During a match
the drunker they got the more they cheated and the more they caught each other
at it. One time when Burke tried to sneak a better lie he and McGurn fought
about the bloodiest fight I ever saw in or out of the prize ring. None of the
gang tried to stop them. They just made a circle around them, laughing and
cheering. A big crowd of golfers gathered, too, but they didn't make a sound.
They seemed hypnotized. I got the feeling they were scared that if they said or
did anything the gang would turn on them. It lasted about half an hour. Burke
knocked McGurn off his feet a couple of times, but he came up quick. He'd been
a prizefighter in his younger days and Burke was no match for him. Pretty soon
the Killer had blood streaming from his nose, turning his white sport shirt
red. One of his eyes closed completely. McGurn knocked him down 10, maybe 12
times, and at last he stayed down. I figured he might be dead. Banjo Eyes threw
a pail of water over him. It had no effect. There happened to be a doctor in
the crowd who finally brought Burke around. "Don't talk," he warned
him. "Some of your teeth are loose, but you'll be all right after you see a
dentist." Burke tried getting up by himself, but he couldn't stand. The
boys made a stretcher with their hands and carried him to the clubhouse.
and Guzik that one time, the only other gangster I ever caddied for was Burke.
When he played golf, the course looked like some farmer had plowed it—divots as
big as your hand wherever he had taken a swipe at the ball. He was usually in
the company of a peroxide blonde. She didn't play. She just walked along beside
him. One time, after they'd emptied his flask, they disappeared behind a
bunker. They were gone about 10 minutes and when they came back the blonde's
dress had grass stains all over it. I was 10 at the time and I couldn't figure
out what they'd been up to.
I learned the
facts of life before I was too much older from Al and his boys. One afternoon
on the links they kept talking about some kind of party they were going to
throw at the clubhouse that night. An orgy, they called it. I'd never heard the
word before and I was burning with curiosity. So after supper I went back to
the clubhouse. The bouncer at the door laughed fit to bust when I asked to join
Al's party. "Better go home and get your diapers changed," he said. I
pretended to go but instead sneaked around to the back of the building. I was
wearing tennis shoes that gave me enough traction to climb up to the second
story where there was a little balcony and a window. I looked through and saw
about 20 couples, most of them naked. Not Al, though. He just stood on the
sidelines, watching and laughing. I found out then what an orgy was. When I got
home, I avoided Mom. I felt too ashamed.
I was still
shining shoes at the Arrowhead when who should hop up onto my stand one evening
before the show but the star entertainer, Gilda Gray—remember, the queen of the
shimmy? She was short, and wore a tight, beaded dress. When she sat, the dress
rode halfway up her thighs and I saw she didn't have a stitch on underneath. I
started polishing like crazy, my head bent way down, trying hard not to look
up, but she saw I was red in the face and just sat there, hiking her skirt
higher and ragging me. "Where did you get that curly hair? And those long
The next time I
caddied for Al I described my meeting with Gilda Gray. I told him I never
wanted to shine her shoes again. He laughed so hard the players ahead of us
turned around to see what was so funny. "In a couple of years you'll feel
different," Al assured me. "You'll want a dame like her."
He played until
early afternoon, then motioned for me to wait on a bench and walked away toward
the clubhouse. He came back with two triple-decker sandwiches, a bottle of beer
for himself, and some soda pop for me. We ate the sandwiches sitting side by
side. I felt very close to Al. Suddenly I heard myself asking, "Can I join
the gang when I'm bigger?" He smiled and rumpled my hair. "You're part
of it now, ain't you? You're my caddie." "I mean for real," I said,
"and carry a gun like the other guys." He shook his head. "Nothing
doing, Kid. I want you around a long time all in one piece. You might get hurt.
Most guys in my line of business do. So stay just like you are, O.K.?"
Looking back on
it, I guess if he'd said yes, I would have ended up like the rest of them—in
jail or dead. I'm grateful to him now for turning me down. But at the time the
danger and the glamour of it all was the most thrilling life I could
I'm not sure when
my sister Babe became Al's regular girl. He was crazy about her from the
beginning, no doubt in my mind about that. He kept giving her expensive
presents, furs and jewelry. Mom ordered her to give them back, but Babe just
hid them. She took me up to her room once, making me promise I wouldn't tell if
she showed me something. I promised and she fished out a cigar box from under
some lingerie. Inside was a diamond bracelet, a pair of diamond drop earrings,
a pearl necklace—all from Al.
He began calling
at the house and he was so polite and kind and generous that in the end he won
over Mom and Pop. He came often and they'd make him stay for a meal. Babe knew
Al had a wife and son, of course. Anybody who read the newspapers knew that.
But he kept telling Babe how much he loved her, that he'd get a divorce if
she'd marry him. I don't guess he really meant it. Deep down he was too much of
a family man. I don't think he would ever have walked out on Mrs. Capone and
their boy, Sonny. Anyhow Babe refused. She said she was satisfied with the way
things were. He went on treating her like a queen.
they went to a restaurant or a show they'd take me along. I'll never forget the
thrill of riding next to the driver in Al's bulletproof Cadillac. It was all
red leather inside with gray curtains. There was a machine gun mounted behind
the driver's seat. When Babe and I stared at it nervously, Al waved his cigar
like he was brushing something away. "Nothing to worry about," he said.
"Just a little insurance. Look out the windows." Through the curtains
we could see in back a limousine filled with Al's boys and another one