Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 3, 1932 -- Al Capone Leaves Chicago for Federal Penitentiary

May 3, 1932 –Al Capone leaves Chicago aboard the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad’s  Dixie Flyer “in a blaze of photographers’ flashlights and surging crowds.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 4, 1932]  “You’d think Mussolini was passin’ through,” says Capone. In Drawing Room A on Pullman car 48 Capone talks freely to reporters before he goes to bed as the train heads for the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia.  “What do I think about it all? Well, I’m on my way to do eleven years … I’m not sore at anybody but I hope Chicago will be better off and the public clamor will be satisfied,”  he says. Conversation is interrupted when the train stops two miles south of Watseka to take on coal and water.  When three hoboes are discovered on the engine, guards hustle to the door of Capone’s car, but “the hoboes, having no machine guns or other murderous weapons, convinced the detectives they were not planning to free Capone.” As the evening wears on Capone dons “glove silk blue pajamas” and, shackled to a two-bit auto thief named Vito Morici, climbs into an upper berth with Morici following. Capone had been in the Cook County jail since October 24, 1931 when Federal Judge James H. Wilkerson sentenced him to an 11-year prison term for income tax evasion.  He will arrive in Atlanta in bad shape – overweight and ridden with syphilis and gonorrhea with withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine habit. In June of 1936 Capone is transferred to the prison on Alcatraz Island, from which he is paroled on January 6, 1939. He serves another six months at Terminal Island for a contempt of court charge, and then goes into hospital treatment for his late-stage syphilitic condition and related neuropsychiatric disorder.  After treatment with he retires to his home on Palm Island, Florida where he dies in 1947.  He is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

May 3, 1894 – Under the “Things Could Have Been a Lot Different” category … on this date the Chicago Daily Tribune carries news that the Chicago architectural firm of Hill and Woltersdorf has completed designs for a three-story post office building that will rise between Randolph and Madison Streets with a 700-foot frontage on Michigan Avenue.  Complementing the new home of the Art Institute a block to the south, the building’s first story will be six feet above street level with terraced steps leading to the entrance in the center of the building, which will face Washington Street.  That main entrance will be “flanked with abutments crowned with sculptured groups emblematic of the postal service.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 3, 1894] The entire building will have a steel frame, be fire-proof and cost somewhere between $2,000,000 and $2,500,000.  As pictured above, there apparently was a post office building that stood at this location from 1896 to 1905, but when contrasted with the original two million dollars plan depicted in the sketch, the actual building seems to have been far more modest and far more utilitarian with virtually all of the classical touches eliminated.

May 3, 1966 – Comedian Dick Gregory is fined $1,500 and sentenced to five months in the Cook County jail on charges related to a march through Grant Park a year earlier. Five police officers testify during the trial that Gregory “kicked and hit arresting officers and had to be carried to a squadrol.”[Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1966] No witnesses are called to rebut the testimony. Gregory’s lawyer, Mrs. Jean Williams, says that the length of the jail sentence stems from the fact that “it would be expedient to have him [Gregory] out of circulation in the forthcoming election.” In addition to his civil rights activism Gregory was also running for mayor of Chicago. Four years later, on March 10, 1970, the United States Supreme Court struck down disorderly conduct sentences against Gregory and others who were involved in peaceful demonstrations in the city.

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