San Diego Hysterical Society



"Steely" Dan Balboa

by Beth Lewis


Daniel P. Balboa was San Diego's first United States Marshall. He got his nickname "Steely" Dan from his ability to stare down any criminal, thus avoiding the use of force in keeping the peace.

Steely Dan
- "Steely" Dan demonstrates his stare -

Staring down criminals however, was not always the swiftest way to apprehend suspects, as the citizens of San Diego found out during the summer of '37.

"Steely" Dan had cornered an escaped convict in an alley behind Oscar's Restaurant. As the two men stood staring at each other, diners spilled out of the restaurant joining a large crowd gathering around them. Hours passed under the hot sun without either man making a move. An enterprising "Honest John" Cortez rented folding chairs to the onlookers, and had his roller-skating waitresses deliver food and drink orders.

24 hours passed with "Steely" Dan insisting that he, and he alone would subdue this man. After 36 hours, the bad guy finally lost his concentration and blinked. Dan was on him instantly, the escapee pleading to be taken back to the safety of his jail cell.


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