The Massacre on St. Valentine’s Day
Gary investigates follows the journey of the bullet-riddled bricks for the wall where four assailants lined up seven members of the Bugs Moran gang and shot them down. This podcast includes an interview with Geoff Shumacher, Director of the Mob Museum, about how they obtained the bricks and about their current display.
On St. Valentine’s Day morning in 1929 four men, two of them wearing police uniforms, wheeled up in front of the Clark Street building housing the S.M.C. Cartage Co. They arrived in a Cadillac touring car, with big running boards similar to those used by police detectives. They entered into a long, narrow garage where they surprised seven members or followers of the Bugs Moran gang and got the drop on them with Tommy guns and shotguns. The seven were lined up against the north wall with their hands raised above their heads. The occupants of the garage turned and faced the bricks with a minimum of protest, no doubt thinking it was just another innocuous police raid. Then the counterfeit cops opened fire with military precision, sending as many as 100 rounds of ammunition into the unsuspecting victims as they collapsed in bloody heaps. The two uniformed cops then marched the other two murderers out as if they were under arrest and drove away. It has been learned that Al Capone hired Fred “Killer” Burke and three other former members of Egan’s Rats, a St. Louis gang, to carry out this attack.
The S.M.C. Cartage Building
The building at 2122 Clark Street (click the highlighted link to see) quickly became an unofficial tourist attraction after newspapers printed the photos of the corpses and named the location. In 1949, a young couple turned the building into an antique furniture business. They had no idea of the building’s bloody past. They soon learned of the building’s bloody past when more tourists and curiosity-seekers than customers visited. The business closed and in 1967, the building was demolished leaving the bullet-riddled wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
The Death Wall
A Canadian businessman George Patey read about the demolition and he called Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. The mayor’s office told Patey to call the National Wrecking Co., which was knocking down the garage. After Mr. Patey negotiated the purchase with the Wrecking company, he purchased all the bricks that made up the wall the victims stood against as they were murdered on St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The wrecking company sold the 7 1/2-foot-wide by 11-foot-high that had bullet-riddled bricks for an unknown price.
The Exhibition of the Wall
During that time, thousands of tourists had visited the death car of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and Mr. Patey knew this was a valuable tourist attraction. In 1973 a casino owner purchased the blood-spattered 1934 Ford for $175,000 at an antique automobile auction. The death car today is displayed at Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Primm Nevada. Mr. Patey had each of the 417 bricks numbered and packed in sequence and stored in seven barrels. He then had the wall reconstructed but everyplace he tried to display the artifact, in Canada a p[public outcry stopped the display. Patey offered the bullet-scarred wall to a crime museum, but the museum failed. Finally, in 1972, he opened a night club called the Banjo Palace. He rebuilt the all in the men’s restroom. He covered it with glass and made it into the back wall of the men’s urinal. Above the urinal, Patey placed a sign that said, “Piss On It. It’s History Down the Drain!” The women customers were so excited about seeing the wall that they would even enter the man’s bathroom while the men were using it. When he closed the club and had wall deconstructed, he found that 7 bricks from the original 417 were missing. These bricks have never been found.
Missing Bricks from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
The Chicago Tribune searched police records for the missing bricks and could not find them. They searched the archives and evidence room of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office and were unable to find any record that they were ever stored as evidence. Patey heard a rumor that they were taken during the filming of “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” in 1967, starring Jason Robards and George Segal. He checked with Segal’s agent who denied he has ever owned such a brick.
Bad Luck for Brick Owners
George Patey did sell some of the bricks for $1,000.00 each. He included a letter of authenticity with each brick. He found that he was getting back as many as he sold. It seemed that anyone who bought one of the bricks was suddenly stricken with bad luck in the form of illness, financial ruin, divorce, and even death just like the members of the Moran gang murdered in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.
Mob Museum and their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre display
I interviewed the Director of the Las Vegas Mob Museum, Geoff Shumacher, and he related the same basic story about the history of the wall bricks. He said the museum purchased the majority of the wall bricks for a St. Valentine’s Day massacre display and it is one of their most popular exhibits. Since the museum opened they have purchased some of the missing bricks along with the authentication letter. He said he has not seen any ghostly apparitions around the display but visitors and staff have reported some strange happenings.
2122 Clark Street
Over the past years, many Chicagoans have reported passing by the massacre scene and heard strange noises like screams and gunshots. Dogs often bark and growl when walking by. Currently, the location is an empty lot with grass and 5 trees. The middle tree on the lot is placed exactly where the murder wall was in 1929.
Show Notes by Gray Jenkins
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