Let us go back in time. In the flapper era of the 1920's, when prohibition was king in America, there was a gangland city known as Chicago.
Gangsters and bootleggers tried to control the illegal booze trade, cops and revenuers tried to intercept the booze and pour it down the drain.
That was daily life in Chicago and the backdrop for the story that will soon unfold.
On Valentines Day 1929, seven men were gunned-down at a warehouse in Chicago. They were riddled with bullets, their bodies left crumpled and contorted at the base of a red brick wall.
According to Chicago police, the killers were wearing police uniforms. The shooters, of course, were not cops. This was the golden era of the mob and it was mobsters (with a single exception) who died that day and other mobsters who did the shooting that day.
The men, who were shot in cold blood on that snowy Valentine's Day, were members of Chicago's Bugs Moran gang.
Moran was setup. The shooters knew that he was greedy. Bugs and his men were lured to the warehouse by a bootlegger who promised a killer deal on illegal hooch. Moran, because of good luck, missed his own demise by a whisker. As Bugs arrived at the rendevous point, he spotted what he thought were cops. Bugs figured there was going to be a bust by Chicago's finest so he high-tailed it out of there. His lackies were left behind to face the music.
Nobody was ever arrested for the Saint Valentine's Day killings. Police could never prove who was behind the executions. But everyone knew, and historians accept, that it was the work of a rival gang. We are not talking just any gang here. That gang was run by the most famous Godfather this country has ever produced -- Al Capone.
Capone had an alibi at the time of the shootings. He was in Florida. However, he and his top cronies (photo below) were the only underworld figures motivated enough, cruel enough and clever enough to pull off this heinous crime. You can tell, looking at this famous photo of Capone and his henchmen, that these were sneaky, no-nonsense and heartless individuals who would stop at nothing to get their way. (Click on the photo to hear Al speak).
This famous event has turned into American legend. When I was a kid, old enough to know of gangsters and Elliot Ness and The Untouchables, I read about the massacre. Over the years, there have been TV shows and movies about this bloodbath. Some of the films stick to the story. For action, authenticity and a strong dose of 1920's atmosphere mixed with grim reality, I recommend the biographical movie below. (Click on the DVD cover to hear some of the most crisp, realistic and effective movie dialog ever captured on film.)
That is your All-American Valentine's Day history lesson packed in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed it.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections
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