restricted access 24 Enter Father Dwyer
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Gusemergedfromthesecourttanglesastrongermanthanever.Already he was recognized as one of the truly “big” men in the Chicago underworld , and his influence in city politics was being felt. Although the Italian element of the Capone syndicate was jealous of Gus and his position, at the same time they realized his ability as an executive and his importance to the machine. And at this time every valuable man was needed. Capone was behindbars , and although he had much to say concerning operations ofhis business, it suffered from lack of his personal supervision. Then too, the Depressionhadarrived,whichwasaseriousblowtothealcoholbusiness, the mainstay of the syndicate. As a matter of fact, the vast underworld empire of Al Capone was beginning to crumble. Profits were large, but not large on the scale they had been two years before. Literally Gus had “met the enemy and they were his.” He had been in court, charged with the biggest robbery in crime history, and had emerged triumphant. He could hold up his head in the presence of the law—a fact to be reckoned with in the underworld. And this fact made him a valuable “front” man. GusWinkelertriedtolookthepart.Hisclotheswereconservativein cut and came from the best tailors. He kept himself carefully groomed, and to tell the truth he was rather vain of his appearance. He was extremely sensitive of the loss of his eye in the St. Joseph auto accident, and tried his best to conceal it. He assumed nose glasses, 24 Enter Father Dw yer 149 150 al capone and his american boys which added greatly to the gentility of his appearance, and incidentally gave birth to a number of amusing stories in the newspapers. Murphy, the negro who stood by him in the Toledo investigation, was his chauffeur, and as chauffeur drove only the finest cars. Gus had a very kindly feeling toward the colored man, and although he always referred to him as “Murph,” it afforded him a great deal of amusement to call him “James” when anyone was within earshot. This too amused the reporters. My husband was beginning to be known both to friend and foe as “Big Mike.” Practically every underworld figure had a nickname, most of them far-fetched, but I believed Gus got his from the fact that he had used the name of Michaels so often it had become synonymous with his real name. To be truthful, Gus’ real name was so seldom used that no newspaper ever spelled it properly. The first “e” was always dropped. Although Gus took pride in his new influence, it was gained at the expense of my health. Nearly ten years of fleeing from the police, hiding, worrying, and living in terror from hour to hour, hairbreadth escapes from the law, all topped with those days when I believed he was to be sent to prison, had taken their toll on my nerves. At no time could I see the end of my worries, although with his improved station I believed there was less danger. So I was glad when a large Canadian distillery approached him after his release in the Nebraska case, and offered him $1,000 a month for the use of his name. This, I might explain, was for the purpose of selling legitimate whisky manufactured in Canada, to illegitimate retailers in Chicago, for prohibition had not yet been repealed. Actually Gus had nothing to dowiththebusiness.Agentsofthedistillerymadethecalls,merelyusing my husband’s name as an endorsement. It is quite likely the use of his name was sometimes prostituted, for I have no doubt that more than once it was used in the nature of a threat. I thought that $12,000 a year would be sufficient for our needs, but our latest experience with the law had made me wonder how long this new security might last. Every crime I read of in the papers gave me a new fear that Gus might again be accused. Enter Father Dwyer 151 Living in such a constant state of mental turmoil one might ask: “Why did she stick?” Tomeitwassimple.Ilovedmyhusband.Sofaraswaspossibleunder the circumstances, Gus was always kind and considerate. When he was able he supplied my every comfort. Then too, I was sincere in my marriage vow. We had first been married by a Protestant minister in St. Louis, but it was a dying request of Gus’ mother that we be remarried in the Catholic Church. This we agreed to do, and after her death returned to Chicago and were united by the late Reverend Father Dwyer...


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Subject Headings

  • Crime -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
  • Murder -- Illinois -- Chicago -- History -- 20th century.
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