Nifty Wreath

Appeared from Friday February 12, 1943 to Wednesday April 14, 1943

Panel from February 24, 1943

Nifty Wreath was the father of little Johnny Wreath and the separated husband of Johnny’s mother, Myrtle Wreath. Nifty, a dark-eyebrowed, squint-eyed, little man, was angry that the court had given his child to Myrtle, and he was determined to get Johnny back.

He followed Myrtle each day as she dropped Johnny off at the “Potter Day Home” while she went to work as a truck driver. One day, Nifty entered the Home, knocked out the cook and abducted Johnny. As he dashed onto the street, he saw a police car and quickly placed Johnny on the open tailgate of a nearby empty truck to hide him.

After the police car had passed, Nifty went to retrieve the boy but he found, to his horror, that the truck with Johnny in it had pulled away, without the truck, driver ever knowing the boy was there. In a frenzy, Nifty took after the truck in his own car. Out in the countryside, the truck, with Nifty following, ran into a bad snow storm. Nifty tried beeping his horn but the truck didn’t stop. Suddenly Nifty’s car skidded off the road, turned over in the snow and burst into flames.

Nifty managed to crawl out of the car before it exploded and lay unconscious for a time in the snow. Then, cut, bruised and cold, he made way to a nearby farmhouse. When Farmer Earl invited Nifty inside, Nifty was startled to see the quiet form of his son sleeping on a cot. Farmer Earl explained that he had found the boy wandering around in the snow. Just then, the mailman arrived to deliver a package. Nifty knew that this was his way out. He pulled out a gun, locked Farmer Earl and his wife in their cellar, and gathered Johnny up in his arms.

Nifty then ordered the mailman to drive them to the town of Summerville. Nifty crouched on the floor in the back seat of the mailman’s car, clutching Johnny so he wouldn’t be seen. The mailman noticed an oncoming police car, which contained Tracy, Pat and a uniformed officer. The mailman flashed them an S-O-S using his car’s brake lights and then he suddenly grabbed Nifty’s hair with one hand and his gun hand with the other. Tracy ran to the mailman’s car and arrived just in time to knock Nifty out with a blow to his jaw. Tracy decided to take Johnny to a hospital because the little boy had become very ill from exposure. The mailman drove Nifty, Pat and the officer toward highway police headquarters. On the way, Nifty went crazy, kicked the mailman’s seat and sent the car lurching into a snow drift. Pat and the officer subdued Nifty and the mailman dug his car out of the snow. Nifty was placed in a jail cell when they reached police headquarters.

Later, Nifty heard on the radio that his son was in the hospital in very serious condition. He begged to be able to see Johnny, before the boy died. Tracy, who was being treated at the hospital for exposure himself, sent for Nifty. Both Nifty and Myrtle Wreath reached the hospital together and both of them cried at the bed of their son. However, Jonny Wreath passed the crisis, and in the joy of the moment, Nifty and Myrtle agreed to start over again as a family. Chief Brandon told Nifty he was being placed on probation and that he was free to go. Nifty and Myrtle stood arm and arm by the bedside of their boy, promising to start family life anew.

Reprinted with permission from the author Victor E. Wichert “The Dick Tracy Encyclopedia Oct. 4, 1931 – Dec. 25 1977″

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- Chester Gould
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