An Al Capone Mystery Quote

“They call Al Capone a bootlegger. Yes, it’s bootlegging while it’s on the trucks, but when your host at the club, in the locker room, or on the Gold Coast hands it to you on a silver tray, it’s hospitality.”

The above quote shows up in several Al Capone bios, and was paraphrased in the film of The Untouchables. But the exact source of the quote seems to be a mystery – as does the exact quote itself: whether he said “silver tray,” “silver platter” or “silver salver” varies every time the quote comes up.

One bio pinpoints the date Capone gave the quote as around December 20, 1927, when Capone was in Chicago after a disastrous trip to L.A. when he was ordered to get out of town. Back in town, he served eight hours in Joliet for carrying a concealed weapon. He spoke to reporters a lot during that brief stay before heading to Miami, but I can’t find a paper or contemporary account with that particular quote. It would be more in line with the kind of stuff he was saying at the conference he gave a couple of weeks earlier, just before heading to California in the first place (the Trib‘s headline was ‘YOU CAN ALL GO THIRSTY’ IS BIG-HEARTED AL’S ADIEU.

For a while I thought it was one of those Capone quotes that was made up years later (like “You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word,”) but most of it (minus the first sentence and using “silver salver”) turns up at the head of an editorial about Capone in the Christmas, 1927 issue of the Milwaukee Journal. 

Anyone out there have a better source?

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