Slick and I were talking the other day about the old Devonshire and Berkshire hotels. (Pictured at right and below.) Back in the 1950s they were headquarters for the Chicago mob. He lived there for a while with his friend, Bob Mauro, who was connected. Slick said,
"Everyone has heard of Rush Street, a famous area in downtown Chicago known for its sensational restaurants and nightclubs. But how many have heard of Ohio Street, mob headquarters?"
In our book, THIEF!, Slick describes this colorful neighborhood and it's zany characters:
On the first floor of the Devonshire, a coffee shop occupied one side. Across from the coffee shop was a bar loaded with prostitutes. The Berkshire next door resembled the Devonshire except, on the left, it had an Italian restaurant called Valentino's, on the right a bar loaded with prostitutes. A little guy, Davie Fuch, made tough decisions as the doorman at Valentino's. If he didn't know you or you weren't okayed by someone important, you didn't get in, period.
It was Valentino's where the mob-run Rush Street nightclubs like the Chez Paree, Mr. Kelly's and The Living Room quietly dropped off the nights' receipts in brown paper bags to Jimmy "the Monk" Allegretti. The balding, round-shouldered mob soldier ran the place for the Outfit. He had the say about what went on at the two hotels. When Jimmy barked, all the dogs jumped. He left most of the barking to his underlings like Big Joe Arnold, his bodyguard-enforcer-collector. The last table in the narrow, well-lit Valentino's was permanently reserved for Jimmy and Joe to conduct business...
A lot of goofy things went on around the neighborhood. Living there certainly had its perks. Every morning a guy who worked for city hall would systematically collect all the parking tickets on the cars in front of the two hotels and have them fixed. In the summer Handsome Joe, a four-foot-tall ex-fighter with his nose plastered all over his face, drove a carload of strippers out to Calumet City to turn some tricks. It was sort of a "shopping center" for hookers."
Slick went on to say,
Well, all that's gone and the Devonshire's now a cheap joint called the Tokyo Hotel. (Pictured below.) Wonder what Tony Montana would say?
[The above excerpt is taken from THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist. All rights are reserved by the authors.]