The Flower Shop

"Lilacs in bloom, Paris perfume..."

-- "Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time"


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Dion & Viola
The lads of Kilgubbin turned out in splendor when their leader, Dion O’Banion, took himself a wife on Feb. 5, 1921 in a spectacular ceremony at Holy Name Cathedral. She was the angel-faced 18-year-old Viola Kaniff, a recent graduate of an Iowa boarding school. Deanie was 29. She wore white and he his finest suit, a sprig of lily in his lapel. The marriage would prove to be a happy one and, oddly enough, temper Deanie’s midnight rovings. Even his own friends were probably startled at his adoration of Viola. By all accounts, she provided him with a domesticity he may have had before his mother died, but never remembered. He considered his home (a fashionable apartment at 3600 North Pine Grove Avenue) his only retreat and sincerely enjoyed being there with his bride, Viola.

After his death, the wife recalled that, "He was not a man to run around nights, only to take me to a show. He was fun loving, wanting his friends about him, and never leaving without telling me where he was going."

Because he now felt that he must demonstrate some respectability, he bought half interest in a legitimate enterprise, one that he had considered for some time: William Schofield’s Flower Shop, located at 738 North State, directly across the street from Holy Name. In total contrast to his gangster surface, he adored flowers. Arranging them into lovely bouquets, centerpieces and wreaths for special occasions was his passion. He worked hard at it, too, never missing a day in the shop, arriving promptly at 9 a.m. and not closing shutters until 6 p.m. He would frequently stay after-hours and come in on weekends to help Schofield with the balance sheet. The other employees -- another designer, a cashier, a salesperson, three clerks and a porter -- found him a joy to work with, never barking orders but always singing Irish ditties as his light fingers spun roses into bows. Most evenings he proudly brought home one of his original designs to Viola.

But, Deanie was, after all, Deanie. While he cut and trimmed petals in the work room, one or more of the three clerks were often summoned from the shop to man a special telephone in the back to take orders for beer.

Robert J. Schoenberg in Mr. Capone describes the layout of the floristry. "(It) was 25 feet wide, the showroom running about twice that deep, a jumble of plants, ferns and flowers obscuring the walls. In the back, a floor-to-ceiling showcase, five feet deep, filled much of the shop’s width, flaunting a glory of American Beauty roses. The side of the showcase and the side wall formed a narrow passage that continued to the back workroom and the upstairs offices, the workroom screened by a wicker gate, usually propped open."

Schofield’s became, by instinct, the florist for mobdom. Whenever someone was riddled, stabbed or taken for a ride, the florist for the funerary trappings became Schofield’s. In a token of good gesture, Capone and Torrio often placed large orders for someone they may have killed, but thought deserved a grand send-off much the same.

Deanie always gave them a discount for their beneficence.

1. Leprechaun

2. A Normal Childhood

3. Lads of Kilgubbin

4. Volstead's Law

5. Them Damn Sicilians

6. The Flower Shop

7. Crazy Deanie

8. Cicero

9. An Impractical Joke

10. 'Night, Swell Fellow

11. Hello, Mt. Carmel

12. Bibliography

13. The Author
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