A Night at the Whitechapel Club – Part 4

(concluding our series serializing an article on the mysterious whitechapel club from 1890)

“To our patron saint and president,” says the chairman, raising his glass of punch.

Then the health of Jack the Ripper is drank. It is drank until hte framed panel containing the club’s charter from the state of Illinois – the object: social reform – shakes with the acclaim.

Dr. G. Frank Lydston or some other medical celebrity who happens to be a member reads a paper on “knives.” The knives he tells about are the sort with which Jack the Ripper carves up his victims. Cheers and an orgy follow.

Billy Mason, the congressman, an “inert” member – because he cannot be an active one, owing to his residence in Washinton during the winter – tells a story. He is in the city of his constituents over Sunday, and he improves his fame this saturday night. He tells a good story, and applause for four minues succeeds.

The lights that shine with ghostly glare thorugh the skulls eyes are turned down to stars. A member has been struck by the puch – the Whitechapel punch. His head hangs over his breast. The Whitechapel death-chant is sung:

“Flee as a bird to the mountain
Ye who are weary of sin.”

Prof*. Steinbach plays “Peace and War” on his zither. The club goes wild over it.

Then songs, stories, repartee and jokes follow until 5 o’clock comes and it is announced by the purveyor that it is time for its members and guests to turn into the nearst Turkish bath house.

NOTE: it was probably on the night of this article that the club wired Chauncey Depew, New York senator, with the phrase “When may we see you on the dissecting table?” He replied “I am at your service when ordered and quite ready after today’s events to contribute my body to Chicago science.” Dr. Depew visited the club a year later, and remarked that the problem with Chicago was that the buildings were too tall.

* – piano players at the time were often called “Professors.”