Mar 16 2014

Despondency On Ellis Avenue

It’s worth remembering that America’s current struggle with unemployment and the lack of socialized medicine was an even BIGGER problem in the pre-Social Security, pre-Medicare years of the Great Depression.  And as we know, desperation leads to some very tragic decisions.  Take the decision made by Herman Marcus on December 11, 1933.

FATHER SHOOTS HIS AILING SON; ENDS OWN LIFE

Parent Despondent Over Cost of Medical Care.

Harris Marcus, an unemployed tailor, shot his ailing son, Herman, yesterday in their home at 6130 Ellis avenue, and then fatally wounded himself with the same weapon.

IMG_1442-4

The apartment building at 6130 S. Ellis Avenue where the Marcus family resided.

Marcus had been brooding over his own unemployment and the fact that expenditures for the son’s medical care made it difficult to provide for other members of the family, police were told.  Members of the family said, however, that the father’s worries were largely imaginary, since another son and a son-in-law, both living in the household, are employed and contributing to the family budget.

Marcus, who was 57 years old, and the son, who is 21, were both taken to the Woodlawn hospital.  The father’s death occurred several hours later from a bullet wound in the right temple.  Physicians believe Herman will live, although a bullet from his father’s revolver is imbedded in the mastoid area near his right ear.

Staggers from Apartment.

Herman was able to give a statement to police shortly after he was given first aid.  He had staggered out of the apartment and was seated on a stair landing when a detective squad, summoned by neighbors, reached the building.  He suffers from an intestinal ailment which made it impossible for him to find work.  The son said his father upbraided him for not working and because the expense of his care was “taking bread from the mouths” of other members of the family.

“My father threatened several times to commit suicide,” Herman told police.  “Just yesterday he made the threat that we both would jump in the lake.”

“Are you working?” the youth was asked.

“No,” he replied.  “I have been sick and haven’t worked for three or four years.  In fact, I’ve never worked.  This was the cause of our many arguments.”

Mother and Sister Out.

Herman was reading in the front room of the home when his father shot him.  His mother, Mrs. Anna Marcus, and his sister, Rosalind, had gone to a motion picture show.  A brother, Louis, who is a druggist and lives with the family, and a married sister, Mrs. Samuel Fenk, wife of an osteopath, and her child, who live in the same apartment, were also absent.

Marcus had arrived home about 45 minutes before the shooting, the son said.  He made no remark to his son before shooting him, Herman said, and the youth was unable to remember whether his father had said anything afterward.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 11, 1933

The next day another wee article appeared relating to the shooting, which corrected Harris’ age as well:

Father Who Shot Son and Killed Self Held Insane

A coroner’s jurty found yesterday that Harris Marcus, 87 years old, 6130 Ellis avenue, who shot his ailing son, Herman, 21 years old, on Sunday night and then ended his own life, acted while temporarily insane.  An older son, Louis, told the jury that his father had been unbalanced since an automobile accident three years ago.  Herman, who was shot in the head, probably will recover, it was said yesterday at the Woodlawn hospital

Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 12, 1933

I’m not sure if Herman survived since I couldn’t find any additional information on him after this, but I trust that he did.


Aug 12 2013

Puppy Love Gone Bad

When I started working on this blog, I did a cursory search of my address to see if anything tragic had occurred here.  Sadly, nothing of note turned up.  I did, however, find that an extraordinary tragedy had occurred in the building next door: a murder-suicide committed by a lovelorn teenager, followed by an accidental re-enactment of the crime on the same day by another teenager a couple of miles away.  Here’s the amazing story, as told by the Chicago Daily Tribune on December 1, 1931.

RE-ENACTS KILLING; SLAYS GIRL

School Pupils Figure in Two Gun Tragedies

Thwarted in a “puppy love” affair, Henry Sio, 16 years old, 4186 Elston avenue, a student in the Roosevelt High school, early yesterday shot and killed his 12 year old sweetheart, Ruth Wicklund, as she was on her way to the Belding elementary school.  He then raced to his home and, with a single shot, committed suicide.

Last night another 16 year old Roosevelt High school student, Joseph T. Wilson, 2537 Argyle street, reenacted the tragedy in which a school mate had figured.  Facing him were Constance Trohatos, 15 years old, and her sister, Cleo, 17, of 2425 Eastwood avenue, also students at the Roosevelt High.

As young Wilson reenacted the shooting he snapped the trigger of a supposedly empty revolver.  Constance slumped into her chair dead, a bullet in her brain.

 First Tragedy Described.

The background of yesterday’s first tragedy lay in the parental objection to the juvenile courtship by young Sio of the Wicklund girl.  Both resided in the same building, and frequently Sio accompanied her to school.  Recently their affair was ordered stopped.  Yesterday the Wicklund girl left her home as usual.  At Berteau and Springfield avenues Sio halted her.  He drew a revolver and fired, as she pleaded with him not to shoot. His own death followed shortly afterward.

A contemporary view of the apartment building at 4186 Elston avenue where both Ruth Wicklund and Henry Sio resided in 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

A contemporary view of the apartment building at 4186 Elston avenue where both Ruth Wicklund and Henry Sio resided in 1931.  (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

A modern view of the intersection of Springfield and Berteau avenues - where Henry Sio fatally wounded Ruth Wicklund. I tried to get ahold of police records indicating precisely where Ruth fell, but was unsuccessful. Ruth would have been walking to this intersection in front of the building shown (which is not the building she and Henry resided in), in a rightward direction, in order to head towards Belding school. Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.

A modern view of the intersection of Springfield and Berteau avenues – where Henry Sio fatally wounded Ruth Wicklund. I tried to locate police records indicating precisely where Ruth fell, but was unsuccessful. Ruth would have been walking to this intersection in front of the building shown (which is not the building she and Henry resided in), in a  left to right direction, in order to head towards Belding school.  (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

News of the shooting became the main topic of hundreds of students at the Roosevelt High school, where Sio was well known.  It remained as fresh news last night.  Among the few, however, who knew nothing of the double death was Constance Trohatos.  She had played hookey.

Gather in Boy’s Home.

Last night she and Cleo left home for a neighborhood library.  They recollected that young Wilson possessed a number of entertaining books and called at his home.  They sat in the living room, discussing literature, when Wilson mentioned the Sio-Wicklund tragedy.  Constance expressed surprise, saying she had not heard of it, and laughingly remarking she “was glad she had played hookey, or she might have been shot.”

Wilson excused himself and left the room.  He reappeared a few moments later carrying a revolver.

“This is loaded with wooden bullets, so don’t be afraid,” he reassured, smiling.  He broke the weapon and extracted a wooden cartridge.  As he displayed the weapon, he described the suicide of Sio and the killing of his sweetheart.  He inspected the gun, and sprang suddenly to where Cleo was sitting.  He pressed the gun to her head.

Presses Gun to Head.

“See?” he exclaimed, as he pressed the trigger.  There was a harmless snap.

“How would you like to be shot?” he asked, jokingly, as he walked over to Constance.  She accepted the threat in fun and laughed.  Wilson stepped up to her, placed the revolver against her temple, and pressed the trigger.  Again there was a harmless snap.  He pressed the trigger a second time.  There was a sharp explosion.  Constance fell over dead.

Cleo screamed.  Wilson almost collapsed, but holstered himself sufficiently to summon police.  Lieut.  John O’Brien of the Summerdale station responded.  He took the boy and Cleo to the station, and after questioning them said the killing was doubtless an accident in which the supposedly “empty” gun was loaded.  The basement of the Wilson home was searched, and another revolver, a rifle and a knife were found.  Wilson said he had a flair for military things, and that he formerly attended the Morgan Park military academy.  At the time of the shooting, he wore a military uniform.  He was held last night for the inquest.

Contemporary view of the house at 2425 Eastwood avenue where 15-year-old Cleo Trohatos was accidentally slain in a re-enactment of the Sio-Wicklund shooting by her friend, 16-year-old Joseph T. Wilson. (Photograph by The Comtesse Despair.)

Contemporary view of the house at 2425 Eastwood avenue where 15-year-old Cleo Trohatos was accidentally slain in a re-enactment of the Sio-Wicklund shooting by her friend, 16-year-old Joseph T. Wilson. (Photograph by The Comtesse Despair.)

While the shooting of Constance was unmotivated, the killing of the Wicklund girl had a direct inspiration, police said, and that of thwarted love.  When police found young Sio in his den, in the basement of the building, he was unconscious.  The revolver lay beside him, and not far away was a postcard on which he had written: “I’m sorry.”  In one hand he clutched a tan glove, once owned by his sweetheart.  On his wrist was her bracelet.

Scattered in the den were books, magazines and odds and ends of a boy’s workshop.  Sio, detectives were told, aspired to be a scientist or an inventor.  In a small chest investigators found letters written by the Wicklund girl, chiding against his jealousy and protesting her love for him.  A diary also was found, containing mute scrawling of his jealousy, and filled with entries the sense of which was: “The time has come for a showdown.”

The entrance to Henry Sio's basement apartment is seen on the far left of this contemporary image. The windows seen on the bottom corner of this shot were Sio's apartment. He was found dead from a self-inflicted bullet to the brain in the den inside. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

The entrance to Henry Sio’s basement apartment is seen on the far left of this contemporary image. The windows seen on the bottom corner of this shot were Sio’s apartment. He was found dead from a self-inflicted bullet to the brain in the den inside. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

Mrs. Karin Wicklund, mother of Ruth, told police she had asked Sio’s father, Matthew, a barber, to stop his son’s wooing of her daughter.  The father said he had so notified Henry.

A coroner’s jury late yesterday returned a verdict that young Sio had murdered the Wicklund girl and then committed suicide.  The motive officially designated was “jealousy and puppy love.”

Photographs featured in the December 1, 1931 Chicago Daily Tribune. (Reproduced without permission for personal use only.)

Photographs featured in the December 1, 1931 Chicago Daily Tribune.
(Reproduced without permission for personal use only.)

 

Follow-up article, Chicago Daily Tribune, December 3, 1931:

SCHOOL MOURNS GIRL VICTIMS OF 2 GUN TRAGEDIES

Two grief stricken families yesterday made funeral preparations for Ruth Wicklund, 12 years old, and Constance Trohatos, 15 years old.  There was gloom at Belding grade school and the Roosevelt High school, where the girls had been pupils.

Both the girls were shot to death on Monday.  Ruth, a Belding pupil, was slain early in the morning by Henry Sio, 16 years old, a student of the Roosevelt High school, who then shot and killed himself.  Constance was accidentally killed in the evening when Joseph Wilson, 16 years old, tried to show how Ruth was shot.  Constance and Joseph were Roosevelt High school students.

Yesterday Young Wilson was exonerated by a coroner’s inquest.  Deputy Coroner James A. Gleason, however, directed that he be placed in the custody of the Juvenile court for one year during which he will make weekly reports.  The official verdict to the jury was that Constance was killed accidentally.

At the Belding school Principal Ida M. Tregellas and Miss Katherine Mahon, Ruth Wicklund’s teacher, said they would send flowers for the girl’s funeral.  The children in Ruth’s room contributed nickels and dimes tot he flower fund.

Friends of both Ruth and Constance planned to attend the funerals.  The services for Ruth will be held at 2 o’clock today from a chapel at 3918 Irving Park boulevard, with burial at the Irving Park Boulevard cemetery.  Funeral arrangements for Constance have not been completed.  Ruth lived at 4186 Elston avenue, and Constance at 2425 Eastwood avenue.

The Cooney Funeral Home, 3918 Irving Park boulevard, where the funeral services were held for Ruth Wicklund on December 3, 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

The Cooney Funeral Home, 3918 Irving Park boulevard, where the funeral services were held for Ruth Wicklund on December 3, 1931. (Photograph by The Comtesse DeSpair.)

Funeral notice, Chicago Daily Tribune, December 3, 1931:

HOLD LAST RITES FOR GIRL VICTIM OF YOUNG SUITOR

Funeral services for Ruth Wicklund, 12 years old, 4186 Elston avenue, a pupil of the Belding grade school, who was shot and killed by Henry Sio, 16 years old, of the same address, were held yesterday at the chapel at 3918 Irving Park boulevard.  Sio, the girl’s suitor, also killed himself.  Hundreds of friends of the girl attended the services.  Burial was in Irving Park Boulevard cemetery.

Services for Constance Trohatos, 15 years old, a pupil at the Roosevelt High school, who was killed by Joseph Wilson, 16 years old, when the latter attempted to show how Ruth was shot, will be held today at noon from St. James Orthodox church, 2727 Winona street.  Burial will be in the Elmwood cemetery.

 

Comtesse Note:  One of these days, I hope to track down the graves of these three tragic youths and add images of the gravestones to the blog.  


Jun 22 2013

Drama at the Esquire Motel

The Esquire Motel is a rare survivor of a simpler era – a time when operators still worked switchboards to connect you to your call and simply having a television in a motel room was a symbol of grandeur!  This marvelous relic was built in 1959 near the intersection of Elston and Milwaukee Avenues in the far northwest corner of Chicago and has provided shelter for untold minions of wayward travelers entering and leaving the city limits over the years.  It proved a decidedly dramatic location for a distraught middle-aged optometrist and his mistress in 1969.

 

Esquire Motel Sign
Esquire Motel
Holga 120N, Fuji Velvia 50 film.

Optometrist Found Shot to Death in Room

A Chicago optometrist was found dead of a gunshot wound in the head and a woman near death from an overdose of barbiturates yesterday in a room at the Esquire motel, 6145 Elston St.

Police said Dr. K. Lester Greenberg, 49, of 2501 Touhy av., had apparently committed suicide and Mrs. Margarita S. Steinfeld, 38, of 6117 N. Kedzie av., had apparently attempted to take her own life.

Sister Finds Body

The body of Dr. Greenberg was found at 9:45 a.m. by his sister, Mrs. Helen Shoub, 7547 N. Maplewood av., who told police she got a phone call from an unidentified man who reported her brother could be found at the motel.

The motel told police that Dr. Greenberg registered there at 1 p.m. Wednesday under the name J. Harris, and that he was alone at the time.

Dr. Greenberg was taken to Resurrection hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  Mrs. Steinfeld, a north side beauty shop operator, was reported in critical condition at the same hospital.

Find Two Pistols

Police said that a .45 caliber automatic pistol was found on the bed beside Dr. Greenberg.  No notes were found in the motel room.  A .25 caliber automatic pistol, which police said was stolen, also was found in the room.

Dr. Greenberg had been employed for six years at the Shaw Brothers company, a jewelry and appliance store at 19 W. Van Buren st.  Store officials told police he was off work Wednesday and that when he did not show up for work yesterday they tried unsuccessfully to reach him by phone.

Police said Dr. Greenberg is survived by his wife, Hazel.  Mrs. Steinfeld, married and the mother of a 13-year-old son, is the owner of Marge’s beauty salon at 4641 N. Kedzie av.

(Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1969)