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GEORGE "BUGS" MORAN: HIS WAR WITH AL CAPONE
Goodbye, Chicago


"Cause there's nobody who cares about me,
I'm just a soul who's bluer than blue can be..."

--Mood Indigo

"The tommy gunners in the garage were historians of a sort," writes Twenties recorder John H. Lyle. "With .45 caliber bullets they wrote finis to the legend of as spectacular a crew of outlaws as any city or any era has known. Dion O'Banion, Nails Morton, Three-Gun Louis Alterie, Schemer Drucci, Hymie Weiss each left his stamp, black though it was, on his day and age. In the end there was left only Bugs Moran, mobster without a mob. Capone -- Moran's 'Beast' had won, but (he) didn't get full value for his $10,000 investment in massacre. Moran cheated him by showing up late for his own murder."

When reporters converged on the Moran apartment after the shooting, they found him close-mouthed and, when he did talk, denying that those men killed in the garage were his gang of bootleggers. But, when asked who he thought was responsible for the mass murder, for a moment he reclaimed the Bugs Moran swagger long enough to growl, "Only Capone kills like that."

After Valentine's Day, 1929, Moran's power was broken and his luck on the run downhill. For the next couple of years, until the repeal of Prohibition in 1932, he and what was left of his gang made sporadic attempts to regain the North Side, but Capone had moved in and could not be budged out. By the mid-Thirties, Moran quit Chicago. He first moved to Wisconsin, then to Minnesota.

His marriage seems to have broken up around this time, for there is no record of Alice accompanying him.

Reduced to near poverty, but used to the big money, he drifted back to Illinois where, downstate, he and a couple of rural hoods robbed banks and filling stations through the latter Thirties. Around 1940, he moved to Ohio to join the Virgil Summers-Albert Fouts gang. Petty thieves and not comparable to the earlier motor bandits like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd whom they tried to emulate, their biggest take was $10,000 from a tavern in Dayton. The Federal Bureau of Investigation nabbed him in 1946.

He served 10 years in Leavenworth Penitentiary, and when released in 1956, was immediately re-arrested for an earlier bank holdup in Ansonia, Ohio, that had netted a paltry $4,000. "In the old days," says Lyle, "when he had worn pearl gray spats and ridden in a big black limousine he would have considered that chicken feed. He was convicted and sentenced to serve another 10 years."

George "Bugs" Moran died in prison of lung cancer on February 25, 1957, receiving the Full Last Rites of the Roman Catholic Church. Wrote the attending priest, Father O'Connor: "I am sure that God in His mercy was very kind to him in judgment."

*****

Moran was not the only survivor to cue an end to his good times with the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Although Capone continued to rule over Chicago's underworld for three more years, his popularity took a nosedive. Not only Chicago, but the entire world, was left stunned by the cold-hearted, cowardly backshooting at the S-M-C Cartage garage. President Herbert Hoover took a personal view after that and pressured Chicago for reform, which meant the end of Scarface.

The Treasury Department managed to get Capone on something that he never expected he never saw it coming income tax evasion. In 1932, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Released in 1939 for good behavior, he was by then only of a shell of a man physically. Neuorsyphyilis, contracted from Chicago brothels, was eating his brain. He died, his mind gone, in January, 1947.

Papa Johnny Torrio kept in touch with the mobs, but from afar. He acted as advisor for mostly the New York-based syndicates and dabbled in real estate until he died of natural causes on March 16, 1957.

Joey Aiello, the gangster who so badly wanted the seat of the Unione Siciliane, to the point that he dared openly threaten Capone's life, achieved that dream in 1930. But, he didn't live to enjoy it. Capone, who had meant it when he told Aiello to stay clear of Chicago, gunned him down outside his West Side apartment building on a calm October evening.

Scalise and Anselmi also fell the way they lived. Over-ambitious, they plotted to use their trust with Capone to kill him and take over the mobs. Their intended victim found out. Luring them to a banquet that was supposed to be in their honor, Big Al, after a sumptuous feast, presented them with an award several swipes each on their cranium with a baseball bat.

Gunman and architect of the St. Valentine's Day massacre, Jack McGurn, lost favor with the mobs after Capone went to prison. Unlike Scarface who doted on him, other mobsters found his large ego an aggravation. Nudged from the organization, by the mid-Thirties he was less than a two-bit hood working the fringes of the rackets.

McGurn dead...Moran's revenge? 

Perhaps, after all, Bugs Moran did get some revenge for the murder of his seven pals in the garage. An unknown gunman who shot McGurn to death while he was bowling on Valentine's Day, 1936, left a Valentine's Day card in his hand. The comic inscription of the card read:


You've lost your job,
You've lost your dough,
Your jewels and handsome houses.
But things could be worse, you know.
You haven't lost your trousers.


  CHAPTERS
1. Chicago's Own

2. Pals

3. Beer Barrel Bonanza

4. Battlefield Chicago

5. Bugs, Himself

6. Quest for the Mafia

7. St. Valentine's Day

8. Goodbye, Chicago

9. Bibliography

10. The Author
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