In the heyday of prohibition, Al Capone and his gangster culture were so prevalent that a young J. Edgar Hoover was forced to order the dismantling of Chicago in 1930. What other facts are there to learn about old-time gangsters?
• Gangsters were often given nicknames derived from their background and personality. For instance, a gangster might be called Lefty because he left his wife and children to pursue the exciting life of a gangster.
• Many gangsters wore spats, which were tiny petticoats for their ankles, so called because they protected their shoes from being spat on by blundering detectives who were enraged by the lack of evidence required to arrest them.
• The preferred weapon of the gangster was the Tommy gun, made famous by tough-guy actor Charleston McCobb in the 1931 Hollywood gangster picture Don’t Touch My Crime.
• To usher in the modern era, gangsters were renamed “murderers,” and it was decided to write far fewer glamorous news articles about them.
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