AL WILLIAMS WON'T ADMIT TO SOCKING HUEY
by Warren Hall
New York Daily News, 8/31/33
That diamond studded crown that may be bought by national subscription for the fistic nemesis of Senator Huey Long rested lightly yesterday on the blonde head of Lieut. Alford J. Williams, as expert a flyer as you'll see in an airplane and as forceful a puncher as you'll find outside a prize ring.
It rested lightly because the modest young businessman shook it off with a smiling denial of the flattering accusation, thereby becoming a charter member of the I Didn't Sock Huey Society.
Despite his carefully-worded insistence, the conviction grew that it was none other than the Navy's former champion pilot who let fly a bunch of indignant knuckles in the washroom of the Sands Point Bath Club last Saturday night and inflicted an inch-wide gash over the heavy-lidded orb of the Louisiana Kingfish.
FLIERS HIT THE CEILING
Senator Long, it was unanimously agreed by all those interviewed yesterday, was quite obstreperous. But as indignant as the rest of the 600 guests may have been, their dudgeon failed to reach the altitude acquired by members of the flying profession who were present. Three of them, Al Williams, Clarence Chamberlin, and Major J. Nelson Kelly, manager of Floyd Bennett Field, admitted yesterday that they had been in the washroom at "just about" the time the Kingfish got the hook.
Did they sock him? Of course not! Did they see who did it? Indeed they didn't! But when the results of the triple interview were summed up, there seemed to be just one obvious answer: Al Williams' name is ninth on the list of consecutive conquerors of One-Round Huey Long.
NEWS TO ME, SAYS AL
"It's news to me," said Williams over long distance phone from his Pittsburgh desk as vice-president of the Gulf Refining Company. "Furthermore, it's news to me that any of my friends would think such a thing of me." But his voice didn't sound surprised or alarmed, and there wasn't the slightest trace of indignation.
Williams, 190 pound six-footer, a former Fordham football and baseball ace, is usually good-natured but has a quick temper. Friends recalled the time his car was stopped in front of a trolley in a traffic jam. "Get that car out of the way, you blankety-blank," the motorman roared. Al's wife was with him. He stepped out of the car, hit the motorman just once, and knocked him out, climbed back into the machine, and drove off.
That's Al Williams.
IN THE WILLIAMS PARTY
Guests at the Sands Point affair recall that the Louisiana senator was a member of the Williams party, whenever he calmed his roving instincts long enough to remain in any one group. A group photograph taken just before the festivities started showed Williams and his wife, Gene Buck and Mrs. Buck, Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Mulrooney, Huey Long, and Elaine Hyland.
But if Williams was slightly unconvincing in his denials, a much more willing would-be hero was uncovered in the person of Police Chief Steve Webber of Port Washington. The chief, who could hardly be described as "retiring," hastened to admit that he not only was at the party, but was one of that select coterie in the washroom just before the lightning struck.
And was he the man who did the deed?
"You can say anything you want to, but you also better put in that I denied doing it," he told one interviewer. Later, he told another reporter, "I didn't do it, but I know who did, and he's a mighty good friend of mine. I'd be a rat if I told."
HE'S A FRIEND OF AL
Chief Webber, incidentally, is on very friendly terms with Al Williams, whom he knew when he was an Army sergeant attached to Mitchell Field.
Another member inducted into the I. D. S. H. L. Society yesterday was Bradley Clarke, a young stockbroker of 50 Pine Street. He admitted he was there, that he had plenty of reasons for wanting to sock Huey, but he regretted to say he hadn't done it. "I've seen some offensive persons in my time," said Clarke, "but I don't think I ever saw anyone who could make a complete nuisance of himself in so short a space of time as Huey Long. Everybody wanted to throw him out, but after they found out who he was, they sort of toned down. I didn't know myself until I asked someone."
"Finally, he sat down at my table, grabbed a bottle, and tried to force a drink on the lady who was with me. Just when I thought I couldn't hold back any longer, he wandered off somewhere else. I didn't see him again until he staggered out of the washroom with blood streaming out of his forehead."