May 4, 2011

Murder, Police Shootout, and Suicide

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History corespondant

In the late 1940s, we had two mail deliveries each day; one came in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I would come home at lunch time to check the mail. We would listen to radio serials after school, and in that program they would weave in a premium toy or device that we just couldn't live withoutS. o I sent in for a "Tom Mix" ring that had a siren whistle built in. I would check the mail twice a day, so I could be the first in my neighborhood to get one.

One day, after checking the mail, I was walking back to school when I heard a muffled boom, boom, boom! I looked across the street and watched a man run out of a building, gun in hand. He ran into the gangway at the south of the building, so me, being curious or just plain stupid, followed behind at a safe distance. I saw him turn towards Leland Ave.A  second later, bang, bang, bang! I don't know exactly how many shots were fired. I peeked around the corner to find the the guy ran right into the #122 squad from TownHall Station. He shot at them, they shot back. He took a position behind a green Allied Moving Van that had plywood sides, parked in a space behind their storefront. The cops were hollering at me to get the heck out of there. I ducked my head back in, laid down, and then peeked around the corner to see the guy. He put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger; there was a flash of red streaking out from the back of his head.

I walked up to get a good look and a cop grabbed me, screaming as to all the bad things that could have happened to me. I looked up, and in a window overlooking the alley was my friend Jon L. He got hollered at also.

I looked at the dead guy and the carnage a can do at close range. All I could think of was strawberry jam. The smell made me throw up. Jon and I were late for school. We got sent to the pricipal's office for coming up with such a bad excuse—until the next day, when they read about it in the newspaper. We had to tell our story to the teacher in minute detail.

The guy had just shot and killed his landlady because she was trying to collect rent. The gun was a Spanish-made auto. and #122 (Ace Double Deuce). Well, you just don't mess with them.

Earlier that year I was swimming off the Wilson Ave Rocks and was out about 20 or 30 feet out when I swam into something bobbing up and down. I looked at it and was out of the water in a flash. I swam right into a dead guy. I remember he had a full head of brown hair and wore a light-colored shirt, dark pants, and had a pack of wings cigarettes in his shirt pocket. He was bobbing up and down in a vertical position with his arms straight out from his elbows; his fists were clenched.

I flagged down a Chicago Park District cop—they weren't part of the Chicago Police at that time—that was riding on his three wheel motorcycle on the Bridle Path that ran adjacent to the rocks.

According to the next day's newspaper, he was in the water for about a month, his identity unknown.

Bill Matteson, who lived at 4737 N. Kenmore from 1942 thru 1951.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, for everyone who talks about "the good old days." Just after prohibition, my grandparents were sitting in a bar near Grand and Damen when two guys walked in, put a gun to some guy's head, "kinetically disordered" said individual's brain tissue, and walked out. The same bar was the site of a drive by shooting - and, of course, the mobsters in the car managed to kill the innocent by-stander, not the opposing mobsters.

There never really was an idylic "good old days." The news today is full of drive-by shootings, innocent by-standers getting hit in gang shoot-outs, and lunatics killing their land-lady and then engaging in "suicide by cop." Nothing new, just the same-ol-same-ol.

old guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


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