The Chicago Syndicate: Johnny Torrio
Showing posts with label Johnny Torrio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnny Torrio. Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Chorito Hog Leg

Friends of mine: Edward J. "Spike" O'Donnell, Johnny Torrio

Edward J. "Spike" O'Donnell was one of the primary catalysts for the Beer Wars in Chicago in the early 20's. After getting out of prison, he refused to go along with Johnny Torrio's plan in which the various Chicago gangsters would stick to their respective terrotories and pool their political clout. "Spike" O'Donnell is also featured as a Major Character in a new book authored by the South Side of Chicago's own Pat Hickey.

While this is primary a book that centers on World War II, the inclusion of both O'Donnell and the excellent portrayal of the South Side of Chicago made this an nice addition to my library.

Chorito is the name of a cliff overlooking the Asan beaches on Guam. In 1944, the 3rd Marines assaulted Chorito Cliff and Bundeschu Ridge. A Hog Leg is the nickname for an 1860 Colt .45 Revolver.

Within the carnage of battle is a war pitting a young man, Tim Cullen, against his battalion commander over the possession of an 1860 Army Colt .45 Hog leg revolver which can be traced back to Capt. Myles Keogh who died with Custer. The last owner is the doomed Lt. Jack Buck of Giddings, TX. Buck will be killed in the taking of Bundeschu Ridge, but Jack Buck had exacted a promise from Pvt. Tim Cullen of his platoon to keep it from the hands of Major Lucas Opley, an up from the ranks Marine of legend, and return the Colt to his family in Texas.

Parallel to Cullen’s ordeals and suffering on Japanese occupied Guam are movie house operator Juan Cruz and his family, as well as an exiled Japanese American Dentist and his movie star wife. Exacting the cruelty is the oafish Boson Otayama and the American educated Lt. Kato. Awaiting liberation are also such historical figures of Guam’s history as Father Duenas and Pastor Sablan.

The revolver, in its shoulder holster, will be taken from Lt. John A. Buck’s body by Cullen at an aid station on Guam’s Red Beach 2 and cause Cullen no end of problems. The Battalion commander wants the Colt Hog-leg. Cullen hangs on to the weapon but never uses it and is repeatedly ordered by Maj. Opley to hand it over. Opley wants it for himself. This through-the ranks career officer will undo himself through his own devices and be sent home under a cloud after years of service to the Corps after the Guam Campaign.

Pat Hickey provides more details along with a preview of part two of this book at this site.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Guns and Roses

Friends of ours: Dean O'Banion, Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, "Bloody" Angelo Genna, "Big Jim" Colosimo, Earl "Hymie" Weiss, Vincent "the Schemer" Drucci, George "Bugs" Moran

Before Al Capone became its underworld kingpin, Chicago's reigning gangster was the colorful and lethal Dean O'Banion, the stoutly built Irish florist the press nicknamed "Chicago's Arch Killer" and the "Boss of the 42nd and 43rd Wards." Based on information compiled from police and court documents, contemporary news accounts, and interviews with O'Banion's friends and associates, Guns and Roses traces O'Banion's rise from Illinois farm boy to the most powerful gang boss in early 1920s Chicago. It examines his role in the Irish-Sicilian clashes that rocked the North Side circa 1890-1910, his years as a slugger for William Randolph Hearst during the city's newspaper wars, and his turbulent relationship with "Scarface Al" Capone as the two gang bosses battled for supremacy.

Guns and Roses also shines a spotlight on many of Chicago's elite, among them Mayor William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson and playwright Charles MacArthur (The Front Page), as well as such underworld luminaries as dapper Johnny Torrio, "Bloody" Angelo Genna, "Big Jim" Colosimo, Earl "Hymie" Weiss, Vincent "the Schemer" Drucci, and George "Bugs" Moran, the latter of whom barely escaped the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Of particular interest are O'Banion's notorious "handshake murder" ordered by the Capone, Torrio, and Genna factions and the bloody war for gangland supremacy that was sparked by his death and gave the city its reputation for violence. An enigmatic character, O'Banion was a powerful gang boss who could crack skulls as brutally as his henchmen, but he also supported entire North Side slums with his charity. While he had few gangster allies, the charismatic criminal inspired fanatical loyalty among his own men, who mourned his murder and sought violent revenge against those who ordered it. The product of fifteen years of research, Guns and Roses is as much a stroll through the history of Chicago as it is a chronicle of one of its premier underworld icons.

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