I think the end of the Good Times began on a Sunday, November 22, 1905. Marshall Field Jr, was 38 years old at the time, but that was as old as he would ever get. He was the eldest son and heir of one of America’s greatest fortunes when he appeared at Chicago’s Mercy hospital that morning with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He would die there, just after five o’clock in the evening, five days later. And there has never been a good explanation as to how it had happened.
The official story was that while in his bedroom that morning Marshall (above) had been cleaning his gun, dropped it and the gun had gone off. The butler and a nurse said they had immediately rushed to his aide. But a reporter for the Daily News tried to replicate the accident and an identical weapon refused to discharge. The papers were afraid of losing advertising from the Marshall Field Department stores, the largest retail chain in America, so the public questions stopped there - for the time being.
Here barflies, bums, tramps and the homeless could find beer for a nickel, a free lunch and come election day, a job as a “repeater”. Given pre-marked ballots by “Ward Heelers” who walked the district, these men spread out to various polling places, where they would trade their pre-marked ballots for blanks. They then returned to the Exchange and handed in their blanks for a payment of fifty cents each. While they drank a free beer, their new ballots would be marked and the game would go another round. In twenty years neither "Hinky Dink" nor "Bathhouse" John Coughlin ever lost an election.
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