Monday, June 2, 2014

Morton Grove Before the Baby Boom: The Complete Story of The Dells

Canopy over The Dells front entrance, 1934.
Welcome to the third in our ongoing Morton Grove roadhouse series. This jam-packed post documents the story and the times of  the establishment known as The Dells.

It was originally the home of the Huscher family before it was converted into a "swanky roadhouse." During the late 1920s and early 1930s, The Dells eclipsed its competition. Located at the northwest corner of Austin and Dempster, it became the best known and most patronized of the roadhouses in my hometown of Morton Grove, Illinois. The Dells offered live music and entertainment, dancing, fine food, comfort and ambiance. 

The Dells was an incredibly popular and successful commercial enterprise. It boasted a spacious dance floor, broadcast its music performances over the radio airwaves, and, because it was not subjected to the musician union local controls within the city, freely imported nationally renowned musicians and entertainers. The Dells had tasty cuisine -- steak, poultry, seafood and even frogs legs -- in a well appointed setting on a tranquil wooded lot.

There was more, of course, because The Dells' prosperous run was concurrent, not the least bit coincidentally, with the Volstead Act and prohibition. Additional attractions included beer, liquor and gambling and gangland wars over the profits of the same. The Dells was said to be owned or controlled by Al Capone and his gang. It is commonly referred to as the most notorious of the Morton Grove roadhouses.

Roadhouses thrived during Prohibition (1920–1933) in rural areas near Chicago, where law enforcement often was inadequate. By 1929 there were nearly 175 in operation. The growing numbers of automobiles and new roads made these previously remote establishments readily accessible. Roadhouses varied from small, sleazy taverns to big, fancy nightclubs with name dance bands and floor shows. Many served food, but the big attraction was being able to drink illegal beer or liquor. 
Outlaw gangs or syndicates distributed the illicit booze and controlled many roadhouses where recognized customers could get served. All roadhouses sold “set-ups,” ginger ale or soda with ice, to customers who brought their own liquor in hip flasks. The Dells and Lincoln Tavern in Morton Grove, Villa Venice near Glenview, the Purple Grackle east of Elgin, Le Chateau near Thornton, and the Triangle CafĂ© in Forest Park were among the biggest and best known.
The culinary and cultural enticements of the roadhouses were cataloged by John Drury, Chicago Daily News restaurant reviewer. In his column compilation book, Dining in Chicago, Drury reported, "Out on the county highways leading into Chicago, where the motorists get reckless and the grasshoppers hop, stand the roadhouses."  Mr. Drury continued:
Book Cover, Dining in Chicago, John Drury, 1931.
Northwest of Chicago, and directly west of the millionaire colonies along the North Shore, are located the pleasure palaces of the wide open spaces. These are lavish dine-and-dance establishments, serving first-class foods and providing elaborate revues and music and space for dancing. In such places, Chicagoans and North Shoreites enjoy themselves during the summer nights, feeling a sense of relief among the cool trees after a hot feverish day in the city. If you are interested and own a motor car, and if you don't mind getting caught in traffic jams on the way out or on the way in, then the following places are worth your time and attention.
Among Mr. Drury's dining and dancing recommendations was a night out at The Dells (sometimes referred as The New Dells, post 1925). 
Dempster Road, Morton Grove, Ill.
Another well-known dine-and-dance pavilion among the Cottonwood trees northwest of Chicago. Everybody seems to know Sam Hare and his New Dells; he's had this place here for over seven years. It is three miles west of Evanston and the North Shore and its clientele is made up of innumerable captains of industry and capitalists and their wives and guests, out for an evening's diversion. There is room for nine hundred on the large dance floor, and music is supplied by such popular orchestra leaders as Ben Bernie, Ted Lewis and George Olson. They appear at different periods during the season and their lively melodies are broadcast over Station WBBM. Four floor shows nightly, beginning at 8:30, with a couvert of $1.00. On Saturday night the cover charge is $1.50. Steaks, chops, chicken, lobsters, and frogs' legs are especially delectable at the New Dells and add considerably to the fame of the place. You reach the Dells by driving north out of Chicago on Sheridan Road, as far as Evanston, then west on Dempster Road. Morton Grove 1717.
A. The Early Days: Mrs. Fred Pein & Felix Rachbauer, Proprietors

The Dells started up prior to prohibition.

1918 The Dells Ad

Baby Face's corpse disposal site.
Its steam heated veranda was open all year around at first. Mrs. Fred Pein and a male friend, Austrian immigrant Felix Rachbauer, were The Dells proprietors. Sid Simon was the resident musician.

In its early days, the roadhouse targeted an urban Chicago crowd. Revelers were advised to come up from the city by way of Lincoln Avenue, detouring to Dempster via Cemetery Road, known as Harms Road today (see below left). Before Edens Expressway was built, Harms Road (the period map on the right was produced to show where Public Enemy #1, Baby Face Nelson's bullet ridden body, was dumped 80 years ago next to St. Paul's Lutheran Church cemetery) provided a direct link between Lincoln Avenue and Dempster Street. The Dells was advertised as a half mile west of Niles Center, which Skokie was originally named logically enough, because it laid at the geographic center of Niles Township. The village changed its name to Skokie in 1940 
The Daily Herald, 14 Nov. 1924
to avoid confusion with the neighboring community of Niles (which is about half in Maine Township -- go figure).

The proprietors' comings and goings were written up in the local newspaper. It was reported that Felix Rachbauer traveled to Europe during the 1921 off season.

The Daily Herald, February 11, 1921
Mr. Rachbauer arrived back in Morton Grove safely, as did Mrs. Pein from her trip to California.

The Daily Herald, March 4, 1921
April 1st was the Dells official opening day in 1921.

The Daily Herald, March 25, 1921
Mrs. Pein joined with Mrs. William Huscher to entertain lady friends at the inn.
The Daily Herald, June 17, 1921
The next year, Mr. Rachbauer's winter jaunt was to the healing waters of Sulphur Springs, Missouri.

The Daily Herald, March 10, 1922
Herr Rachbauer arrived home in time for the big St. Patrick's Day reopening celebration at The Dells.

The Daily Herald, March 17, 1922
Later that month the local paper reported that Felix was laid up by a sprained ankle. 

The Daily Herald, March 31, 1922
As was common in the day, the proprietors resided in season in apartments above the establishment, a situation and degree of proximity, which we will come to see, would contribute to a change in management. 

The 1920 federal census listed Mrs. Pein and Mr. Rachbauer as living at The Dells, along with the featured musician Sid Simon, who was identified as a boarder. Charles Von Thurss and his wife, as well as Peter Kodaich, lived at The Dells as well.

1920 Federal Census entries,
Chicago Tribune,
November 15, 1918
Mr. Von Thurss hailed from Germany, his wife from Ireland. The husband was head waiter and the wife a kitchen helper. Mr. Kodraich was a Russian immigrant and resident alien, employed as a porter. Rachbauer and the couple Von Thurss were naturalized citizens. Rachbauer and Pein listed their occupations as "Manager." All said they worked at the "Inn."

Mrs. Fred Pein, had come into her share of ownership tragically -- so at least it was claimed.
Mrs. Fred Pein, name was Pearle Mae Pein, had become part owner of The Dells when her husband, during a celebration of the end of World War I, having been given a glass of whiskey, raised it, made the toast “here’s to peace forever,” drank it down and dropped dead. A buddy who drank with him also dropped dead. In a tragic accident, the friend who gave them the drink had pulled out an old whiskey bottle which many years before had been emptied and refilled with undiluted insect poison.
The next management change came abruptly in September, 1922 when -- apparently -- the supply of insecticide had dried up.
The Kanasas City Kansan,
September 14, 1922
Chicago, Sept. 14. -- Felix Rachbauer, owner of the "Dells" a famous suburban roadhouse near Chicago, was shot and killed today.
Mrs. May Pearl Pein, business associate of Rachbauer, and her sister, Maude Shirk, were held by police in connection with the slaying.
Police alleged the shooting followed a quarrel between the two in Mrs. Pelin's apartment above the cafe after she had returned from an automobile ride with friends.
Miss Shirk, who was in the apartment, was alleged to have fired the shots.
Rachbauer's jealousy of attentions paid by other men to Mrs. Pein caused the quarrel, according to witnesses to the shooting. 
Mrs. Pein returned to the apartment from an automobile ride shortly after midnight. Rachbauer was playing cards in a side room. 
Otto Schrumpf, a waiter, told the remainder of the story as follows:
"I entered the room to bring Mrs. Pein a sandwhich. Miss Shirk, who occupied an adjoining room, was facing Rachbauer. Rachbauer was shouting at Mrs. Pein for accepting too many automobiles from other men. 
"Rachbauer threw aside a table in the center of the room and started after Mrs. Pein. 
"Miss Shirk drew a revolver from the sleeve of her kimono and fired four shots and he died within a few minutes."
Officials said Rachbauer had been drinking.
The Thomson Review in northwest Illinois, reported that the Shirk/Pein sisters, who hailed form nearby Morrison, and their friend Mr. Rachbauer, had been quite the fair goers in better times. 

Three out of four of Miss Shirk's shots struck Felix Rachbauer in the breast. The assailant was going for the heart.

Charged With Murder
Miss Maude Shirk who made her home in Morrison during her childhood, was held to the grand jury in Chicago last Thursday, charged with the killing of Felix Rachbauer, wooer and business partner of her sister, Mrs. Pearl M. Pein, in the Dells, at Niles Center house west of Evanston.
The two sister Mrs. Pein and Miss Ruth Shirk in company with Mr. Rachbauer, spent several days in Morrison visiting relatives and attending the fair.
The woman fired ostensibly to save here sister from Rachbauer's wrath, aroused by Mrs. Pein's order to stop gambling in the roadhouse. He was shot three time through the breast. 
The Daily Herald reported a more robust version of the events, from which we learn, reliably or not we cannot say, that there were two shooting victims, not one.
The Daily Herald, September 15, 1922


Part Owner of The Dells Road house

Is One Victim; Other a Chauffeur

Two men were shot and killed by women in the vicinity of Chicago Thursday a. m., one woman shooting to protect her sister from a beating and the other woman killing her husband as he came toward her with an upraised knife.
The dead men are Felix Rachbauer, a part owner of The Dells in Morton Grove, just west of Evanston, and Lawrence Jacobs, a chauffeur, living at 423 West Huron street. Rachbauer was killed by Miss Maude Shirk, sister of his woman partner, Mrs. Pearl May Pein. 
Believed Sister in Peril. 
Rachbauer had gone to Mrs. Pein's room in a fit of drunken rage, the hysterical woman savagely said. He cursed his partner for "going around with men." Believing that he was going to beat her sister, Miss Shirk ran upstairs to intervene. She entered the room just as Rachbauer pushed aside two waiters who were trying to hold him, and rushed at Mrs. Pein, she said. 
Miss Shirk had picked up a revolver on her way to her sister's room. She took deliberate aim, and when Rachbauer refused to give ground she fired, according to the witnesses. 
Two shots took the roadhouse keeper full in the chest and knocked him down. The third hit his hand and a fouth bullet went into the wall. 
As Rachbauer fell Miss Shirk tried to shoot herself, but a waiter snatched the revolver form her hand. Then she dropped to her knees beside the innkeeper's body crying, "Felix! Felix! For God's sake, wake up; open your eyes!"
Leroy Davidson, a highway deputy sheriff, heard the shots and reached the inn while excited waiters and guests were trying to revive Rachbauer and the hysterical women. One glance showed him that Rachbauer was dead. He promptly arrested Mrs. Shirk and three employees who had seen the killing.
Woman in Collapse
Miss Shirk collapsed and could not be taken from the inn. She was left as the prisoner of Coroner Hoffman, who had her taken to a hospital later. Davidson took Mrs. Pein, Albert Hauthal, a water; Aaron Rosentein, violinist, and Richard Ochs, head waiter to the Irving Park police station as material witness. 
Hauthal told the police that Mrs. Pein, Rachbauer and Miss Shirk had quarreled frequently. He often told him, he said, she would kill Rachbauer if he harmed her sister.
Rachbauer and Mrs. Pein had run The Dells together since her husband died mysteriously poisoned, several years ago. In recent months, according to acquaintances, they have quarreled frequently. Last night Mrs. Pein went automobile riding with another man and the quarrel became violent.
On her return to the roadhouse, Mrs. Pein went to her room and instructed a waiter to tell Rachbauer to break up a card game which was going on downstairs. The message seemed to enrage Rachbauer. He strode angrily upstairs, flung open Mrs. Pein's door and began liberating his partner, according to reports to the coroner.
His shouts awoke Miss Shirk, who was asleep in another part of the building. She jumped from bed, picked up a revolver and ran to her sister's room.
Just as she got there, witnesses said, Rachbauer flung Ochs and another waiter out of his way and rushed at Mrs. Pein. Miss Shirk then fired at him. 

Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1922
During the follow-up investigation, the State's Attorney intimated that Mrs. Pein and her sister may have had a financial motive for the slaying of "Felix of Dells." In probate court it was reported that Felix Rachbauer's total property "estimated at $20,000, is left to Mrs. Pearl May Pein, partner in the roadhouse of whom Miss Maud Shirk, her sister, says she shot Rachbauer."  That rings in at $280,000 in today's dollars. 

The Chicago Tribune noted: "Discrepancies in statements of Mrs. Pein and Otto Schimpf, a waiter, also are receiving [State Attorney] McCarthy's attention. These two were the only witnesses called at the inquest. Their testimony diverges widely as to whether or not Mrs. Pein left her bedroom on the second floor of the inn just before the shooting."

Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1922
Then, just four days later, and a mere ten days after the shooting, Maude Shirk was cleared of all charges.
What amounted to exoneration of Miss Maude Shirk, who last week shot and killed "Felix of Dells" Rachbauer, was voted yesterday by the grand jury. After hearing evidence in the case, the jury voted a no bill, but with the stipulation that it should not be returned immediately in order to give Assistant State's Attorney Roy Fairbank, in charge of the grand jury, time to present any further evidence. 
Assistant State's Attorney Edward J. McCarthy, who investigated the case, said he had no more testimony to offer.
With everyone's hands washed and fingerprints wiped away, it was time to move on. And so The Dells did.

B. Richard Ochs Takes Over

The Dells ad, 1922.
Headwaiter and material shooting witness Richard Ochs was immediate beneficiary in the aftermath of the Rachbauer shooting. He became the new headline proprietor. Patrons were assured that the well known cuisine would be served and courteous service would continue under the supervision of one Richard Ochs.

The Dells briefly projected a homey image. "The Country Calls" it advertised. Customers could rest assured that the club operated under "Personal Supervision of Richard Ochs, Manager," and were invited to "Dine And Dance With Dick At The Dells." 

The Dells ad, The Sentinel, October 19, 1923.
Mr. Ochs invited diners to come eat the best food money can buy. In this 1923 advertising, The Dells' location came to be identified as four miles west of Evanston, as management began to reach out to ritzy north shore suburban crowds.

The next year, Theodore Selle was named lead co-proprietor for the grand spring re-opening.

The Dells ad, April 1924
For the May 1st opening, the management was not only new, the music and dancing would be good.

The Dells ad, The Sentinel, June 24, 1924

The menu featured a high class grill and seafood specialties. Excellent service was promised.

In the 1920s the Dells printed and distributed post cards, as that was the viral marketing medium of the day.

The Dells, 1924 post card.

The glossy postcard photos portrayed that The Dells was located on forested ground, with a long semi-circular driveway framed by a rustic entrance sign. It had a huge, glassed in, radiant heated dining area with space aplenty for dancing, and a raised platform for live music performances and whatever other entertainment the nights might bring.

It was an uneventful two years.

C. The Sam Hare Era Begins.

The Selle and Ochs team was not around for long. The next management regime debuted in 1925, 

The Daily Herald, May 8, 1925
this time under the personal supervision of Sam Hare. The Dells ad copy still promised unexcelled cuisine -- steak, chicken and frog leg dinners under the new management.

The Sentinel, 15 May 1925
But Hare's control over The Dells would bring much more -- as we can surmise by looking at Mr. Hare's history as proprietor and raconteur.

By the time Hare took over The Dells, he had already developed quite the reputation for reviving and supervising eating and drinking venues. 

The Business of Crime: Italians and 

Syndicate Crime in the United States,p. 121.

Sam Hare was a longtime operative in Chicago's organized crime syndicate (see left). In an earlier incarnation Hare had operated a "resort" called the Victoria on the south side of Chicago, where he was implicated but in a scheme for importing prostitutes. 

Hare was a lieutenant of the Colisimo mob family. He was once indicted for his role in running illicit slot machine operations. The ensuing trial was delayed until it had to be dismissed for insufficient evidence. As to what or whom intervened, and how, to cause that insufficiency, we could only speculate.

Sam Hare's application for operating a Chicago saloon in 1916 offers insight to his methods and means. Saloon proprietors were required to be of good moral character. On that basis, Captain O'Brien, the local police district police commander, had denied Hare's application. 

In a written statement, Captain O'Brien reported on Hare's history in the hospitality industry.
Relative to the attached application of Sam Hare to secure a saloon license at 320 East Thirty-first street, I beg leave to call your attention to the following facts, which prompted me to reject the said application:
Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1916
On October 31, 1915 Abraham Tuckhorn closed the doors of his saloon, known as the Schiller, located at 320 East Thirty-first street. He attributed his failure to police activity in keeping prostitutes from soliciting there and keeping other undesirables out of there. The place has remained closed up to this time. 
During the last two weeks, however, Sam Hare has been making extensive alterations and improvements on the premises and put up a sign on which appears the words, "Will be opened in a few days by Sam Hare." 
Hare formerly was manager of the saloon and cafe known as the Vernon, which was located on Thirty-first street, when I came into this district, May 10, last, and I had more trouble in trying to get him to observe police regulations in relation to prostitution and 1 o'clock closing ordinances than with all other saloonkeepers on Thirty-first street combined. 
Enters Mike the Greek 
When the Vernon cafe was opened, Hare installed an individual known as Mike the Greek in an alleged cigar store, which kept open all night, and it was used as headquarters for panderers who worked the patronage of the Vernon in the way of handing out cards and other necessary information to locate houses of prostitution just north and south of Thirty-first street. 
By hard work and strict police surveillance we put 'Mike the Greek' and the cigar store out of business. A few months ago Sam Hare severed his connection with the saloon and left, greatly improving the moral condition. 
Malahn's Comeback 
I have reliable information that if Hare is successful in securing a license to operate the Schiller he is prepared to install one 'Malahn' who was formerly a manager for Jim Colisimo when the latter operated a red light district. I have also had some experience with Malahn, as he tried to run an all night saloon, with headquarters for lewd women, a few months ago. 
Chicago Tribune, October 17, 1916
For his investigation into Hare's qualifications, Captain O'Brien was suspended from the police force. O'Brien's objections were overruled, allowing Sam Hare to receive a license to operate the Schiller. Hare's re-opened Schiller saloon was subsequently cited by an outraged minister for inducing moral turpitude, i.e., solicitation of prostitution, at the stoop of his neighboring church.  

There was a public outcry about the decision to license Hare. "Pass Vice 'Buck' To Mayor" was the front page Chicago Tribune headline above a story that documented the finger pointing between Chicago's mayor and its police chief on the reversal of the police captain's operating license denial. Both denied selling out to the syndicate. It's hard to imagine better advertising for Hare's saloon operation.

A local newspaperman went "undercover" at the reopened Schiller. He reported thus during a hearing convened the by State's Attorney.
Joseph Swerling, a former reporter, gave a spicy running commentary on his investigation among south side cabarets with Mrs. Charles E. Merriam, Mrs. William E. Rodriquez, and Mrs. John H. Kimbill, wives of aldermen. 
"I was alone when I made my first visit to the Schiller, kept by Sam Hare at 320 East Thirty-first street," said Mr. Swerling. "I arrived at 10 in the evening and remained until 1:30. It had the first jazz band in tow, advertised as having been imported from New Orleans. 
"What is a jass band?" asked Mr. Healy with his best air of unsophistication.
Chicago Tribune, October 19, 1916
"It is a band," replied the definite Mr. Swerling, "in which wind instruments predominate and the music is very raggy. It played 'Walking the Dog' and other popular dance pieces. The place was crowded. You could hardly find seats at the tables. Everybody was drinking, smoking, laughing, dancing. The dancing was as raggy as the music. Delightful bohemianism prevailed. Ladies [the gallant Mr. Swerling called them nothing else] would come over to your table and say 'Hello.' As one lady passed she blew a puff of cigaret smoke at a boy next to me. 'Will you dance with me Kiddo?' the boy asked. 'I can't dance with you now, said the lady, but here's my telephone card. Call me up.' 
Made Another Visit 
"You visited the Schiller again?" asked Assistant State's Attorney Berger.  
"Several weeks later." 
"What did you find on this occasion." 
"I was with Mrs. Merriam and Mrs. Rodriquez and we arrived at 1:30. I found the same conditions as on my first visit, only more so. Same Hare, the proprietor, stood in the lobby and held back the crowd from rushing in. People were lined up on the sidewalk waiting an opportunity to get in. Hare would let a couple in when a couple went out. He would call to the crowd: 'You can't come in; I've got a full house.' 
"Mrs. Merriam, Mrs. Rodriquez and I ordered drinks. One of the women started to fill a bottle with the beer. The waiters saw her and crowded around menacingly. I went for a policeman. I found two at the corner. I told them a grave crisis had arisen in the cafe and two women feared they were about to be murdered. The coppers said they were sorry, but it was off their beat. So I went back along, We escaped with our sample bottle of beer.
When Sam Hare imported his business model into Morton Grove, he refurnished and redecorated The New Dells into "a sparkling palace of mirth and pleasure," promising "perfect service and finest of foods," and presenting "a dance orchestra of eight, internationally proclaimed" -- plus "unusual entertainers."

The New Dells 1925 Ad
The club featured the New Dells Inspirators, Hal Ehrig, Director, their syncopations hottest and finest.

The most unusual entertainer of them all may have been music director Hal Ehrig himself. Mr. Ehrig, nicknamed "the bundle," was paralyzed, save for his left arm.
Times Herald (Olean, NY), October 28, 1924
Tomorrow again, as on the morrows that have come and gone for 15 years on the battle line they will set the "bundle" down. 
There the "bundle" with his paralytic limbs and twisted body fights cheerfully. Fights for food, for warmth and a little happiness too, perhaps. 
The "bundle's" name is Harry Hal Ehrig. He is 31. 
Once his body was whole and sound. Today he can move but one arm.

"But it was a blessing in disguise he says." 
What Ehrig had done since fate overtook him could shame thousands of able bodied men. Through his own efforts he earns a six-figure income yearly.
Musician, Painter, Writer
This is done through his orchestra -- [then] the Blue Demons -- which he directs and personally supervises.
Also he writes movie scenarios, composes successful song hits,  and paints pictures that have attracted attention from celebrated artists.
As Sam Hare re-positioned The New Dells with an expanded entertainment lineup, the club continued to advertise regularly in The Sentinel (a Jewish interest weekly) targeting an affluent crowd.

Dells Ad, The Sentinel, January 1, 1926
At the same time, Sam Hare ensured that The Dells gave back to the community.
The Daily Herald, January 7, 1927
D. Gambling at The Dells

Sam Hare's background in slot machine operations well suited him to be to take over the The Dells.
Although slot machines and other forms of gambling were banned in Illinois and Cook County before the turn of the century, they remained relatively easy to find, aided in large part by organized crime and the fact that Illinois was a center of slot manufacturing. By 1926, slot machines became prevalent in many of the roadhouses and taverns in the undeveloped 'boonies' of suburban Chicago. While places like Cicero, Calumet City, and Forest Park were particular hot spots, the hottest place around here was the "Little Bohemia" strip in Morton Grove, on Dempster Street near Austin. While prohibition was in effect, law enforcement was especially scarce and easily controlled in sparsely populated and rural unincorporated Cook County. Roadhouses there included Club Rendezvous, Lincoln Tavern, Wayside Inn, Club Morton, Walton Club, and most notoriously, The Dells, a roadhouse with a small casino on the second floor, stocked with slot machines, roulette wheels, and other games.
The Dells casino chip
Gambling was permitted to operate in the outreaches of Cook County under a hear no evil, see no evil code of inaction and paid protection during prohibition.
If an unfavorable newspaper story appeared in one of the Chicago dailies about slot machines running wild throughout the northwest part of the county, there would be a telephone call made to Cook County Highway Patrolman Kolb, and he would then instruct the tavern and saloon people to tuck the devices safely out of sight until the high sign was given by an upper-echelon figure named Lieutenant James Meyering. "It was entirely up to the Sheriff whether the slot machines would run or not," the rugged Irish rascal Roger Touhy exclaimed. 
The Touhy-Kolb alliance elected Jim Meyering's brother William, a decorated World War I hero, as Cook County Sheriff in 1930. Elected on the Democratic ticket, Meyering spoke the truth when he said: "I am not a reformer. I do not intend to become one." Now there's a shot - a "pol" telling it as it is. 
In addition to working as a highway patrolman, Kolb operated the Club Morton, a few blocks west of The Dells. Kolb would be eliminated a few years later in a gangland slaying just outside of his club, which had dozens of witnesses who saw nothing (we will blog on the history of Club Morton, as well as near neighbors the Wayside Inn and Lincoln Tavern, in future posts).

In early 1926 The Dells was robbed. The thieves pulled away with a surprisingly large haul. The Daily Herald said that gambling proceeds upped the ante.

The Daily Herald, March 18, 1926
Bandits Get $12,500 Haul at Dells Inn 
Brandishing revolvers, five masked men early Monday morning held up the Dells roadhouse, Dempster street and Jefferson road, Morton Grove, cut the telephone wires and looted the safe of $12,500. 
The proprietor was surpised as he was making out a pay roll and was bound and gagged with telephone wires. 
Lawrence Meyer a watchman, Henry Meller, a checker, and Paul Bier, a porter, also were overpowered and tied up. The bandits ransacked the safe, then searched the employees, taking in addition to the money, watches and rings valued together at $3,000. 
Then the intruders, threatening to kill anyone who followed them, ran out, leaped into their automobiles and sped away.Sam Hare, the proprietor drove to the telephone exchange at Ferris and Lincoln avenues, where he had Miss Loraine Kenney, an operator, notify the Chicago and Evanston police. 
A later rumor says that gambling was in progress and that about $40,000 or $50,000 was gleaned from the guests.
The patron haul was the equivalent of over a half million dollars in today's dollars.

The Daily Herald, May 7, 1929
In 1929, Morton Grove police opined that a gangland bombing at The Dells was linked to a gambling dispute.
Morton Grove Gambling                               Resort and Roadhouse
       Was Bombed Monday
Five workmen sleeping in the Dells road house and gambling resort on Dempster street in Morton Grove were rudely awakened and shaken in their beds early on Monday morning by the explosion of a bomb which splintered the front porch, blew in windows and shattered much of the glass in the house and cracked the plaster in places. 
Gambling is said to have flourished at this roadhouse last year, and the workmen had been engaged for some time in renovating the interior, evidently for the purpose of opening up again this year.
Apparently some one set fire to the place about two weeks ago, but the blaze was discovered before much damage was done. The theory of Police Chief John Stegemeyer of Morton Grove is that the place was bombed "because of some gambling argument that originated in Chicago." 
Bits of lead were scattered about the place, showing the cause of the explosion to have been a bomb, and not gas, as Sam Hare, one of the owners, under indictment at the present time, claimed. Louis Silversmith, a south side gambling operator seems also to be in on the ownership of the place. 
The place was permitted to run wide open as a gambling resort under the former state's attorney. Two years ago, there was a holdup there, and as this centered attention on the resort, the lid was put on for awhile.  
In 1930, Sam Hare, and The Dells gambling operation, were investigated in connection with the slaying of Alfred J. Lingle. Lingle was a Chicago Tribune reporter, who reputedly acted as a go between among gambling, law enforcement and political interests, and leaked for publication only what those allied interests wanted the public to hear. Lingle had been caught up in a double cross.

The Daily Notes, Cannonsburg Penn., June 27, 1930
"Loans" From Gambling House Proprietors and Police Heads show as Much as $15,000 and $20,000 at a Time According to Reports
CHICAGO, June 27. --(INS)-- Reports that Alfred J. Lingle, slain Chicago Tribune reporter, had obtained "loans" from operators of large gambling establishments today occupied members of the board of strategy which is conducting the investigation into his death. 
Killed Day Club Opens 
The board of strategy has further informed that Sam Hare, owner of the Dells Winter Club, a Morton Grove gambling house, made loans to Lingle which may total $20,000.
In a we didn't know about it until we read about Lingle in the paper editorial, the Chicago Tribune wrote they had been betrayed by the slain reporter:
The Evening Independent 
(Massillon, Ohio)
June 30, 1930

Alfred Lingle now takes a different character, one in which he was unknown to the management of the Tribune when he was alive. He is dead and cannot defend himself, but many facts now revealed must be accepted as eloquent against him.
He was not, and he could not have been, a great reporter. His ability did not contain these possibilities. He did not write stories, but he could get information in police circles. He was not and he could not be influential in the acts of his newspaper, but he could be useful and honest, and that is what the Tribune management took him to be. His salary was commensurate with his work.
The reasonable appearance against Lingle now is that he was accepted in the world of politics and crime for something undreamed of in his office and that he used this in undertakings which made him money and brought him to his death. He has paid the penalty of it if he was enticed into this pool and the Tribune regrets it for the boy’s sake and for the sake of the profession.

The occurrence, although not unusual, is always tragic.
The Tribune funded the investigation into the killing by the State’s Attorney’s office, contributing office space and the services of their corporate counsel, Charles F. Rathbun. Rathbun’s presence on the investigative team insured that evidence unfavorable to the paper never came to light. 

E. Coon Sanders Original Nighthawks Become the Featured Orchestra at The Dells 

Sam Hare brought in new artistic talent. In 1928 The Dells dropped the house band concept and hired the regionally, and soon to be nationally popular, Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawks, to a regular gig. Winter times, the Nighthawks played at the Blackhawk Hotel on South Wabash in the Loop. The Dells also hired a gregarious MC and professional dancers. Live music was broadcast nightly on WBBM radio.

The Dells Ad, 1928

The Coon-Sanders Original Night Hawks were an innovative jazz orchestra founded in Kansas City before moving its base to Chicago
Coon and Sanders first met at a downtown Kansas City music store in 1918. Tall, handsome and quick-tempered Sanders, was an amateur baseball player on leave from the Army. He was practically the antonym of the pudgy, extroverted Coon. Despite their physical and temperamental differences, both men quickly found they shared a love of jazz and complementary tenor voices. 
The following year, when Sanders got out of the Army, the two teamed up, formed a jazz combo and started booking gigs around Kansas City. With Coon handling business, Sanders writing songs and city boss Tom Pendergast ignoring prohibition with his “wide open” bars, clubs and brothels, the Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra was soon one of town’s in-demand outfits. 
Shortly after Thanksgiving, 1922, the orchestra was booked to play on radio station WDAF. The success of that performance helped launch their weekly show, broadcast from 11:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. When the announcer let slip that “anyone who’d stay up this late to hear us would have to be a real night hawk,” thousands of listeners spread across Canada, Mexico and most of the United States let him know that they were proud to be “night hawks.” 
Sanders quickly penned a theme song “Night Hawks Blues” and the pair rechristened their ensemble the Coon-Sanders Original Night Hawk Orchestra. In 1924, they recorded for the Victor record label in Chicago and agreed to let burgeoning Chicago promoter Jules Stein book a four-week tour. Stein parlayed his profits from that tour into his own booking company, which he called Music Corporation of America, or MCA. 
On the strength of that tour, the Night Hawk Orchestra relocated to Chicago where their performance opening the Balloon Ballroom of the Congress Hotel was broadcast on KYW. Two years later, they moved to the Blackhawk Restaurant where fan Al Capone frequently left $100 tips for the band. On the strength of WGN radio broadcasts and reputation built playing around Chicago (including Capone’s Dells supper club in Morton Grove, Ill.), the Coon-Sanders Orchestra relocated once again in 1931.
Coon-Sanders had a long run at The Dells and a tight relationship with management. They were card playing partners of Al Capone.
For three of the next four years the Night Hawks maintained the Blackhawk as their winter quarters.  During the summer of 1927, the Night Hawks toured the Midwest, traveling by train and caravan style in automobiles, with Coonie and Joe leading the way.  The band spent the next three summers at the Dells, a supper club in Morton Grove, Illionois, owned by Al Capone.  According to band member Rex Stout’s wife, Florence, “[T]hey had a machine gun on the roof and 2 ‘hoods’ patrolling the grounds.” During breaks band members played cards with Capone, their biggest fan and protector.  Being from Kansas City, they felt perfectly comfortable sitting down for a friendly game of cards with one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1920s. When thugs robbed Coonie of his wallet and treasured diamond-studded pinkie ring, Capone’s henchmen located the culprits and returned the purloined wallet and ring with a note of apology.
The Dells put up roadside signage and a billboard advertising the Coon-Sanders Night Hawks.
Dempster Street view of The Dells with Coon-Sanders signage.

The Dells print ads featured the Coon Sanders Original Night Hawks for the season opening in 1929 as well.

May 1929 The Dells Ad
WGN radio took over the broadcasts. The Dells took reservations and was open from 11 A. M. until closing.

Exterior view of the building and entrance to The Dells. Joe Sanders' (of Coon Sanders Night Hawks) Auburn car is parked under the canopy.
Coon-Sanders was still playing in August, 1929 when The Daily Herald reported that The Dells was destroyed by fire.
The Daily Herald,
August 2, 1929

Spectacular Blaze in Frame Structure Was Beyond Control
The Dells, well known roadhouse of Morton Grove, was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. The fire started in the basement, and frame structure as it was, the blaze spread so fast that the combined efforts of the Morton Grove, Evanston, Niles, Niles Center and the Glenview fire departments were unable to save the building. 
Smoke issuing from the northeast corner of the building was observed about three o'clock by L. Spielman, assistant to the owner, Sam Hare. He called the fire department of Morton Grove, and he and the employees attacked the blaze which was making rapid headway from the basement. 
Fire Chief Frank Boemmels sent on an S. O. S. call as soon as he arrived, which was quickly answered by the nearby stations, but the blaze was beyond the powers of all of them, and it was necessary to give some attention to save other nearby structures. 
Dempster street traffic was jammed for a long distance each way, and many motorists forsook their machines to get a close look at the fire. 
Last May this roadhouse was apparently bombed while being remodeled, and though the owner blamed the big explosion on a leak in the gas main, it was generally attributed to the enmity of rivals. 
The Coon Sanders orchestra has been playing at The Dells. One of the players, Joseph Nicholson, was overcome by the smoke when the fire broke out, and was rescued by the firemen. 
As to how the fire may have started theories conflict.
The fire, quick as it was, was only nearly as rapid as the rush to report it. The above August 2 newspaper report of destruction was followed by a humongous "Oops" the following week. 
The Daily Herald, August 9, 1929
A special reporter made a bad guess last week when he phoned the Herald that the fire at The Dells was beyond control and caused a total loss. Though it did considerable damage, the business was not stopped as the same evening the place was open to patrons and has been ever since. All credit is due to the heroic work of the Morton Grove firemen. They sure did systematic work of the building would have been a complete loss.

F. The Dells Enters the Depression Era.

Still under Sam Hare's management, The Dells transitioned from season long music engagements, to a rotating lineup of ever more popular orchestras.

The Dells ad, May 1931

On opening day in 1931, WBBM radio was back and the feature act was George Olsen's American sensational dance Orchestra.

George Edward Olsen, Sr. (March 18, 1893 - March 18, 1971) was an American band-leader. Born in Portland, Oregon, he played the drums and attended the University of Michigan, where he was drum major. Here he formed his band, George Olsen and his Music, which continued in the Portland area. He then made the cross-county transition to Broadway, appearing in Kid Boots, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1924, and Good News. 
George Olsen and his Music were prolific Victor recording artists and their records are among the most numerous found by record collectors today, testifying to their original popularity. He and his orchestra were in Eddie Cantor's 1928 Broadway hit Whoopee!, and in the 1930 movie version. In the Follies George met a singer, Ethel Shutta, who sings and dances memorably in Whoopee!, and they married, appearing together in nightclubs and on radio. 
On July 1 Ben Bernie and His Orchestra opened at The Dells "for a limited engagement."

The Dells Ad, June, 1931
The Dells enticed patrons with a "New Cooling Plant -- Always 70 deg.."  Air conditioning was a luxury almost unheard of. At the time a large cooling system cost $10,000 to $50,000, the equivalent of $120,000 to $500,000 today. "The Ole Maestro" and his orchestra entertained for cover charge was a $1.50 a head weeknights and $1.50 as well, holidays and weekends. In August, the weekday cover charge dropped to $1.00.

The Dells ad, August, 1931
Ben Bernie's roots were in vaudeville.
Orchestra leader Ben Bernie is best remembered today from his long-running radio program. Known as the Ol' Maestro, his pleasant speaking voice was his most important asset. His trademark ''Yowsah, Yowsah,'' which he often injected in the middle of his musical numbers, echoed from the radio and into American popular culture itself....

His big break finally came when New York's famed Reisenweber's Restaurant, impressed by his speaking voice, hired him as their MC. Bernie was unable to shake the show business bug, however, and later decided to give vaudeville another try. He teamed up with accordionist and comedian Phil Baker. Their act proved very successful, resulting in several recordings made prior to WWI.

In the early 1920s, impressed by Paul Whiteman's orchestra, Bernie decided to organize his own group, using musicians from Don Juelle's band. The new band debut in 1923 at New York's Roosevelt Hotel, the first orchestra to perform at the hotel, and stayed on until 1929.

Bernie's early music showed hints of jazz but by the end of the 1920s had turned sweet. Local radio broadcasts helped the band gain popularity, and they even embarked on a European tour. Bernie, however, suffered huge losses in the crash of 1929 and turned to radio to keep himself afloat. Though struggling to find a stable network and sponsor at first, he managed to keep his program on the air. Finally, in 1933, Pabst committed, and their risk paid off. Bernie became one of the most popular personalities on radio.

During his time in the spotlight Bernie also participated in a famous ''feud'' with gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Though the two were good friends in real life, the publicity helped both. Their feud even spilled over into the movies. Notably, Bernie gave Dinah Shore her first big break in show business when he hired her for his program, though he was forced to let her go when his sponsor felt she sang too softly. She was picked up by Eddie Cantor, who ended up being given credit for her discovery instead. Another Bernie discovery was saxophonist Dick Stabile.

As August faded into fall, The Dells dropped the cover charge for dining guests and opened a "Big Double Feature."

The Dells ad, August, 1931
Ted Healy is best known for the work he did with the one, the original and the only Three Stooges, Moe, Larry and Schemp (and then Curly).
[I]n 1923 he founded a stage act known as "Ted Healy & His Stooges," the latter comprising one Moe Howard and his brother, Shemp Howard, whose roles were to act as foils, or stooges, for Healy's jokes. Joined later by Larry Fine, the Howards later went off on their own, eventually to call themselves "The Three Stooges." .... When Shemp left the act to try a solo career, he was replaced by a third Howard brother, the shy, bumbling Jerome "Curly" Howard. Later, when Curly Howard suffered a debilitating stroke, Shemp would return to replace him.
Healy and the stooges split for a time.
The group ... in 1928 ... appeared in several Broadway productions, leading to their appearance in the 1930 film Soup to Nuts. In 1931 the Stooges broke from Healy after a dispute over a movie contract. They began performing on their own, using such monikers as "The Three Lost Souls" and "Howard, Fine and Howard", and often incorporating material from the Healy shows. Healy attempted to sue the Stooges for using his material, but the copyright was held by the Shubert Theatre Corporation, for which the routines had been produced, and the Stooges had the Shuberts' permission to use it.

Healy hired a new set of stooges, consisting of Eddie Moran (soon replaced by Richard "Dick" Hakins), Jack Wolf (father of sportscaster Warner Wolf), and Paul "Mousie" Garner in 1931. The original Stooges rejoined Healy's act in 1932, but Shemp left shortly thereafter to pursue a solo career and was replaced by his younger brother Curly Howard.[4]
Irving Aaronson's Commanders offered conventional musical fare.
Aaronson's Commanders had a bright, peppy, swinging sound that quickly made them a favorite in the era of college humor and bootleg gin. Aaronson's Commanders were a highly popular outfit on the movie theater and ballroom circuit, as their splashy, big-boned arrangements and onstage antics were ideally well-suited for these types of venues. In terms of their recorded work, the Commanders relied heavily on novelty numbers that featured their wild and loony frontman Phil Saxe. The band was filled with talented instrumentalists -- for example, saxophonists Artie Shaw and Tony Pastor -- who met while playing in this band. The arrangements were tough, complicated affairs drawn up mainly by the band's pianist Chummy Macgregor, who later developed the famous ride-out chorus that concludes Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." Among their notable Victor recordings were "Poor Papa," "She Was Just a Sailor's Sweetheart," "I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers," "I'll Get By as Long as I Have You," "Wimmen-Ah!," and "Waffles," to name a few.

In 1928, Aaronson's Commanders scored a hit on Broadway appearing in Cole Porter's show Paris, backing up French chanteuse Irene Bordoni. Among the Porter songs introduced in Paris were such certifiable classics as "Let's Misbehave," "Let's Do It," and "Don't Look at Me That Way," "The Land of Going-to-Be," and "Two Little Babes in the Wood." The Commanders made the first recordings of all these songs, some with Bordoni and some without. Both "Let's Misbehave" and "Let's Do It" became best-selling records that regularly appear on compilations of vintage 1920s dance band music. However, "Two Little Babes in the Wood" was never issued and no copy has ever been found. With the advent of Paris being adapted into a Vitaphone movie musical by Warner Bros., the Aaronson band headed for Hollywood. 
By 1933, Saxe and Aaronson had put together a new incarnation of the Commanders, including drummer Gene Krupa, future bandleader Bob Chester, and vocalists Harmon Nelson and Kay Weber. The band played to packed houses at the boardwalk in Atlantic City and were especially popular at the Avalon Ballroom on Santa Catalina Island, where they played a long home stand that included live broadcast radio remotes.
The Dells operated May though September. The rest of the year, Sam Hare moved into the city where he ran the appropriately named, Cafe Winter Garden. Irving Aaronson appeared there as well.

The Daily Herald, December 11, 1931
Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians closed out The Dells season in 1931. The cover charge was dropped to 50 cents weekdays, and $1.00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Dells ad, September, 1931

Fred Waring bridged the radio era into television. In addition to being a popular musician he was an innovator who developed and manufactured Waring blenders, which are acknowledged to be among the best blenders on the market to this day.
His choral group, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, won critical acclaim and soon became Waring’s sole focus and career. Waring’s popularity and musical prestige allowed for many friendships and contacts to be established, which included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and President Eisenhower. In 1983, shortly before his death, Waring received the Congressional Gold Medal from President Ronald Reagan, for appreciation of his musical contributions.
In the 1930s, Waring’s orchestra had grown to an astonishing 55-piece orchestra and had attained a six-month booking at the famous Roxy Theater in New York City along with its very own radio program.Aside from music, Waring was a talented innovator; in 1933 Fred Osius invented and patented the common household blender with Waring’s financial help. However, Osius’ blender had many technical defects and as a result Waring took it upon himself to redesign the blender. In 1937, the Waring Blendor made its debut to the public at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago and sold for $29.75.

The early 1950s brought President Eisenhower to office and Waring came to know Eisenhower through the president’s brothers, Ed and Milton Eisenhower. At the time Eisenhower was president of Columbia University. The two men quickly formed a strong bond since they both shared many common political principles. This helped in Eisenhower’s run for presidency in 1952 when Waring used his celebrity status for Eisenhower’s campaign.

Aside from Waring’s relationship with President Eisenhower, Waring had many friends in high places. His popularity and the prestige of his musical group allowed for many contacts to be established. One notable musical personality associated with Waring was Bing Crosby. Waring and his Pennsylvanians performed along side Crosby for many musical programs. Early in 1935 after realizing that radio stations were airing his music without cost or recognition, Waring with the support of Crosby assembled the National Association of Performing Artists (NAPA). NAPA’s goal was to prevent the unauthorized playing of any records over the air. Besides Crosby, Waring also made musical collaborations with Frank Sinatra.
Waring was a pioneer in television
Waring expanded into television with The Fred Waring Show, which ran on CBS Television from 20 June 1948 to 30 May 1954 and received several awards for Best Musical Program. (The show was 60 minutes long until January 1952, and 30 minutes thereafter.) In the 1960s and 1970s, popular musical tastes turned from choral music, but Waring changed with the times, introducing his Young Pennsylvanians, a group of fresh-faced, long-haired, bell-bottomed performers who sang old favorites and choral arrangements of contemporary songs.[6] In this way he continued as a popular touring attraction, logging some 40,000 miles a year.[1]
The biggest was yet to come -- Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians.

The Dells opened huge in 1933. It headlined internationally renown Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. Carlos Molina and his Tango Rhumba Orchestra appeared on the undercard. A "Brilliant Revue" performed three times nightly. 

The Dells ad, May 1933
With the Depression in full swing, The Dells dropped its cover charge. For the first time, The Dells advertised beer. A step ahead of the repeal of prohibition, "Non-intoxicating" beer was legalized in April 1933. With the advent of that 3.2 percent beer (approximately the alcohol content of an Amstel Light today) in June, The Dells championed the availability of "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous" and claimed to be a mere 30 minutes from The Loop.

At various times Sophie TuckerAbe Lyman, and Joe Kayser also put in appearances at The Dells.

F. Capone and Touhy Gangs Battle for Control.

As the Depression worsened and prohibition threatened to phase out, an all out war commenced between Chicago (Al Capone) and northwest suburban (Roger Touhy) gangland interests for the dwindling pool of illicit profits. 

The Daily Messenger 
(Canandaiguia, New York), 14 Nov 1932

Capone's Gang Plans for Control of Beer
   CHICAGO (AP) -- Reports were current today that members of the gang of Al Capone are planning an attempt to control the legal beer business in Chicago, if and when beer is legalized.   The Chicago Herald and Examiner said it had heard that gangsters hold options on two breweries, and that they were negotiating for more plants.   The newspaper said its information was that the gang's "muscle men" have been intimidating speakeasy proprietors, and warning all concernned that they must stand by the hoodlums of take the consequences.

The Dells was right in the middle of it all.
Frank Pacelli, aka, Frank "The Cowboy" Di Genova, upper left,
with Al "Scarface" Capone, lower right, at Comiskey Park, Chicago,
September 9, 1931
 On June 16, 1932, the Touhy's struck the Dells, an enormous speakeasy and casino operating just inside Touhy's territory, but the raid backfired. The Touhy's had come to the Dells looking for a Nitti hood named Fred Pacelli, 35, who was spotted by one of Touhy's people as Pacelli entered the club earlier in the evening. Pacelli was the younger brother of soon-to-be congressman Bill Pacelli. 
To kill him, Touhy sent his three best men, Willie Sharky, Roy Marshalk and George Wilke who was also Touhy's business manager.
The three hoods arrived at the Dells driving Roger Touhy's new Chrysler Sedan. They knew exactly what to do. They quickly strolled into the bar, Roy Marshalk stepped up to Pacelli and fired off a round into his face, put another one into the small of his back and then fired one into Maryanne Bruce, Pacelli's girlfriend after she tried to wrestle the pistol out of Marshalk's hand. Sharky smacked another guest across the face with the barrel of his gun and then told the other hoods to follow him out of the club.
However, in the parking lot, unknown to them, the Cook County police were waiting. Sgt. Joseph Cantello of the Cook County Sheriff's department took the call about the robbery at the Dells and arrived to the casino's parking lot just as Touhy's men were leaving the building. Cantello stepped out of his patrol car, gun drawn and yelled, "Put down those guns!"
Sharky fired off six rounds at Cantello who returned fire and put a slug through Roy Marshalk's hand and another through his arm.
At that point Cook County Highway police Lt. James Meyering arrived with his brother Sheriff Wilbur Meyering and policeman Sam Lucas and a full fledged gun battle was in place. Wilke managed to fire a round into Lucas's right ankle before Officer Cantello, who had reloaded his weapon, fired off two more rounds that caught Wilke in the arm and Sharky in the left leg. The hoods shot their way to safety.
Wilke and Sharky were wounded at the Dells shoot-out. Wilke was shot in the arm and was unable to climb a nearby fence, however Sharky pulled him over the fence and several times over the next few weeks Sharky would remind him that he had saved his life because the cops were out to kill that night.
Touhy had them sent to a Minneapolis, Minnesota Hospital to recover and then recuperate at the Sheridan Hotel in June 1932. Sharkey was limping from a bullet in the leg. 
The two year street war between Roger Touhy and the Chicago mob was on.
Even in the aftermath of the slaying, the pact between Sam Hare and the county police was honored, as Meyering continued to feign ignorance of The Dells' gambling operation.
Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1932
Pacelli was fatally wounded and his woman companion was shot as they sat at a table beside the dance floor. In the absence of eyewitnesses accounts it was not determined at the inquest into his death whether he was shot because of being one of the "heavy men" employed to guard the gambling room upstairs. 
The three gunmen, one of whom -- Leroy Marschalk -- was wounded and is being held for the killing of Pacelli, did not go to the Dells to rob the gambling room, as was first thought a Chicago police official said yesterday. The official, who is conversant with underworld affairs in the country towns, said that the real purpose of the visit was to "muscle in" on the gambling profits in behalf of the beer gang headed by Con and Roger Touhy.  
Police Battle Killers.
Country highway police, who otherwise were vague in their description of the shooting, said that the car used by the gunmen belonged to Roger Touhy. Lieutentant James Meyering, brother of Sheriff Meyering, and a party of police intercepted the three gunmen as they were leaving the Dells. They shot and captured Marschalk. His two companions abandoned the car and fled on foot. 
The first question asked of Lieut. Meyering by Deputy Coroner Matt Tychaen when he opened the inquest into the death of Pacelli was whether there was gambling at the dells. The lieutenant who had father witnesses for the inquest had neglected to summon Sam Hare, owner of the roadhouse. Jack Hare, his nephew and manager, testified, however.
Deny Knowledge of Gambling.
"If there was any gambling there," replied Lieut. Meyering, "It was absolutely 'on the cheat.' I or some of my men visited the Dells nearly every night."
It will be recalled that Sheriff Meyering, Lieutenant Meyering's brother, had run for office on a platform of not being a reformer.

In June 1932, Al Capone had just been jailed for tax evasion charges. The Touhy gang slaying of Capone's associate was likely an attempt to push out the Capone gang in a time of disruption and disarray.

Corsicana Daily Sun, June 18, 1932
CHICAGO, June 18-- (AP) -- Gangland is speaking again and, as usual, its words are the language of death.
And the prize of the latest flareup, as the police see it, is the throne once occupied by "Scarface" Al Capone, who is now "doing time" in the government prison at Atlanta, Ga., for the violating the income tax law.
George "Red" Barker -- :Barker the Immune" they called him -- who was the first major figure to die in Chicago's newest gang fight, was mowed down, police believed, in the same underworld strife that accounted for the death earlier in the week of Fred Pacelli. Pacelli was slain in a dance hall in suburban Morton Grove last Wednesday. The following night, machine gunners, concealed in a north Crawford avenue department, accounted for Barker.
Several of Capone's henchmen were sought. One of the form gang chief's followers, Sam Hunt, voluntarily strolled into the detective bureau last night for questioning, but denied any knowledge of the killing.
To all outward appearances, all had been quiet in gangland for some time until the Pacelli-Barker killings occured. The police said they believed Barker's assassination may be only the beginning of a long sanguinary struggle for Capone's crown. 
The Capone gang responded to the Pacelli slaying cleverly. They staged a kidnapping outside The Dells and framed Roger Touhy, ultimately putting him behind bars for a quarter century.  
To Serve and Collect: Chicago Policitcs and Police Corruption from
the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal, 1855 - 1960 
The Touhy mob supposedly extracted their revenge by kidnapping John "Jake the Barber" Factor outside the Dells Roadhouse on July 1, 1933. Factor was a smooth confidence man and international swindler who was an intimate of Murray Humphreys and other Capone gunmen. Facing extradition back to England, Factor went to his friends in the Chicago mob with a wild plan to fake a kidnapping that might buy him enough time to work himself out of his dilemma with the immigration officials. 
Kidnapping was a hot racket in the wake of the Lindbergh abduction, but his was one that even the Capone torpedoes were reluctant to touch. Nevertheless, it was too good to pass up, especially if Roger Touhy could somehow take the fall. The Dells was a Capone place, operated by Dell Jones in the 1920s but later run by a mobster named Sam Hare. The second floor was a casino lined with slot machines and roulett wheels, place there by the syndicate and protected by Sheriff William Meyering. 
Factor was "kidnaped" outside the Dells on July 1, 1933. He was held in the basement of a house in nearby Glenview for a period of twelves days, before being released. Murray Humpreys negotiated with the "kidnappers." Factor returned to his wife without so much as a scratch, and was more than eager to finger his abductors.

The Associated Press reported breathlessly on the kidnapping.
Lubbock Avanlanche Journal,
July 2, 1933, p. 1.

Son Is Eager For Contacts With Gunmen
Chicago Gambler is Abducted From Car Driven By His Son And Held Incommunicado By Armed Gangsters
Wife Eye-Witness
Demands of Kidnapers To Be Met, Says Son Who Also Was Victim Recently; No Word Has Been Received
(By The Associated Press)
CHICAGO, July 1. -- Kidnaped in the presence of his son and wife, Jake Factor was held incommunicado tonight by his abductors. Eager to meet any ransom demand from his father's captors, the son Jerome, himself a recent kidnap victim, kept vigil behind locked doors in a 40th story hotel suite awaiting communication from the band holding prisoner the stock market plunger and erstwhile barber.
A gay party in a Morton Grove roadhouse last night had been followed by the spectacular kidnaping.
Was High Gambler
Factor, habitue of gaming tables -- the story runs that he has pocketed $1,000,000 from his play in recent weeks -- was pounced on by two auto loads of kidnapers bristling with guns. From a car behind, Mrs. Factor and Mrs. Al Epstein, hysterical watched their husbands dragged from the automobile young Jerome was driving. 
Jerome was sent on his way. Epstein was put out some distance away.  
The kidnapping was news in Kansas City.

The Kansas City Star, July 2, 1933




Kidnaping of Notorious Chicago Gangster Remains Unsolved, With Intensive Search On.


(By the Star's Leased Wire Service.)
Chicago, July 1. -- Ransom of $100,000 to 1/4 million dollars was reported demanded for the life of John Factor tonight by the gang of nine kidnapers who seized him from a party of relatives and friends today following a party given by Factor at the Dells, roadhouse gambling resort on Dempster road, four miles west of Evanston.   The ransom demand, supposed to have been made by the Roger Touhy gang, which has been operating in Northwest Cook County, is reported to have been received shortly after noon by Factor's 19-year-old son, Jerome, a Northwestern university student, who himself was held eight days for $50,000 ransom last April. From the same suite in the Morrison hotel, where his father negotiated for the boy's release in the spring, young Factor tonight was directing the negotations for the father's liberty.

   The suave, curly-haired speculator, once a Halsted street  barber, had gone to Dells last night to drink champagne and "play the wheel." In his part were his second wife, the former Rella Cohen; the son, Jerome; a lawyer friend, A. L. Epstein; two other friend Mr. and Mrs. Charles Redlich; their son, Charles Redlich, jr., a classmate of young Factor, and two other Northwestern students.   It was shortly after 3 a. m., when the Factor party quit the Dells, bidding good night to the manager, Sam Hare. They drove east towards Evanston in three cars, Jerome and his chums in the first machine, Factor and Epstein in the second and Redlich and the two women in the third. At Dempster and Keeler avenue, the boys were stopped for speeding. They were engaged in a roadside parley with the officers when Mrs. Factor drove up, hysterical, as were the other women, and screamed to her son that his father and Epstein had been kidnaped. Epstein was released by the abductors.     
   At the Morrison suite, it appeared, young Factor was resorting to the same tactics on the captive's behalf that his father had pursued for his release. In addition to Lieut. Leo Carr of the police department and Capt. Daniel Gilbert of the state's attorney's office, there were noted around the corridors several mysterious characters, recongnized as hoodlums, who presumably were endeavoring to make contact with the kidnapers.   When his son was seized, Factor had ignored police instructions, preferring to trust his ow wits and call for aid on his friends of the night clubs and Murray Humphreys, boss racketeer since the imprisonment of Al Capone. Factor was supposed to have a claim on Humphrey's friendship by reason of $50,000 towards Capone's defense fund when a kidnaping gang was believed to have market him for ransom eighteen months ago. 
Palm Beach Daily News,
February 23, 193
Twelves days after the abduction, subsequent to alleged abuse and imprisonment in squalid conditions, Factor was released, dressed to the nines and smelling like a rose. After a hung jury, in the second trial, Roger Touhy and two associates convicted of the crime and sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

Time after time Touhy filed writs seeking to have his conviction overturned and to secure his release from prison. A federal judge ordered Touhy's release in 1954.
The Post Standard (Syracuse, New York) , August 10, 1954
CHICAGO, Aug. 9 (AP) --    Roger (The Terrible) Touch, prohibition era gang leader, was free from prison today.  A federal judge dramatically ordered his immediate release from the penitentiary he crashed out of in 1942 in one of the nation's most sensational prison breaks.Federal Judge John P. Barnes held that Touhy's 1933 conviction of the kidnaping of John (Jake the Barber) Factor, bit time confidence operator, was obtained through lies.
Judge Barnes declared in his decisoin:   "As a result of the study of evidence in this case ... the court finds that Roger Touhy did not kidnap John Factor and in fact had no part in the alleged kidnaping." 
Judge Barnes referred to Touhy as a "welcome scapegoat" and said the gangster's trial afforded "a complete explanation for the anti-Touchy activities of the prosecutor's office before and after the trial."   The federal judge said that Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Courtney, who was state's attorney at the time of Touhy's kidnaping trial, "must be held responsible for the actions of Chief Investigator Daniel A. Gilbert in causing perjured testimony to be presented to the jury that convicted Roger Touhy." 
Courtney commented that "news of Touhy's ordered release is shocking. If Touhy is entitled to release on the basis of evidence produced at his trail then everyone in Joliet (Prison) is entitled to his freedom. 

Gilbert has retired and is believed to be vacationing in Europe. Factor's whereabouts were not known.
But the court order didn't stick -- the government successfully reversed it on appeal.  Roger Touhy was released from prison on parole in November, 1959, but had little chance to enjoy his freedom. He was shot down on December, 17 1959 on his sister's front porch.
Redlands Daily Facts, December 17, 1959
Two Gunmen Kill Him With Shotgun Blasts.
CHICAGO (UPI) -- A Chicago police official said today "amateur gunmen murdered pint sized Roger Touhy, former prohibition era beer baron, but a U.S. attorney said the ambush shooting was the work of the Mafia, international crime ring.
   "Touhy must have spoken at one time," [U.S. attorney] Tieken said. "They killed him to impress other members that no matter how long it takes, they will seal your lips forever."   Factor, 63, the man whose testimony sent Touhy to prison for 25 years, voluntarily signed a two-page statement detailing his activities at the time of Wednesday night's slaying.   Touhy,  61, was gunned down at the home of his sister, Mrs. Ethel Alesia, only 23 days after his parole from an accumulated 298-year senetence for kidnaping Factor and later escaping prison. His bodyguard was critically wounded in a gun battle with two assassins. Factor, a dapper Beverly Hills, Calif. real estate operator, went to a coroner's inquest accompannied by his attorney, Frank J. McGarr, after questioning by police, but only as a formality.   [Chicago detective] Ascher said he was certain Factor's visit to Chicago was only coincidental with Touhy's death.Touhy's bodyguard, Walter Miller, 62. who was a star defense witness at Touhy's trial for kidnaping Factor, shot five times at the gunmen and possible wounded one before they fled.
Offers to Pay Bill
   Factor said he came here Tuesday in connection with a libel suit he had filed against Touhy and was in a near North Side nightclub with a friend when Touhy was killed.    Factor told newsmen after talking to Ascher that he "made a voluntary statement and signed it voluntarily. I even cooperated to the extent of offering to pay Walter Miller's hospital bill," he said.
   Factor, a convicted swindler but now a wealthy Beverly Hills, Calif., real estate dealer, had accused Touhy of libeling him in an autobiography entitled "The Stolen Years," published last month.   The book, written by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Ray Brennan, repeated Touhy's claim of 25 years that he was framed in the 1933 kidnaping of Factor, then a Chicago promoter.   Brennan, a Chicago newsman, later said in an interview that he and Touhy had been together until 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night when they both left the Chicago Press Club.
Taken By Surprise
  He said they went downstairs together "and that was the last time I saw Roger alive."   Brennan sobbed. "Why did I write that stinkin', lousy book?" he said. "That's what did it."
By 1959, The Dells was long gone and the land where it operated was occupied by a National Tea grocery store, Dahm's department store, a Ben Franklin 5 & 10, a dry cleaner, a bakery and a Rexall Pharmacy where we did our local retail shopping during my youth.

G. The Final Season.

The Dells opened in 1933 featuring Ted Lewis and his entire New York production, a brilliant show three times nightly. There was no cover charge.

June, 1933 The Dells Ad

Ted Lewis and his Band was one of the best selling Jazz bands of the 1920s and Lewis was Columbia Records best selling artist. Lewis got his start with Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band in 1917, but his clarinet antics soon made him the star of the group and he went solo in 1919, taking most of the musicians from Fuller's band with him. In 1924 Lewis hired George Brunies of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and in 1928 he hired Muggsy Spainer. Over the years many up-and-coming Jazz greats like Benny GoodmanJack Teagarden and Jimmy Dorsey passed through the band early in their careers. With all of this talent passing through the band they were really starting to swing by the early 1930s as evidenced in tunes like JazznocracyWhite Heat and Rhythm, but as the Depression worn on Lewis had become more of a Pop vocalist and Jazz was not figuring as prominently in the mix. Most modern Jazz histories overlook or downplayTed Lewis' role in the development of Jazz. When he is mentioned he is often dismissed as being commercial and corny, but Lewis was a true Jazz pioneer and on his best songs like Dip Your Brush In Sunshine it is easy to understand why he was so popular. 

It was the same story for Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians when they closed the 1933 season. A cover charge could no longer be commanded.

The Dells Ad, October, 1933

In 1934, State's Attorney Courtney prevented The Dells from receiving a liquor license, effectively shutting it down.

   Despite impassioned arguments that only "the best people" patronized the Dells roadhouse in Morton Grove, Superior Judge John P. McGoorty refused ... to issue a temporary injunction restraining the state's attorney from keeping the place closed.

  The courtroom was the scene of a verbal battle between Attorney Simon Herr, representing the two owners of the Dells, Sam Hare and Louis Silversmith, and Assistant State's Attorney Jacob Shamberg. Herr wanted the temporary injunction to keep the Dells open at least until a ruling on the permanent restraining order.   "The owners have spent $40,000 fixing up the place, then the state's attorney stopped our grand opening on May 20," Herr complained. "Now $10,000 of food is spoiling out there."   "Why only the best people patronize that place," remonstrated Herr. "Maybe they did use to be interested in gambling out there -- but most of our best people are interested in gambling. Anyway, they don't gamble there anymore."
Cites Factor Kidnaping
   "John Factor was kidnaped from that place," retorted the prosecutor, "and the kidnapers hid in a building on the grounds. It would be a fine thing to take 'the best' out there to be kidnaped."   "The owners have been the victims of an extortion ring, which the federal government knows about," declared Herr.   "That show the situation is bad," said Shamberg. "You are running something there, or you wouldn't have been paying the Touhys. What are you hiding?"
The end was just around the corner.

Map of Morton Grove roadhouses. 
This serene scene of my youthful innocence went up in smoke. Al Capone, his mobster contemporaries, cronies and henchmen became a thing of the past. The Dells and, shortly thereafter, the roadhouse era in Morton Grove Illinois came to an ignominious end, courtesy of machine gun armed thugs, canisters of gasoline and a match. 

Freeport Journal Standard, October.8 1934



Chicago, Oct. 8.--(AP)--Four men, armed with sub-machine guns today kidnapped the watchman at the Dells roadhouse in suburban Morton Grove, spread gasoline throughout the main floor and set fire to the place. Firemen form surrounding suburbs were unable to check the flames. 
The Dells for many years was one of Chicago's most widely known roadhouses. It was from the Dells that John Factor, wealthy speculator, was kidnapped. Roger Touhy and several members of his gang are now serving terms in the state prison at Joliet for the kidnapping. The resort was closed early this summer when State's Attorney Thomas J. Courtney ordered its liquor license held up. 
Paul Ott, watchman, told police that the four men drove up to the roadhouse in an automobile, forced their way in and made him a prisoner. Although he was bound and blindfolded, Ott said he could tell from their conversation that the men covered the floors with gasoline. 
The "torches" then drove him about a mile to Lincoln avenue, Morton Grove, and then threw him from the car, Ott said. 
Despite the efforts of fire departments from Evanston, Morton Grove, Niles Center, Park Ridge, Glenview and Northbrook, the roadhouse, valued at $75,000, was destroyed.

Five of the boys had the presence of mind to pose for this photo as The Dells burns to the ground, October 7, 1934.

As news of the fire and the fire itself spread, the crowd of gawkers grew.

The fixtures and furnishings were reduced to ashes.


I've identified that Sam Hare was permitted to operate a club across the street from The Dells after it was torched.  I've also tracked down, by the 1940 federal census, that Elmer "Al" Cowdrey of Club Rendezvous fame, became the proprietor of an Inn across Dempster street. I found no additional details. It seems that both proprietors continued to operate at some level in Morton Grove, at neighboring, or perhaps even the same venue. If any old timers out there have some insight on this question, your input will be greatly appreciated.

Appendix -- Additional News Clipping on The Dells.

State's Attorney Thomas J. Courtney, who was responsible for closing down The Dells, barely escapes a mob hit, the very same night that Club Rendezvous went up in smoke.

Pampa Daily News, March 25, 1935

Ironwood Daily Globe, January 24, 1934

Fred Pacelli's killer had once been a cellmate.

The rifle that was used to murder George "Red" Barker is linked to an owner of The Dells.

Slaying of Fred Pacelli at The Dells is linked to the slaying of George "Red" Barker.

The Brownsville Herald, June 19, 1932

Sam Hare ran dog tracks too.

The Chicago Heights Star, June 28, 1927

Long feature story on Roger Touhy.

The Daily Herald, October 13, 1971

Four hundred patrons at The Dells saw nothing when Fred Pacellia was shot.

The Evening Review East Liverpool Ohio, June 16, 1932

Dude making bank deposit for The Dells is robbed.

The Jacksonville Daily Journal, July 31, 1932

Another report on the Factor "kidnapping."
The Journal News Hamilton Ohio, July 1, 1933

"Hillbilly" attempts to go state's evidence in the Factor kidnapping.

The Bee Danville Virginia, February 20, 1934

The Touhy's are a kidnapping gang.

The Vidette Messenger Valparaiso Ind., November 10, 1933

Eyewitness does not see.
The Rhinelander Daily News, January 24, 1934, p 3

The Rhinelander Daily News, January 24, 1934, p 

More on the Rachbauer shooting.

The Evening News, Harrisburg Penn., September 14, 1922\
Mrs. Pein's sister freed on bond.

Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1922

Lodi News Sentinel, November 14, 1959


  1. This is sensational/awesome work. Steve Huscher played Little League with me. Steve's father was an officer with the Morton Grove Fire Department. And of course the Boemmels worked at GVC. I worked with one of the Boemmel sons for years when I was w RE/MAX/

  2. All of this leaves me wondering as to whether Willard's story about Rudy Valle was apocryphal or not.

  3. All kinds of stuff on internet linking Coon Sanders w Rudy Vallee. So probably true