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Did you know that Al Capone ran a soup kitchen?

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The American gangster Al Capone (1899-1947). Photo from June 17, 1931

Photo: United States Bureau of Prisons. / Creative Commons

The one who was considered the “Public Enemy Number 1” of the U.S also made the Robin hood being in front of a public dining room that daily fed thousands of unemployed in Chicago, it was Al Capone.

It was the time of Great Depression of 1930 that came after the stock market crash of 1929, when companies closed and millions of people they were suddenly unemployed ..

A “mysterious” benefactor rented a store and opened a soup kitchen at 935 South State Street that he served food three times a day. Outside there was a long line of people who had lost their jobs, Well dressed, but hungry and empty pockets, they were not asked questions or asked to prove their need.

According to the accounts, women in white aprons served coffee and bagels sweets for breakfast; soup and bread for lunch; and soup, coffee and bread for dinner at an average of 2,200 inhabitants from Chicago everyday.

Free coffee and soup donuts for the unemployed

Did you know that Al Capone ran a soup kitchen?
Unemployed men queued in front of a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Photographic archive of the Paris Office of the New York Times / National Archives and Records Administration / Public Domain.

The dining room didn’t announce its connection to Capone, it didn’t even have had no name, just a sign that said Free coffee and soup donuts for the unemployedAlthough in the name of Chicago’s most famous gangster, it didn’t take long for him to be listed in local newspapers.

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Al Capone was Chicago’s most famous gangster, the king of the smuggling of the alcoholic drinks, who controlled brothels, speakeasies and betting centersBut hungry people didn’t care where the soup and hot bread that fed them came from.

The community dining room served daily 350 loaves of bread, 100 dozen muffins, 50 pounds of sugar and 30 pounds of coffee. The operation cost 300 dollars (from that time) per day.

For him Thanksgiving Day in 1930 Capone’s community canteen served beef stew 5,000 people from Chicago. I would have given turkey and cranberry sauce, but the benefactor decided to change menu when he learned that 1000 turkeys were stolen from a nearby store and feared he would be blamed.

Capone had given people what they wanted, alcohol in the 1920s, when there was Dry Law, and food when they were unemployed.

The gangster would open his soup kitchen for people to return to his side after being implicated in the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre. Capone’s associates were believed to have murdered seven men, five of whom came from one of its rivals.

The idea for the dining room was from his friend the politician Daniel Serritella, who was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1930. Mental Floss points out that according to Deirdre Bair’s book “Capone: His Life, Legacy and Legend”, the gangster bribed and extorted other businesses to supply the pantry

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The expenses involved in maintaining the dining room was something he could pay, since by 1929, he had accumulated a net worth of more than $ 40 million, approximately Current $ 550 million. The expenses involved in maintaining the dining room was something he could pay, since by 1929, he had accumulated a net worth of more than $ 40 million, approximately $ 550 million today.

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Capone’s popular dining room closed abruptly in April 1932.

Capone was guilty of income tax evasion in November 1931 and died in 1947.

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