The Life and Times of Al Caponeby Bill Rollindubeys Alphonse Capone was born in New York City by two parents Gabrieland Teresa Capone. Capone’s parents immigrated to the United States in1893 from Naples, Italy. Capone came from a large family and was thefourth oldest of nine children. (Kobler 10). As a child, Capone was verywise when it came to living on the streets of New York. He had a clevermind when it came to street smarts. As far as school goes, Capone was anear-illiterate.
He came from a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, so educationwas not a top priority.At about the age of eleven Capone became a member of a juvenilegang in his neighborhood. While this was taking place, around the year1900, about eleven percent of all the foreign born population in the UnitedStates were Italian. Capone was forced to either deal with a miserable lowwage job with a hopeless future or make an improvement for himself bycommitting first minor, then serious crimes. Al Capone’s philosophy wasthat laws only applied to people who had enough money to live by them.While in the Bim Booms gang, Capone was taught how to defend himselfwith a knife, and with a gun. By the time Capone reached the sixth grade hehad already become a street brawler.
Capone never responded well toauthority and for this very reason his schooling would soon come to an end.While attending school, Capone was responsible for beating a female teacherand knocking her to the ground. The principal of the school rushed in andpunished young Capone and for this very reason he would never return toschool again. (Sifakis 603)After dropping out of school, Capone took up jobs such as working asa pin-setter at a bowling alley, and working behind the counter at a candystore. Capone was terrific at pool, winning every eightball tournament held inBrooklyn. He also became an expert knife fighter. Although the BimBooms gang was the first gang Capone ever entered, he was quickly pickedup by the Five Pointers.
The Five Pointers was the most powerful gang inNew York city. The gang was headed by Johnny Torrio, and was made up ofover 1,500 thugs who specialized in burglary, extortion, robbery, assault, andmurder. While working as a strong arm enforcer under Torrio, Caponelearned all the lethal tricks that would help him get from rags to riches in notime at all. Capone was very grateful to Torrio. Torrio first set Capone out todo all of his dirty work.
Capone was sent to beat up loan shark victimsbehind on their payments, then a pimp, beating up girls who were holding outon their nightly take. Torrio finally got Capone a job as a bouncer at theHarvard Inn. By this time Capone was recognized by his gang as being avicious fighter with both fists and knives. He also became an excellentmarksman with both a revolver and automatic weapons.
This was due tomany months of shooting empty bottles in the basement of the Inn. Caponewas later promoted to bartender at the Harvard Inn. At this time caponerecieved the scar which would give him his famous nickname, Scarface. Itis really not known how Capone ended up with a scar that extended fourinches across his left cheek.
Capone often lied about how he got the scar.On December 18, 1918, Capone was married at the age of 19, to a 21year old Irish girl named Mae Coughlin. A short time later Albert FrancisCapone was born to the couple. At the same time this was going on, in NewYork, Johnny Torrio moved his operations to Chicago. Torrio’s prospects inNew York looked low because Capone was charged for two murders. Hewas released when a witness lost her memory, and evidence suddenlyvanished from the court.
Al Capone knew that he had Torrio to thank forthis. A few days later, Capone got into a fight with another man and killedhim. Rather than being charged again, Capone called Torrio and received aninvitation to move to Chicago.
(Nash 604) As Capone arrived in Chicago, Capone was given a job as a bouncer atTorrio’s newest club, The Four Deuces. Capone was known as an aggressiveman, hospitalizing most of the drunks he evicted. Men were hospitalizedwith broken arms, broken legs, and skull fractures. Capone was repeatedlyarrested for assault, but was always released thanks to Torrio’s policeconnections.
While working at The Four Deuces, Capone strangled at leasttwelve men with his bare hands. The bodies were dragged to the basementthrough a trap door that led to the alley behind the club. There a fast getawaycar would always be waiting for Capone to flee in. The underworld ofChicago at the time was being run by a fellow named “Big Jim” Colosimo. Colosimo was a flamboyant man.
He dressed in expensive suits and wascovered in diamond jewelry. He was always seen eating at expensiverestaurants, and owned all the brothels, saloons, and gambling dens inChicago. (Nash 605)Johnny Torrio grew very jealous of Colosimo and soon sent for hismost loyal hitman, Al Capone. When Capone arrived in Chicago, he wasassigned the small jobs as a bouncer and bartender to disguise Torrio’s realreason for sending for him, to kill off “Big Jim” Colosimo. “Big Jim”Colosimo was killed on the night of May 11, 1920. (Nash 606) The reasonfor his death was due mostly to the prohibition act to be passed in 1920. Theact forbid alcohol to be distributed to all the bars in Chicago.
Torrio, thenephew of Colosimo, often asked him to start an underground operation thatcould supply all the bars with beer and liquor, but Colosimo always answeredwith a firm no. In this, Al Capone was soon to become the great distributorof alcohol in Chicago during Prohibition. (Allsop 56)Al Capone’s mob ran the streets of Chicago. While Capone’s streetmob was at its peak, it consisted of over 1,000 members and half of theChicago police force. Capone’s payroll at the time consisted of policeofficers, state’s attorneys, mayors, legislators, governors, and evencongressmen. (Nash 608) At the time Capone was known as the “King ofChicago”. Being the king of Chicago had its downfalls.
Numerous threatson his life were made, he was shot at in streets, and even had poison slippedinto his food at clubs. In a near death experience a rival gang member, DionO’Banion, shot 1,000 rounds into the Hawthorn Inn where Capone wasstaying. After he had cheated death, the arranging of O’Banion’s deathwould be marked as one of Capone’s greatest accomplishments. Thisassassination was done by Capone’s two best hitmen, John Scalise and AlbertAnselmi. Unfortunately for Al Capone all was not well after the murder ofDion OBanion.
Capones last effort was to kill the last major leader of theO’Banion’s street gang, Bugs Moran. This was ordered as the St. Valentine’sDay Massacre. Capone’s men dressed as police officers and lined seven ofO’Banion’s gang members up across a garage wall. The gang offered noresistance because they thought it was a regular police routine.
InsteadCapone’s men opened up over 1,000 rounds of machine gun fire slaughteringthe members. Unfortunately for Capone, Bugs Moran was not present amongthe seven men who were killed. (Nash 112) Capone’s downfall was caused by one of his own business agents whoran Capone’s dog and horse race tracks. The man’s name was Eddie O’Hare,one of the best undercover men hired by the IRS. He informed the IRSwhere books reflecting Capone’s income could be seized.
Capone had neverpaid any type of income tax and for this very reason he was brought up oncharges of tax invasion in front of the federal court. Capone offered thefederal government $400,000 to drop the case against him, but they rejectedthe offer. Capone was convicted and given the maximum sentence whichwas a $50,000 fine, court costs of $30,000, and eleven years in jail.
(Nash116 ) Capone started his sentence in an Atlanta prison. In 1934 he wastransferred to Alcatraz, also known as The Rock. Five years later he wasreleased from Alcatraz as a helpless paretic, due to the untreated syphilis hegot from prostitutes. Later that year, Al Capone was judged insane and wasreleased to the care of his family. (Sifakis 613 )In January 1947 Capone had a massive brain hemorrhage and died. His body was removed from his estate in Florida and transferred back to theseen of his underworld triumph, Chicago.
The family held a privateceremony at the cemetery, but were affraid of grave robbers taking the corpseso they reburied Capone in a secret place in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. (Kobler122)Category: Biographies