Al Capone notoriously held a bootlegging monopoly for most of the 1920’s and took charge of an empire that would be worth around 1.3 billion today. Before becoming one of the most feared mobsters of his time, Capone was born and raised in Brooklyn by an Italian migrant family of eight.
Capone did well in school until he was eleven when he began falling behind on school work and had to repeat the grade. One day, when Capone was struck in the face for insubordination, he struck his teacher back. Doing this led Alphonso to be expelled, and most likely led him to begin his life of crime. Around this time, the Capone’s family of eight had moved to a nicer house around the Park Slope streets of Brooklyn.
This area is where Alphonso later would meet his soon to be wife, Mary Coughlin, and close friend and guide into the mob world, Johnny Torrio. It was while entering his teens, Capone was hired by Johnny Torrio, who was at the time a very high ranking gangster in the East Coast area. Capone did small favors to help out Torrio and around this time Capone contracted Syphilis, most likely from a prostitute he slept with at an early age. The Syphilis symptoms disappeared and Al assumed the disease had gone away. The Disease had only gone underground and gave the young gangster dementia. Capone’s dementia gradually increased and was later in life to blame for his notorious violent outbursts. Even Though Johnny Torrio left Capone’s Brooklyn area for Chicago in 1909, Johny remained close with Alphonso. Capone found a legitimate job working long hours in a factory.
He spent some time in the gangs of Brooklyn, but aside from occasional illegal odd jobs, his time as a small time brooklyn gang member was uneventful. In 1917, Johnny Torrio introduced Al to Frankie Yale, who offered Capone a job as a bouncer at a bar in Coney Island. The Harvard Inn is where Capone picked up his nickname “Scarface.” On a busy friday night, he made a “cat-call” sort of remark to a lady who had just walked in. Her brother struck Capone in the nose, then wielded his knife across Capone’s face, leaving three deep gashes in his left cheek that inspired Capone’s infamous nickname. At 19, Capone married Mae Coughlin just two weeks after their first son, Albert Francis was born.
His former mentor and close friend Johnny Torrio was Albert’s godfather. Now that Capone was a father and husband he wanted to support his family, so he found a decent job in Baltimore working for a construction company. The next year Capone’s father had passed away from cardiac arrest, Johnny invited Alphonso to Chicago. Capone jumped at the offer. In Chicago, Torrio introduced Capone to a booming business of gambling and prostitution. In 1920, when the 18th Amendment outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol, The two mobsters struck a soon to be goldmine: bootlegging. As a former small time criminal and bookkeeper, Capone had his street knowledge and his talent with numbers and brought them both to Torrio’s illegal operations in Northern Illinois. Torrio started to notice Capone’s skill and his ability to learn quickly.
Johnny Torrio was very pleased with how Capone was doing and promoted him to be his partner. Capone often did this differently than Johnny, Capone did mind to stay low profile like Johnny, and became a heavy drinker and partier. One night, after an entire afternoon of drinking, Capone crashed into a parked taxi cab and led to the thugs first arrest. Torrio used his connections in the C.P.D to have Capone released.