A little more Valentine's Day history (more in keeping with MY mood):
The Saint Valentine's Day massacre is the name given to the murder of seven people as part of a Prohibition Era conflict between two powerful criminal gangs in Chicago, Illinois, in 1929: the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone and the North Side Irish gang led by Bugs Moran. Former members of the Egan's Rats gang were also suspected to have played a large role in the St. Valentine's Day massacre, assisting Capone.
On the morning of Thursday, February 14, 1929, St. Valentine's Day, five members of the North Side Gang, plus non-members Reinhardt H. Schwimmer and John May, were lined up against the rear inside wall of the garage of the SMC Cartage Company (2122 North Clark Street) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago's North Side. They were shot to death, possibly by members of Al Capone's gang, possibly by "outside talent" (that is, gangsters from outside the city who would not be known to their victims), most likely by a combination of both.
Two of the shooters were dressed as Chicago police officers, and the others were dressed in long trenchcoats, according to witnesses who saw the "police" leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage (part of the plan). When one of the dying men, Frank Gusenberg, was asked who shot him, he replied, "I'm not gonna talk" despite having 14 bullet wounds. Capone himself had arranged to be on vacation in Florida. The St. Valentine's Massacre resulted from a plan devised by a member or members of the Capone gang to eliminate the Polish-Irish Bugs Moran.
Moran was the boss of the North Side Gang which had been formerly headed up by Dean O'Banion, who had been murdered nearly five years earlier. Jack McGurn is the person most frequently cited by researchers as a suspected planner. The massacre was planned by the Capone mob for a number of reasons: in retaliation for an unsuccessful attempt by Frank and his brother Peter Gusenberg to murder Jack McGurn earlier in the year; the North Side Gang's complicity in the murders of Pasqualino "Patsy" Lolordo and Antonio "The Scourge" Lombardo; and Bugs Moran's muscling in on a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs. Also, the rivalry between Moran and Capone for control of the lucrative Chicago bootlegging business led Capone to plan the hits and the O'Banion gang's demise.
The plan was to lure Bugs Moran and his men to the SMC Cartage warehouse on North Clark Street. It is assumed usually that the North Side Gang was lured to the garage with the promise of a cut-rate shipment of bootleg whiskey, supplied by Detroit's Purple Gang. However, some recent studies dispute this. All seven victims (with the exception of John May) were dressed in their best clothes, hardly suitable for unloading a large shipment of whiskey crates and driving it away. The real reason for the North Siders gathering in the garage may never be known for certain.
A four-man team would then enter the building, two disguised as police officers, and kill Moran and his men. Before Moran and his men arrived, Capone stationed lookouts in the apartments across the street from the warehouse. Wishing to keep the lookouts inconspicuous, Capone had hired two unrecognizable thugs to stand watch in rented rooms across the street from the garage.
At around 10:30 a.m. on St. Valentine's Day, the Moran gang had already arrived at the warehouse. However, Moran himself was not inside. One account states that Moran was supposedly approaching the warehouse, spotted the police car, and fled the scene to a nearby coffee shop. Another account was that Moran was simply late getting there.
The lookouts allegedly confused one of Moran's men (most likely Albert Weinshank, who was the same height, build and even physically resembled Moran) for Moran himself: they then signaled for the gunmen to enter the warehouse. Witnesses outside the garage saw a Cadillac sedan pull to a stop in front of the garage. Four men, two dressed in police uniform, emerged and walked inside. The two phony police, carrying shotguns, entered the rear portion of the garage and found members of Moran's gang, a sixth man named Reinhart Schwimmer, who was not actually a gangster but more of a gang "hanger-on", and a seventh man, John May, who was a mechanic fixing one of the cars, and technically not a member of the gang but an occasionally hired mechanic.
The killers told the seven men to line up facing the back wall. There was apparently not any resistance, as the Moran men thought their captors were real police.
Then the two "police officers" then signaled the pair in civilian clothes. Two of the killers started shooting with Thompson sub-machine guns, one containing a 20-round magazine and the other a 50-round drum. All seven men were killed in a volley of seventy machine-gun bullets and two shotgun blasts according to the coroner's report.
To show bystanders that everything was under control, the men in street clothes came out with their hands up, prodded by the two uniformed cops. The only survivors in the warehouse were John May's German shepherd, Highball, and Frank Gusenberg who, despite fourteen bullet wounds, was still clinging to life, but would die 3 hours later. When the real police arrived, they first heard the dog howling. On entering the warehouse, they found the dog trapped under a beer truck and the floor covered with blood, shell casings, and corpses.
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P.S. The garage, which stood at 2122 N. Clark Street, was demolished in 1967; the site is now a landscaped parking lot for a nursing home. There is still controversy over the actual bricks used to build the north inside wall of the building where the mobsters were lined up and shot. They were claimed to be responsible, according to stories, for bringing financial ruin, illness, bad luck and death to anyone who bought them.
The bricks from the bullet-marked inside North wall were purchased and saved by Canadian businessman George Patey in 1967. His original intention was to use them in a restaurant that he represented, but the restaurant's owner did not like the idea. Patey ended up buying the bricks himself, outbidding three or four others. Patey had the wall painstakingly taken apart and had each of the 414 bricks numbered, then shipped them back to Canada.
There are various different reports about what George Patey did with the bricks after he got them. In 1978, Time Magazine reported that Patey reassembled the wall and put it on display in a wax museum with gun-wielding gangsters shooting each other in front of it to the accompaniment of recorded bangs. The wax museum later went bankrupt. Another source, an independent newspaper in the United Kingdom, reported in February 2000 that the wall toured shopping malls and exhibitions in the United States for a couple of decades. In 1968 Patey stopped exhibiting the bricks and put them into retirement.
Patey opened a nightclub called the Banjo Palace in 1971. It had a Roaring Twenties theme. The famous bricks were installed inside the men's washroom with Plexiglas placed right in front of them to shield them, so that patrons could urinate and try to hit the targets painted on the Plexiglas. In a 2001 interview with an Argentinian journalist, Patey said, "I had the most popular club in the city. People came from high society and entertainment, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Mitchum."
The bricks were placed in storage until 1997 when Patey tried to auction them off on a website called Jet Set On The Net. The deal fell through after a hard time with the auction company. In 1999, Patey tried to sell them brick by brick on his own website. The last known substantial offer for the entire wall was made by a Las Vegas casino but Patey refused the $175,000 offer.
Patey died on December 30, 2004, having never revealed how much he paid to buy the bricks at auction.
Life is just a chance to grow a soul.
Last edited by MagiePerdu : 02-11-2010 at 06:28 AM.