Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Chicago Caper

In the days of Prohibition, during the "Roaring 20's" if you wanted access to alcohol, you needed to know the location of certain "Speak Easys".  On the outside, they might not look like much, but once you were able to prove you weren't part of law enforcement, you'd be granted access to the back room where alcohol was served - and the real partying went down.

So it was that our home turned into the "Back Room" of S.P. Keasey's Place (Speak Easy)- in accordance to the invitation enclosed in the "How to Host a Murder" game, "The Chicago Caper". 

A couple of weeks ago, I had proposed to John that we consider hosting another Murder Mystery party - this time with the same crew of folks that went out on our boat this last summer.  (The last time we hosted one was in 2008).  The Streckfusses, the Jaskilkas, and Kaela - this time with Drew, her boyfriend, vs. Jacob who took his place on the boat as Drew couldn't make it from Portland that night.   Daniel and Genna Streckfuss have recently returned home from living in Quatar since August.  John is SO glad to have Daniel back working at Tyson Steele with him.  It's also pretty public knowledge that Kaela will be moving back to Portland in the summer - as will Drew, most likely - all dependent on what job he lands after graduating this month from UO.  Knowing they are short timers, I thought we ought to suggest getting together for a four couple dinner party and see if there was a time before June that all of our busy schedules would collide to make it happen.  We were actually quite shocked that everyone opted for the first date I offered up in the list, - Saturday, March 2nd.   Well okay, then....we better order up that game in a hurry (found on, and send out invitations to our unsuspecting guests that the night we had planned for them involved just a bit
more than dinner.

It was a kick to start to see the Facebook messages come in as folks received their invitations and already began to assume their 1920's character roles (mobsters, gamblers, professional baseball players, lounge singers, even a "madam"....[me!]).   We had some fun exchanges, that I tried my best to keep PG rated in my responses.... ;)

Soon enough, Saturday arrived.  Sadly, along with it, came a bad headache.  SIGH.... Fortunately, Mom was able to see me early that morning (causing her to be late to her own activities for the day- THANK YOU!!), which made me functional through the day.  Without her, I'd have been in bed.  Still, a nap before everyone arrived helped me get to about 90% - the best I'd felt all day, which was huge for my spirits in terms of last minute preparations and getting excited to act totally out of my normal character.

I wish I'd taken some up close shots of the false eyelashes, fake nails, liquid black eyeliner, smoky eye shadow and semi up-do that Christi had tutored me in how to achieve.  Due to the nap, I was running behind - John and I were both cracking up in our attempts to get in to costume and character, doing things neither one of us had had to do before.  (Me:  John, any ideas how to apply false eyelashes?)

It's times like these that I treasure the friendship I have with my husband - and how well we've learned to pull these things off together, scurrying around like mad so often in the last seconds before our guests arrive.  Sometimes these moments and memories are even more priceless than the event itself.

Fortunately, our fellow suspects to the impending murder were also running late, so we were able to get the candles lit, lasagna, breadsticks, salad, and parmesan dip set out before anyone arrived.  It had been fun hitting thrift shops trying to find accents for the table - the gold/gaudy candlesticks, napkin rings, etc.  I wish we had endless space to pack all of these different decor pieces for other occasions they might come in handy.  As it is, they might end back up in the thrift shops again. 

This couple arrived first.  John and Betsey Jaskilka.....AKA..... S. Treighton Harrow (U.S. District Attorney) and Anna Maria Carlotta Sassine - "Torchy" (Lounge Singer)

Then this couple arrived.   Daniel and Genna Streckfuss.....AKA...... Eddie ("Socks") R. Gyle (Golfer and owner of the "Green Tables" gambling establishment) and Molly M. Awsbsterr (Society Dame from New York)

Not long after, this couple arrived.  Kaela Lee and Drew Gigles.....AKA..... Malissa F. Orrthot ("Scoop") (Reporter) and Billy ("The Kid") Thrower (Professional Baseball Player)

And, then there's us.... I was "Silky" M. Adam (Owner and operator of the "Everlay Club") and John was Ernie ("Bet a Million") G. Ambler (Colorful millionaire gambler)

Daniel was absolutely in to the game - he came ready to play and had been anticipating it eagerly in conversation with John at work.  Even before dinner began, he was bantering with the other players.

Not long after everyone's arrival, we assumed our character roles and sat down for dinner.  Half way through, we passed out each person's dossier that explained in more detail the rules of the game and more about their character.  We then played a part of the CD (included in the game that had music of the 20's) that disclosed the actual murder that took place and made it clear that we weren't to leave the premises until we determined who among us had actually committed the murder.

We moved into the living room to begin the actual "Rounds" of the game - in which we find out information about ourselves (that we attempt to conceal) and incriminating information about others that we are meant to reveal so we could get to the bottom of what really happened.

I won't give any details of our discussions (because what happens at S. P. Keasey's stays in S. P. Keasey's!)  - but as each round went on, everyone became more and more comfortable with how the game is meant to be played and it got more and more boisterous and amusing. 

We served this in between rounds.  I was actually disappointed that it was soft in the middle....for whatever reason, the caramel sauce I chose kind of melted into the cheesecake layer.  Boo!  The taste was good, but it's always a bummer when the food you prepare doesn't meet your expectations.  (I was pleased, though, that the lasagna I made was good - I haven't attempted lasagna in over a decade and it was a brand new recipe....good to know it's a winner). 

While the general animation of our party rose in energy through the evening, sadly, Genna and myself were both deteriorating.  Genna had nearly bowed out earlier in the day with such a bad sore thoat/cold.  I could tell she was not feeling well as the night went on, and I felt bad that I had no non-caffeinated tea to offer her, so she was coping with just hot water. =(  Had I been in my right state of mind I'd have offered her some apple cider, but I wasn't coping well either.  The headache remission from pain I'd victoriously had earlier was long gone and I was sinking fast.  I even discreetly grabbed a couple of small ice packs from the freezer to hold to my neck during the last round.  It is a horrible feeling when you desperately can't wait for such a fun evening to end to be able to lay down in your bed with an ice pack.   Ugh.  But, true to the general role of my character, I did my best to keep the secret and trudge through.

Once it was finally determined who actually took out "Hal Coppone" (the murdered victim), I did politely plead that we quickly take our group pictures so I could "flee the country" - er, I mean, go to bed.  It's so good that we have such experts with the camera to be able to set the shots up fast - and of course, truly gorgeous people to make the pics look so good. 

So many different details going into the equation when it comes to determining if the evening was a success or not.   Despite the pain, the less than perfectly applied false eyelashes, or too-soft cheesecake, I think both John and I would say it was all worth it, if for no other reason than just to have truly sweet memories to share among the eight of us. 

P.S.  Special thanks to Michele who met us Saturday and Sunday mornings - half way between our homes to pick up and drop off our kids to give us the opportunity to be "adult only".  The kids had a blast in the 24 hours they had with their cousins - enjoying the rain-free weather, gallivanting the neighborhood with Baxter, and playing flashlight tag in the dark.  =)


sara said...

Oh my word, we did this same MMD 23 years ago!!! I was Torchy and I was 8 1/2 months PREGNANT! ha! I will have to see if I can dig up those pictures! It was so much fun!!!

StephieAnne said...

Ah Sara...that's why you and I should live closer to each other - the fun we'd have! Pregnant lounge singer....that is definitely worth digging up the pictures!!!!

Brooke said...

Hi there! Your event looks like it was a lot of fun!! We love to do murder mystery parties! Did this one for my birtday like, 8 years ago-- we are actually gearing up to do it again and just realized that we are missing two clues-- I was curious if you still had your game and would be willing to share with me the clues-- I'm only missing two... I just need to make sure I get them before I try to run my game on the 17th...

Hope you can help me! Thanks! Was a pleasure reading your blog! if you can help me out :)


Peggy said...

I am being so brassy: I have this murder and have lost the host guide. Is there any way I can buy a copy of the host guide from you? I hate to have the game and not be able to use it (or if you could just tell me the important cues to use). Your party looked like it was great!!! I have been trying to find the manufacturer on-line and been unsuccessful. Peggy

Peggy said...

wow; not used to blogs; first time I have ever been on one; my email is

Thanks again.

Theresa said...


This is random but I'm about to play this game tonight only to realize that I left the audio tape at my parents house in another state. Is there any way that you could send me the details of the "murder" so that I can share them with my guests?


StephieAnne said...

Sorry to those of you that have commented (Brooke, Peggy, and Theresa), this post is embedded deep in my blog and I did not notice you'd commented until just today. If I can still be of help, let me know.

Nicole said...

Hello! I also need the host guide - if anyone has a .pdf they can send me?! :)
Thanks heaps in advance!

Caitlin said...

Hello! I am looking for a diagram of the Hotel Luxington and vicinity. I borrowed the game from my mom and it seems to be missing the diagram. I have friends coming over this Saturday. If you were able to email me a picture or scan a copy of it - I would really appreciate it!

Thank you for any help!

Noni said...

Hello your game looks like a fun night and the idea of lasagne is great. I have recently acquired this game and the only thing missing is the police report and clues would it be possible for you to email me a copy so we can play the game please? Thank you in advance I also have other Murder Mystery Games so if I can repay you with any missing info that you may need please let me know