We all know that Chicago has a history of corruption, but do you know the chief actors: Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna?
In the Gilded Age till Al Capone gained power, aldermen Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna dominated Chicago’s city council. Lloyd Wendt and Herman Kogan’s Bosses in Lusty Chicago, takes readers back to the late 1890s to tell the rags to riches (and power) story of John Coughlin and Michael Kenna who came to determine mayoral races, city services like transportation rights and contracts, the spread of prostitution and gambling.
Both were characters. Bathhouse strove to take men’s fashion in a new direction by wearing flamboyant colors. He became a national sensation for his emerald green jackets, chartreuse vests and patent leather shoes. Coughlin also dabbled in poetry for which he was best known for Dear Midnight of Love, renowned doggerel if ever there was such a genre despite having actress after actress reject the part. He did realize his dream of getting it produced on the stage. Diminutive Hinky Dink was the straight man to Kenna. He was the brains of the pair and knew how to come out on top politically.
At their height, Wendt and Kogan describe Coughlin and Kenna’s wild annual First Ward Balls where socialites flocked in to ogle the madams, good time girls, gamblers, thieves and politicians that flocked their The authors provide all the details on this singular bacchanal.
Well researched, Bosses in Lusty Chicago is an engaging treatment of Gilded Age and Chicago history.