We huddled around the tiny screen of a friend’s smart phone as the buffering circle spun to load the anticipated You Tube video. Garbled sound and low light came into place to reveal a local reporter dressed like Robert Stack from Unsolved Mysteries, standing in front of the grand three-story Second Italian Renaissance Revival mansion.
I’d heard the legend. Anyone who knew of the house had. This was our latest research project. The reporter quickly made his way through the first floor and into…the BASEMENT! Scared yet? Yeah, I wasn’t either. He moves through the tunnel to the large vault like door…Ahhhh!!! A wall!!! A wall covered in flat thin metal sheets, and behind that wall? Al Capone’s hits, of course.
The homeowner gave us a tour as well. The non-creepy version. We walked through the tunnel, which leads to a stairway into the carriage house, through the door and all stood gathered at the famous tunnel’s end. I had to pipe up. I lived outside of Chicago for a couple of years. “There’s a river right over there. They would have got a brick and some rope and…” Everyone got the picture.
So maybe Al Capone had been in that house. The original homeowner had ties to Chicago. He was also a Doctor of “Special Medicine” and Capone could have used his services. Beyond that, it’s simply an Urban Legend until fully, and I mean fully verified.
There’s the home that claims to be part of the Underground Railroad, the many that claim Jesse James hid here or President Truman played cards there. We include these legends in the final book, we just blatantly disclaim they are unproven. Sometimes we can verify a story, which is quite an exciting event giving faith to orally shared history throughout the generations.
As for what is behind the wall at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know. The homeowner got behind a small portion of it once only to have several wheel barrels full of garbage and debris to haul out. If I had to guess of anything spectacular in there I’d pick some bootlegged whisky. However, that’s my personal guess and the legend is plenty mysterious enough without me adding to it.
Audrey L. Elder
Past to Present Research