Schofield's Flowers

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Schofield's Flowers was a Chicago flower shop that was in business from 1896 to 1976. In its heyday, it provided flowers to some of Chicago's most prominent and infamous citizens.

History[edit]

Schofield’s Flowers was established just before the turn of the last century in 1896 [1] by William F. Schofield, A.K.A. "Big Bill". It was located at 738 North State Street, directly across the street from Holy Name Cathedral, on the corner of State Street and Superior Avenue on the north side of the city of Chicago. Owned and operated by William F. Schofield,[1] better known as "Big Bill", a young Irishman who came to America with his wife, Nellie Malloy. Schofield's Flowers flourished in the hardscrabble neighborhood, a family-run business that was soon to become infamous.[1]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1921, with only $10,000 dollars and a tommy gun in hand, notorious mobster Dean O'Banion made Schofield an offer he could not refuse. They became "business" partners.[1] The Chicago North Side Gang transformed Schofield’s into the florist of choice for mob funerals, all of the North State Street Gang’s weddings, holidays and special occasions, like providing the wreaths for the victims of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. Dean O'Banion was "knocked off" in a mob hit on November 10, 1924 while clipping chrysanthemums at the age of 32 years.[2] The triggermen were members of Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit: Frankie Yale,[3] John Scalise [4] and Albert Anselmi [5] After O’Banion’s "push into the nether world", Schofield’s Flowers lived on, with Bugs Moran taking over the North State Street Gang, along with Hymie Weiss, better known as "Hymie the Pol Weise."[6]

Conclusion and Closing[edit]

After Prohibition, like the whole country, Schofield’s Flowers experienced financial hardship during the Great Depression, (1929–39), the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world. At one time, "Big Bill" owned a foursquare block of land from Superior to Chicago Avenue and State Street to Dearborn Avenue. "Big Bill" lost everything but his flower shop, later renting from a Jewish family, one of his top clients who helped him through hard times. He made the papers again in the late 1960s when "Big Bill’s" son, Stephen Eugene Schofield, was arrested and eventually charged with gambling, "Scof", as he was known to friends, was sentenced to 1 year at Sandstone Federal Penitentiary by Judge Julius Hoffman. Hoffman refused to honor a plea bargain, instead opting to make an example of the case. He painted the Schofield Family as willing participants in organized crime since the 1920s, pointing to its association with O’Banion and the North State Street Gang as proof.

Scof, Sr. had a wife of many years younger than him. Gwen took over the flower shop while she continued to raise their two kids, Steven (Scof, Jr.) and Sandra.[7] After his release six months later, Scof Sr. rejoined his family business, growing it into one of the first FTD member florists. Unfortunately, Scof Sr. died of a massive heart attack on Sept 3, 1974.[8] Again Schofield’s Flowers supplied one of the biggest funerals for one of their own Irish sons. Local dignitaries Mayor Daley, Eddie Kelley, head of the 47th Ward and the Chicago Park District, and George Dunn, head of the 42nd Ward and Cook County Commissioner joined the other 2,000 mourners. Schofield’s Flowers continued in business, at 731 North Dearborn Street,[9] run by surviving family members, wife Gwen and son Steven until it was sold to LaSalle Flowers in 1976.[7]

The original building was torn down on August 13, 1960[9] and is currently a parking lot.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Rose Keefe (2003). Guns and Roses: The Untold Story of Dean O'Banion, Chicago's Big Shot Before Al Capone. Cumberland House. pp. 196–. ISBN 978-1-58182-378-3.
  2. ^ "Article". Chicago Tribune. December 23, 1964. p. 4. (Subscription required (help)).
  3. ^ Laurence Bergreen (21 May 2013). Capone: The Man and the Era. Simon and Schuster. pp. 289–. ISBN 978-1-4391-2845-9.
  4. ^ Nate Hendley (1 July 2010). Al Capone: Chicago's King of Crime. Five Rivers Chapmanry. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-9865427-2-5.
  5. ^ Luciano J. Iorizzo (2003). Al Capone: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-0-313-32317-1.
  6. ^ Mars Eghigian; Frank Nitti (2006). After Capone: The Life and World of Chicago Mob Boss Frank "the Enforcer" Nitti. Cumberland House. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-1-58182-454-4.
  7. ^ a b "BILL SCHOFIELD". www.legacy.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Obituary". Chicago Tribune. September 5, 1974. p. 44 – via newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. ^ a b "Gangster sites today". myalcaponemuseum.com. March 2005. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  10. ^ W. K. Murray (February 11, 1979). "Where gangsters fell--then and now". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 April 2017.