helmey never allegedly hauled any shipments of any type during the thirties. And there is a very good reason! I wasn’t born until 1951!
This is where the liquor was supposedly delivered. This is a so-called “Speak Easy,” which was located on Wilmington Island. I always heard it called “Greens,” but don’t know for sure. All this happened long before I came into the picture. Greens was build right on the bank. The backside of the whole building hung out over the water. In fact this was the building in which the liquor was delivered to.
There was a trap door in which the cases of liquor were lifted up through. According to the story wooden row boats, after loading up, would make their way to Greens and just put right up under the building. The waiting party would open the trap door and the cases would then be unloaded into the building’s secret back room. While all of this was going on there would be a staged party raging in the main part of the so called bar. This was to draw attention away from the loading of the cars and trucks.
I happen to get wind of a couple of days before they were going to demolish Greens. I rushed over and got a few lasting pictures that I will cherish forever and always. I am standing over the trap door, which has been nailed up for many years!
During this time dear old dad was supposedly making cars that hauled like trucks, he also picked up yet another “HOBBY.” He loved cruising in his big newly purchased yacht. At this time his boat was called “His Boat” also known as his second home. His first home location was the apartment above his repair shop. Good sources told me that he loved living on his boat more than in his apartment!
Now you are not going to believe this one! This is the same boat that daddy owned during the Al Capone era, but there is one big change. And that would be the color. You see, my father decided in 1948, to turn his boat into a charter boat. Why? Well, daddy’s friends started bringing friends who started bringing more friends. And this is when Captain Helmey’s Charter boat Company was born. So daddy made a few changes by cutting a few things off the boat, which gave him plenty of fishing deck room. How did the idea of the color yellow get started? Glad you asked.. My father mentioned to a friend that he wanted to be better seen on the ocean. So therefore my father’s friend that happen to work at the highway department gave him a 50 gallon drum of no passing highway yellow paint as a gift!
This picture was taken during the time before daddy became Captain Sherman Helmey. My father was known as Mr. Sherman Helmey owner and operator of Helmey’s Garage. His nickname was Moose. During this time Daddy allegedly worked with Big Al Capone. He does in fact dress like a gangster, but who knows. I only know what I was told my many!
My father’s garage sold and repaired automobiles. In fact my father was known for his great mechanical ways. I was told that he could take a regular truck or automobile and install secret compartments in which to transport “said liquor or shipments of sorts!” His expertise came in good, because once loading the car or truck down with so called shipment it never showed. According to sources adding certain materials to the springs allowed them to successfully hold a lot more weight. Rumor has it that (hat) felt and shoe leather was the materials used!
Making adjustments and additions to cars and trucks! Who knows for sure? This could have been one of “Big Al’s cars as it was being repaired or should I say “TAMPERED WITH”!
This is my mother Jerry Lovett Helmey and me little Miss Judy!
After my father married Jerry things did change. This is when he gave “The Boat” a proper name. All of his boats were named Miss Jerry. After a while, I came along. Then all boats were with Miss Jerry or Miss Judy. This followed suit, even if we had 8 boats.
My father retired from messing with cars and trucks during the fifties. After that time he basically did what he wanted, which was mess with his boats. In the year of 1948 he decided he would start charging friends for taking them fishing. I don’t know what he charged way back in the good old days. However, in the fifties Daddy charged $6.00 per person for an 8 hours
fishing trip. At this time, it was considered a steep price just to go fishing, but daddy said that he thought he could get it. As you can see 75 years later he certainly did!
Georgia Gorman, neighbor at the time, Uncle Arthur Lee Helmey, and Captain Sherman I Helmey (with a large King Edward cigar hanging out of his mouth)
Somewhere around 1958-ish …..
They are all holding a rather large cobia, which was supposedly caught by the dynamic trio! As with all fishing stories there usually is another tale to be told. Mr. Gorman gave me this photo in the year of 2022. It was the first time I had seen this much less heard about it. According to the story that Mr. Gorman told me nothing is actually as you would think. They actually shot the fish with a bow and arrow. They didn’t land this fish after minutes of fighting it conveniently with very light tackle as they had all of us to believe. This would have been a true test for any fisherman. John Burke (sports writer for Savannah Morning News for way over 50 plus years) interviewed the trio. This catching report was unbelievable because it was! Now for the rest of the story….When the arrow landed the fish immediately died. In fact, if the line had not been tied to the arrow the fish would have basically sunk right to the bottom.
I was real happy at the time of this picture. I was about 10 year old! My father and I had fished the local Cobia Tournament on this particular day. I caught the biggest fish and I won the greatest camera, which is being used to take this pictures. My uncle Arthur Lee figured a way to hang all of the fish at one time so that he could clean and we could get this wonderful picture.
As I look at this picture I remembered a little story about this old wooden boat. The name of this boat was Miss Judy. He brought me this boat for $1900.00, which back then was quite a lot of money. It had a Gray Marine slant head six gas engine in which I worked on continuously. On this particular day we had a reporter on the board with us taking pictures. His main goal was to get the information so that he would write a fishing article about a daughter and father team.. Well as you guessed, he got the story and we were published in fine fashion.
Read on ….The legacy only continues and it just gets better from this point on…..
You noticed until now I always said, “My father allegedly worked with Big Al Capone!” Its official he did he did!
Well I have talking about it, and it has finally happened! What happened? The American Prohibition Museum is now open! And it is offically offical that my father actually did work for Big Al Capone! I have been telling this story for years and now you know it was not a story it was the truth!
This is me (Captain Judy) standing in front of my father’s gangster display! My father better known back then a Moose Helmey (right side of picture) and his gangster business partner Mr. Pete Hudson. These two rascals certainly did make a name for themselves! Mr. Pete didn’t make it as far as dear old Moose did. Rumor has it that, he met has demise, when a grand deal when wrong. Daddy never really told me exactly what happened to Mr. Hudson! All I know is that his life ended in the 40’s at 40!
Well, well the American Prohibition Museum officially opened on July 19, 2017, which is located in beautiful downtown City Market! Those involved with the museum were invited along with those that had families featured. I was right at home as I looked around at all of the people that had families that played a part in liquor hauling and distribution during the Big Al Capone’s reign in this area. It was pretty darn interesting to say the least. We were served liquor drinks that were popular during the twenties and thirties! They also served us lots of food, which also was made during this era. Boy, those gangsters sure did eat hardy! There were all assorted sizes of flappers dressed to the hilt that did an impressive job of singing songs from this era! We all had a great time and then they took us on a guided tour of the museum! It was darn interesting for sure!
When it came time to hold a Tommy gun, well, you must know I was first in line! And of course Captain Deidra Helmey Jeffcoat was right there with me! I guess it is in our gangster genes!
Thanks for reading! Captain Judy
PS: What does all of this boil too? We are now officially now a more than serious gangster family!