Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Al Capone: Chicago's Most Infamous Mob Boss

Al's a Good Boy

Despite Al's relationship with the street gangs and Johnny Torrio, there was no indication that Al would choose someday to lead a life of crime.  He still lived at home and did what he as expected to do when he quit school:  go to work and help support the family.  The family was actually doing quite well under Gabriele's guidance.  He now owned his own barbershop.  Teresa continued to produce children --several boys and then two girls, one of whom died in infancy.  The only significant disruption in Al's tranquil family life was in 1908 when his oldest brother Vincenzo (James) left the family and went out west.

A young Frankie Yale
A young Frankie Yale
At this point in his life, nobody would ever have believed that Al would go on to be the criminal czar that he ultimately became.  For approximately six years he worked faithfully at exceptionally boring jobs, first at a munitions factory and then as a paper cutter.  He was a good boy, well behaved and sociable.  Bergreen writes, "You didn't hear stories about Al Capone practicing with guns; you heard that he went home each night to his mother.  Al was something of a nonentity, affable, soft of speech and even mediocre in everything but dancing."

How did the soft-spoken dutiful Al Capone metamorphose into the spectacularly successful and violent super gangster?  One clear catalyst was the menacing presence of Frankie Yale.  Originally from Calabria, Francesco Ioele (called "Yale") was a both feared and respected.  At the opposite end of the spectrum from the peace-loving, "respectable" Johnny Torrio, Frankie Yale built his turf on muscle and aggression.  Yale opened a bar on Coney Island called the Harvard Inn and hired, at the recommendation of Johnny Torrio, the eighteen-year-old Al Capone to be his bartender.

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