We took the Gangster Tour. It was a hoot. Saw Al Capone's old haunts, and the location of the St Valentines Day Massacre
On tap today were three things. We start with a Gangster Tour, the head to Shedd Aquarium, and then finish up at the Navy Pier. I don’t believe in traveling across the country to swim in a hotel pool. There is a pool four blocks from our house and a hot tub in the backyard. When I go on vacation, I see and do stuff. My goal is to need additional time off to recover from the vacation.
So far, so good. The Gangster Tour starts at , and departs from the McDonalds (the Rock n Roll McDonalds.
One of our guide, Al Dente
I haven’t been in there yet) which is right across the street. We ate breakfast at the Hotel and then walked across. There were two guys giving the tour. They were dressed in period costumes and talked in movie/gangster Italian. The younger guy was Lefty, the older, Al Dente. They were both pretty funny. They joked and played music to pass the time between stops. The stops were pretty spread out, so the whole tour took two hours. We learned a bit about Chicago history and saw several neighborhoods that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Little Sicily and Little Italy were a given, but Chinatown and the West Side in general were bonuses. We saw a couple of places that were actually still there, but the site of St Valentine’s Day Massacre and Dion O’Bannon’s flower shop are gone.
Gangster Tour Guide
Dion O’Bannon ran the north side gangsters. Al Capone the south side. O’Bannon had a lot of the beer. Al Capone had a lot of European immigrants who drank beer. As Al Dente put it “You would think a coupla of good Catholic boys coulda worked sometin out”. But no. Al sent three guys down. Dion actually did work the flower shop. It was a very popular place with the gangsters. They supplied flower arrangements for gangster funeral, both sides. Anyway, Dion was working on an arrangement when the three guys walked in. The middle guy shook Dion’s hand, but didn’t let go. That made it hard to get his gun. The other two emptied their pistols into him. He had a beautiful funeral. The guides had some sound and special effects. Such as taped Tommy Gun fire, at which we were supposed to duck. After the first incident, some of use were chastised for not ducking. Lefty speculated that we must have been married men.
Chameleon at the Shedd Aquarium
For in his experience the married guys “kinda of lost their will to duck” For the Chicago Fire explanation, the driver at the time (Lefty and Al would switch off) held up his Bic lighter, emoting that they spared no expense for the “special effects”. I really like the tour. After our tour was done, we got a couple of pictures, a souvenir and went back to the hotel to drop those off.
Then we were off to the Shedd Aquarium. We got all of the way there, before I remembered to ask Margo about the tickets. I had bought a combination package that had tickets for four different places we were going to. She had asked me the prior day if we were done with it. I of course thought she meant for the day and said Yes.
The sunglasses just don't work
She took them out of her purse. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I just let it roll. Done was done and no since ruining the rest of the day. The Aquarium was OK, but we have been all over the country and seen better dolphin shows and even the new Komodo Dragon exhibit was old hat. We saw a bigger dragon at ReptileGardens in South Dakota. Still if was neat to see the fish. We got to see a real Nemo fish (Tomato Clown fish) and the sea anemones too. Perhaps the high point of the day was when I made Jessi’s drink come out of her nose. We were eating lunch and I had finished most of my drink. So I reached over and took a drink of Margo’s. She “Hey! Why didn’t you drink you own” I just wanted a long pull, and mine was nearly gone.
Jessi and Margo on the Carousel at Navy Pier
But I said “I wanted one without spit in it” Jessi was in the middle of her drink and immediately starting laughing, gagging, and chocking. After a few seconds, I asked her if it came out her nose. She was still in the midst of her machinations, and nodded. I yelled “Yes!” and pumped my fist. That did not help her gain control at all. It took awhile, but eventually composure was regained.
After we left the aquarium we went back to the hotel and then to the Navy Pier. They had a fireworks show, we wanted to ride some of the rides, and there were plenty of shops we didn’t see. The rides were pretty tame. One of them was a simulator ride. On line it looked pretty cool, but after reading between the lines of the description on the wall, I was starting to have my doubts.
The least blurry picture I took from the Ferris Wheel.
I was getting a little tired and I they were doing a poor job of communicating what we were supposed to be doing, and when. This was all before the ride started. And then to top it off, they were taking pictures at the beginning. If you have been to virtually any tourist attraction recently, they have all started taking your pictures either before the ride starts with some sort of attraction specific background, or during the ride when you are supposed to be most terrified. They have the standard roller coaster warning about pregnant women, those with heart or back conditions, ect, ect, not to ride it. But, they were taking their picture in front of a blue screen. The blue screen would then be blotted out by the computer and a time vehicle placed so it looked like we were riding in it, over Chicago. That just confirmed that the ride was going to be lame.
But, we had already paid our $30, and I’m here to enjoy this vacation, not find ways to make myself miserable. So, when our turn got up, and lady went on with her sales pitch……Flying over Chicago…..Blah….Blahh….Very Scary….Blah…Blah….take picture…..Blah…blah…..You can make any face you would like…..Boing! and idea occurred. So when she was finishing her countdown, I yawned. Now I figured I was sabotaging the picture and we would have a good reason not to buy it. (Insert evil grin here) But, two things foiled my nefarious plot. First , the photographer noticed. “She immediately yelled and I do mean yelled,“Did you do that on purpose??”, in a most surprised tone of voice. I mumbled something as my daughter whirled around and in a loud, accusing tone also yelled “What did you do??!!” I mumbled something as the photographer asked “Do you want to take another?” I said “Not really and we moved over to the computer monitor to see the result.
Beer Garden! What a concept!
Now the second thing that conspired to foil me occurred. Jessi thought this was the funniest thing since Mt Dew came out of her nose the day before. So we bought a copy. Most of the other pictures we bought had been$20, and came with four pictures and key ring. Most of which we didn’t want or need. At least this one was only $8. The ride did end being pretty tame, when compared to the build up. The Ferris Wheel was nice though, because it was so big. You got a nice view of the city. We ended up missing about half the fireworks, because we were on the wrong side. But, it was the right side for the Free Trolley. On Monday when we rode the trolley back we had to take the 2nd one that showed up, and then stand the whole trip. That’s because it was the third stop at the pier. The other two were deep within the facility, and at closing time the first two stops almost filled it up. Well this time we were at the first stop and got seats. No A/C, but we had windows. That pretty much took care of our day.