While I created this world of fiction, it is as historically accurate as my imperfect attempts allow. St. Joseph, Michigan stands on the Michigan shores of the lake and while the Silver Beach Amusement Park of 1927 is gone, bits and pieces have been brought back to life.
The House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan thrived for many years before and after the fateful loss of its leader. In November of 1927, Benjamin Purnell was tried on charges of molesting several girls who lived in the compound. He died before a verdict was delivered. To this day, he has staunch supporters who claim his innocence and others who believe in his guilt. I don’t know what the truth is and did not present an opinion in this book.
The Levee District of Chicago is now the Near South Side. Located south of the Loop and Printer’s Row it served as the city’s red light district from the 1880s through 1912. The famous Everleigh Club, owned and operated by sisters Minna and Ada, was considered the most famous and luxurious house of prostitution in the country. The Mann Act, also known as the White Slavery Traffic Act, was enacted in 1910 in response to the activities of the Everleigh sisters and other brothels in the red light district.
After less than a decade of respectability, the Levee District became Al Capone’s south side base of operations. He owned many businesses there including the Cullerton Hotel, which he ran as a brothel. White slavery was still rampant, though many victims came from Europe. The Cullerton Hotel had over 25 miles of tunnels beneath it and there were party rooms were drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex and other vices were fair game. The tunnels were also used by patrons in the Levee District to avoid being caught during police raids. Remnants of old homes and other buildings could be found beneath the Levee District. Many sank into the soft soil and were either built on top of or forgotten.
Capone brought in booze from the Canadian distilleries across the river from Detroit and also flew Canadian beer into the country on seaplanes that landed on a lake on his Wisconsin property. Neither of these activities could have occurred during the winter months.
This is the point where my imagination took over. I used this information to create the plausible decision to hide extra beer and liquor in the tunnels in preparation for the winter. The confusion of the tunnels and the proliferation of the sunken rooms were also of my own creation. I developed the system for marking the tunnel walls and how that would have been used.
The Cullerton Hotel later become the Blue Star Auto Stores and is currently in the process of being redeveloped into condominiums. If you look online at pictures of the Blue Star, you will notice the small window on the side of the building. During its use as Capone’s brothel, the sides and back of the building sported these small, barred windows to keep the women trapped inside.
Thus I blended fact and fiction to create key elements of Cold Betrayals. I hope you enjoy the journey and forgive any mistakes.