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Additional resources for Capone: The Life and World of Al Capone
I'm an undertaker," he said. But he believed in diversification. He owned a dine-and-dance dive, the Harvard Inn, on the Coney Island waterfront, and a strategic location it turned out to be when, with Prohibition, he became one of the first New York racketeers to distribute liquor from coastal rum-running fleets. Yale also built up a stable of hooligans for hire in labor-management disputes. They were available to both sides as either strikebreakers or union goons. Inspired perhaps by Terranova's success with artichokes, Yale proceeded to force upon Brooklyn tobacconists cigars of his own crude manufacture.
At no stage in its evolution did it represent more than a minute fraction of the Italo-American population. Crime among the latter never exceeded the average for either foreign or native populations. But the criminal few reinforced the prejudices that immigrants from other countries had brought with them. They saw the "dago," the "ginzo," as not only criminal by nature, but physically unclean and of low mentality. The effect of such vilification was to draw its victims still closer together. They formed proud, tight enclaves which no outsider could penetrate.
Like most of the neighborhood Italians, Gabriel and Teresa Capone worshiped at St. Michael's, and three months after Al's birth they had him baptized there by the Reverend Gioacchino Garofalo. Life in the sector where Al lived his first ten years was harsh, but never drab, never stagnant. Hordes of ragged children gave the streets an explosive vitality as they played stickball, dodged traffic, brawled and bawled, while their mothers, dark, heavy-thighed women, bustled to and fro balancing on their heads baskets laden with supplies for the day's meals.