One of the venerable ghost stories of Chicago concerns the one survivor of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: Highball the dog, who was tied to one of the axles of the trucks in the garage. Some say it was his hysterical barking that brought the attention of the neighbors to the garage after seven guys affiliated (in one way or another) with the Moran gang were lined up against the wall and shot there.
Though the dog was not killed (at least not right away; the cops apparently had to put him down), it’s said that his panic left a sort of “psychic imprint” on the grounds, and that, after the garage was torn down in the 1960s, dogs walked past the fence would go nuts. I stopped telling the story on tours long ago; too often, I’d tell the story, then someone would walk past the fence with a dog that didn’t react at all, and I’d end up looking stupid. I make it a point not to tell stories that can easily be dismissed. People can fact check me on their phones these days. I’m ready with an Evernote account full of primary sources on all the stories I tell (even though I know some people would prefer it if I exaggerated the stories and insisted that every legend and ghost story they ever heard was 100% true).
The other night, a couple of people actually snuck some dogs onto my tour bus in bags (crowds in October get kind of strange, to say the least). I normally don’t stop the bus at the massacre site – the old folks’ home on the grounds isn’t wild about tours, and there’s not much to see, anyway – but in this case, knowing that we had a dog aboard, I decided to give it a shot.
The dog, for its part, walked casually through the fence, relieved itself, and walked right back to its owner.
No, for the record, we don’t allow dogs on the bus, with the rare exception of seeing-eye dogs.
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