JWT: Rich will these places, former mob home, places where murders took place, or whatever, will they, in your opinion, ever be recognized by officials as having any value?
RL: The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and the tourism office take a dim view of anything relating to gangland history and Al Capone. I was indignantly informed by one of the worthy representatives of the Department of Cultural Affairs at the grand unveiling of the new Sears Tower Skydeck visual display kiosk (celebrating aspects of Chicago history), that any film crew coming to Chicago desiring to film documentaries on this subject matter will not receive any cooperation whatsoever from the City. Much of this stems from Mayor Richard M. Daly's personal antagonism toward the Capone history, and what Capone represented. Personally I think the city should lighten up and realize that this is an integral part of our history, for good or for bad. There might even be some tourism dollars to be made.
JWT: Tony Accardo's palace, the one with the gold fixtures in the bathroom and the bowling ally in the basement. Is it still standing?
RL: Accardo lived in two homes in River Forest, a Chicago suburb where no less than 32 gangsters took up residence in the 1950s and 1960s. The first home on Franklin Avenue was a palace; a veritable mansion fit for a governor or a king, the second, a less pretentious ranch house on Ashland Ave. I'm sure that the first house was an unwanted red flag inviting in the Feds, the curiosity seekers, the I.R.S. and the local cops. Accardo probably just got sick of all the attention. The second home according to legend might be cursed. Several owners or the property have since been forced into bankruptcy. Tony died in 1992.
JWT: You note in Returning to the Scene of the Crime, that while most of the Chicago outfits leaders and higher ranking members lived like British nobility, Sam Giancana's home, the same place where he was killed, is a rather modest bungalow. Is that right?
RL: Giancana's place is a cream-colored common brick bungalow, typical of what was being built all over Chicago for working-class people in the 1920s and 1930s. It is a "higher-end" quality than most bungalow construction but a far cry from Accardo's grandiose River Forest digs.
JWT: And Giancana's now famous headquarters, the armory lounge, is it still there?
RL: Yes, the old Armory Lounge at 7427 Roosevelt Road in Forest Park is still there. Once an important mob command post where it is a coffee shop and restaurant named Andrea's.
JWT: Rich in that same vain, in late 1950s and early 1960s, the Meo Brothers ran a restaurant that was, in effect, Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo's headquarters. Is it still in business?
RL: Meo's Norwood House is today the Old Warsaw, a Polish-American restaurant on Harlem Avenue, in the Northwest suburb of Norridge. The Meo brothers sold out years ago. The lingerie fashion shows staged for the benefit of the wise guys are a thing of the past. The place is an amiable family restaurant with a sumptuous buffet table of Polish foods. Very popular with the neighbors on Sundays after church.