- Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Friday, 23rd August 2013
One of the most famous and colourful “characters” of Chicago during the roaring ’20s was Detective Alice B. Clement, whose sharp wits, snappy dress sense and enthusiastic use of jiujitsu in quelling “mashers”, fraudulent clairvoyants and other ne’er-do-wells made her the darling of the city’s newspaper editors.
Alice Clement, badge # 1708
According to this excellent 2003 article from the Chicago Magazine:
She was the city’s own “feminine Sherlock Holmes,” “the saviour of souls,” “nemesis to many a masher,” “the wonder of the police world,” “terror of the guilty and hope of the friendless.” This was Chicago’s woman of a thousand disguises and a thousand arrests (including at least one lunatic, according to the papers), who could expose phony clairvoyants and fold a man into a jujitsu pretzel; who could pass as a bagwoman one day and seduce an embezzler with a saucy smile the next (“Old dips fall for us,” she was known to say).
When she wasn’t dragging a criminal in by the ear like some exasperated aunt, she was sizing up the latest dances, infiltrating the cabarets and shimmy parlors to see whether new steps like the “moonlight slide” and “angle-worm giggle” squared with the moral code of the day. With the blessing of the police chief and other high-ranking officers, she had even produced—and starred in—her own movie, Dregs of the City, in which she saved a country girl from the “bright lights, the flashy dress and the glib tongue” of the city’s underworld.