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April - May, 1920 "Mystery of the Blues"

  • [Depicted in Mystery of the Blues, the 20th episode from the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, produced by George Lucas - released in 1993]

  • During his time at the University of Chicago, Indiana studies under the tutelage of Professors Charles Kingston and Abner Ravenwood, where he studies archaeology (despite his father’s request through a letter to study history or linguistics), and eventually befriends Ravenwood’s young daughter Marion. 

  • It is also at the university where he first links with fellow students Magnus Völler and Harold Oxley, both of whom cross paths with Indiana during later adventures.

  • To support himself Indiana starts working as a waiter at Colosimo’s Restaurant, the home to some of the best nightlife in Chicago, where he initially tries yet fails to impress the band leader named Sidney Bechet

  • He also struggles to find any continuity with his uptight roommate named Eliot Ness, whom one night Indiana has to convince to join him at the Royal Gardens, another Jazz club where they could hear Bechet play. The idea turns out to be a disaster, as Ness gets them both thrown out of the club due to his genuine lack of respect. 

  • At work the following evening, Indiana apologizes to Bechet for Ness’s behavior, and also demonstrates his sincere admiration for Jazz which inspires Bechet to lend him a soprano saxophone for him to practice. Indiana is later invited to watch Bechet and his band play at another speakeasy known as The Four Deuces

  • During the following weeks Indiana annoys Ness with his music practice in their dorm room, yet on behalf of Ness is later dragged to a frat house party where Indy is able to showcase his skills. He ultimately is kicked off the stage for improvising a more conventional record, and is told that Jazz was not considered “respectable music.”

  • Nonetheless, Indiana stays true to his passion and after many weeks of practice (with some growing pains along the way) he’s finally invited on stage with Bechet during an impromptu performance. However, Indiana is told that he’s not yet ready to play the Blues, of which compared to Jazz has many fundamental differences.

  • Sometime later Big Jim’ Colosimo (owner of Colosimo’s and The Four Deuces) is shot dead in the restaurant by an unknown gunman. Indiana notices that Colosimo’s rings had been taken, and nephew of the boss Johnny Torrio confirms that his money belt had been taken as well. 

  • Reporters then arrive at the scene, one of whom is Indiana’s old friend Ernest Hemingway, who is now working for the Chicago Tribune. Along with Ness, the three of them discuss the case in great detail, along with the rumor that Colosimo’s most recent wife Dale Winter was somehow involved with the crime. While Hemingway was enamored with all the juicy gossip, Ness was more concerned with the hard facts of the case, in terms of establishing motives, methods, and opportunity. 

  • At the very well attended funeral they run into Four Deuces bouncer ‘Big Al’ Brown, who was always recognizable due to the unforgettable scar across his face. 

  • As days go by Indiana, Hemingway, & Ness only have theories on the murder without any real evidence, that is until they later notice one of Colosimo’s rings on ‘Big Al’ Brown, during a night at the restaurant which Torrio had now effectively taken over. 

  • Hemingway is then able to confirm that ‘Big Al’ Brown is actually an alias for a small time gangster in Alphonse Capone, who had recently fled New York City after being wanted for murder. Hemingway is also able to get his hands on a picture of Torrio & Capone together, thus essentially confirming that the two men were behind the Colosimo killing. 

  • Ultimately, however, their evidence is turned away by the police (who were likely paid off by Torrio), and thus the mystery was never officially solved. Hemingway would then soon travel to Europe to embark on a career of writing, leaving Indiana back in Chicago disillusioned on how things had turned out, in spite of the fact that Bechet had just informed him that he was now officially ready to play the Blues. 

  • Thus during this crime riddled time in Chicago, Indiana has either close encounters or associations with:

  • ‘Big Jim’ Colosimo - aka Diamond Jim - Italian-American immigrant who became a Chicago Mafia crime-boss affiliated with prostitution, gambling, and racketeering during the early 1900’s. It is said that his refusal to enter into bootlegging during the start of Prohibition created a divide between his syndicates, which led to his murder in 1920 likely from the hands of his own men.

  • Johnny Torrio - Italian-American mobster who helped create the criminal empire known as the Chicago Outfit in the 1920’s, and also inspired the idea of the National Crime Syndicate in the 1930’s. He would later become an advisor to the Genovese Crime Family, and was once said by a US Government official to be the “[smartest] gangster in America.” It is thought that Torrio either hired Capone or Frankie Yale to murder Colosimo after he refused their entry into bootlegging. 

  • Alphonse Capone - aka ‘Big Al’ Brown as well as many other aliases - an American mobster and crime-boss who made his fortune during the Prohibition era as the co-founder of the Chicago Outfit. He was originally born in Brooklyn yet moved to Chicago to help Torrio start up and expand their bootlegging business, paying off Mayors and Police to operate with relative immunity. The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre changed all of that in 1929, which led to Capone being known as “Public Enemy No. 1,” and eventually prosecuted and convicted for tax evasion - in spite of all the violent crimes he committed. After only eight years of incarceration he was released yet highly debilitated, due mainly to late stage syphilis and dementia, ultimately leading to cardiac arrest and his death in 1947.

  • Eliot Ness - Chief Investigator of the Prohibition Bureau for Chicago in the 1930’s, and the leader of a famous team of law enforcement agents known as The Untouchables, the same name as his posthumous autobiography that garnered him great fame. He’s most recognized for bringing down Al Capone during the height of Prohibition. 

  • Ernest Hemingway - American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, who produced most of his works between the 1920’s-50’s (most notably The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls) and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Prior to his career as a famous author, he was indeed a Chicago resident growing up in nearby Oak Park, and then returned to Chicago after the War during what some describe as the “Chicago literary renaissance.”

  • Sidney Bechet - American Jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer based out of New Orleans, along with fellow collaborator Louis Armstrong

  • Dale Winter - singer who gained local fame at Colosimo’s Cafe, and later married owner Jim Colosimo. A month after their marriage Colosimo was murdered, and some pointed to Winters as a possible suspect. In terms of her loss Winters said “All I want of Jim is the memory of him. I don't want his money or the things he gave me. I'm going to sing again. Maybe I'll sing better. I know now there isn't much to life except giving something to others. There'll never be anything in my life except singing and remembering and singing." 

  • Key locations in this adventure as follows:

  • Colosimo’s Cafe - Originally Colosimo’s Saloon that opened in 1910 - eventually turned into a full fledged restaurant that showcased some of the best entertainment of its time period. 

  • Royal Gardens - Later known as Lincoln Gardens - this nightclub featured early Jazz legends such as Joe “King” Oliver, Freddie Keppard, and Sidney Bechet. 

  • The Four Deuces - Chicago saloon that was notorious for prostitution and gambling, once owned by Colosimo followed by Torrio and then Capone, eventually closed in 1924 when Mayor William E Dever refused their bribes to maintain operation.


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