WBEZ | Al Capone http://www.wbez.org/tags/al-capone Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A shot of history: Ingredients of the Chicago speakeasy http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 <p><p>Ask people around the world to play word association with &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; and you&rsquo;ll hear a few common responses. Modern architecture and bruising politics have nothing, it seems, on our Prohibition-era gangster reputation.</p><p>&ldquo;You go anywhere and it&rsquo;s Al Capone or Michael Jordan,&rdquo; says Liz Garibay, who runs the website <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>. &ldquo;In Chicago we have this love-hate relationship with gangsters. It&rsquo;s not the most pleasant side, but at the same time people love to talk about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To that end, Garibay says the bar owners around town with any connections to that era are happy to play it up. It&rsquo;s good for business.</p><p>Even modern bars are reappropriating that speakeasy vibe. Take <a href="http://theviolethour.com/" target="_blank">The Violet Hour</a>, a favorite spot of the recent University of Chicago alumna who asked our question.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the secrecy is interesting. There&rsquo;s something sort of cheekily illicit about [speakeasies] that I think is cool,&rdquo; says<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616#elena"> Elena Hadjimichael</a>, who was part of a student team that<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank"> tackled a Curious City question about Chicago&#39;s wholesale produce markets</a>. Her question for Curious City gets at what made the original original speakeasies successful:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What sorts of buildings housed speakeasy bars in Chicago during the Prohibition era? What made these buildings particularly well suited for speakeasies?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to determine Chicago&rsquo;s ideal speakeasy building, since speakeasies came in almost as many varieties as there were speakeasies. (How many is that? It&rsquo;s hard to confirm an exact number, <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~eng217/student_projects/nkazmers/prohibition1.html" target="_blank">but probably thousands</a> &mdash; more than there are bars in the city today.) Illegal gatherings to drink in the back of a warehouse, a candy store or a backyard were all technically speakeasies. Still, a few common elements made it easy to get away with skirting this very unpopular law.</p><p>Here are a few things that most &mdash; if not all &mdash; Chicago speakeasies needed.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>1. Secrecy</strong></span></p><p>Speakeasies were common, but they still had to operate in the shadows, in the legal and sometimes literal sense. &ldquo;It was probably in a place where you could make a little noise and get away with it,&rdquo; says Craig Alton, who leads Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gangstertour.com/" target="_blank">&quot;Untouchables&quot; gangster tour</a>. Some places boarded up their windows, or moved their saloons to back alleys. Gioco, an Italian restaurant in the South Loop, still has the back room where illegal booze was served to guests including Al Capone. The building, 1312 S. Wabash Ave., was a cold storage facility at the time. According to Alton, this made it easy to keep the beer cool. Thick vault doors prevented sound from escaping and tipping off authorities.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>2. A cover or front</strong></span></p><p>Sometimes being invisible from the street wasn&rsquo;t enough. To keep up appearances, a lot of speakeasies had legitimate businesses up front. Twin Anchors in Lincoln Park was across the street from a school (now the LaSalle Language Academy), so the adjacent building housed a school supplies store, as well as a shop selling soda and candy. The two buildings were eventually joined, and Mrs. Keefer&rsquo;s Schoolbook Store became Twin Anchor&rsquo;s kitchen. But between schoolbooks and Tante Lee&rsquo;s Soft Drinks (named after the tavern&rsquo;s original owner, Lee Tante), it was maybe the last place you&rsquo;d think to look for booze. &ldquo;Other than maybe putting in a church or a convent or something,&rdquo; says Paul Tuzi, one of Twin Anchor&rsquo;s owners, &ldquo;they probably couldn&rsquo;t have come up with anything more benign to hide the operation.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alibi.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="Bert Kelly’s Stables, 431 N. Rush St., was a famous jazz club and speakeasy. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago archives)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>3. Access</strong></span></p><p>While you didn&rsquo;t want law enforcement to find its way to your speakeasy, you needed it to be accessible for patrons and the back-of-house help that would load in your illegal alcohol. Subterranean networks helped &mdash; sewers or access lanes under the street &mdash; and in older parts of Chicago these were common. <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/uptown-greenmilljazz-bar-history-owner-bartender-musicians/Content?oid=12784766" target="_blank">The Green Mill benefitted from tunnels</a> connecting the bar to neighboring establishments of their Uptown block. Likewise in Pilsen (a neighborhood partially spared by the Great Chicago Fire), speakeasies used basement connections to a subterranean network of access tunnels hidden beneath the city&rsquo;s original street grid. According to Craig Alton, one former funeral home on the 700 block of West 18th Street hosted wakes, parties and other get-togethers downstairs after their services, serving alcohol they ran through the underground tunnels. We couldn&rsquo;t verify that particular story, but it&rsquo;s true that in older neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chicago at one point raised sidewalks off the city&rsquo;s swampy foundations to make space for sewers and other infrastructure that could have been useful for illicit transport.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/drawings-at-gioco.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gioco.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Top: Drawings on the wall at Gioco, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's west loop. Bottom: The back room at Gioco. The space hosted a speakeasy during prohibition, using its thick safe doors to shield the windowless back room from foot traffic on Wabash Avenue. The building was a cold storage facility during that time, so it was easy to keep the beer cool. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><strong style="font-size: 22px;">4. Connections</strong></div></div><p>Running a successful speakeasy was impossible without connections. Bar owners relied on a network of people to transport alcohol, pay off cops and bounce unruly patrons, among other things. That often involved the mob, but it didn&rsquo;t have to. As long as you were somewhat discreet and had a person who brought in regular shipments of alcohol, you could run a speakeasy. <a href="http://www.twinanchorsribs.com/" target="_blank">Twin Anchors</a> was so named because the owner during Prohibition, Captain Herb Eldean, was a harbor master at Chicago&rsquo;s Monroe Harbor. &ldquo;He had more access than most people would have to the possibility of acquiring liquor coming down from Canada into the port here,&rdquo; says co-owner Paul Tuzi.</p><p>That Great Lakes connection was critical to sustaining under-the-table taverns all over the city, according to <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>&rsquo;s Liz Garibay. &ldquo;Location, location, location. It&rsquo;s the whole reason Chicago is even here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The fact that we had access to a couple of waterways, and we&rsquo;re so close to Canada, was helpful.&rdquo;</p><p>Some tavern owners didn&rsquo;t have to look across the border for a reliable source of alcohol. Schaller&rsquo;s Pump in Bridgeport is considered by many to be the oldest bar in Chicago still serving drinks. Now it&rsquo;s flanked by parking lots and gravel, but during the early 20th century its neighbor was the South Side Brewing Company. Prohibition forced the brewery to boost production of low-alcohol &ldquo;near beer,&rdquo; but barrels of its more potent products found their way into Schaller&rsquo;s Pump.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank">(Check out our mixologist&#39;s guide to a Chicago speakeasy).</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>5. Emergency precautions</strong></span></p><p>Even if you had a good cover and had paid off the right people, it didn&rsquo;t hurt to have a backup plan. At Schaller&rsquo;s Pump, there&rsquo;s still a peephole looking south from the bar area. That came in handy when patrons and barkeepers needed to keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors. Twin Anchors had a half-size door installed in the back of the saloon so drinkers could escape in a hurry, but Tuzi says he has no evidence the bar was ever raided. (Though he did use it to escape inclement weather outside when he was still living in the building above the bar.)</p><p>While secrecy and good connections were probably the most critical parts of any successful Chicago speakeasy, some bar owners added their own innovations. Simon&rsquo;s in Andersonville has a bank teller&rsquo;s window tucked under the stairs. &ldquo;In that day if you took your check to the hardware store or the butcher shop or the shoemaker,&rdquo; says owner Scott Martin, those people would cash your check for you, but would take a percentage of your check for the risk of cashing it, much like a currency exchange does today.&rdquo; So Swedish immigrant and World War I veteran Simon Lundberg installed a bullet-proof bank teller&rsquo;s window (in what today is storage space), offering to cash checks free of charge. He also advertised free sandwiches on Fridays. &ldquo;So you would get a free belly full of food and get all of your hard-earned money, which you&rsquo;d oblige by gettin&rsquo; a beer and a whisky.&rdquo; Of course, it rarely stopped at just one drink.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/twin anchors.jpg" title="Paul Tuzi, one of the owners of Lincoln Park's Twin Anchors Restaurant &amp; Tavern, shows off a half-size door at the back of the bar, which he says was installed during prohibition to enable quick escapes. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>That entrepreneurial spirit seems to fit with Simon&rsquo;s history. The bar began when Lundberg noticed the patrons of his cafe spiking their drinks with whisky, so once he&rsquo;d made enough money from legitimate business, the Swedish immigrant bought the building next door and turned its basement into the NN Club &mdash; the &ldquo;No Name&rdquo; Club or maybe the &ldquo;No Norwegians&rdquo; Club, jokes current owner Scott Martin. A spare and cramped basement now used to store liquor for Simon&rsquo;s bar, the N.N. Club still has its original hand-painted sign. Decorative Swedish wall painting known as rosemaling peeks out from behind racks of liquor bottles.</p><p>After prohibition, Lundberg brought his drinking club upstairs. Simon&rsquo;s Tavern still has its original 1933 mahogany bar, and the bank teller door lined with 12-gauge steel and three panes of bullet-proof glass. Now people cash their checks elsewhere, of course, but they still oblige themselves a beer and whisky. Or several.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother and her sisters used to have come every other Friday night to get my grandfather out of here,&rdquo; says Martin.</p><p>A faithful clientele creates a powerful profit motive &mdash; one worth skirting the law and going through all that trouble for.</p><p>So to answer Elena Hadjimichael&rsquo;s question about what buildings housed speakeasies, and what made them well-suited to be speakeasies, let&rsquo;s recap: Speakeasies need secrecy or privacy; they often used a cover or front to keep up appearances; and they needed access to shipments of alcohol.<a name="elena"></a></p><p>It&rsquo;s not the building itself that made a successful speakeasy, so much as its management and business savvy. And that much about running a bar hasn&rsquo;t changed &mdash; even if modern speakeasies, like the ones that inspired Elena&rsquo;s question, don&rsquo;t have to worry about hiding the booze.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elena%20photo.jpg" style="height: 289px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:22px;">We&rsquo;ve got an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Our question about speakeasies comes from someone who has only been able to legally drink for two years. Elena Hadjimichael graduated in early June from the University of Chicago, where she majored in international studies. Now she&rsquo;s off to New York University, where she&rsquo;ll study law. But before she skipped town, Elena wanted to learn about the history of Chicago&rsquo;s prohibition-era watering holes.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my favorite bars in Chicago is The Violet Hour, which is kind of in the speakeasy style,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So I was interested in what more original speakeasies might have been like in Chicago.&rdquo; Another &ldquo;modern speakeasy&rdquo; that comes to mind, she says, is <a href="http://nymag.com/listings/bar/angels_share/" target="_blank">Angel&rsquo;s Share</a> in New York&rsquo;s East Village. It&rsquo;s an exclusive whisky bar cached behind a Japanese restaurant.</p><p>Elena grew up in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. She spent three years in Paris before coming to Chicago. She also happens to be a member of the University of Chicago team that tackled a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank">Curious City question about Chicago&rsquo;s wholesale produce markets</a>.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a reporter for <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City</a> and a <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">freelance journalist</a>. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/speakeasy%20graphic%204.jpg" style="height: 906px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 How Al Capone made the IRS famous http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/how-al-capone-made-irs-famous-107545 <p><p>The Internal Revenue Service is in the news lately. This is a good time to look at the case that solidified its reputation&mdash;a case involving a Chicagoan.</p><p>When the federal government tried to impose an income tax in the 1890s, the Supreme Court declared the tax unconstitutional. The only way around the decision was by constitutional amendment. In 1909 the proposed 16<sup>th</sup> Amendment&mdash;allowing a tax on incomes&mdash;was passed by Congress. Four years later, with three-fourths of the states having ratified, the amendment became part of the Constitution.</p><p>The feds then created an agency to collect the tax. In 1918 the agency became known as the Internal Revenue Service.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-07--Capone%20%28LofC%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 391px; width: 260px;" title="'Are you here for an audit, too?' (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1929. This was barely three weeks after the St. Valentine&rsquo;s Day Massacre had focused national attention on gang-ridden Chicago. Everybody suspected that Al Capone was behind those killings, and a lot more. Yet all the forces of law seemed powerless against him.</p><p>Hoover was a Republican, and Capone had used his muscle to help Republican Big Bill Thompson get elected Mayor of Chicago. But politics was no cover for Capone. The national GOP was embarrassed by Thompson&rsquo;s corrupt administration.</p><p>So President Hoover decided to go after Capone on his taxes. Sure enough, &ldquo;the man who owns Chicago&rdquo; had been rather cavalier about his payments. He was brought to trial in 1931.</p><p>The whole mess could have been avoided if Capone had just paid his taxes. But can you imagine the conversation if Capone had hired a tax adviser?</p><p>CAPONE: Okay. Now that I&rsquo;ve declared my business income, let&rsquo;s talk about my deductions. First, there are all the bribes I&rsquo;ve paid to politicians, and judges, and . . .</p><p>TAX ADVISER (<em>interrupting</em>): I&rsquo;m sorry, Mr. Capone. Bribes are not considered a legitimate deduction.</p><p>CAPONE: Well, I have hired some out-of-town trigger-men&mdash;I mean consultants&mdash;to help me deal with my competitors.</p><p>TAX ADVISER: I&rsquo;m afraid those aren&rsquo;t legitimate deductions, either.</p><p>CAPONE: What about my expenses for bullets, and for trucks to haul booze, and for customizing my fleet of getaway cars?</p><p>TAX ADVISER: No, Mr. Capone. Expenses incurred for performing illegal acts are not deductible.</p><p>CAPONE: You&#39;re saying I have to pay taxes on the money I make from illegal acts, but can&rsquo;t deduct the expenses? Just what deductions <em><u>can</u></em> I use?</p><p>TAX ADVISER: I think that you can probably deduct the cost of your soup kitchen for the unemployed. And, of course, you can deduct my fee as your tax adviser.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-07--Capone's (National Archives).jpg" title="Yes, Big Al really did open a soup kitchen. (National Archives)" /></div></div><p>After a lengthy trial, Capone was found guilty of income tax evasion on October 17, 1931. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison and had to pay a hefty fine. That was the end of Big Al.</p><p>And the real beginning of the IRS.</p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/how-al-capone-made-irs-famous-107545 Cartel kingpin Chicago's new Public Enemy No. 1 http://www.wbez.org/news/cartel-kingpin-chicagos-new-public-enemy-no-1-105528 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7018_AP105468334795(1)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A drug kingpin in Mexico who has never set foot in Chicago has been named the city&#39;s new Public Enemy No. 1 &mdash; the same notorious label assigned to Al Capone at the height of the Prohibition-era gang wars.</p><p>The Chicago Crime Commission considers Joaquin &quot;El Chapo&quot; Guzman even more menacing than Capone because he&#39;s the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in the city.</p><p>&quot;What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics,&quot; said Art Bilek, the commission&#39;s executive vice president. &quot;Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of.&quot;</p><p>The commission &mdash; a non-government body that tracks city crime trends &mdash; designated Capone Public Enemy No. 1 in 1930. It has declared other outlaws public enemies, but Capone was the only one deemed No. 1.</p><p>Until now.</p><p>Guzman is thought to be holed up in a mountain hideaway in western Mexico, but he ought to be treated as a local Chicago crime boss for the havoc his cartel creates in the nation&#39;s third-largest city, said Jack Riley, of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which joined the commission in affixing the title to Guzman.</p><p>The point of singling out Guzman was to inspire more public support for going after him, Bilek said.</p><p>&quot;Ninety-nine percent of the people in the United States have never heard of this man,&quot; he said. &quot;Concerted action ... must be taken now against Guzman before he establishes a bigger network and a bigger empire in the United States.&quot;</p><p>Capone based his bootlegging and other criminal enterprises in Chicago during Prohibition, when it was illegal to make or sell alcohol in the U.S. He eventually went to prison for income tax evasion, but he gained the greatest notoriety for the 1929 St. Valentine&#39;s Day Massacre that left seven rivals dead.</p><p>Yet Riley says Guzman &mdash; whose nickname means &quot;shorty&quot; in Spanish &mdash; is more ruthless than Capone, whose nickname was &quot;Scarface.&quot;</p><p>&quot;If I was to put those two guys in a ring, El Chapo would eat that guy (Capone) alive,&quot; Riley told The Associated Press in a recent interview at his office, pointing at pictures of the men.</p><p>Riley described Chicago as one of Sinaloa&#39;s most important cities, not only as a final destination for drugs but as a hub to distribute them across the U.S.</p><p>&quot;This is where Guzman turns his drugs into money,&quot; he said.</p><p>Mexican cartels that ship drugs to Chicago are rarely directly linked to slayings. But Bilek said Thursday that cartel-led trafficking is an underlying cause of territorial battles between street gangs that are blamed for rising homicide rates.</p><p>&quot;He virtually has his fingerprints on the guns that are killing the children of this city,&quot; Bilek told a news conference.</p><p>Guzman, who has been on the run since escaping from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, is one of the world&#39;s most dangerous and most wanted fugitives. He&#39;s also one of the richest: Forbes magazine has estimated his fortune at $1 billion.</p><p>Now in his mid-50s, Guzman has been indicted on federal trafficking charges in Chicago and, if he is ever captured alive, U.S. officials want him extradited here to face trial. The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for his capture.</p><p>&quot;His time is coming,&quot; Riley said. &quot;I can&#39;t wait for that day.&quot;</p><p>It was only a coincidence, Bilek said Thursday, that the announcement naming Guzman Public Enemy No. 1 came on the anniversary of the St. Valentine&#39;s Day Massacre, which raised public pressure to capture Capone.</p><p>Within two years of being designated Public Enemy No. 1 in 1930, Capone had been captured, convicted and imprisoned.</p><p>With the same label now attached to Guzman, Bilek said, &quot;we hope the same thing will happen to him.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 14 Feb 2013 09:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cartel-kingpin-chicagos-new-public-enemy-no-1-105528 The other Capone http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/other-capone-104264 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F70384125" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>In 1930, the Chicago attorney and reformer Frank J. Loesch and his organized crime watchdog group, the Chicago Crime Commission, issued the first-ever list of so-called &ldquo;Public Enemies.&rdquo; &nbsp;Three years later, Loesch said of the list:</p><blockquote><p><em>I had the operating director of the Chicago Crime Commission bring before me a list of the outstanding hoodlums, known murderers&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;murderers which you and I know but can&rsquo;t prove&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;and there were about 100 of them, and out of this list I selected 28 men. I put Al Capone at the head and his brother next. . . .</em></p></blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ralph%20capone.jpg" style="float: left; height: 401px; width: 300px;" title="Ralph Capone in 1930, the year he was included on the Chicago Crime Commission’s list of Public Enemies. (AP)" />Al Capone, the infamous head of the Chicago Outfit, was Public Enemy #1. His brother, Ralph Capone, was Public Enemy #3.</p><p>This other Capone &mdash; Al&rsquo;s older brother &mdash; earned the nickname &ldquo;Bottles&rdquo; by running soft drink bottling plants for the Outfit during Prohibition. After Al was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison in 1931, Ralph was accused of, well, trying to get the gang back together. He too was hounded by the federal government on accusations of tax eviction, and he served time for the crime shortly after Al did.</p><p>Despite having once been described as the Outfit&rsquo;s &ldquo;elder statesman,&rdquo; Ralph Capone was never as deeply enmeshed as his brother. Still, with a reputation like Ralph&rsquo;s, it&rsquo;s not hard to see why Deirdre Marie Capone felt haunted by her family&rsquo;s legacy. Her father, Ralph Jr., was Bottles&rsquo; only son. According to Deirdre&rsquo;s website, her father committed suicide just before her 11<sup>th</sup> birthday, &ldquo;due to the burden of the Capone name.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It destroyed my father,&rdquo; she later said.</p><p>As an adult, Deirdre kept her family history secret from everyone but her husband. Not even her four children knew who their great-granduncle was. &ldquo;I hid for so long who I was. It was very difficult for me to tell anybody,&rdquo; she said, especially growing up on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. &nbsp;</p><p>But Deirdre came out as a Capone last year with the publication of her family memoir, <em><a href="http://www.unclealcapone.com/index.htm">Uncle Al Capone</a>. </em>Now, she&rsquo;s fond of saying that her great-uncle, Al, was a mobster, yes, but not a monster. And she proudly wears her family&rsquo;s name at events like the Chicago History Museum&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121206/old-town/deirdre-capone-explains-uncle-als-whiskey-drink-at-prohibition-event">celebration of the repeal of Prohibition</a> earlier this week.</p><p>In the audio above, Deirdre recounts her decision to face her family past.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Deirdre Capone spoke at an event presented by the Chicago History Museum earlier this month. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/cocktails-and-capone-104257">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 08 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/other-capone-104264 The Hotel Sherman Treaty http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-21/hotel-sherman-treaty-93222 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/10-21--Capone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The war has been getting out of hand. So Don Corleone calls for a summit meeting. All the gang chiefs sit down together and hammer out a truce.</p><p>It's a famous scene from "The Godfather." But it really did happen--here in Chicago, on October 21, 1926.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-18/10-21--Hotel Sherman view.JPG" style="width: 220px; height: 300px; margin: 8px; float: left;" title="Hotel Sherman--NW corner, Clark &amp; Randolph">Prohibition was the law of the land then, and the gangs of Chicago were supplying bootleg booze to thirsty citizens. In the fall of 1924, Warfare had erupted when the two biggest mobs began squabbling over territorial rights. This was another of those North Side vs. South Side conflicts--Dion's O'Banion's mostly-Irish Cub fans against Johnny Torrio's mostly-Italian Sox fans.</p><p>(<em>Okay, I don't know which baseball teams the boys followed, but you get the idea</em>.)</p><p>Anyway, the South Siders struck first, assassinating O'Banion in his florist shop. Naturally, the North Siders retaliated. Then, the South Siders re-retaliated. And so on, and so on.</p><p>By October 1926, Chicago had gotten a national reputation for gang mayhem. The South Side outfit was now being run by Al Capone. He realized all the outside attention could wreck business. The U.S. Senate had begun nosing around, conducting an investigation of the Prohibition law and its effects.</p><p>So Capone enlisted the aid of Maxie Eisen, a labor leader with wide contacts. Eisen arranged a general conference at the Hotel Sherman. All the gangs sent representatives, and the list reads like a Who's Who of the Chicago underworld--Capone, Bugs Moran, Klondyke O'Donnell, Schemer Drucci, to name a few.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-18/10-21--Capone.jpg" style="width: 199px; height: 249px; float: right; margin: 8px;" title="Diplomat Capone">Nobody tried to keep the meeting secret. The newspapers published reports on the conference, and a police detective attended as a neutral observer. The general tone was set by Maxie Eisen, who told the delegates: "Let's give each other a break. We're a bunch of saps, killing each other this way and giving the cops a laugh."</p><p>The result was the Hotel Sherman Treaty. Chicago gangs officially renounced violence as a matter of policy. All standing feuds were called off. The head of each gang would be responsible for disciplining his own people. Each gang would operate only within its designated territory.</p><p>The gangland truce lasted for less than a year. But then, have the diplomats of nations done much better in negotiating peace?</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Oct 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-21/hotel-sherman-treaty-93222 Gangster Capone’s gun up for auction http://www.wbez.org/story/gangster-capone%E2%80%99s-gun-auction-88116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/capone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A handgun once owned by notorious gangster Al Capone is going up for sale in London this week.</p><p>Christie's auction house says the Colt .38 revolver is expected to garner between 50,000 and 70,000 pounds. (Or, between $80,899 and $113,258.)</p><p>Christie’s said Monday the gun is being sold by a private collector. The gun was manufactured in 1929, the year of Chicago's St. Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven people were slain during clashes between Capone's gang and a rival gang led by mobster Bugs Moran.</p><p>The pistol will be sold along with an original letter from Madeleine Capone Morichetti, the widow of Capone's brother Ralph, confirming the gun "previously belonged to and was only used by Al Capone while he was alive."</p><p>The gun will go under the hammer on Wednesday.</p></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 14:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gangster-capone%E2%80%99s-gun-auction-88116 Al Capone signature up for auction http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/al-capone-signature-auction <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/al capone arrested resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Geraldo Rivera went in search of buried treasure underneath Chicago&rsquo;s Lexington Hotel what he found was, of course, nothing. But the former headquarters of Chicago&rsquo;s most famous resident are back in the headlines. Or rather, on the block. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.rrauction.com/" target="_blank">RR Auction</a> in New Hampshire will offer for sale a rare signature from Capone, on letterhead from the gangster&rsquo;s castle Wednesday. Bobby Livingston of RR Auction joined Eight Forty-Eight to explore the paper trail.</p><p><em>Music Button: Johnny Gregory and his Orchestra, &quot;Echo Four-Two&quot;, from the CD Crime Jazz (Rhino) </em></p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 15:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/al-capone-signature-auction Author Jonathan Eig on how the feds 'got Caponed' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/author-jonathan-eig-how-feds-got-caponed <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/capone resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Like a shot of fine whiskey, the story of Al Capone's rise and fall runs through the veins of most Chicagoans. A recent book takes a different look at the legendary tale of how the government got their man.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>It's called <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Get-Capone-Captured-Americas-Gangster/dp/141658059X">Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster</a>.</p><p>We talked with <a target="_blank" href="http://www.getcapone.com/">Jonathan Eig</a>, the book&rsquo;s author and native Chicagoan, says the book resulted from new material. It belonged to the man who locked Capone up for tax evasion. <br /><br />Tuesday evening Jonathan Eig talks about Chicago&rsquo;s most famous gangster at an event hosted by the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.midlandauthors.com/">Society of Midland Authors</a>. It&rsquo;s at 6 p.m. at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cliff-chicago.org/">Cliff Dwellers Club</a> on Michigan Ave.</p></p> Tue, 09 Nov 2010 15:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/author-jonathan-eig-how-feds-got-caponed