Gregory Bishop
Mr. Oshea
English 9
April 23, 2004
The Life of Al Capone

His name was Alphonse Capone. His background, along with thousands of other
Italians, the Capone family moved to Brooklyn. It was a new beginning in a
New World. The Capone\'s were a quiet and peaceful family. Nothing about the
Capone family was disturbed, violent, or dishonest. The children and the
parents were close. They really enjoyed baseball and were often at games.
There was no mental disabilities, no traumatic event that sent the boys
into the dangerous life of crime. They did not display sociopath or
psychotic personalities; they were not crazy. They were a law-abiding,
unremarkable Italian-American family with conventional patterns of behavior
and frustrations. They displayed no special genius for crime. Family
Parents-Gabriele and Teresina Capone Brothers-Vincenzo (James), Raffaele
(Ralph), Salvatore (Frank), Alphonse (Al). Home-The Capone\'s lived in a
cold-water tenement flat that had no indoor toilet or furnishings. The
neighborhood was virtually a slum. The family moved to better lodgings in
an apartment over their father\'s barbershop at 69 Park Avenue in Brooklyn.
This move exposed Al to cultural influences well beyond what was supplied
by the Italian immigrant community. Most of the people living around Park
Avenue were Irish, although Germans, Swedes and Chinese were also in the
neighborhood. Moving into a broader ethnic part of town allowed Al to
escape from the all-Italian neighborhood. In their spare time, the ragged
children gave the streets an explosive vitality as they played stickball,
dodged traffic, brawled and bawled. To be a kid growing up in immigrant
Brooklyn, you had to be in a gang (Italian, Jewish or Irish gang). They
were not the vicious urban street gangs of today, but rather groups of
territorial neighborhood boys who hung out together. Capone was a tough,
scrappy kid and
belonged to the South Brooklyn Rippers and then later to the Forty Thieves
Juniors and the Five Point Juniors Education-The school system was deeply
prejudiced against them and did little to encourage any interest in higher
education. Al Capone found school a place of constant discipline relieved
by sudden outbreaks of violence. At fourteen, Al lost his temper at the
teacher; she hit him and he hit her back. He was expelled and never went to
school again. The immigrant parents expected their children to leave school
as soon as they were old enough to work. There is no question that this
cultural exposure would help him in his future role as the head of a
criminal empire. Introduction to Crime-A few blocks away from the Capone
house on Garfield Place was a small unobtrusive building that was the
headquarters of one of the most successful gangsters on the East Coast.
Johnny Torrio was a new breed of gangster, a pioneer in the development of
a modern criminal enterprise. Torrio\'s administrative and organizational
talents transformed crude racketeering into a kind of corporate structure,
allowing his businesses to expand as opportunities emerged. Torrio was a
role model for many of the boys in the community. Capone, like many other
boys his age, earned pocket money by running errands for Johnny Torrio.
Over time, Torrio came to trust Al and gave him more to do. Meantime, young
Al learned by observing the wealthy, successful, respected racketeer and
the people in his organization. Despite Al\'s relationship with the street
gangs and Johnny Torrio, there was no indication that Al would choose 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. Al Capone
learned invaluable lessons from Torrio that were the foundation of the
criminal empire he built later in Chicago. Wife-At the age of nineteen, Al
met a pretty blond Irish girl named Mae Coughlin, who was two years older
than he was. Her family was comfortable and solidly middle class. It\'s hard
to imagine that Mae\'s family embraced her


relationship with Capone and it was not until after their baby was born
that they married. Children-Albert Francis Capone was born December 4,
1918. His godfather was Johnny Torrio. While Albert or Sonny, as he was
known all his life, seemed okay at birth, he was in fact a victim of
congenital syphilis. Years later, Al confessed to doctors that he had been
infected before he was married, but he believed that the infection had gone
away. Life in Chicago-When Al Capone came to Chicago in 1920, the flesh
trade was becoming the province of organized crime. The kingpin of this
business was Big Jim Colosimo along with his wife and partner, Victoria
Moresco, a highly successful madam.