Ida “The Goose” Burger was a strikingly beautiful ballroom girl and sometimes a prostitute, who was the favorite of several members of the gang of five hundred Gophers, who controlled the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York, which ran on the west side of Manhattan, from Fourteenth Street to Fifty-seventh Street. The Gophers passed Ida the Goose from boss to boss, and even to low-level members of their gang. But make no mistake, Ida belonged to the treacherous Gophers and anyone who thought otherwise would be treated harshly.
Jack Tricker was a tavern keeper / gangster who, after Monk Eastman was sent to prison for armed robbery, led a faction of the Eastman mob on the Lower East Side. Tricker owned a bar on Park Row in midtown Manhattan, but after authorities shut it down for basically being a den of iniquity, Tricker decided to expand from the Lower East Side to Hell’s Kitchen. He decided that maybe, due to the Gophers’ internal battles, they weren’t so difficult anymore. In an act of defiance, he bought the Old Stag Bar on West 28th Street, smack in the middle of Gopher territory, and renamed it Maryland Cafe.
One of Tricker’s men somehow won the affection of Ida the Goose, and spat in the Gophers’ faces, driving Ida away from an influential Gopher and taking her to Cafe Maryland, where they installed her as the main attraction; the “Belle of The Ball”, so to speak. The Gophers immediately sent an emissary to Tricker, demanding the return of Ida the Goose. Tricker told the emissary that he would not get involved, one way or another, and that it was his problem, not his. Immediately, the Gophers launched threats at the Tricker gang, who armed themselves heavily in anticipation of the war. But after weeks went by without anything happening, the Tricker gang relaxed a bit, thinking the Gophers were all talk and no action.
In October 1910, four Gophers, one of whom was Ida’s ex-boyfriend, walked into the Maryland Café, came to the bar, and ordered four beers. Six Tricker gangsters, who were sitting at a large round table, were so shocked by the bold move that they sat paralyzed and did not say a word, much less tried to dislodge the invaders. Indignant, it was Ida the Goose who spoke first. She yelled at the Gophers, “Hey! You guys have a little bit of courage!”
The Gophers calmly finished their beer, then one slowly turned around and said, “Well let’s do it.” They each drew two pistols and began spraying the walls, mirrors, and tables of the bar with shots. The two bartenders, who were not part of Tricker’s gang, threw themselves behind the bar and five of Tricker’s men were shot and incapacitated. The sixth, who was Ida’s new lover, dived under Ida’s loose skirt for protection. She looked at him disdainfully, then shrugged and said, “Tell me, you! Come out and get it.”
Ida pushed him to the center of the ground and the Gophers fired four bullets into his torso. Then, Ida’s ex-boyfriend stepped forward and put the finishing touches on, firing a shot into the downed man’s brain.
The four Gophers emerged from the Maryland Café, closely followed by Ida the Goose, beaming with pride that such a battle was fought for their affections. He returned to the Gophers and never strayed from their side again.