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Mob History on Wenonah Avenue

WBEZ history writer and Oak Parker John R. Schmidt takes a look at Sam Giancana's place.

Though south Oak Park neighbors and local law enforcement officers might want to fuggedaboutit, the legacy of late mob boss Sam Giancana looms large.

"Giancana lived quietly in Oak Park," Chicago Public Radio blogger, historian and Oak Parker John R. Schmidt writes in a new WBEZ blog post. "He didn't bother his neighbors, and they certainly didn't bother him."

Giancana bought the home, located in the 1100 block of South Wenonah Avenue, in April 1945. The home is the site of "Momo's" unsolved 1975 murder — one of the Outfit's most notorious hits. Various news articles from years past speculate the murder came at the hands of younger mobsters, who investigators at the time believe were sending a message to the old-timers. From the New York Times wire service

"The younger Mafia members have been increasingly dissatisfied with the operation of family rackets, and, most important, the division of profits, according to the investigators...So the younger members killed Giancana as a warning to the Mafia establishment here that their presence had ended, the investigators believe."

Whoever pulled the trigger, the gunman made sure it was carried out in grisly fashion. According to the Gangland Chicago blog, Giancana was "shot once in the back of the head, once in the mouth, and five times under the chin as he fried a late-night snack in his basement kitchen." Warning: following the link will lead to graphic photos.

If you're curious about that last meal, Chicago blog Gapers Block has the recipe, which originated from an old New Yorker article. 

Giancana's life and times will be chronicled in a new documentary co-produced by Giancana's relative Nicholas Celozzi. The film, Momo: The Sam Giancana Story,made its debut Saturday at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center. Here's the trailer.

kuchairman March 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I grew up just a couple of block away from his house. On many occasions Sam would come out of his house, despite the ever present unmarked police car parked on Filmore Street across the street from his house, stop the local Good Humor truck, and buy whatever treats we wanted. Always will leave a place in my mind of this little "gentile" man.
John C. March 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM
We live five houses down from the Giancana place. The current residents keep the grounds beautifully manicured, the building in perfect condition. Don't know what it looks like on the inside, but it's still the showplace on the block.
Bob Stokes September 22, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I've walked by the Giancana's home in Oak park several times not long after Momo was executed with 7 shots to the head & neck. A close friend and colleague of mine was living 12 blocks from 1147 Wenonna Av.when Sam was killed in the basement of his house. My friend and his wife drove by the Giancana's home the next day following the mob hit & he told me that all the major tv networks plus magazine reporters were out on the front lawn taking photos & asking questions of the homicide detectives investigating the hit. I'm not really convinced that the up & coming young wise guys in The Outfit carried out the contract on Momo for two reasons: 1. Because sending such a message to the older well established members of The Outfit would have been outright suicidal,as this would have been a challenge to the power of Tony Accardo who feared Sam would reveal info re the Mafia-CIA murder of JFK . 2.The FBI is convinced that the evidence points to Butch Blasi,the friend Mo trusted most as his his killer. I would love to take a tour of the interior of the residence if Antionette Giancana and or the present owner would agree to take me through it. Bob Stokes,an enthusiastic Outfit observer in Urbana,IL.

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