Petey Behan – Character in Divide the Dawn
“Petey Behan has short legs with a long torso and some power in his shoulders, thin hips and a box face with a mouth that never stops its blathering.”
Petey Behan (b. 1901), also known as Petey Cutpurse is a teenage thug and a rowdy. He is a follower of Richie Lonergan‘s crew. By the time he was eleven years-old, he was a master at cutting the strap off women’s purses and running off with them. With the Lonergan Crew, he was the most accomplished thief of what was known as the Sands Street Gimmick. The Sands Street Station was a heavily trafficked three-story train station at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge close to Irishtown. A man once caught him stealing from his wife. At first Petey apologized, but when the man looked around for a patrolman, Petey punched him under the jaw, knocking him out.
Origin – In 1915, Petey was recruiting children at an abandoned building where many orphans were squatting. He sees immigrant Liam Garrity‘s stolen alpaca coat and rips it off his back, claiming that this is the rent he charges for staying in the building. After burning down a saloon during the Donnybrook in Red Hook, Liam attacks Petey and tears the coat in two.
Many White Hand gang members wake up in jail after rioting in Brooklyn. After being released, Petey blames Liam for helping gang leader Dinny Meehan frame Non Connors and punches him, but Liam runs away. Meehan then makes Liam challenge Petey to a bareknuckle fistfight to save his honor. Petey beats and bloodies the Irish teenager, but Liam does not quit, and repeatedly comes back for more.