By “Bruce” (as told to Lawrence Silveira)
“Bruce” is a native Chicagoan with an interesting connection to the Windy City. As a teenager, for about four months in the early 1960s, he had a unique and potentially dangerous job delivering normal, plain packages. His clientele, however, was anything but normal. Here, in his own words, is his story:
I didn’t know it was the mob. I just happened to run into a person that was running a business, a suspicious business. I ran into him a couple times, he knew that I made several trips to Chicago every week or so, we started talking and one thing just led to another. It just became an offer.
After a couple times I’d never see nobody again. I received the packages in DeKalb, Illinois. A storefront—a coin store. I never seen the store open. Just a building they rented. Whatever they were using it for I don’t know.
It was a box. Wasn’t very heavy, not a very big box, usually all about the same size, wrapped up. Never opened them, no idea. And they’d just be sitting on the doorway. They knew that I was coming—I’d get a phone call—so it wasn’t sitting there very long. There’d be an envelope with a fifty-dollar bill in it and that’d be my pay. That’s what I got. It was all under the table, I guess you’d say.
Usually a friend would go with me in my car and we’d spend the day in Chicago. I didn’t need the money. My friends and I were just going there to goof around and stuff anyways. It was just fifty bucks to make on the way, y’know?
I’d drop them off at the same place every time: the Warehouse. It was all concrete. No windows, one door—well, I only seen one door where I went, in an alley—and that was it. I never seen nobody. It was suspicious that someone would pay you to go to the warehouse and just drop a package off, knock on the door, and drive away. Never seen nobody, never knew what was in the package, didn’t give it a look, just drove away. Better off not knowing.
I didn’t think much about it. It was just a job. It wasn’t something illegal about it—that I know of. I just got my fifty dollars! As a kid, you didn’t worry about little things like what’s in the box. You always wonder about what you’re doing, and you didn’t know if it was legal or illegal, but it was just you transporting a box. And grand good money, back in the day. Wouldn’t be no money now at all, just a lot back then. For a kid, fifty dollars a week—y’know, most parents didn’t make that much back then unless they had a heck of a good job. I was doing that at sixteen, seventeen years old. That was really good money.
I never really had a bad time. But I didn’t really want to be associated with them. You didn’t want to get too far involved, because that’s not necessarily gonna be a good thing. My dad suggested I get out of that. It’s usually no good that comes out of that. The bottom guy on the line is always gonna take the fall, so I did. I moved to another state so I was no longer available.
I had a good time doing it at the time, but now that I’ve been there, done that, I wouldn’t suggest that for somebody. I didn’t want to be too involved in something like that. Technically all you do is drop off a box and leave, but you never know what the end was gonna be, and I didn’t want to find out. I had no circumstances to know more. I’m glad I got out when I got out.