As much as I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, it seems unlikely that certain portions of the family were oblivious of Stanley’s actions leading up to his arrest for violations of the Dyer Act.
The barn on Park Street that Stanley and his cohorts used to store and work on their stolen vehicles was most likely on the property of his wife’s parents, the Foremans. How else would the police have known to look there first? The lot was not a particularly large one as the Foremans lived in town.
I’ve never removed and replaced a car’s engine before, but I would guess it is neither a quiet nor a clean job. It is hard to imagine that no one in the family ever heard metallic clanging from the barn or saw people move cars and car parts in and out.
My own great-grandparents, Oliver Arras and Clara Viola Smith, also likely suspected that something was going on. Suddenly, during the Great Depression, two of their college-aged sons had cars of their own. From the stories told within the family, money was tight enough that meat was not often on the table during this time period. A lot of our favorite family recipes–noodles and mashed potatoes, potato soup with rivels–have their source in the Arrases’ lean times. My grandma would not eat milk gravy as an adult because her family had had to rely on it so many times when she was a child.
Even today, when these financial considerations don’t apply, I cannot imagine my children suddenly appearing with cars of their own. I’d probably worry that they were selling drugs.
Perhaps, then, the question is not, “Did the family know?”, but “Why did they stay quiet?”
Maybe the money that Stanley and his nephew brought in was helping to support their families. Both families had young children at home.
Perhaps they just couldn’t bring themselves to report their own relatives to the police.
What do you think?