restricted access 29 A Promise Kept
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Gus Winkler’s thirty-third birthday was approaching and for the second time I planned a party for him. It occurred to me as I made preparations that Fate must have had a hand in making such an elaborate affair possible. For I recalled that just ten years had passed since that eventful evening in St. Louis when I gave a party in his honor of his twenty-third birthday. It was then that he had promised me that in ten years we would have a party that would wipe out the memory of the St. Louis affair. That had been his determination and his efforts, and as misdirected as they had been, that made it possible for me to carry out his vow. And this party was to be so much different from the last. Again his friends were to be invited—not friends of the St. Louis type, but the people he had promised me he would know. I made arrangements for the dining room at the Chez Paree and issuedengravedinvitationstoabouttwentycouples ,andletmesaythateverypersoninvitedwasofgoodfamilyandrecognizedassuchinChicago . I allowed myself a full week to make the arrangements, for the party was to be strictly formal, and consequently must be perfect in every detail. The guests were to assemble at our apartment at 3300 Lake Shore Drive and go in a group to the Chez Paree. Expert decorators had been employed to prepare the dining room, and table decorations alone brought a bill that was staggering. Two floristsworkedanentirehalfdayarrangingthetabledecorationsandflower baskets. The birthday cake with its thirty-three candles was a masterpiece of pastry art. 29 A Promise Kept 172 A Promise Kept 173 IusedeveryprecautiontopreventGusfromlearningofthebirthday party, for I intended to take him to the club with a dramatic flourish, to recall to his mind without my mentioning it, just what he had promised me in St. Louis. However, I had informed him that a number of his friends were calling at the house to wish him a happy birthday. When the guests started to arrive at the apartment the evening of the party, a corsage of orchids was pinned on each lady by the maids in attendance. Gus was very much pleased when he saw the people who called, and I never saw him so affable and friendly. When every guest had arrived I suggested that we all go to the club andfinishtheevening.Thelineoflimousinespulledawayfromthecurb, and shortly were emptied at the Chez Paree with a uniformed doorman officiating. As we entered the club Ben Pollack’s orchestra struck up the old familiar tune, “Happy Birthday to You,” and we were greeted on all sides by old friends and acquaintances that sent their best wishes to the guest of honor. The lavishly appointed and decorated dining room was made even more beautiful by stately ladies and perfectly groomed gentleman—all friendly and at ease with that ease that comes only from experience and breeding. Gus Winkeler was realizing a dream. His face beamed and his eyes were moist. Here, there was no home brew. Champagne was poured from the chilled bottles into sparking crystal goblets. At each place was an expensive favor, silver cigarette and match cases for the men and hand-painted “coasters” for the ladies. Smart talk passed back and forth across the table during the multicourse dinner completely lacking in the smut and vulgarity that marked the St. Louis party. I was completely repaid for my trouble as we swung into the first dance and Gus said in a husky voice: “Honey, this is the most marvelous thing that ever happened to me; it’s the very thing I looked forward to all my life. I have always hoped I could reach the place where I could make up to you the suffering you’ve gone through in being a wife to me. 174 al capone and his american boys “I get the idea, and I appreciate the fact that you let me get it myself. You want me to compare this party with that other one you gave? I can’t. There isn’t any comparison.” I was so happy I could have cried all over the front of his starched shirt. “I’m happy, too, Gus,” I said. “But if I only knew that those old days were gone forever. I wish I could feel that this is permanent. Please, Gus, don’t ever go back to the old life.” “Don’t worry,” he said, and we danced on in silence. The evening was more successful than I had dared hope. Greetings came...


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Subject Headings

  • Crime -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
  • Murder -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
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