The day before, Mr. Daiches had given a ride home to the agency's young office boy by the name of Ed Stern. To this day, Mr. Stern, the retired media director of Foote, Cone & Belding, believes the assailant postponed the murder because he was riding in the car.
Ed, now living in Scottsdale, Ariz., wrote me the other week to urge that we go back to our old "Voice of the Advertiser" section where we ran many more letters than we do now. He mentioned in passing the murder of the agency president because of the quaint way we described how Mr. Daiches viewed his duties in our issue of March 10, 1934: "Though Mr. Daiches usually made a point of avoiding the space salesman (emphasis Ed's) who called at the Bowers offices, in recent years he was beginning to pay more attention to the selection of mediums and to discuss this function with the agency's space buyer." And then we added: "As one of his associates put it, he had absolutely no idea how a half-tone was made and harbored no curiosity on that score."
Mr. Daiches was the cousin of Lou Weitzman, chairman of the Bowers agency in New York. Mr. Weitzman made his money as a wheat speculator during World War I, and when the founder of Bowers decided to retire, Mr. Daiches, with considerable financial help from his relative, bought it and was installed as president.
As Ed told me: "To enhance his investment, Lou decided to open a New York office of the agency. Based on his grain background, he gained the Mueller Macaroni account, among others, in nearby New Jersey. He inserted his brother Sidney as secretary of the company. He was located in Chicago to watch over Daiches and the flow of money."
It was the flow of money -- or the lack thereof -- that might have been the motive for Mr. Daiches' murder. The Chicago Tribune reported that a nurse who looked after him at his apartment (he had been severely beaten a year before he was shot) "provided a more recent clew" (as the Tribune phonetic spelling wrote the word). "Last Thursday and Friday the advertising man held telephone conversations with someone who pressed him for a payment of $40,000 and Daiches begged for more time in which to make the payment." At the time when Mr. Daiches was beaten and left unconscious at his office, there were reports that the attack might have been prompted by unpaid gambling losses, the Tribune stated. The Tribune also said Mr. Daiches "frequented night clubs and humored extravagant whims."
Ed said that eventually another brother of Mr. Weitzman, who ran a bakery in Chicago, was accused and convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Mr. Daiches. But the conviction was overturned on appeal and so to this day the murder remains unsolved.
But Ed recalls: "To protect his investment in Bowers, Lou Weitzman had taken out a large life insurance policy on Daiches. The state's attorney believed this was the motive for the murder." But if this were the case, I now wonder almost 64 years later, why did Mr. Daiches plead for more time to pay off a $40,000 debt?
At any rate, "with all the notoriety and scandal, the Bowers agency folded. A strange but real story," Ed says.
One sidebar: The day Mr. Daiches was shot was "fixed in my memory," Ed told me, because on the same day John Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point, Ind., jail. He was later gunned down by the FBI at the Biograph Theatre in Chicago.
Next to the story on the Daiches murder, the Tribune ran an article quoting John Dillinger's father. His son's escape, he said, "makes me feel a little better, of course. But at the same time, I will be constantly worried that he will get into more trouble or be killed." The elder Mr. Dillinger said John wrote him for $10 the week before, "but he didn't say what he wanted it for."