Why or how Greenfield got the name Little Chicago is a mystery to me. As far as I know, it was never listed in F.R. Harris’ books and if it was it would have been titled Hometown Chronicles; the Blue Edition. I sold my copy a while back and haven’t tried to Google it.
I do know from reading the many old police logs when I worked on the Police Department there were an awful lot of fights and drunk and disorderly arrests, especially at a place called The Barn. The Barn was located where the parking lot of Hearth and Care Nursing Home now sits.
The Chief of Police back then would walk to the scene, as generally the only cruiser had a flat tire, and break up the fight, handcuffing one guy to a post while walking the other back to the city jail.
There was also the Silver Front which was a predominately Black bar and they had their share of fights also.
The Club 28 was known for its fights and I remember Chief Hunter telling me about one case where this local fellow, who was left-handed, would hit someone, then put out his hand to shake to say he was sorry for hitting the guy and while he shook his hand a tire iron would drop out of his left sleeve and the guy would beat the tar out of him. The Club 28 was a frequent stop for Country and Western performers.
Ade’s Place was another good one for fights. I once saw a street fight in front of the bar with both guys holding broken beer bottles and going at each other.
There was a house in the 200 block of North Street where a woman made bathtub gin and sold it to the locals. Also, in the early 50s, I remember seeing some of the older drunks standing on the corner in front of Corner Pharmacy on Sundays. It was illegal to sell beer on Sunday so they would be drinking Mennen’s aftershave.
One fellow used to come into Edward’s Discount Store purchase cans of Sterno. He told me that he’d go home and strain the Sterno thru a couple of slices of bread into a fruit jar and drink it.
Those sorts of things are where I always thought Greenfield got the nickname, from the drinking and fighting, which was very common.
Or maybe it was from the KKK rally that took place at the old Chautauqua Park on North Washington. It was said there were over 5000 of them there on one weekend.
Originally published, July 6, 2009