The 1929 Chicago gangland execution of seven men in Lincoln Park during the height of urban mob violence put a bloody spin on this otherwise romantic holiday. Is anything sacred?
The victims were North Side mobsters who met their violent end, allegedly at the behest of Al Capone. This soured his often lionized image among the public as a benevolent bootlegger. People were starting to realize that the mafia were corrupt! The shooters annihilated their targets with a combination of shotguns and machine guns. Talk about overkill. No one even stopped to consider the Valentine’s Day plans they were ruining.
Though brief, the V-Day holiday can still be stressful if not planned accordingly. Maybe it’s just me. I stress about everything, even made up, commercialized charades like this one. Don’t get me wrong, my sentimental and traditional sensibilities will never preclude me from any holiday. It’s going to take more than a pack of Tommy Gun-packing mafiosos to change that, damn it.
From the Heart
E-cards simplify everything, but they’ve also grown strangely rarer in quality and abundancy. I had a good thing going with Hallmark until they ceased their e-card operations altogether without explanation. Is there something else everyone is doing? Are we back to paper cards now? Tell me!
In elementary school, we exchanged these pocket-sized Valentine’s Day cards to our classmates. I’m assuming we haven’t ruined that for kids yet like everything else, but I could be wrong. Back then, we’d get these packs of cards with Disney or He-Man characters on them, among other properties.
You know the drill. Each kid would add a personalized message on the back of the card and place it inside lunch bag repositories hanging from each desk. Most of everyone participated. I don’t recall too many outliers. There was always one girl I liked whose card meant more than the others. Sometimes she would even write my name! This signaled that she was most definitely interested. I was hopeless even back then.
We’ve read the stories about a growing number of people (younger types) renouncing Valentine’s Day. These angry, bitter heretics should be burned at a stake of old greeting cards. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Some may see the holiday as a cynical ploy to spend money they don’t have on gifts they don’t need. Others may feel alienated by it.
My early years as a Winn Dixie bagger brings to mind an awkward adolescence, where love songs and Valentine’s ads blasted over the grocery store speakers all weekend. Being single and self-absorbed made it all the more challenging to get through the day without wandering into traffic. Like many of us, there’ve been periods in my life where I was absolutely certain that I would never find the right person. Pop music helped solidify this self-defeating prophecy.
Music is perhaps the greatest comfort that exists. I might just put on an old Everly Brothers or Neil Diamond record today to celebrate, followed by a slasher movie double feature.
’80s slashers always had some amusing twist on the holidays. I don’t think there’s been a Groundhog Day-based horror movie yet. Of course, we have the 1993 Bill Murray comedy classic, but there’s no body count there. Just remember, to love is to feel, and to feel is to live. Or something like that. Just don’t get gunned down in a mob war.
Happy Valentine’s Day!