(continuing a serialization of a Tribune article on The Whitechapel Club fro 1890, just after Chicago was chosen as the World’s Fair location).
The room is triangular. Long, narrow tables run through the center spaces. But this goes for little. It is the walls that give The Whitechapel Club a distinctive character. There one finds the rope that hanged the three Italians who did that ghastly murder on the west side*, and the handcuffes that safeguarded Burke on his unpleasant journey from Winnipeg jungle against the chandelier; the walls are dark with pictured crims – Japanese and others – and the ceiling flares down with synchromatic wickedness.
The fireplace glows with a whimsically drunken light; there is an inspiring facetiousness in the gurgle of the emptying brandy bottles.
For it must be admitted that the Whitechapel man drinks now and again. The punch is brewed in a Japanese bowl that fancies forth the old Goddess of Death. And then it is turned out – the punch, of course – into skulls, fashioned as cups. The king cup of the all is made from the cranium of “Bad Charlie.” A few years ago he was lynched in Wyoming.
Incidentaly, he had murdered a woman and three babies, an a few men who thought they recognized a breach of ettiquette in the affair shot him down on the windy, gray-grass plains.
There is a rack in the Whitechapel Club. It lies along the western half of the alcove. There one stumbles on pipes and tobacco. Clay pipes, mark you, and the long-stemmed church wardens. The Hon. Chauncy Mitcheli Depew** smokes just such a pipe as this when he loafs over his 5 o’clock cigar in his offices in 42nd street.
In the Whitechapel Club are merriment and good-fellowship and the quaint, irritating microbe that sets the brain of wit and kindliness afire.
There are no strangers in Chicago, for every one who is worthy of being alive in Chicago at all is at home in Chicago. An in this sense it goes without saying that Chicago is the “Whitechapel Club”
* – this refers to The Trunk Murder of 1885 – see our book!
** – Depew was a NY senator who worked HARD to get the fair in New York, not Chicago. The meeting this night would be the night they sent him a telegram to rub his nose in Chicago’s victory….
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!