The poster child for lavish funeral floral tributes was clearly Charles Dean O’Banion, (1892‑1924) the North Side gang leader/ florist.
Aside from his darker gangster pursuits, he was co-owner of Schofield’s Flower shop, 738 N. State in the shadow of Holy Name Cathedral. The rooms above Schofield’s were used as the headquarters for his North Side Gang. Schofield’s was the premier florist of choice for Chicagoland’s gangsters, Dean and his partner Walter Schofield made huge amounts of money supplying floral arrangements for the dearly departed of Chicago’s organized crime. Sadly, “Deanie”, like most other underworld figures of the day, also violently left this earth, killed by rivals right in his own flower shop.
His lavish sendoff was over the top attended by thousands of mourners, elected officials, and a mile-long procession. His funeral alone cost $10,000 and that was before the many thousands of dollars of flowers which needed 26 flower cars and trucks to take them to the cemetery,
One rather simple basket of roses near his casket stood out from all the others. The attached condolence card read “Al Brown, Used Furniture Dealer”
Al Brown was none other than an alias for Dion’s fierce rival, Al Capone who had arranged Dion’s murder. Capone was known for sending flowers to rival gang member’s funerals; In fact in one funeral alone he spent over $5,000.
Several gangster funerals both before and after O’Banion had flowers costing in excess of $20,000 and well higher.
I was originally inspired to name this story “Please Omit Flowers” or “In Lieu of Flowers” (and will write about that in a minute) but I could not pass by “Al’s” basket of roses.
Please read on, smell the roses and understand why there was a need for fragrant bouquets, wreaths, casket blankets, and sprays.
Continue reading “A Basket of Roses from Al Brown”