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THE ST. VALENTINES DAY MASSACRE

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On a cold snowy February Chicago morning in 1929 seven men were lined up against a garage wall and literally mowed down by four gunmen – two allegedly dressed as police officers. A gruesome execution which shocked a city accustomed to gangland violence and which mobilized the US government to target Chicago’s underworld boss – Al Capone. Happening on February 14th, this was quickly named and has been known since as The St. Valentines’ Day Massacre.

These murders were the culmination of the rivalry between Chicago’s North Side Gang and Capone’s Outfit, dating back five years to the killing of North Sider Dean O’Banion after he had set- up Capone’s mentor Johnny Torrio. The Valentine Day’s plan was hatched the previous autumn with Capone assigning the “hit” to Machine Gun Jack McGurn, who allegedly hired out of town gunmen from the St. Louis gang – Egan’s Rats - to do the job. The targets were Bugs Moran and his North Side henchmen.

It’s unclear what ruse was used to draw the victims to the SMC Cartage Garage in Chicago’s Lincoln Park – the lure of several truckloads of stolen whiskey was initially suspected but the men killed were seemingly too well dressed for unloading trucks. Regardless they were there and not suspicious. Soon after their arrival, witnesses reported that four men arrived, two of them dressed as police officers. Inside the garage, the victims thinking they were caught in a police operation surrendered their weapons and lined up against the wall. The carnage that followed using machine guns and shot guns was quick and deadly.

To complete the ruse that this was a “raid”, the four gunmen then exited the building appearing to witnesses as two cops who had just arrested two men. Ironically the primary target of the hit – Bugs Moran – had arrived late, saw what he thought was a raid in progress; the killers arrived in what looked like police cars – and quickly departed without entering the warehouse. When the real police arrived soon after – it was apparent this was a brutal execution.

The seven men killed that morning were:

Peter and Frank Gusenberg, gunmen for the Moran gang.  Frank was miraculously still alive when police arrived on the scene. His only response to questioning - "I won’t talk." He died three hours later.

Albert Kachellek – Moran’s second in command.

Adam Heyer – Moran’s bookkeeper and business manager.

Reinhart Schwimmer - a former optician turned gambler who can best be described as a gangster wannabe.

Albert Weinshank - a manager of several cleaning and dyeing operations for Moran. He resembled Moran in physical build and appearance and was most likely confused for Bugs when he arrived at the SMC Cartage garage.

John May, an occasional car mechanic for the Moran Gang who as the father of seven children couldn’t turn down the ready cash he received for his work.

The only survivor of the Massacre was May’s dog – Highball.

Although Al Capone was suspected to be behind the killings, he was conspicuously out of town and in fact was meeting with the District Attorney in Miami, Florida at the time of the killings.

McGurn was also pulled in for questioning and then charged with killings. The case never went to trial. McGurn’s girlfriend and later wife, Louise Rolfe, was Machine Gun Jack’s “blonde alibi” – she claimed the two had spent Valentines’ Day together – in bed. In a morbid twist of fate McGurn was machine gunned to death on February 15th, 1936 in a Chicago bowling alley.

Although we’ll probably never know for certain the identity of the St. Valentines’ Day killers there is evidence and credible testimony given to the FBI that the plan was concocted by Capone and his men and then hired out to members of the Egan’s Rats gang in St. Louis. Two of the prominent suspects include Fred “Killer” Burke – who died in prison in 1940 after being convicted of killing a police officer – and Fred Goetz, aka “Shotgun” George Ziegler, who, in another morbid twist of fate, was shot-gunned to death outside a Cicero, Il restaurant in 1934. Two other suspects include Gus Winkler, gunned down in 1933 and Robert Carey, who in an alcoholic rage or stupor killed his girlfriend and then himself in 1932.

The public outrage over the massacre also – belatedly – brought national and federal attention on Capone – who ultimately was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison in 1931.



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Comedy Clips of the Week

KEVIN SPACEY

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Producer, director, screenwriter and Oscar award winning actor Kevin Spacey Fowler was born on July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey. He has starred in such movies as The Usual Suspects, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty. One of his many talents is uncanny impersonations of famous people. The clip below is from Inside the Actors Studio as he runs through his repertoire for James Lipton. Highly entertaining and what a mind Mr. Spacey has.

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HERMAN CAIN IS A VERY FUNNY FELLOW….RIGHT!

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If nothing else Mr. Cain has a future in improvisational/sketch comedy.

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Sports

JESSE OWENS

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On August 3rd, 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100 meter sprint in the Summer Olympics held in Berlin. This was the first of his four Gold Medals, which included the Long Jump, 200 meter sprint and as a member of the 4x 100 meter relay team. A record that wasn’t equaled until Carl Lewis did it in 1984.

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JOHNNY EVERS

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Second baseman John Joseph Evers was born on July 21st, 1883.  Known as “The Crab” for his style of play in the field, Evers is also remembered as one of the smaller players to make it in the major leagues, weighing in at 100 lbs as a rookie and never topping out at more than 130 lbs during his career.

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Classic Movies

UNFORGIVEN

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Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Jaimz Woolvett and Saul Rubinek, the film Unforgiven premiered on August 7th, 1993. So often with classic movies the plot here is a simple one, an aging and retired Old West outlaw/gunslinger takes on one more “job” to avenge the brutal beating and disfigurement of a prostitute.

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HANG ‘EM HIGH

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Directed by Ted Post and starring Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley and Pat Hingle, the film Hang ‘Em High premiered on August 3rd, 1968. Fresh from filming the Dollars Trilogy with Sergio Leone in Europe and known to the American TV viewing public from his time on Rawhide, Clint made this movie – which really wasn’t much of a stretch. Playing a man wrongfully lynched – he’s rescued by a US Marshall just in the nick of time – Eastwood goes to work for the “local” judge, (Hingle), as a Marshall with the goal of “finding” the men who strung him up. This theme of frontier revenge/justice one that Clint would “revisit” several more times in his career. In this movie we meet Alan Hale, Jr. – the skipper from Gilligan’s Island – and a young Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper. And even this early in his career Eastwood had an eye on the future; this movie was the first to be produced by Eastwood’s Malpaso Company.

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Dates In History

GULF OF TONKIN RESOLUTION

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On August 7, 1964 Congress passed what is now known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon Johnson “the power to take whatever actions he deems necessary to defend Southeast Asia, including the use of armed force.”  Although not a formal declaration of war, the Resolution was used by the Johnson Administration as the legal basis for the future conduct and escalation of the war in Vietnam.

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PT-109

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On August 2nd, 1943 the Patrol Torpedo boat skippered by future President John F. Kennedy was rammed and split in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. The PT-109 sank within minutes taking two of its crew with it. The remaining 11 survivors grabbed what they could and began swimming the 3.5 miles to the deserted Plum Pudding Island - in the Pacific among the Solomon Islands. Two of the crew members were badly injured, Kennedy towing one to safety by taking the injured man’s life preserver strap in his teeth while swimming. The crew was rescued six days later after a coconut with the crew’s location carved into it was passed along to a Solomon local who passed it along to the US Navy. The coconut with its SOS message was preserved and adorned the JFK Oval Office as a paperweight.

 

Music

LOUIS ARMSTRONG

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One of the founders of jazz; musician, singer, entertainer, and trumpeter extraordinaire, Louis Daniel Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Much has been written and said about “Satchmo” – genius, friend to many but close to few, comical, optimistic – whatever – to appreciate the man and his legacy listen to his music. Louis Armstrong was one of a kind.

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ADAM DURITZ

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Lead singer and founding member of The Counting Crows, Adam Duritz was born on August 1st, 1964 in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of two Jewish doctors Adam admits he is “impersonating African-Jamaican”, starting with the dreadlock hair extensions. In articles I’ve read Adam described as morose, tortured, melancholy and pretentious. And maybe he is. All I know is that when he and his band mates get together and make music something happens and it’s a good thing. The Counting Crows are still one of the best bands to see live for my money.

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Political Clips

HUNTER S. THOMPSON

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Hunter S. Thompson, the father of gonzo journalism, counter-culturalist, iconoclast, and someone who seemingly took Richard Nixon’s existence on this earth personally, was born on July 18, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, it was his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that combined all that made Thompson either loved or reviled – Drugs, alcohol, guns and contempt for authority – as the protagonist and his attorney make their way through Sin City. His follow up book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail ‘72, tracked that year’s Presidential election and Thompson’s ever growing hatred of President Nixon.

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NOT THAT JOE WALSH …THE CRAZY ONE

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I’ve mentioned our local (Illinois) collective Congressional embarrassment before –

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