CHICAGO (CBS) Remember old Clark and Belmont – the land of Punkin ‘Donuts and Gyden shops, the epicenter of punk and counterculture in Chicago?
This is how Alexis Thomas – daughter of The Alleys founder and owner Mark Thomas – described the great cross in his heyday in a 2009 Newcity article:
“Kids with mohawks and leather jackets sat next to my juice rack with their gelédonuts and cigarettes. Skinheads, oi punks, riot grrrls, ’77 punks and metalheads crowded into tight circles and broke into fights that were all fists and snot and soft.”
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You don’t see that much anymore. A Target store now anchors the northwest corner of the intersection where the Dunkin ‘Donuts, we all knew as Punkin’ Donuts and its parking lot once sat. But across the street, another pillar – L&L Tavern – remains pretty much as it has ever been in its storefront at 3207 N. Clark St. on the ground floor of a massive brick building.
Reports say the Ls in the bar’s name honor former owners Lefty Miller and Lauretta Magidson, who bought the bar in the 1980s. The name was retained when current owner Kenn Frandsen took over, Chicago Bar Project reports.
The bar had previously been known as Columbia Tavern & Liquors and had been owned and operated by Joan Gillon, according to the Chicago Bar Project.
Gillon died in 2004 at the age of 86. The Chicago Bar Project quoted her obituary: “Shortly after Joan Gillon got married, her husband, Paul, said he expected her to look after the bar in his pub. At first, she refused the idea. , but she took the reins and ran the Chicago establishment for 53 years. “Eventually she was tough and could handle all kinds of situations,” said her daughter, Susan. , and she did it all, and she enjoyed it. “
Obit said Gillon and her husband, Paul – who died in 1979 – became partners at Columbia Tavern, right after they got married. It was originally located at 3113 N. Halsted St. and moved to its current L&L location in the early 1960s, obit said.
Tony Szabelski from Chicago Hauntings Ghost Tours points out that L&L is not necessarily known as a haunted place, but it has been voted “the scariest bar in the United States.” There is even a sign in the window written by hand with black magic marker announcing the bar in just these phrases.
There are some specific reasons for this.
When Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in 1991, he admitted to killing 17 young men – some of whom he maimed and cannibalized – between 1978 and the year of his arrest. He committed most of the murders in Milwaukee, where he lived.
According to the book “Pictures of America: East Lake View” by Matthew Nickerson, owner Frandsen said he was at L&L when Dahmer was arrested – and remembered that customers recognized him as a regular at the bar.
Several sources quote an L&L employee named Frankie – who Dahmer was reportedly interested in – to say that the serial killer really liked to sit by the window in the bar and stare at young men across the street at Dunkin ‘Donuts.
There are two known victims that Dahmer picked up in Chicago – although none of these meetings took place at or near L&L.
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Dahmer picked up a victim, Matt Turner, at Chicago’s Greyhound Bus Station on June 30, 1991 and offered Turner money to pose naked back in Dahmer’s apartment in Milwaukee, according to a archive Chicago Tribune report. Dahmer murdered Turner in the Milwaukee apartment and put his head in a freezer, the Tribune reported.
In early July 1991, Dahmer picked up another man, Jeremiah Weinberger, at the then-closed bar Carol’s Speakeasy on Wells Street in Old Town. Dahmer took Weinberger – who worked next door at the Bijou Adult Theater – back to Milwaukee and killed him after spending three days together in Dahmer’s apartment. He continued to stop Weinberger’s head in his freezer and his torso in a blue drum.
Dahmer pleaded not guilty due to insanity, but was convicted and sentenced to 15 life sentences. He was killed by a fellow prisoner in prison in 1994.
There are also reports that John Wayne Gacy back in the 1970s also visited what was to become L&L. In “Images of America: East Lake View,” Frandsen is quoted as attributing this claim to a previous owner.
At the beginning of their investigation in December 1978, police discovered 29 bodies buried in a crawl space in Gacy’s house and the surrounding yard in the unincorporated Norwood Park Township. Four more bodies were found in the Des Plaines River. Gacy was convicted of 33 counts of murder in 1980 and was sentenced to death. He was executed on May 10, 1994.
Gacy’s background at face value did not seem to suggest he would be such a monster. He had owned his own construction company, worked as the district captain of the Democratic Party, and even had a picture taken with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. But he had also been convicted and served a sentence for assault in 1968.
Most notoriously, Gacy was known for his work as a clown. Gacy was an entrepreneur and a clown for Bresler’s 33 Flavors Ice Cream – and found it appropriate to laugh at the irony that he also had 33 victims during a shockingly exclusive interview with CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson in 1992. Gacy was best known for performing as Pogo the Clown for charity work at the hospital.
As for today’s L&L, the claim is that Gacy actually showed up there in full clown costume.
“Images of America: East Lake View” also points out that long before any stories of serial killers surfaced, two former owners of the bar were victims of attacks in unrelated incidents. The book says that the early owner Paul Gillon was the victim of a robbery at the bar – then still called Columbia Tavern & Liquors – in 1961, where he was tied up and gagged and had matches lit on his back.
The book also mentions that the then owner Marshall Tallaksen in 1950 was hit in the eye by a drive-by shooting. Further information about Tallaksen and the bar’s history so far could not be found online.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that Gacy and Dahmer’s crimes should not be underestimated. Between them, 50 boys and young men were brutally murdered, and the families of these victims still deal with the pain and grief to this day.
This week, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced that another of Gacy’s victims had been identified as Francis Wayne Alexander of North Carolina. Dart said Alexander was probably killed by Gacy between early 1976 and early 1977, and would have been 21 or 22 years old at the time of his murder.
Five other victims are still unidentified, and Dart said his office is committed to continuing its work to find out who they were.
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Video produced by Blake Tyson. Written story by Adam Harrington.