Charlie Weber

When we were kids and on our way to Wrigley, we’d always take note of the house.  It was hard to miss.  The neighborhood along this stretch of Addison Street was all old two-flats and older frame cottages, except for the one modern ranch home at the corner of Wolcott.

We knew that Charlie Weber lived there.  And after August 16, 1960, we knew that he had died there.

Charlie Weber's House

Charlie Weber’s House

Charlie Weber was the boss of the 45th Ward.  He had been since the 1920s, when he inherited the ward from his father.  Along with his buddy Paddy Bauler, he was known as the last of the saloon-keeper politicos.

Charlie’s duchy took in much of the old German neighborhood along Lincoln Avenue.  His headquarters was a bierstube next to St. Alphonsus Church.  He had a mania for keeping the ward clean.  Besides the regular city crews, Charlie hired his own fleet of street sweepers.  He also had a snow plow and a leaf-burner hauled around by a vintage Rolls Royce.

But that was grown-up stuff.  What impressed me most–and impressed every kid within fifty miles–was that Charlie owned a piece of the Riverview amusement park.  Each summer there’d be a “Charlie Weber Kids’ Day” where we were given the run of the place.  Charlie himself used to walk through the crowds and pass out silver dollars.

Charlie had served as a state senator for thirty years.  By 1960 he was 66, and preferred to stay in Chicago as an alderman.  On the evening of August 15 he attended a political meeting until 11:30, then left for home.

Charlie Weber with his wife Emma

Charlie Weber with his wife Emma

The next day a friend phoned Charlie and didn’t receive an answer.  After repeated calls the man went to the house to investigate.  He found Charlie and his wife lying dead on the floor.

Carbon monoxide poisoning had caused the deaths.  The Weber home had an attached garage.  One of the cars had the key in the ignition and an empty gas tank.  It seemed likely Charlie had forgotten to turn off the engine before going to bed.

That was over a half-century ago.  The Germans of Lincoln Avenue have dispersed.  Riverview is gone.  Even the 45th Ward has been moved, with that number tacked onto another district a few miles to the west.

The Webers had no children of their own.  I don’t know who lives in the house at Addison and Wolcott now.  But every time I pass by, I remember Charlie.

—30—

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14 Responses to “Charlie Weber”


  1. 1 Garry August 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I go past that house all the time & didn’t realize that was Weber’s. The current owner usually flies a Cubs flag.
    But you left out that a whole lot of people, including some cops think he was whacked by The Outfit for something he did to them or didn’t do for them.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt August 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      I’ve heard those stories, too. But there’s only so much I can put in a post without meandering.
      –JRS

  2. 3 benson August 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    John, I believe the readers of this blog would actually prefer you meander some. I find your posts not only educational, but also entertaining. As always, thanks for the great material.

  3. 6 Garry August 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I took a really good look at it today. It’s on at least 2.5 lots & is a really big bilevel. The brick wall is on 3 sides, with a wood privacy fence dividing it from the next door neighbor.
    When I went to school past it on the bus every day for two years in the mid 60s, I never noticed it, probably because of the walls. The houses I noticed were the pre-WWI mini-mansions on Addison east of Ashland.

  4. 7 Mike August 31, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    About a year ago, there were some photographs of the investigation taken inside the house, which had been purged from the files of Sun-Times and put up for sale on eBay. I distinctly remember a view of the garage, which had not one but two 1960 Cadillacs parked inside.

  5. 8 elaine zimmermann April 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    This was my great Uncle and Aunt. there is still mystery surrounding their deaths. My grandmothers sister. My daughter is sending me the info that she has about their deaths and history. They died when they were poisoned by carbon monoxide filling the home after the rumor of my great grandfather leaving the car running but we know that is not how it happened.

  6. 10 Liz Chartier July 13, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I would love to know who the likely suspects are. I was a weber kid who went to Riverview thanks to Charlie. I also got a couple of hula-hoops thanks to Charlie. My friends and I were talking about him today. Any ideas?

  7. 11 Tom Knight January 23, 2016 at 12:15 am

    He also sponsored our baseball team at Hamlin Park on Damen ave. We even got a ride home after a game in his air conditioned Cadillac , quite the treat in the 1950’s.

  8. 12 Bernie February 10, 2016 at 12:05 am

    My brother was named after him, he and my Dad worked together to try and save houses (including ours) from being taken for a parking lot at Lincoln, Belmont, and Ashland. That was the 1500 block on Melrose – around the corner from Hook & Ladder Truck 21. I also remember the Riverview days well!

  9. 13 T.Roges May 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I was a kid during that time the Alderman was possibly wacked. I lived only a few blocks from the house and saw it all the time. When he died we heard that there was a box a Tribune reporter found in the attack and he was not allowed to look inside. According to the rumor, the box had “In case of death destroy. Supposedly, the next day, Mayor Daley’s boys opened the box and found unimportant items such as clothing in it.
    Does anyone remember that.

  10. 14 Ron June 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I was one of “Charlie Weber’s Young Democrats” during the 1952 convention. Carried a flag (Maryland) during the official start of the convention. Wore a cap with a Styrofoam donkey and a tee shirt stating “Charlie Weber’s Young Democrats.” We kids walked down the aisle up to and on to the stage. Don’t remember what happened next, but then we were bused to a bar for pizza and coke. Quite an experience!
    I also remember Riverview Days.


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