(—Thanks to help from his biography by John Kobler.)
1. WELL, THIS IS A VERY SAD STORY BUT WITH A VERY HAPPY ENDING! Al Capone was a very poor boy, born of Italian immigrant parents from Naples, one of nine children, seven sons & two daughters, the 4th son in line‚ who grew up, sad to say‚ to become America's greatest & most famous gangster of the Prohibition Era of the '20s, the ruler of Chicago's Gangland, politicians & police, the literal "King of Chicago" & Midwest bootlegging.
2. HIS FATHER GABRIEL & MOTHER THERESA HAD EMIGRATED FROM THE SLUMS OF NAPLES TO NEW YORK IN 1893 with their first child Vincenzo, age 6, later renamed James, or Jim, the oldest of the seven brothers. All the others were born in the U.S. as U.S. citizens, & mother & father Capone also became naturalised citizens. Their 2nd, 3rd & 4th sons were all born in Brooklyn, Ralph, Salvatore, later called Frank, & Alphonse—who became the World-famed Al Capone! He was followed by Amadeo, later nicknamed Mimi, Umberto, later known as Albert or Alberto, Matthew, nicknamed Matt, Rose & Mathalda, the two girls, their younger sisters.
3. MOTHER & FATHER CAPONE WERE ILLITERATE IN ENGLISH & COULD NEITHER READ NOR WRITE ENGLISH‚ at that time not required by U.S. naturalisation laws. They had moved from the slums of Naples to the slums of Brooklyn & lived in an old run-down tenement apartment house with no central heating, hot water or private bathrooms. Their only heat was pot-bellied coal stoves in each apartment. Papa Caponi—as was the original name—first worked as a grocer, then as a barber.
4. THIS MASS MIGRATION OF THE POOREST OF ITALIANS WHICH BEGAN IN THE 1880'S PROVED SOMEWHAT UNWELCOME IN THE U.S. & they could only get the poorest of jobs, if any at all, as manual labourers‚ fruit-stand hawkers, or in the case of Father Capone, a fairly good job as a barber. In the early 1900's the average male Italian in New York was doing well to earn around $10 a week & live in a pitiful tenement which cost him $3 or $4 a room per month.
5. OF COURSE,THESE WAGES WERE ONLY A LITTLE LESS THAN OTHERS IN THOSE EARLY DAYS when the dollar was worth ten times as much as it is today in actual purchasing power, so the working classes were actually able to live or exist on such low wages in squalor & poverty. So mother & children had to work too & Theresa became a dressmaker. The health of their children suffered from undernourishment & overcrowding in dirty cold–water tenements with inadequate sanitation.
6. THESE POOR FIRST-GENERATION ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS SUFFERED THE POOREST HEALTH OF ANY FOREIGN GROUP IN NEW YORK ACCORDING TO ACTUAL STATISTICS. Their literacy was only about 60%, & less than 1% ever got as far as high school. Most of their children averaged older ages than that of other pupils in the schools. None of the Capone Brothers ever finished high school. Racial prejudice branded these poor Italian immigrants as having greater criminal leanings than others, whereas the actual facts are that though they constituted about 11% of the foreign population, but were only about 7% of the foreign-born jail inmates. By 1920 they were only 1/12 in the proportion of immigrants convicted of crimes.
7. THESE POOR ITALIANS HAD FOR CENTURIES BEEN VICTIMS OF EXPLOITATION BY FOREIGNERS & VICIOUS DOMESTIC MASTERS, so they had a natural mistrust for authority & naturally considered politicians & police their enemies & that the laws were made to protect the rich & enslave the poor—in which, of course, they were not far wrong. Their greatest loyalty was to their own families & their community, even above that of their adopted country.
8. THEIR AMERICA-BORN CHILDREN‚ ALTHOUGH NEARLY AS ILLITERATE AS THEIR PARENTS‚ WERE FAR FROM UNINTELLIGENT & refused to accept passively the frustration of their elders, & to some it appeared that only crime could open the door to a better life. Combining the methods of the Italian Mafia with those of American big business, they evolved one of the most efficient enterprises in the history of organised crime.—Although at no time did these Italian gangsters constitute more than a very minute fraction of the entire Italian-American population. Nevertheless, prejudice & persecution of these poor Italians only drew them closer together & made them tougher fighters for what they considered "their share" of the American way.
9. AL WAS BORN A CAPRICORN IN BROOKLYN‚ JANUARY 17, 1899‚ just a block from St. Michael's Church where his mother & father faithfully worshipped & where he was baptised. It was a tough Navy neighbourhood full of sailors & whores, the Barbary Coast of New York, where rooms rented by the hour & its whorehouses were famous worldwide. His 16-year-old girl teacher, Sadie, at Public School No.7 remembered him as a swarthy sullen troublesome boy, big & strong for his age, quick to anger with a murderous temper! The later famous Lucky Luciano was one of his schoolmates. Due to his giant size he looked 14 at the age of 10 & a Marine sergeant acquainted with him said the cocky little Italian would have made a good Marine!
10. BUT LIKE MANY OTHER YOUNG ITALIAN BOYS, HE SOON FELL UNDER THE EVIL INFLUENCE OF THE NEW YORK GANGS, particularly John Torrio with whom he worked most of his later life. Torrio, however, was a true mastermind, a forerunner of the more sophisticated outlook of the mid-century rackets, preferring diplomacy‚ talks & alliances & peaceful cooperation amongst mobs rather than violence, which he considered a poor solution to their problems. Al loved him like a father & later practised many of his wise policies in his own organisation, which included Torrio, at the height of his power in the 1920's.
11. AL WAS A FAIRLY SMART "B" AVERAGE STUDENT UNTIL THE 6TH GRADE WHEN HE BEGAN TO GET MORE INVOLVED WITH GANGS, fell behind & had to repeat the grade & finally quit school. He worked at various small jobs then as a clerk, pinball-setter, cloth-cutter‚ poolroom etc. & became the neighbourhood pool champion. Youthful street gangs were everywhere throughout the city & the baffled parents seemed to lose their authority over their own children. For these young hoodlums reared in squalor & poverty it seemed that crime was their only hope to get anywhere materially & the street gang was escape & freedom & personal security. Their street society flourished & Al spent his younger years prowling around with such a gang.
12. THESE GANGS OF HOODLUMS SOON LEARNED THEY COULD GET PROTECTION & REWARDS BY WORKING WITH LOCAL POLITICIANS, rendering them valuable services such as intimidation during elections‚ slugging, kidnapping, stealing & recruiting repeat voters. In return, the politicians would give them clubhouses, sporting equipment, dinners, tickets to prize fights & ball games, & if arrested the gang members could count on their political boss to furnish them with bail & a lawyer & could get their sentence either reduced or squashed.
13. THESE WERE THE DAYS WHEN CRIME ON CONTRACT HAD ITS BIRTH‚ & some gangs even issued price lists for the perpetration of various crimes. They were also the days of the development of the rackets, ostensibly legitimate organisations & operations using legitimate businesses as their targets & victims, including labour unions, by charging them various fees for so-called "protection" & cooperation & certain operations against their enemies. These racketeers soon controlled many illegitimate enterprises such as bootlegging, rum-running, vice, gambling etc., almost anything that was against the law & yet popular with the public, & later they were to enter with their hard-won earnings into legitimate enterprises, becoming legitimate owners of huge corporate businesses as they are today.
14. ALREADY A WELL–RECOGNISED YOUNG HOODLUM OF THE UNDERWORLD, CAPONE IN 1918 MET A TALL SLIM PRETTY IRISH GIRL NAMED MAE COUGHLIN AT A PARTY. She was 21‚ two years older than he‚ a salesgirl, & they were soon married that very year at St. Mary's where her parents worshipped. The following year she bore their first & only child, Albert‚ later nicknamed Sonny. The already well-established racketeer Torrio was Godfather, who every year thereafter gave Sonny a $5,000 bond on his birthdays.
15. TORRIO'S UNCLE WAS BIG JIM COLOSIMO, head of the rackets & most of the vice enterprises of Chicago in the early 1900's. So when things got too hot for Al in New York‚ he fled with his wife & little son to Torrio's uncle in Chicago, who operated some of the biggest, most popular nightclubs & whorehouses of what was then America's second largest city, under the protection of its politicians & police, most of whom where on his payroll.
16. THE STRONGHOLD OF VICE & CRIME & THE RACKETEERS & GANGSTERS OF THAT DAY WAS THE SECTION KNOWN AS THE "WICKED LEVEE" ON CHICAGO'S WEST SIDE‚ between 22nd & 18th streets & Clark & Wabash Avenues, one of the World's heaviest concentrations of crime & vice, nevertheless patronised by some of the World's renowned & famous show business people, sporting figures‚ big businessmen, journalists, politicians, the rich & the chic & the tourists, all enjoying the excitement of such an underworld atmosphere, as well as the entertainment of some of Chicago's best clubs & highest-priced houses of ladies—who often flaunted their charms in thin negligee at their open windows to prospective customers in the street below!
17. PRICES RANGED FROM 25 CENTS IN THE NEGRO CRIBS, to $1 or $2 in the slightly better houses‚ to $10 to $50 in the World's most luxurious & famous bawdy house in the country, the Everleigh Club, run by two beautiful queenly sisters from Kentucky, Ada & Minna Everleigh. Coming from a high-born aristocratic family of Kentucky bluegrass aristocrats & with no former experience in such a field, with private lives above reproach, they had already opened their first bordello in Omaha when Ada was 22 & Minna only 20.
18. LAWYER'S DAUGHTERS, GENTEELLY-REARED‚ EDUCATED AT A PRIVATE SOUTHERN SCHOOL, they had married brothers who maltreated them, so had run away with a theatrical troupe to the Midwest. There with $35,000 inherited from their rich parents, they established in Omaha in 1898 their first brothel. And with its profits they moved later to Chicago to a 3–story luxurious mansion of 50 rooms, admitting their first customers February 1, 1900, where they flourished for 11 years. They bought the house for $50,000 & spent $200‚000 on refurbishing it full of luxurious furniture, exotic shrubbery & marble statuary.
19. BEAUTIFULLY-GOWNED & BEJEWELED LIKE THE EMPRESSES OF VICE THAT THEY WERE‚ THEY GREETED THEIR PUBLIC WITH GRACE & ELEGANCE, ushering them into the public rooms & parlours panelled with rare wood & draped with brocade & damask & some furnished with pianos for entertainment, one of solid gold costing $15,000. Food was supplied by a French chef & wine at $12 a bottle. It was a very popular place for private parties of Chicago's male elite in rooms of sumptuous foreign decor of several cultures. The girls were hand-picked by the sisters for their beauty, good health, freedom from addictions to drugs or alcohol, good taste in clothes, ladylike manners & sexual artistry.
20. RUN MUCH LIKE AN EXCLUSIVE SOCIAL CLUB, THE GENTLEMEN WOULD MINGLE FREELY WITH THE BEAUTIES in this club-like atmosphere until they expressed their preference for some particular girl with whom they would retire to more discreet quarters. Although their price range of from $10-50 may seem small today‚ you must remember that the dollar was worth ten times as much in purchasing power in that day. So this was the equivalent of $100-500 per hour, with their profits averaging several thousand dollars a night, of which a large slice, of course, had to go to local protection by the local police & politicians.
21. DURING THIS ERA JUST BEFORE WORLD WAR 1 IT'S ESTIMATED THAT THE BROTHELS IN CHICAGO NUMBERED OVER 1,000 with about 5,000 Madams, servants & prostitutes & a gross yearly revenue of $60 million, with a profit of about $15 million, not including the independent call girls & street walkers who were earning about $10 million a year. Everybody & everything was organised‚ pimps had their own associations & the Madams their own cartel—all protected by both Gangland & the local police & politicians.
22. TORRIO'S UNCLE COLOSIMO HAD STARTED AS A STREET SWEEPER, THEN BECAME AN ORGANISER OF UNIONS & "ATHLETIC CLUBS", as some of the criminal associations were called, & an expert at delivering votes to the local politicians & had virtual immunity from arrest. Clubs like the Everleigh paid as high as $100,000 for local protection, & Colosimo's nightclub was not far behind. Colosimo had married one of his madams & was soon the king of vice on the Levee‚ keeping over half of everything his girls earned.
23. SOME OF THEM SERVING AS HIGH AS 25 MEN IN A NIGHT WERE SOON WORN OUT IN LESS THAN FIVE YEARS, so there was a constant demand for fresh new young flesh, & White slavery became rife, with girls forced into prostitution through kidnapping, drugs & virtual imprisonment in their rooms!—They were frequently sold on the brothel market, prices ranging between $50-300 each. Such enforced recruitment in the surrounding Midwestern States was eventually slowed down by the 1910 Mann Act, making transport of women across State lines for immoral purposes punishable by heavy fines & imprisonment. Such big operations as Colosimo's naturally needed lots of protection from both Gangland & politicians & police, so their expenses were heavy & their prices high.
24. AL CAPONE'S FATHER-FIGURE TORRIO CAME TO HIS UNCLE'S IN CHICAGO IN 1909, about the same time as the reformers were trying to clean up Chicago, led by the English evangelist, World-famous Gypsy Smith, who often was accompanied by Salvation Army bands & thousands of parishioners in his protest marches down the streets of the Levee singing hymns. These crusades against crime soon resulted in the formation of the Chicago Vice Commission & were joined by the newspapers in cries for reform. They soon drove the Everleigh Sisters out of Chicago & out of their business forever, but they settled rich in New York's exclusive Central Park West area & lived to a ripe old age in affluence & dignity.
25. THERE AROSE A NATIONWIDE CRY AGAINST THE CRUELTIES OF WHITE SLAVERY AT THIS TIME, & A MASSIVE ATTACK WAS LEVELLED AT THE LEVEE, driving Torrio & Colosimo into the outskirts of Chicago into a new popular type of house known as the Roadhouse‚ made possible by the growing popularity of the automobile. So that in 1912, Chicago became the first American city to close its Redlight District. But the brothels merely proliferated into new resorts & 20 years later in Chicago there were still 731 in operation, only 300 fewer than in 1912. They were now merely camouflaged as hotels, saloons & cabarets. Colosimo's new Burnham Roadhouse outside Chicago was open 24 hours a day with 90 girls in three shifts & making nearly $10,000 a month, of which Torrio got half.
26. BY 1915 WITH THE HELP OF FREEDOM-LOVING CHICAGOANS & VICE-LOVING GANGSTERS, "BIG BILL" THOMPSON WAS SWEPT INTO THE MAYOR'S OFFICE, to make Chicago again a wide-open city for every kind of vice & crime!—To whom the Prohibition Act, or Volstead Act, of that era became a boon to the latest racketeers of bootlegging of illegal beer & whiskey. Mayor "Big Bill" Thompson thereby kept Chicago wide open for several subsequent years as a place where the visitor, as well as the local yokels, could have a very good time at a price.
27. ALTHOUGH THE WHITE SLAVERY HAD BEEN CHECKED & THE BORDELLOS DRIVEN OUT, THE GIRLS HAD MERELY GONE UNDER THE COVERS IN ABOUT 30,000 CALL FLATS THROUGHOUT THE CITY. Chicago's Police Chief Healy, who like most politicians began his office with a declaration of war against the underworld, actually was eventually exposed as the boss of the city's biggest graft ring, & benefactor as well as beneficiary of most of its ganglords. He was later prosecuted for this in years to come & defended by Chicago's most successful lawyer, Clarence Darrow‚ the notorious evolutionary advocate & opponent of William Jennings Bryan in the famous Monkey Trial in Tennessee. So you can see where this famous criminal lawyer stood, already on the side of the Godless & the Godless promoters of Evolution!
28. CHICAGO'S VICE & CRIME‚ AS WELL AS ITS CORRUPTION‚ BECAME SO NOTORIOUS THAT A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE CALLED IT AMERICA'S MOST COMPLETELY CORRUPT CITY! By this time Uncle Colosimo had become Chicago's chief vice king, with both politicians & police dependent upon his generosity rather than vice-versa. For both love & a desire for greater respectability‚ this middle-aged vice lord soon married a young 19-year-old church choir singer whom he had hired to sing at his club, & to whom he was totally devoted for the rest of his life—which wasn't too long!
29. IT WAS TO HELP WITH THIS BOOMING CHICAGO BIG BUSINESS THAT TORRIO, COLOSIMO'S NEPHEW‚ SENT FOR AL CAPONE IN THE YEAR 1919, THE YEAR WHEN I WAS BORN. The very next year the nation's greatest boon to gangsterism & the racketeers was enacted in the form of the National Prohibition Act, January 17, 1920, which caused such a boom in bootlegging with its payoffs to the police, that Chicago's Police Chief admitted about 60% of his policemen were in the bootleg business, or in the pay of the bootleggers.
30. IN MAY OF THAT YEAR BIG JIM COLOSIMO DIED WITH A BULLET IN HIS HEAD FROM SOME UNKNOWN ASSAILANT, & TORRIO & CAPONE TOOK OVER IN HIS PLACE, embarking on a grand Gangland design for territorial expansion of their monumental bootlegging business‚ to which Chicago's Mayor Thompson & Illinois' Governor Small became great assets. The Torrio-Capone Plan was to try to bring peace & cooperation amongst the various Chicago gangs by organising them into definite inviolable territories ruled exclusively by each‚ not invading each other nor warring against each other. Torrio believed in peace & non-violence & big business organisation, & he was fairly successful at it.
31. IN NOVEMBER OF THAT SAME MOMENTOUS YEAR OF 1920, CAPONE'S FATHER DIED OF A HEART ATTACK & AL INVITED HIS MOTHER & FAMILY TO MOVE TO CHICAGO to a sumptuous home on South Prairie Avenue near St. Columbana's Church, where he built for them a beautiful two-story 15-room red brick house at number 7244. The family now consisted of his mother, two sisters, Al's own wife & son, his brother Ralph & Ralph's wife & son & daughter, plus Al's two youngest brothers, Mimi & Matt, & later Nitzi.
32. AL WAS SOON ACTUALLY MADE A DEPUTY SHERIFF OF CHICAGO'S COOK COUNTY BY ITS CORRUPT POLITICAL MACHINE‚ which was sometimes helpful in his chosen career for his own self-protection, since it authorised him to legally carry a gun or guns. Under Torrio & Al's wise administration, peace actually settled over Gangland during this Prohibition Era for awhile, with Torrio & Al managing a beverage plant worth $5 million & a capital of $25 million, grossing $12 million a year.—Until 1923 when trouble began to arise amongst some of the gangs & the pressure of reform administrations showed the two partners that they would have to look for better, freer quarters for their operations‚ as a result of which they chose a Chicago suburb called Cicero.
33. ABOUT THIS TIME TORRIO DECIDED HE NEEDED A VACATION & HE LEFT FOR EUROPE WITH HIS WIFE & MOTHER, LEAVING CAPONE IN CHARGE. Torrio returned from Europe a year later, 1924, & the two partners began to increase their operations with gambling houses, bawdy houses & bootlegging. These enterprises ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, some of them averaging $50‚000 a day business & netting $400,000 a year profits for a single establishment. Cicero's 123 saloons also bought their beer from the Torrio-Capone alliance.
34. THESE BUSINESSES WERE NOT WITHOUT AN OCCASIONAL RAID TO PACIFY THE REFORMERS, & in one of these, ledgers were seized which were later to incriminate Capone in his famous income tax trial years later. During ensuing difficulties‚ the Chicago Tribune for the first time ran a photograph of the famous face of "Scarface" Capone, which would later became as familiar as many World-famous characters. But still he remained above the law & prosecution by very cautious & careful behaviour.
35. BY THIS TIME THE TORRIO-CAPONE'S 22 BROTHELS IN THE EXCLUSIVE SUBURBS OF CHICAGO WERE GROSSING $10 MILLION ANNUALLY, & now charging $2 for every five minutes per girl‚ quite a rise from the $2 per hour of a decade before! Besides ruling Cicero, they now actually owned the small town of Forest View & were its municipal officers & police. Capone was able to afford a $30,000 custom-built armour-plated Cadillac limousine, although no life insurance company would sell him a policy. By his admirers Capone was known as big–hearted, loyal, dynamic, a wonderful person‚ a real man. It was said that he never hired a man who didn't like women, because in his own words, "When a guy don't fall for a broad‚ he's through!" Meaning, only sexy men have the drive that he needed for his organisation.
36. BUT THE OTHER GANGS OF CHICAGO NOW BECAME RESTLESS & JEALOUS & COVETOUS & the worst gang war ever fought in Chicago began at this time with the complete control of commercialised crime at stake. Most of the Italians stuck to Capone, whereas the Irish racketeers stuck to their principal competitor O'Bannion, with his gang composed of Irish, Polish & Jewish gangsters. The gang wars of Chicago, New York & other centers of vice & crime throughout the U.S. now became front page headline stories across the nation.
37. THE CITIZENRY OF CICERO NOW BEGAN TO RISE UP AGAINST ITS CAPONE DOMINATION & one of its newspapers attacked his organisation relentlessly until he bought it himself. They raided his gambling dens & burned down his whorehouses until they were nearly forced out of Cicero. In 1925 Capone's troubles began to grow‚ & one which affected him most deeply was the deafness of his seven-year-old son as a result of a mastoid operation, who therefore wore a hearing aid for the rest of his life & was never engaged in any way in his father's profession, a shy, slim, retiring boy.
38. AT THIS TIME THE REFORM MOVEMENTS OF VARIOUS CITIZENRY ALSO HAD A COSTLY EFFECT ON HIS RACKETEERING EMPIRE & ITS VARIOUS ILLEGAL ESTABLISHMENTS. Finally a treaty was reached amongst the various gangs in October of 1926, known as the Hotel Sherman Treaty, where they met & came to a mutual agreement as to territories, the burial of feuds, renunciation of violence between gangs & to settle disputes thereafter by arbitration rather than gang war. At this time Big Bill Thompson again won the election as Mayor of Chicago & set Chicago free for the bootleg & liquor industry & its bootleggers, along with the racketeers & gangsters who ran it. He ran & won as an acknowledged "wet" opposed to Prohibition, & of course Gangland contributed notably to his successful campaign.
39. MEANWHILE CAPONE WAS BECOMING SOMEWHAT OF A NATIONAL FOLK HERO OR ROBINHOOD & stories were often told of his generosity & tenderheartedness. He considered himself a businessman engaged in the liquor business & a benefactor to the local community, abetting the income of the local police with about half of them on his payroll. He estimated that the total police payoff from all sources was probably about $30 million a year. Although lucky in his business, he lived so extravagantly & gambled so heavily & unluckily that he was actually unable to accumulate any great personal fortune, despite his tremendous income. He eventually estimated he had lost about $10 million on horse races alone during his lifetime.
40. CHICAGO MAYOR THOMPSON BECAME A LEADER OF THE "AMERICA FIRST" MOVEMENT OF THOSE POLITICALLY OPPOSED TO ANY FURTHER U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN EUROPEAN WARS, a movement still very popular, who even at one time‚ I believe, ran their own presidential candidate just before World War 2, but were unable to prevent the popular Roosevelt from defeating their drive for isolationism. Capone was naturally somewhat of an admirer of his own nation's hero of the time, Mussolini‚ & also opposed to any further U.S wars which considerably hampered his own operations.
41. HOWEVER,THOMPSON FINALLY BEGAN TO HAVE PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS & THEREFORE CONSIDERED CAPONE A LIABILITY TO HIS CAMPAIGN & BEGAN TO WITHDRAW HIS PATRONAGE. Whereupon Capone called a press conference announcing his departure for Florida, ostensibly for retirement, saying, "Let the worthy citizens of Chicago get their liquor the best way they can‚ I'm sick of the job! It's a thankless one & full of grief." He said he was no more a criminal than those who drank his liquor—& he was about right, of course! He also expressed his contempt for dishonest politicians, saying‚ "There's one thing worse than a crook, & that's a crooked politician! A man who pretends he's enforcing the law & is really making dough out of somebody breaking it. A self-respecting hoodlum hasn't any use for that kind of fellow. He buys them like he'd buy any other article necessary to his trade‚ but he hates them in his heart." In other words, he hated the hypocritical leaders of Chicago who pretended to be so self-righteous & were just as wicked as he!
42. HE SAID, "I COULD BEAR IT ALL IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE HURT IT BRINGS TO MY MOTHER & FAMILY. It's getting too much for them & I'm sick of it all myself. I have never been convicted of a crime & I consider myself a public benefactor, furnishing the public with what it wants." He'd given decent liquor & square gambling. Regarding the Gangland killings he protested that "It was the law of self-defense & that maybe it was a little broader than the law books, the way God looked at it, such as defending your business & your wife & child." And he was probably not as guilty as some of the self-righteous hypocrites who ran the country & killed millions in their covetous wars for Earthly power & gain!
43. BY THIS TIME THE HEAT WAS ON & CAPONE WAS BEING FORCED OUT OF CHICAGO & looking for a new place to which he could retire, so he was considering Florida. He first tried Los Angeles but the L.A. police let him know in short order that he was unwelcome there & he was ordered to leave town. So he slipped back into Chicago. By this time Chicago Mayor Thompson saw he had no chances for the Presidency, so he began to cultivate the favour of the Ganglords again to help keep him in office. So Capone's fortunes rose once again in Chicago. But he was now convinced that he needed a second home or an alternative to which he could retreat if there should be a recurrence of political uncertainty in the windy city.
44. SO IN 1927 HE HEADED FOR MIAMI, spent his first Winter there in a furnished bungalow on the beach & rented a top 9th-floor suite of the Hotel Ponce de Leon. Its young 24-year-old boss, Parker Henderson, became his friend, whose father was a former Mayor of Miami. Henderson helped him cash his cheques & money orders in various names‚ & some of the citizenry welcomed him as a financial asset to the community, seeking to sell him real estate & engage his investment in their businesses, as the Miami economy was in a state of collapse from its post-War land boom, which had been followed by the Great Hurricane of 1926.
45. THE MIAMI DAILY NEWS CLAMOURED FOR CAPONE'S EXPULSION, BUT THE MAYOR HOPED TO SELL HIM A HOUSE! Capone met with Police Chief Quigg to try to make peace & to assure him that he had come in peace—not to establish any new rackets or engage in crime, but merely to retire in seclusion. So Quigg said, "You can stay as long as you behave yourself." Capone said, "I'll stay as long as I'm treated like a human being!"
46. HE LOVED MIAMI & CALLED IT "THE GARDEN OF AMERICA, the sunny Italy of the New World, where life is good & abundant & happiness is to be had. I'm going to build or buy a home here. I hope to open a restaurant & join the Rotary Club." Mayor Lewis announced that "Mr. Capone was one of the fairest men I have ever been in conference with. He was not ordered to leave Miami Beach, but he decided it might be best by mutual agreement." However Capone actually stayed‚ dividing his time between his bungalow & the hotel, the racetracks & nightclubs, as well as taking up golfing & tennis.
47. HE FINALLY BOUGHT A HOUSE ON PALM ISLAND at 93 Palm Avenue in the middle of the Bay, halfway between Miami & Miami Beach, a very well–guarded residential island of the rich with its own guards & guardhouse, its lone bridge access, & Capone himself supplied his own home with his personal bodyguards, as well as a high wall & steel gate.
48. MEANWHILE CAPONE WAS STILL CARRYING ON HIS VARIOUS BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN THE NORTH BY TELEPHONE & MESSENGER, & Gangland wrangling between the mobs became so common that at one time Senator Norris of Nebraska urged President Coolidge to withdraw his Marines from Nicaragua & instead send them to Chicago where they might do more good! Instead of fighting anti-American guerrillas in Central America, they could do better fighting the gang gorillas in Chicago! Meanwhile‚ Gangland's favourite friendly political administrations of both Chicago & Illinois were roundly defeated in the elections of 1928, & Capone shifted his Chicago headquarters from the Hotel Metropole to the Lexington in that year, from which he helped the new administration actually insure fair & peaceful elections, which however went against his patrons.
49. POOR CAPONE CRAVED ADMIRATION & GRATITUDE & CONTINUALLY SOUGHT TO WIN THEM WITH A SHOW OF CIVIC SPIRIT & A DISTRIBUTION OF HIS GENEROSITY, with large tips & frequent donations of food, fuel & clothing to the destitute‚ saying, "There's a lot of people in Chicago who've got me pegged for one of those mobsters you read about in the storybooks, but I'm not as black as I'm painted! I'm human, I've got a heart in me & I'll help any guy that needs help! I can't stand to see anybody hungry or cold or helpless. I'll bet I've given a million dollars to the poor! So I couldn't be the worst man in the World."
50. HOWEVER, HERBERT HOOVER HAD DEFEATED AL SMITH IN THE 1928 ELECTION ABOUT THIS TIME & HOOVER MADE IT PLAIN THAT HE WAS DETERMINED THAT THE NATION SHOULD GET RID OF AL CAPONE! While Capone was enjoying his new home on Palm Island, Hoover was a guest of J.C. Penny on Belle Isle, not far away. It was legend that the parties at Capone's disturbed Hoover's sleep, & he was also miffed because the news paid more attention to Capone than to him! So he ordered an all-out attack against Capone‚ & Capone decided it was time for diversification into other businesses, as he saw a possible end coming to bootlegging through Repeal. So he began to branch out into greater racketeering. A racketeer was defined as the boss of a supposedly legitimate business or a labour union organiser etc., but who had somewhat forced his way into such an enterprise by somewhat illegitimate tactics. About 200 different rackets flourished in Chicago of various sorts.
51. SO CAPONE HEREUPON WENT INTO THE CLEANING BUSINESS WITH HIS CHAIN OF SANITARY CLEANING SHOPS. The headlines began to proclaim that "Capone wars on the racketeers!" & "Gangsters will protect where the police have failed!"—Because he was muscling in to protect some of the local businesses from other gangs. One of the newest most popular fads at this time was dog racing‚ which was more easily fixed than horse racing, so it thereby became quite favoured of the gangsters as well, & Capone went into partnership with the man who invented the mechanical rabbit which led the dogs around the track, & no track could operate without these rabbits, on which he had a franchise.
52. FROM HERE ON HE SPENT HIS TIME BETWEEN SUPERVISING HIS OPERATIONS IN CHICAGO & SEMI-RETIREMENT IN MIAMI. Some of his popularity in Miami can be observed from some of the quotes from some of the lowly help with whom he was very generous, such as a waitress who said, "I think Al is a wonderful person, he took from the rich & gives to the poor." And one Negro doorman said, "They's swell guys, all of'm! He pays the rent of the poor. They was all fine boys & really good to me."—Meaning Capone & his henchmen.
53. IT WAS ACTUALLY IN MIAMI THAT HIS TROUBLES WITH THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE BEGAN‚ & where he was first summoned into the office of Dade County's solicitor or District Attorney & questioned for some time about his business operations & income. His enemies were beginning to accumulate evidence against him which they were to use in his trials to come. During this time in Chicago, while Al Capone was in Miami, occurred the famous Gangland "Valentine's Day Massacre" on February 14, 1929, of some of Capone's major enemies, & in which some of his remaining enemies accused him of having had a hand. But his alibi was watertight, having been in the office of Miami's County Attorney at that very time.
54. MEANWHILE, CAPONE WAS ENJOYING MIAMI LIFE & THROWING BIG PARTIES FOR HUNDREDS OF GUESTS AT HIS PALM ISLAND HOME, including many celebrities, sports writers, gamblers, showfolk, racketeers, politicians, sports enthusiasts etc. with whom he hobnobbed & who seemed to enjoy his company & his hospitality, many of them famous big names of yesteryear. His guests feasted on elaborate buffets & drank his champagne served by his gentlemanly bodyguards. He was beginning to ingratiate himself into Miami's high society.
55. MEANWHILE THE MAFIA HELD A NATIONAL CONFERENCE AT THE HOTEL STATLER IN CLEVELAND‚ OHIO IN DECEMBER 1928 & laid the beginnings of the modern national organised crime syndicates, with its links maintained chiefly through a national president, although consisting of scattered Mafia cells. Capone, although not officially a member of the Mafia‚ had hobnobbed, fellowshipped & worked in cooperation with them, being a Neapolitan, & a representative of his participated in this "founding fathers" occasion.
56. FOLLOWING WHICH, CAPONE & TORRIO ALSO ATTENDED A VERY IMPORTANT GANGLAND CONFERENCE HELD AT THE HOTEL PRESIDENT, ATLANTIC CITY. The main discussion was disarmament, peace & amalgamation nationwide, renouncing assassination & the use of firearms & joining in a defensive, non-violent alliance, with the country divided into spheres of influence. At this conference‚ peacemaker Torrio even served as Chairman & they were persuaded to follow his brilliant businesslike organisational methods as he encouraged them that there was enough money in the country for them all without fighting each other over it.
57. AT THIS TIME, DESPITE THIS PEACE CONFERENCE, SOME GANG LEADERS WERE STILL BENT ON VENGEANCE, & one was coming so close that Capone, to save his security, actually had himself jailed saying, "I'm tired of gang murders & gang shootings! I'm willing to live & let live. I have a wife & an 11–year–old kid, a boy whom I idolise‚ & a beautiful home in Florida. If I could go there & forget it all I'd be the happiest man in the World! It was with the idea of making peace amongst gangsters that I spent this time in Atlantic City & got the word of each leader that there will be no more shooting. I'm living on my money & trying to retire. I've been trying to get out of the rackets & forget it, but I can't do it!
58. "ONCE YOU'RE IN, YOU'RE ALWAYS IN & THEY TRAIL YOU! You fear death & worse than death, you fear rats if you don't constantly satisfy them with money. I haven't had peace of mind in years. Every minute I'm in danger of death. Three of my friends were killed in Chicago last week‚ that certainly doesn't get you peace of mind. Even on the peace errands you're taking a chance on the lights going out. I have to hide from the rest of the racketeers, concealing my identity under assumed names." One of his questioners said that "Capone told me that he was anxious to be at peace, not only with gangsters but the law. He said in a quiet gentlemanly manner that he was on an errand of peace."
59. AT THIS TIME HIS YOUNGEST SISTER MATHALDA WAS GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL at the age of 18 in Chicago, his younger brother Matt was in his second year at Villa Nova‚ & younger brother Albert in a boy's prep school. Mathalda told questioners, "I adore him!"—Meaning Al Capone. "He's my mother's life. He's so very good & so kind to us. People who only know him from newspaper stories will never realise the real man he is."
60. BY THIS TIME CAPONE'S SAMARITAN DEEDS WERE BEING DESCRIBED AT LENGTH BY THE PRESS, arousing a good deal of sympathy for him. An outstanding surgeon who knew him personally said, "In my seven years of experience, I've never seen a man so kind‚ so cheery & accommodating. He does his work faithfully with a high degree of intelligence. He has brains! He would have made good anywhere at anything. You can't tell me he's all bad after I've seen him many times a week for months."
61. BY THIS TIME THE GREAT DEPRESSION BEGINNING IN '29 WAS BEGINNING TO EAT INTO CAPONE'S PROFITS & THE IRS WAS PURSUING HIM RELENTLESSLY! The citizen vigilantes were destroying his property, battering down his doors, wrecking his distilleries & breweries to the tune of more than a million dollars, & he was branded by them as Public Enemy No.1. The Chicago police now told him, "Your day is done! How soon are you getting out of town?" He said‚ "I want to go to Florida, but I have to go to Federal Court trial first on a contempt of court charge." When a Chicago court had demanded he appear, he was in Florida claiming to be sick.
62. CAPONE HIMSELF NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED HIMSELF A GENUINE CRIMINAL. His practices were, after all, he claimed, only slightly rougher than those then prevalent among respectable big businessmen such as the banks & stock manipulators who bilked the public of millions, or the industrialists who hired thugs to beat up labour organisers! He said, "All I ever did was sell beer & whiskey to their best people. All I did was supply a demand that was pretty popular. Now these guys that make my trade are the ones that yell loudest about me, though their best judges use my stuff! They talk about me being illegitimate, ha! Nobody's on the legit! You know that & so do they!" His wife said of him, "The public has one idea of my husband, I have another. I will treasure my memory & I will always love him."
63. BY THIS TIME HERBERT HOOVER WAS DETERMINED TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CRUSADE IN ELIMINATING AL CAPONE, as a popular political gesture to the American public, & he urged his Secretary of the Treasury‚ Andrew Mellon, to pursue his IRS agency's investigation of Capone's income. His enemies launched into a two-prong attack‚ seeking to wreck him financially & send him to prison. They established an entire task force to pursue him & gather evidence against him‚ spending literally years accumulating facts & figures & witnesses as the Federal enforcement agencies began to have success in their prosecutions against the tax-evading gang leaders of the day, having at last an effective tool to use against them. His brother Ralph was indicted & sent to prison, as were others of his cronies & gangland enemies.
64. THIS PROJECT PROVED DIFFICULT IN CAPONE'S CASE as he never maintained a bank account or acquired property under his own name, he endorsed no cheques‚ signed no receipts, paid cash for everything. So the Internal Revenue developed two methods of indirect proof known as "net worth" & "net expenditure", endeavouring to prove that Capone was worth more than he claimed & spent more than his reported income, or his unreported income. They searched Chicago & Miami for shops, real estate agents‚ hotels, establishments of any kind in which Capone might have dealt, & they compiled a list of his outlay for goods & an evaluation of his personal possessions—although this tactic had not yet been court-proven & evidence of his ownership of various properties was virtually impossible to find.
65. CERTAIN AGENTS WERE ASSIGNED EXCLUSIVELY TO PURSUE THIS INVESTIGATION & devoted their full time to it for years until they felt ready for the final kill. In some of his early questionings by authorities, he simply denied keeping any records‚ cheque accounts or having such a large income, or purchasing any real estate, or of having any finances with relatives with brokerage accounts or safe deposit boxes, answering a number of the questions with, "I would rather not answer that question."
66. MEANWHILE, AL CAPONE WAS ON HIS WAY TO FLORIDA, & FLORIDA'S GOVERNOR ORDERED HIM ARRESTED ON SIGHT, TO BE DEPORTED TO THE STATE BORDER! He ordered his Palm Island home locked & the Dade County Sheriff raided his estate, arrested some of his so-called "guests" & charged them with illegal possession of liquor, but the cases were all dismissed. Only Rapid City, South Dakota invited him & said they would hospitably welcome his residence there‚ which he declined.
67. HE FOUND A PROMINENT LAW FIRM IN MIAMI TO DEFEND HIM IN THESE VARIOUS ALTERCATIONS, but the police kept up their harassment, even arrested him four times for vagrancy. However, when Miami found he could not be dislodged legally‚ they let up on the harassment & his victory gave him temporary peace there. He even acquired a certain social position with his parties for outstanding business & professional men, invitations to which were seldom turned down. His son Sonny became a pupil at Gesu Catholic School, Miami Beach, & various outstanding show business celebrities frequently visited the Capone home, including Harry Richmond‚ Joe E. Lewis, Georgie Jessel, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor & many other stars of the entertainment circuit. He bought a 40-foot cabin cruiser from a Miami rum-runner & proved his courage in a near-accident with it, which he survived unscathed.
68. MEANWHILE A LEADING AMERICAN JOURNALIST INTERVIEWED HIM AT HIS PALM ISLAND HOME, asking him many questions which he answered fairly frankly, including "How many reporters do you have on your payroll in Chicago?" Answer: "Plenty!" They talked for almost four hours. Finally Capone gave the reporter a bit of advice about the Chicago situation & its money-hungry reporters & corruption, saying, "Lay off Chicago, you're right about it, but because you're right, you're wrong. You can't buck it, not even with the backing of your newspaper, because its corruption is too big. No one will ever realise just how big it is, so lay off. They'll make a monkey out of you before you get through! No matter what dope you give that damn jury, those boys will prove you're a liar & a faker & you'll get Hell!"
69. MEANWHILE, CHICAGO AUTHORITIES CONDUCTED A RELENTLESS CAMPAIGN OF DAILY HARASSMENTS‚ raiding & wrecking the brothels, gambling houses, & speakeasies & setting bails so high many of the gangsters preferred to await the outcome in jail. Many important members of Capone's organisation were immobilised. Meanwhile, Chicago began to arrest Capone on ancient vagrancy laws. Nevertheless, by 1930 the year's ten outstanding personages of the World, characters that actually made history, were listed as Mussolini, Lindbergh‚ Admiral Byrd, George Bernard Shaw, Bobby Jones the golfing expert, President Hoover, Mahatma Gandhi, Einstein, Henry Ford & Al Capone!
70. A COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PSYCHOLOGIST SAID OF CAPONE‚ "HE HAS ACHIEVED MUCH MORE THAN THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, CHARLES EVANS HUGHES‚ because Hughes was inherently brilliant & his rise to the heights of law was easy for him. Whereas Capone's was a long hard struggle to the heights of unlawfulness. Of course, I'm not taking into consideration any moral measurements." Capone had become a popular folk hero & he himself claimed, "I'm a public benefactor! You can't cure thirst by law. They call me a bootlegger. It's bootleg while it's on the trucks, but when these social hosts sip their glasses at the club, that's hospitality! What have I done? I've supplied a legitimate demand! They call it racketeering, I call it business. They say I violate Prohibition—who doesn't?" When he came to a racetrack, thousands would stand & cheer him when he appeared with his bodyguards. Fans would rush forward to congratulate him & shake his hand. Congressmen relished being photographed with him. "Yeah Al!" shouted a boy scout troop!
71. BUT WITH HIS FORTUNES DECLINING DUE TO THE DEPRESSION, HE RETURNED TO FLORIDA IN 1930 & his political fortunes of his politician patrons began to wane in Chicago, due to the economics of the Depression. Hundreds out of work, State, County & City treasuries running dry, children actually starving, relief funds dwindled, there was a Midwestern drought, homeless families, shacktowns made of packing cases. In the midst of all this, Ralph Capone announced‚ "My brother is feeding 2,000 unemployed every day!"—And he was actually running a "Free Food for the Workless", a soup kitchen on the South Side, financed entirely by Capone. He dispensed in six weeks 120,000 meals at a cost of $12,000. And on Thanksgiving Day, 5,000 turkeys.
72. THE CAPONE LEGEND WAS GROWING BOTH AT HOME & ABROAD, nourished by a multitude of journalists, radio commentators, preachers, novelists, playwrights & movie makers. And in a Bronx Synagogue the Rabbi endeavoured to establish a case for the Capone Gang, or the Chicago Firm as he preferred to call them, calling them a potentially constructive force. "Severity of punishment is a policy of expediency which may be good for awhile," the dear Rabbi told his congregation, "but the Chicago Firm's action is based on a policy which may be good for all time & should become a forerunner for what society as a whole ought to do with its maladjusted & anti–social. They will simply have to be drafted into the social system, & by that I do not mean that we should have to be adjusted to their low standards.
73. "A CLASSIC EXAMPLE IS THAT OF KING DAVID, drafting into his army the outcasts of his people, with which army, historians tell us, he built the nation of Israel! Far-seeing statesmanlike governments will learn from King David & the Chicago Firm, that to rebuild the nations of the World they will have to draft these men‚ who, after all, are only the products of their way of living. Thus only should be taken the first step for the solution of the age-old problem of crime." So said the Rabbi of dear Al & his cohorts!
74. CAPONE'S HAWTHORNE INN GAMBLING ESTABLISHMENT IN CHICAGO BECAME A SIGHTSEEING SPOT, shouted as "Capone's Castle" by the conductors of tours. At least seven books were devoted largely entirely to Capone & his life, published between 1929 & 1931. Three major movies were made of his life: One by Howard Hughes entitled "Scarface" starring Paul Muni, "Little Caesar" starring Edward G. Robinson, & "Public Enemy" with James Cagney. A European newspaper proclaimed Capone as the real mayor of Chicago. Another said of Capone, "He deplored his countrymen's hypocrisy!" "Too many Americans," Al said, "voted dry & lived wet. Too many politicians were crooks behind their masks of respectability. How can you expect me not to despise these persons?"
75. CAPONE LAMENTED THAT NEITHER SOCIETY NOR THE LAW TREATED HIM FAIRLY: "I don't interfere with big business. None of the big business guys can say I ever took a dollar from them. I only want to do business, my own business, you understand, with my own clients. Why can't they leave me alone? I don't interfere with them. I don't interfere with their racket, they should let my racket be!" Prominent people were constantly wanting to meet Capone from artistic celebrities & high society. One said, "Society would be a lot more fun if Al Capone would join in!"
76. BY THIS TIME CAPONE HAD REACHED THE SUPREMACY OF HIS CHICAGO POWER & POPULARITY WITH NO SERIOUS CHALLENGERS. Few gangsters operated there without his knowledge & permission. In 1930 his younger sister Mathalda at 19 married a 23-year-old motion picture operator, & the brother of the man who had married her sister Rose. It seemed to be a political marriage dictated by Capone for the benefit of the organisation, intended to unite some opposing factions. There were 3‚000 guests at her wedding, but Capone himself could not attend with a vagrancy warrant hanging over his head, & had decided to go back to Florida.
77. MEANWHILE THE IRS WAS COMBING THROUGH MOUNTAINS OF PAPERS & MILLIONS OF ITEMS TRYING TO GATHER EVIDENCE AGAINST CAPONE, spending thousands of dollars to try to put him away. Nevertheless, when one of his chief pursuers located him at the Hialeah Track with "a jewelled moll on either side & greeting a parade of fawning worshippers who came to shake his hand like the Shah of Persia, I said‚ 'Good God‚ when a country constable wants a man, he just walks up & says‚ you're pinched! Here I am with the whole U.S. government behind me but I'm as powerless as a canary!'" So was the feeling of some of his frustrated persecutors. He was finally arrested on February 25th on a vagrancy warrant, but the case was dismissed.
78. A GRAND JURY FINALLY RETURNED AN INDICTMENT ON THE TAX CHARGES ON MARCH 13TH, 1931, only two days before the expiration of the statute of limitations would have barred them forever from prosecuting Capone on past income tax evasion! However, the only income the IRS had been able to actually dig up between '25 & '29 totalled a little over a mere one million dollars on which the tax was about $200,000‚ & the penalties $164,000. They also tried to indict him on conspiring to violate the Volstead Act of Prohibition, but this was never completed.
79. MEANWHILE THERE WAS WAR AMONGST THE MAFIA & its young Turks won out over its old-timers & Moustache Petes, so Lucky Luciano, Capone's old friend, & Don Vittoni Genovese, a Neapolitan also, became their leading figures‚ with Meyer Lansky, the Jew, & Bugsy Segal, another Jew, as heads of Florida, Bahamas, Nevada & California gambling concessions. Capone‚ now in his prime at 31 had just reached the height of his power, & there would have been a seat for Capone at the counsel table of the national commission of the nationwide Mafia if he'd only paid his income taxes, they lamented! Capone's lawyers tried to plea bargain with the prosecutors & eventually reached a compromise with the U.S. Attorney General that he would plead guilty if guaranteed a lighter sentence, to which they agreed, a sentence of only 2-1/2 years. But the judge determined otherwise.
80. MEANWHILE, CAPONE HAD ANOTHER PRESS CONFERENCE AT HIS HOTEL LEXINGTON SUITE, DISCUSSING VARIOUS SUBJECTS‚ INCLUDING THE MOVIES: "You know these gang pictures, that's terrible kid stuff! Why, they ought to take them all & throw them into the lake! They're doing nothing but harm to the younger element of this country! I don't blame the censors for trying to bar them. You take all these youngsters that go to the movies, you remember reading dime novels maybe when you were a kid? Well, you know how it made you want to get out & kill pirates & look for buried treasure, you know? Well, these gang movies are making a lot of kids want to be tough guys, & they don't serve any useful purpose!"
81. AS FOR HIS OWN PROBLEMS HE SAID, "I'VE BEEN MADE AN ISSUE. I'm not complaining, but why don't they go after these bankers who took all the savings of thousands of poor people & lost them in these Depression bank failures, how about them? Isn't it lots worse to take the last few dollars some small family has saved, perhaps to live on while the head of the family's out of a job, isn't that worse than to sell a little beer & a little alcohol? Believe me, I can't see where the fellow who sells it is any worse than the fellow who buys & drinks it!" He then prophesied to end all gang warfare as a result of his efforts. He said, "I've always been opposed to violence‚ to shooting. I have fought, yes, but for peace. And I believe I can now take the credit for the peace that now exists in the racket game in Chicago. I believe that the people can thank me for the fact that gang killings here are probably a thing of the past."
82. AT THE TRIAL THE JUDGE WAS ANGRY & SAID IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO BARGAIN WITH THE FEDERAL COURT, & he completely negated the agreement made between Capone's lawyers & the Federal Attorney General. During this time Capone expressed concern about the effects of the Depression on the American way of life: "This is going to be a terrible Winter. Us fellows gotta open our pocketbooks & keep on keeping them open if we want any to survive. We can't wait for Congress or Mr. Hoover or anyone else, we must help to keep tummies filled & bodies warm! If we don't, it's all up with the way we've learned to live. Why, do you know America's on the verge of its greatest social upheaval? Communism is knocking at our gates—we can't afford to let it in! We must keep the American worker away from Red literature & Red ruses. We must see that his mind remains healthy, for regardless of where he was born‚ he is now an American!"
83. HE DEPLORED AMERICA'S LOSS OF IDEALS: "People respect nothing nowadays. Once we put honour‚ truth & the law on a pedestal. Once our children were brought up to respect these things, & then the War ended. We've had nearly 12 years to straighten ourselves out, & look what a mess we've made of our life!"
84. MEANWHILE, ONE OF HIS WORST ENEMIES & PERSECUTORS, a bigtime operator in the Chicago area, with interests from Massachusetts to Florida‚ & a supposedly civic-minded community leader who had been one of the most corrupt politicians, became one of his worst informing rats, O'Hare, after whom O'Hare International Airport is now named. He was finally assassinated by two men firing shotguns from a passing car who were never identified. The objects from his pockets included a rosary‚ a crucifix, a religious medallion & a verse clipped from a magazine, one that I can often remember, one of my own parents' favourites. I believe it was my Grandfather that I heard quote it:
"The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own,
Live‚ love, toil with a will!
Place no faith in time,
For the clock may soon be still!"
—And still it was for O'Hare, Capone's bitter enemy!
85. AT THIS TIME, DAMON RUNYON, THE FAMOUS SPORTS REPORTER INTERVIEWED CAPONE & asked him what he thought his chances were. Capone replied, "I believe I've got at least an even break. It would have been utterly impossible for me to have done some of the things they've charged me with, physically impossible! Racketeer? Why, the real racketeers are the banks!"—And I'm inclined to agree with him in some cases, especially in the famous Crash of '29. Runyon said the next day, "It is impossible to talk to Capone without conceding that he has that intangible attribute known as personality, or as we say in the World of sports, colour!" And as they said in those days in the World of entertainment, "It!"
86. AT THE TRIAL, AS HIS LAWYERS BEGAN TO SEE THAT THEY WERE LOSING, ONE OF THEM EXCLAIMED, "THEY'VE GOT HIM NAILED TO THE CROSS NOW!" One of his lawyers exclaimed, "The Supreme Court has often held that it is human nature to avoid tax. We had a Boston Tea Party!" But the Judge indicated that this was no Boston Tea Party. Capone claimed that he was going to retire to Florida when this was all over.
87. BUT THE COURT & THE GOVERNMENT WERE DETERMINED TO GET HIM, & they finally persuaded the jury that he was guilty of some of the charges against him. The penalty added up to 11 years imprisonment, $50,000 in fines & $30,000 in court costs. Whereupon the judge denied him bail & committed him immediately to the Cook County Jail, to everyone's shock & surprise! His political enemies were determined not to let him out of their grasp for a moment!
88. BUT EVEN THERE HIS POWER & PRESTIGE WERE SO GREAT THAT THE WARDEN PERMITTED HIM TO HAVE A LUXURIOUS ONE-MAN CELL with private shower, telephone & visitors, & to continue to run his organisation from the jail, with many famous gangsters visiting him there, including Lucky Luciano & Dutch Shultz, whom he tried to reconcile with each other, & for which arbitration conference the warden loaned him the death chamber, Capone amusedly presiding in the electric chair! But he was not able to settle their differences & eventually it resulted in Shultz'‚ the Jew's, extermination.
89. BUT IT APPEARED THAT HIS OLD FRIEND TORRIO SEEMED TO FAVOUR SHULTZ AT THIS TIME, no doubt seeing the handwriting on the wall for Capone. And indeed, once Capone was committed, Torrio & Shultz joined forces against Lucky Luciano. About this time the Feds discovered Capone's jail privileges & insisted that he be transferred to a Federal prison. During this time the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped & Capone offered his services to endeavour to find the kidnapper. But Lindbergh refused, saying‚ "I wouldn't ask for Capone's release even if it would save a life!"—Meaning his own child's life! And sure enough, his child was soon found dead! The crime was later pinned on a poor German immigrant named Bruno Richard Hauptman, based purely on circumstantial evidence, & it is thought it will never truly be known who did it. Meanwhile at this time my Mother wrote a beautiful poem called "L'Aiglon", or "The Eaglet", a pitiful sad little poem about the loss of the Lindbergh baby.
90. OF COURSE, WE WERE READING THE NEWSPAPERS ALL THIS TIME ABOUT ALL OF THESE EVENTS & it was headlined heady stuff! You'll find mention of it made in "Teen Secrets!", my 1935 Diary, at which time I was 16 years of age & keeping a news scrapbook. There was growing public clamour‚ however, to free Capone to try to find Lindbergh's baby & its kidnappers, but the Supreme Court rejected Capone's application to review the decision of the District Court.
91. SEVERAL OF CAPONE'S CRONIES WERE ALREADY IN PRISON & IT WAS DETERMINED THAT HE SHOULD BE NOW REMOVED TO A FEDERAL PENITENTIARY. He was allowed to spend his last day in Chicago with his family in a hospital ward of the jail, & his mother & wife & little boy & two sisters & all the brothers were there except Ralph—who was already in the Pen—to bid him farewell.
92. IT'S A LONG SAD & CRUEL STORY OF SUFFERING to follow his experiences from then on through Atlanta State Penitentiary & finally from there to the new Federal top-security prison for top offenders at Alcatraz, but suffice it to say that he suffered humiliation, defeat, chagrin & perhaps more than most men he paid for his past. One of the doctors who examined him while in prison said later, "Capone was quiet, pleasant, fairly well-spoken, he would have made a good administrator & a forceful leader." Of course, he was, & had been! In both prisons he had his friends & he had his enemies, & on occasion he was actually violently physically attacked by those criminals who hated him. But he survived with the help of his friends.
93. BUT AT THIS TIME SOME GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES FELT THAT THESE FAMOUS CRIMINALS WERE BEING MOLLYCODDLED in the present Federal penitentiaries of the time, & were determined to establish a top–security prison of severe discipline elsewhere—result: Alcatraz!—A bleak island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to which Capone was transferred about 1933. A reputably impregnable Bastille‚ the impossible-to-escape prison.
94. IT WAS FURNISHED WITH 8 x 4 FOOT ONE–MAN CELLS, barely big enough for a fold–down bunk, a small fold-up table, chair, shelf, wash basin‚ toilet & a light, as well as a solitary confinement area known as "The Hole", where discipline offenders were kept in total darkness for days on end with no furniture, only a mattress on the floor & an Oriental hole-in-the-floor toilet which could only be flushed from outside. One of his admiring fellow prisoners said of him, "We all respected him very much, he kept up his hopes to the end. He never apologised, he was Capone & there would never be another!"
95. ALCATRAZ' WARDEN'S ESSENTIAL PURPOSE WAS NOT THE MODERN IDEA OF REHABILITATION, BUT TO UTTERLY DESTROY THE PRISONERS' SENSE OF IDENTITY & HUMILIATE HIM, BREAK HIS SPIRIT. Prisoners had to spend 14 hours out of every 24 in their cells with only one visit a month from blood relatives, & only two persons at a time. Because Capone in spite of all of his former power & influence could obtain no special consideration at Alcatraz, some of his fellow prisoners taunted & threatened him, causing him to lose face, as the warden intended for him to do‚ to humiliate him. Alcatraz prison did not even pay lip-service to the principle of rehabilitation but was strictly custodial & punitive with no rewards for good behaviour, no trustees, only punishment. Total isolation was supposedly intended to so break their hearts & spirits as to deter them from future crime. No courts could sentence convicts to Alcatraz, they were selected by Federal officials from Federal prisons for such retributive justice‚ so-called.
96. HIS LIFE BECAME A CONSTANT DIN OF CLANGING BELLS, ROUTINE & HARD WORK! Talking was forbidden except for three minutes in the recreation yard & two hours on weekends. The food was good, but if a prisoner left one tiny scrap he got no food the next day. But they were allowed to smoke—the warden considering it as having a calming effect on his prisoners—& they were permitted three packs a week. They were not allowed to wear watches, bells tolled the time. Capone was assigned to operate a laundry machine in the basement. Rising bell was at 6:30‚ lights out at 9:30. There was a religious service on Sunday morning & a weekly bath, with two hours of leisure both Saturday & Sunday afternoons. They could spend these free hours exercising in the yard or pursuing hobbies indoors.
97. CAPONE LEARNED TO READ MUSIC, PLAY A BANJO, FORMED A FIVE-MAN COMBO, SANG & COMPOSED A SONG ENTITLED "MOTHER". The cruel warden, to intensify their sense of isolation, denied them newspapers & radio, so that they were totally ignorant of events in the outside World, except for the coming of new prisoners. They were only permitted to write one letter a week, censored, & received no more than three, also censored, which letters must confine themselves only to family affairs, & of which they only received a typed censored copy.
98. THICK PLATE GLASS SEPARATED VISITORS & PRISONERS IN THE VISITOR'S ROOM, & each one was compelled to speak loudly enough that the guards could hear every word. Prisoners described their nights as "hell nights", disturbed by the guards practising marksmanship nearby. Although the warden supposedly forbade corporal punishment, frequently the guards would knock a man senseless or break an arm or a leg or truss him for days in a strait-jacket or solitary confinement for offensive conduct. In the solitary "Hole" he was given a diet of bread & water‚ with only twice a week a paper cup full of mashed beets & potatoes. Nearly everyone spent some time in the Hole. The limit of human endurance there was thought to be about 19 days. Many prisoners went insane, 14 of them violently so, in one year alone‚ with others quietly stir-crazy.
99. THE LAUNDRY ROOM WHERE CAPONE WORKED WAS DAMP, BADLY VENTILATED & THE WORKLOAD BECAME BACKBREAKING! Because of a fight there‚ the attack of another inmate, Capone spent eight days in the Hole. Because Capone, together with other leading gangsters known as "the aristocrats", would not participate in the strikes called by lesser prisoners, they were hated & sometimes attacked. He was shifted to the bathhouse cleaning squad where once he was stabbed by another inmate with a pair of scissors, but recovered after a week in the hospital. There were also other attempts to kill him, he was jumped & almost strangled etc. Several prisoners committed suicide. Except for sexual relief, the prisoners mostly craved news of the outside. One of his friendly fellow inmates said later, "Everything I heard about Capone was good. The ones who hated him were mostly scum‚ White trash!"
100. OUTSIDE, THE ORGANISATION THAT CAPONE HAD BUILT WAS ACTUALLY STILL LARGELY INTACT, & when some of his men were released from prison, they simply picked up where they had left off, under the leadership of his brother Ralph. Meanwhile Capone's family was having financial problems & actually had to mortgage their Palm Island home in order to pay the taxes, an outrageous $52,000!
101. AT ALCATRAZ AN INSPECTOR OF PRISONERS CAME BY & INTERVIEWED CAPONE, who said, "I'm getting along all right‚ but I shouldn't be here. I'm here because of my reputation, because there's such a misunderstanding about me. People don't know the things I've done to be helpful." Capone then offered that he would reveal to him everything that he knew about the underworld for a book & throw in the movie rights, but his visitor declined. Meanwhile Torrio was also convicted for tax evasion & went to Leavenworth for 2-1/2 years.
102. BY FEBRUARY 5, 1938, CAPONE WAS NOTICED TO BE ACTING STRANGELY, & THE GUARDS SENSED THAT SOMETHING WAS SERIOUSLY WRONG. Eventually they helped him up a flight of stairs to the hospital. He was diagnosed to have suffered extensive damage to his central nervous system. When asked by the Warden what was wrong, Capone replied, "I don't know‚ Warden. They tell me I acted like I was a little whacky!" His condition became front page news from coast to coast, picturing him as a prisoner driven insane by the horrors of Alcatraz.
103. HE SPENT THE REMAINING YEAR OF HIS TEN-YEAR SENTENCE, REDUCED TO SIX YEARS, IN THE HOSPITAL‚ alternating between periods of lucidity & confusion. His last day on Alcatraz was January 6, 1939. He owed another year, but this was reduced to 10 months for good behaviour, & instead of returning him to the Cook County jail, he was allowed to serve out the rest of his sentence in the newly–opened Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, Los Angeles, partially paralysed.
104. HERE ONE SUNDAY AT THE SUNDAY SERVICE, THE PRISONERS WERE ASKED BY THE PREACHER, "DO ANY OF YOU FEEL THE NEED OF PRAYER?" Amongst the first to raise his hand was Capone. To the next question, "Are any of you here feeling the need of a Saviour? If so, stand up before your fellows & confess the fact." Capone stood up. Therefore we must assume that he hopefully knew what he was doing & thereupon received Jesus as his Saviour, & we're sure that this is no doubt why the Lord was subsequently comparatively merciful to him in the remainder of his life & laid him on my heart in prayer. (See No.1421.)
105. HE WAS SOON HEREAFTER TRANSFERRED TO THE U.S.PENITENTIARY AT LEWISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, WHERE HIS WIFE MET HIM & DROVE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL, & he lived with her there in Baltimore as an out-patient until Spring when he was finally released & returned home to Palm Island, Miami. There he re-lived nightmares of his past life, imaginary killers haunted him & dreams would throw him into a panic, & unexpected visitors would frighten him. His family there consisted of Sonny‚ his young son‚ his wife Mae‚ her sister Muriel & her husband & a fox terrier. Mae attended Mass at St. Patrick's & Sonny went to a private preparatory school run by Monsignor Barry. He was a shy, semi-deaf boy, whom the priests genuinely tried to help. In 1937 he entered Notre Dame, but withdrew when his identity became known. Then he went to work on a B.S. Degree in Business at the University of Miami.
106. CAPONE SLEPT BADLY‚ RETIRING EARLY BUT WAKING AT 3 A.M. & spending most of his day around the swimming pool with his four adored granddaughters! He hated solitude, always wanted people around him, but would sit for hours in his pajamas & dressing gown on the dock, smoking cigars & fishing.
107. DECEMBER 30,1941‚HE WENT TO ST. PATRICK'S TO WITNESS HIS SON'S MARRIAGE TO DIANE RUTH CASEY, a girl Sonny had met in high school. The newlyweds lived on Northeast 10th Avenue & Sonny opened a florist shop. During World War 2, Sonny worked at the Miami Air Depot as a mechanic's learner & his wife bore him four children, all girls, on whom their grandfather doted, playing with them inexhaustibly in the Palm Island swimming pool. He was partially paralysed, sometimes normal, sometimes disoriented speech, sometimes unintelligible‚ prey to tremors & epilepsy, he seemed to lack mental & physical coordination.
108. ON JANUARY 25,1947, AT THE AGE OF 48, SURROUNDED BY HIS FAMILY, MOTHER, WIFE, SON, BROTHERS & SISTERS, AL DIED. He was buried in Chicago's Mount Olivet Cemetery surrounded by friends & mourners. The Archbishop forbade a Requiem Mass or elaborate ceremony, but did not protest his burial in the same consecrated ground that held the remains of his father & his brother Frank. The Monsignor who performed the ceremony explained to the reporters, "This very brief ceremony is to recognise his penitence & the fact he died fortified by the sacraments of the church." His bronze casket was modest by gangster standards, as was the headstone later placed over it, inscribed, "Here lies Alphonse Capone, born January 17, 1899, died January 25, 1947."
109. THE FOLLOWING '50s ALSO SAW THE DEPARTURE OF MANY OF HIS OLD CRONIES & BUDDIES & PARTNERS IN HIS BUSINESS, most of them dying of heart trouble, lung cancer etc. The era was almost terminated in November of 1957 by the arrest at Appalachia, New York, of a conference of 63 Mafia leaders from across the nation! When the CBS produced "The Untouchables", Mae Capone‚ Sonny & Mathalda joined in a one-million-dollar law suit against the Network for using their father's name, likeness & personality for profit‚ but they lost, & the series was launched as a weekly show.
110. HIS LAWYER SAID, "I'M SURE AL DIED PENNILESS!" He never alone owned the sources of his vast wealth, but shared them with partners & the organisation, to whom they reverted upon his death. However, they provided the means for him to live his last years comfortably through Ralph & others, but his personal property was heavily mortgaged to pay back taxes. His wife finally sold both Palm Island & his Chicago home & for awhile she & Sonny ran a restaurant on Miami Beach called the Grotto, which eventually failed. Whereafter, she divided her time between Miami, Chicago, & her brother-in-law Ralph's Wisconsin retreat, Ralph himself retired. Mathalda & her husband were operating a delicatessen restaurant in Chicago when last seen‚ & their son was practising law. His brother Matt died of a heart attack at the age of 59.
111. CAPONE'S PARTIALLY DEAF SON, SHY & RETIRING,WAS A MAN OF UNQUESTIONABLE ETHICS, who quit his first job as a car salesman in disgust after he found out his employer used fraudulent practices. He later became a champion pistol marksman of the Miami Police Department‚ as well as his wife Diana. When the Grotto failed they moved to Hollywood‚ Florida, where Sonny worked for a tire distributor. The following year Sonny changed his name & dropped from public view.
112. AND SO ENDED THE CAPONE DYNASTY, IF IT COULD BE CALLED SUCH. A sad man who lived a sad life with a not-too-sad ending, whom the Lord loved despite all of his sins & crimes & to Whom he came for salvation in his repentant years‚ & for which I'm sure the Lord allowed him to spend those final peaceful years in Miami with his family, living almost in a dream world without the problems that had beset him most of his life, finally dying in peace with his family surrounding him, & buried with the rites of the church.
113. CAN GOD FORGIVE SUCH A SINNER?CAN GOD SAVE SUCH A ONE AS HE? I not only believe that God can, but He did, & that we shall see a humbled Al Capone on the Other Side some day, an outstanding example of the love & the mercy & the forgiveness & salvation of the Lord! Branded a criminal by the World's authorities & its hypocritical self-righteous leaders, he was not nearly as guilty as they themselves of much more heinous & vicious & murderous & monstrous crimes, such as World War 2 when Roosevelt killed his millions, & subsequent wars in which other presidents & governments slaughtered more millions‚ as well as the Third World War to come when these self-righteous hypocrites shall annihilate a great portion of the World's population of hundreds of millions! Who are the World's greatest criminals?—They or Al? God will judge! (For the amazing sequel to this story, read the preceding "AL CAPONE REVELATION!"—No.1421.)