Now it's become an obsession -- digging up the dirt and locations of Chicago's infamous and dead mobsters. And the guys who battled them.
Last visit was to the house of Al Capone's nemesis, Eliot Ness.
Ness was the Chicago Treasury agent and home-town Chicago boy who isn't getting any respect, while Al's gangster star is shining all over the world. A short trip up Prairie Avenue, from Ness' family home, and we are at the Prairie Avenue location where Al bought a house for his doting and god-fearing mother.
Fresh-faced Al Capone arrived from New York (one more reason to root for Ness) and, in the shadows of the great St. Columbanus Church, on the south-side, planted his mother and the seeds of his Chicago criminal enterprise.
According to my grandparents, who attended St. Columbanus at the time, Mrs. Capone attended daily Mass. Al did not.
Who doesn’t have a Capone story? Or, at the very least, a Chicago mobster story of the 20's and 30's? My grandfather, who lived not far away, on Drexel, during the first Great Depression, tried to sell a new-fangled refrigerator to Mrs. Capone to replace the old ice box, apparently waggling price with Al.
Probably a good thing. Imagine if the damned thing quit. I would not be writing this today.
I know the current mayor, like the past mayor, wants to put a lid on the old gangsters, but that's impossible. I say, make lemonade out of lemons, or gin out of the bathtub. Since Michael Jordan has faded into sports history and as a symbol of Chicago, why not take advantage of a rare opportunity to exploit a bunch of dead mobsters and draw tourists to Chicago? Hey, it's payback time! Mayor Rahm, think of this as long overdue restitution!
Got a story yourself?
Did your grandfather try to sell Al or his mom anything?
Everybody has a story....