Confession: I Would Have Made a Miserable Mobster

Al Capone, 1930
Al Capone, 1930

FRIENDLY WARNING

I appreciate my wonderful followers so much, that I am going to give you and them fair warning. This hub has no lacy-edges, hummingbirds or walks with the sheep herder’s pretty daughter in a eutopian meadow of yellow flowers.

This hub is rough, violent mentions of violent men and women, and does not take time out for an early American religious hymn where everyone’s voices on stage and in the audience can blend in lovely harmonies. And there will be no tears flowing from anyone’s eyes.

There will be, during the reading of this hub, total literary amazement, gasps of complete-disbelief that one untrained, non-college degreed obscure writer from the hills of rural northwest Alabama could even dream up the text of this piece completely without phoning his friends or what few of his high-class friends would even dare to help him with this project.

John Dillinger
John Dillinger

Say hello to "Bugsy"

14 YEARS OF "MOB RULE"

The “American mobster era,” 1924 through 1938 spelled violent days and nights; bloodshed from criminals and civilians flowing in the gutters and 14 years of fear for the common man and a flimsy-sense of prosperity enjoyed by the likes of Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, to name a few infamous hoods who ruled Chicago, New York, Boston and other major cities in the United States.

Local cops were helpless as well as the nameless district attorneys who wasted taxpayer monies in arresting these brazen-hoods only to set them free in a court that had no real evidence of their crimes. These were professional criminals in every sense of the word. Trust among the worst of these men and women was a dusty relic and honor was mostly a working tool to gain another hood’s support.

Not only did these henchmen and henchwomen deal illegal booze, but drugs, guns, porno, brothels, gambling and actually got away with it with minor “slaps on their wrists” by police, judges, and officers of the court who were on the criminals’ payroll—and the “arrests” were just for show to keep fearful citizens from voting the court officials out of office.

"WE'RE--IN--THE--MON--EY!"

Hollywood took more than “a lion’s share” of the big bucks made from glamorizing the criminal element in films and later, television shows that were tailor-made pitting good versus evil on a weekly-basis with “good” (only on film) winning the “war on crime.”

In my first meetings with my “friend,” black and white television, I clearly remember cheering for Robert Stack as Eliot Ness and his agents on “The Untouchables,” and other action drama’s that took America like a wildfire in a dry wheat field. Who can forget Edward G. Robinson, “see?” as well as James Cagney who relished in playing the bad guy gang leader dressing “to the nines” and having a different girlfriend for each night of the week?

For me, it was a huge dilemma. Do “I” want to be a gangster or drive a truck when I grow up? All of you have been there and it is not easy to think in these terms when you are between the ages of nine and twelve. So after more television and more gangster-based shows, I arrived at a serious life-conclusion:

A moment with Al Capone

Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone ( January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) was an American gangster who attained fame during the Prohibition era. His seven-year reign as crime boss ended when he was 33 years old.

Born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City to Italian immigrants, Capone was a Five Points Gang member who became a bouncer in organized crime premises such as brothels. In his early twenties, he moved to Chicago becoming bodyguard and trusted factotum for Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate illegally supplying alcohol, and politically protected through the Unione Siciliane. A conflict with the North Side gang was instrumental in Capone's rise and fall, Torrio had been precipitated into retirement after North Side gunmen almost killed him, thereby bringing about Capone's succession. He expanded the bootlegging business through increasingly violent means, but his mutually profitable relationships with mayor William Hale Thompson and the city's police, meant Capone seemed safe from law enforcement. Apparently reveling in the attention, such as the cheers when he appeared at ball games, Capone made donations to various charities and was viewed by many to be a "modern-day Robin Hood". However, the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre of North Siders damaged Chicago's image, leading influential citizens to demand action from central government.

The federal authorities became intent on jailing Capone and prosecuted him for tax evasion in 1931. The case was highly politicized and both prosecutors and judge later received preferment. During prior and ultimately abortive negotiations to pay the government any back tax he owed, Capone had made admissions of his income; the judge deemed these statements could be used as evidence at the trial, and also refused to let Capone plead guilty for a lighter sentence. The effect of such decisions by the judge was added to by the incompetence of Capone's defense attorneys. Capone was convicted and sentenced to a then record breaking 11 years in federal prison. Replacing his old defense team with lawyers expert in tax law, his appeal grounds were strengthened by a Supreme court ruling, but Capone again found his status as a symbol of criminality meant that judges decided in his disfavor. Already showing signs of syphilitic dementia by early in his sentence, he became increasingly debilitated before being released after 8 years. On January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke. Capone's conviction had negligible effect on the prevalence of organized crime in Chicago.

Source: Wikipedia

Baby Face Nelson
Baby Face Nelson
Clude Barrow, Bonnie Parker
Clude Barrow, Bonnie Parker
James Cagney thrived in his roles as tough gangsters
James Cagney thrived in his roles as tough gangsters
Lucky Luciano
Lucky Luciano

I Would Have Made a Miserable Mobster

Here are the heart-breaking reasons why:

  • There is no way that I could be as pedantic as Al Capone or John Dillinger. Did you ever see these two or any famous mobster “ever” wearing a shabby wardrobe in public?
  • I could never be as gregarious as Bugsy Siegel. What a warm personable man he was when he was not taking a rival mobster’s life for trying to “move in on his turf.”
  • I am unable to wear a “poker face” around the clock. Fact: pro-mobsters always look serious. This instills fear in the common folk.
  • I have an uncomfortable perspiration problem and if I were a mobster “doing a bank job,” the bank teller would sense my fear and take me out with a good right hook.
  • I could not, even if I tried, live on pasta, Pastrami sandwiches, veal with marinara sauce, and red wine. I am a man who likes a grilled burger with chips every now and then.
  • If my boss, giving me a test to see if I am loyal, sent me to just take over a betting parlor, one angry look from the owner and I would break down and apologize.
  • When I had gained the trust of the higher-up’s in “mobdom,” and they put me in charge of several prostitutes, when the higher-up’s were out of town, I would tell the prostitutes to get out of town . . .you are free and I would give them each $500.00 to show them how sorry that I was for trying to be their pimp.
  • I cannot see myself cursing every other word like Robert “Jimmy Conway” DiNaro, Joe ”Tommy DeVito” Pesci and Ray “Henry Hill” Liota in “Goodfellas.” Please, for decency’s sake. Can you at least try to use a clean string of words every once in a while?
  • I despise (and cringe) at the thought of shooting a firearm.
  • I equally despise (and cringe) at the mere thought of taking a “snitch’s” life.
  • I do not see myself as an “enforcer,” an evil mobster who beats people up all day for the mob. And ‘enforcers” do this heinous act to people who owe mobsters huge amounts of money for gambling debts.
  • Using “strong arm” tactics to make some influential politician sway their vote in favor of a mob-based construction project is not “my cup of tea.”
  • Actually drinking tea is one of my love’s. Drinking whiskey, wine and vodka everyday with the “fellas” is not what I would like. Being a mobster is bad enough without adding alcoholism to the equation.
  • If I were a married mobster, do you see me as an adulterer? Talk about guilt.
  • Gambling is something that never got my attention. Besides money is too hard to come by to gamble away.
  • If I were made to be a “hit man,” in the mob, I would give the person whom I am to “hit” a heads-up for I think the person would appreciate a sporting chance. What would I say to my bosses if I didn’t succeed? “Hey, that guy was half-Jack Rabbit he was so fast in getting away.”
  • Mobsters in the old days were known for staying out all night long doing what mobsters do, but with me, I do like to “hit the hay” at a reasonable hour.
  • I was raised to have a healthy respect for police officers, so that is a strike against me. Example: If I were having breakfast at a local diner and a uniformed police officer were to stop at my table and say, “Were you on main street around 2 this morning?” I would start stammering and say, “yes,” although I was home fast-asleep for my fear of how rough policemen (and women) can be with mobsters would kick-in instantly.
  • Mobsters usually got complimentary dinners, clothes, and cars out of respect by merchants in their town, but I would insist on “paying my way,” for I had much rather have a good friend than a fearful acquaintance.
  • My bosses would have problems giving me a mob name. In “Goodfellas,” a mention is made of “Jimmy Two Times,” for he always repeated things, but with me, Kenneth “The Coffee Freak” is not a mob name that commands respect, so there you have it . . . reasons why I did not make being a mobster my place in life.

What about Kenneth “The Ghost”? Huh?

American Mafia Tid-Bit

The American Mafia, an Italian-American organized-crime network with operations in cities across the United States, particularly New York and Chicago, rose to power through its success in the illicit liquor trade during the 1920s Prohibition era. After Prohibition, the Mafia moved into other criminal ventures, from drug trafficking to illegal gambling, while also infiltrating labor unions and legitimate businesses such as construction and New York’s garment industry. The Mafia’s notorious characters such as Al Capone and John Gotti have fascinated the public and become a part of popular culture. During the latter part of the 20th century, the government used anti-racketeering laws to convict high-ranking mobsters and weaken the Mafia. However, it remains in business today.

The American Gangster,
1924-1938

The “war to end all wars” was over, but a new one was just beginning—on the streets of America.
It wasn’t much of a fight, really—at least at the start.

On the one side was a rising tide of professional criminals, made richer and bolder by Prohibition, which had turned the nation “dry” in 1920. In one big city alone— Chicago—an estimated 1,300 gangs had spread like a deadly virus by the mid-1920s.

There was no easy cure. With wallets bursting from bootlegging profits, gangs outfitted themselves with “Tommy” guns and operated with impunity by paying off politicians and police alike. Rival gangs led by the powerful Al “Scarface” Capone and the hot-headed George “Bugs” Moran turned the city streets into a virtual war zone with their gangland clashes. By 1926, more than 12,000 murders were taking place every year across America.

Source: FBI Chronicles

Warren Oates did a tremendous job of being John Dillinger

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Comments 14 comments

old albion profile image

old albion 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Kenneth. Brilliant, first class hub. Great research and your presentation is the very best. Like wise your subjects are enthralling, photos are the best. I enjoyed the whole thing. Well done.

Voted up and all.

Graham.


angel4967 profile image

angel4967 2 years ago from Nevada

I loved this Hub! I grew up in Cleveland when it was known as "Bomb town USA" and Danny Greene controlled the streets. Because of this I think I have an uncanny curiosity about all mobsters. "Kill The Irishman" both book & movie were outstanding to me. I now live in Las Vegas where they say the mob is no longer. Of course they still are, they are just very quiet about it now. This has got to be one of the best Hubs I've seen in a great while! Keep up the awesome work!


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I love how you combined the serious history lesson and the funny list of why you could never be mobster. I can't say I've ever met a mobster, but I've heard stories and rumors about some people from in and around my small town being part of that. Like you, I could never be a mobster and for the very same reasons. Well, except for one. Although I don't have any Italian in me (that I know of), I could definitely live on Italian cuisine.


Rhonda Lytle profile image

Rhonda Lytle 2 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

To me, this is a fascinating era in American history. I never fail to note how the city that gave rise to such violent gangs back then gave rise to the current President, so not a good thing. While I have to admit the power such men wielded is enticing in a major way, I couldn't have done it either. I'd be offering rehabilitation services to all the boozers and addicts, counseling for the ladies of the night and want to use the power to oust the crooked politicians :). This was a stellar article, fun and serious together, awesome.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Rhonda,

Your comments are scary. I mean that the last part is what I have really thought of what I would have done in "gangster days," counseling for ladies of the night, and when I used to tell people, they would reply things like, "Yeah, you would counsel alright. You would . . . ." some ugly remark. But these girls ARE human and they had their reasons for why they did this work.

And as for boozers, the same thing.

Wow. Talk about a great friend. YOU, Rhonda, fit the bill.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Graham,

I do not know what to say to such a nice comment, but thank you so much. I could get off of HP now and be happy. I mean that. But I cannot do that just now--for I have been blessed with many great friends, you included, and I am working toward some pay-out money, but money does not really figure into the previous part of my comment.

It is just not time to leave yet.

Thanks again.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

angel4967,

I appreciate your comment so MUCH. People do not think that our words do not have power, well, the Book of Proverbs says, "life or death is in the power of the tongue," and NONE of my followers have EVER cursed or blasted me no matter how below-quality any of my hubs might have been.

You are included. Thanks for the following.

I appreciate you so much.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hey, sheilamyers,

Thank you from my old heart, for making me feel useful with your sweet words. I am not Italian, but may I join you for a huge platter of any pasta you order? I can eat it once in a while, but not every day.

Oh, I will pay.

FYI: my ancestors date back to Ireland.

Aye, young lassie.


KarenHC profile image

KarenHC 2 years ago from U.S.

I am just now discovering your writing, Kenneth, and I am enjoying your unusual voice :-) Anyway, you may have not made a great mobster, but you certainly have a great way of getting your information out to us, your adoring readers.


vkwok profile image

vkwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

I know I would have made a miserable mobster. This is a treasure trove of information, Kenneth!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, KarenHC,

A sincere THANK YOU for such a sweet comment. You are a fantastic person and A Sincere Thank You for the Valued-Following too. I will send you a Personalized Thank You note i the weeks to come.

Right now, I feel the best than I have felt in weeks.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

vkwok,

You are such a great friend. Honestly, do you know where I would be WITHOUT you, KarenHC and All of My Loving Followers?

NOWHERE! Thanks a million for your comment.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have never had much of the thoughts of glamour about gangsters. Dillinger I thought was interesting when I saw a movie about him. I was probablably about 10, at the time. His episode about escaping jail with a gun he carved out of wood deserves a place in American folklore. In college I wrote a paper on "why the English admire their outlaws." I did study of outlaws from Robin Hood to Dick Turpin, some of which I used on a hub or two. The gangsters and outlaws, I think, have tried to presnt themselves as heroes of the poor who defy corrupt law.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

dahoglund,

I respect your views on mobsters. Sure they all corrupted the law, and I do see how (some) poor people admired these lawbreakers for their acts of generosity clouded the judgement of the poor people to a point of actually looking away from the fact of having the law tarnished.

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