Chicago’s Grand Avenue is an east-west shortcut most of the time, between where I live and Downtown. It is also home to light industry, auto garages, bars, nail joints, great Italian restaurants, and the curious breeding ground of a certain generation of the Chicago Mob.
When I was a kid, it was home to Rose’s Sandwich shop, a mom and pop luncheonette where, one day, a States Attorney associate/made member of the mob, named Dick Cain was enjoying an Italian sub when two men in ski masks (one of them thought to be Joey ‘The Clown’ Lombardo) came busting through the door and put a shotgun under his chin.
After painting the ceiling with Mr. Cain’s head, there was a widely-shared sense of shock that Mr. Cain, who’d worked very closely with Governor Ogilvie AND Sam Giancana, could get away with his double life for as long as he did. It was also a sad testament to the long history of corruption endemic to law enforcement in the city of Chicago.
While the Mob is pretty much long gone from Grand Avenue (or at least THAT particular incarnation of the Mob), it will always still have that definition for me. This was the breeding ground of the Spilotro’s, Tony and Michael, as well as a great percentage of the westside mob of the ’60s and ’70s.
When you crossed that bridge going west on Grand Ave from the north Loop, it seemed like you entered a different world–an ancient avenue of secrets and silence and dual loyalties.