Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation

By Marc Mappen | Go to book overview

PROLOGUE
The Bluebird Tattoo

The patient admitted to Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center, Chicago, on May 14, 1992, was an eighty-six-year-old retired businessman, grayhaired, feeble, and dying from congestive heart failure and acute respiratory failure. There was little the doctors could do to save him, and his family sorrowfully agreed that he should be removed from life support. He quietly passed away on the evening of May 27. After he died his corpse was taken to the hospital mortuary and then picked up by the MontclareLucania Funeral Home, where the body was prepared and placed in a casket. A Catholic priest led a brief prayer service, after which the body was driven in a hearse to the Queen of Heaven Cemetery for burial.1

It’s probable that among the nurses, physicians, orderlies, and undertakers who ministered to him at the time of his death one or more might have spotted an unlikely, faded relic on the weathered and wrinkled skin of the man’s right hand. It was a tattoo of a bluebird, with wings outstretched. When the man was alive, moving his thumb and trigger finger gave the bird the appearance of flapping its wings in flight. Perhaps the caregivers who saw that tattoo wondered how this old man came by this young man’s adornment and reflected on the passage from lively, frivolous youth to the somber end of life.

The old man’s baptismal name was Antonino Leonardo Accardo, but he picked up other names as he made his way through life: Joe Batty, Joe

-1-

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Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Prologue - The Bluebird Tattoo 1
  • Part I - The Rise 7
  • Chapter 1 - The Big Fellow in the Windy City 9
  • Chapter 2 - Big Battles in the Big Apple 31
  • Chapter 3 - Smaller Cities 61
  • Part II - Atlantic City Interlude 77
  • Chapter 4 - Gangsters in the Surf 79
  • Chapter 5 - The Conference as Comedy 97
  • Chapter 6 - Capone’s Long Trip Home 107
  • Part III - The Fall 117
  • Chapter 7 - The Twilight of the Gangster? 119
  • Chapter 8 - Pay Your Taxes 128
  • Chapter 9 - Lucky V. Dewey 152
  • Chapter 10 - Shot to Death 171
  • Chapter 11 - Lepke on the Hot Seat 197
  • Chapter 12 - For Them, Crime Did Pay 213
  • Cast of Characters 223
  • A Note on Sources 231
  • Acknowledgments 233
  • Notes 235
  • Selected Bibliography 249
  • Index 259
  • About the Author 267
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