Jimmy Hayes


Gerald “Jimmy” Hayes (1886 – 1934)
Jimmy Hayes was one of the first and last independent Toledo gamblers to establish himself as a major player outside of the greater Toledo area with the highly successful Ramona Casino in Harbor Springs, Michigan and the Hollywood Club in Florida. Quite an accomplishment for a man who began his Toledo career as a kid from Cleveland serving as a horse drawn carriage driver carrying local high rollers to the hottest gambling spots. As the automobile age dawned, Hayes was one of the first drivers to retire his carriage in favor of the automobile. Hayes worked with Charles (Chaw) Scalley, Jimmie McFarland and Bobbie Smenner in establishing Toledo's first motorized taxi service. From the corner of Madison and St Clair, their cars served Toledo's gambling gentlemen. It was during this time that Hayes learned the gambling business. After several years of putting away some money saved from his fair and tips, Jimmy moved into the gambling arena himself. Well known to the operators and the players, the likeable Hayes had no trouble establishing himself among the important people in town and word quickly spread about the honest games run by Hayes. As Hayes gained in stature in Toledo, he branched out and opened several nightspots in Cleveland.

Hayes Moves into Cleveland
Always on the lookout for lucrative business opportunity, Hayes moved into Cleveland in a big way during the mid-twenties.  He opened the Washington Club and the Taylor Bowl, a boxing arena, located just blocks from the Washington. In spite of his success and likeable personality with the patrons of his houses of chance, Hayes' business accomplishments provided the opportunity to make plenty of enemies — some of them potentially deadly. While business was smooth in Cleveland, his intrusion on the turf of the local gambling bosses was taken as a personal affront. When approached about cutting up the pie and allowing the local boys a piece of the action, Hayes politely declined and continued to operate unafraid of any repercussions. The reply to his denial was delivered on the night of September 9, 1926 when a car load of gunmen pulled alongside of Hayes near Jefferson and Sixteenth street in Toledo and unloaded a charge from a sawed off shotgun. Hit in the head, shoulder and left side, Hayes crashed his auto into a tree where he lost consciousness. Jimmy was critically wounded in the attack suffering from the effects of the crash and more than 20 buckshot that were extracted from his body during a long surgery performed at St. Vincent's Hospital. Investigators later learned that the Washington had been bombed shortly before the ambush which nearly killed the handsome gambler. The shooting of Jimmy Hayes served to remind him of how dangerous life can be for someone unwilling to share the proceeds from a gambling operation located in another gang's territory. In spite of the close call, Hayes continued to operate in and around Cleveland and eventually moved into Northern Michigan where the Ramona Club became a symbol of his influence and may have led to his death.

The Licavoli Invasion
When Yonnie Licavoli moved his gang into Toledo following his release from a Canadian prison, the local boys were split into two factions. Those who joined the Licavoli mob and those who refused and were immediately targeted for elimination. Initially Jimmy was one of those who refused and took up arms. While the most recognized symbol of rebellion during this time was Jackie Kennedy, Jimmy lent his support, influence and experience in combating the unwanted takeover. While Kennedy battled on the front lines in some cases knocking out some of the toughest Licavoli gang members with his fists and dodging automatic weapon fire, Jimmy supported the effort with his money and political connections. While not totally unmolested by the locals, Jimmy was allowed to operate rather freely while most of the attention went to the Licavoli's and their operations. For a period lasting nearly three full years, Jack Kennedy and a handful of others engaged in a battle which littered the Toledo streets with the bodies of those too proud and tenacious to bow to the will of the Licavoli gang. Following the death of Jackie and the jailing of Yonnie Licavoli and his entire gang, only one man was left standing in Toledo and that was Jimmy Hayes. 

The Death of Jimmy Hayes
On the morning of Thursday, October 4, 1934 the headlines blared the discovery of the body of Jimmy Hayes, the suave master of gambling, in a Detroit alley. Hayes had travelled to Detroit with a party of friends and business associates to attend the opening game of the World Series between Detroit and Chicago. Hayes reportedly checked into the Book-Cadillac Hotel where he met with Edward Young, a Toledo businessman who had made the trip as a member of the Hayes party. Hayes was later spotted in the company of several members of the Detroit mob faction headed by Yonnie's brother Pete at the Club Maxine. Among those seen in Jimmy's company were Charles Bracco and the infamous Joe Massie, a gunman known to have committed several killings on behalf of the Licavoli interests. The events leading to the 7am discovery of Hayes bullet riddled corpse slumped against a fence in a Detroit alley remain cloudy but speculation immediately led to an investigation focusing on Hayes’ involvement in gambling in Northern Michigan. By operating in the backyard of the Detroit family and refusing to pay or allow them a piece of the action, much like the situation years before in Cleveland, returned to claim the life of the gambler. Later reports pointed to the start of the Licavoli trial for murder and the rumor that Hayes had secretly given testimony detailing the Licavoli activities in Toledo. Whatever the case, Jimmy Hayes is officially listed as the 15th victim in the battle for control of Toledo's rackets during the Unholy Toledo era.