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Al Capone Goes to Cuba
Al Capone first takes a trip to Cuba in 1925, along with his boss, friend and mentor John Torrio. After recovering from an assassination attempt, Torrio spends a couple of months in a well guarded cell for Prohibition violations. After his release he takes Capone on a special trip to Havana Cuba for relaxation and to hand over the reigns of the Chicago operations over to Al Capone. Their respective wives have joined them along for the trip.
The S.S.Cuba sailed Capone and Torrio back to Florida from Cuba in 1925.
(Mario Gomes Collection).
Ship's manifest with erroneous entries. Moe for Mae. Torrio along with his wife both fib on their birthplaces.
Capone had heard about Cuba from Torrio. Even Tribune reporter Jake Lingle who had also been to Cuba back in 1921, for health reasons touted the beauty, warmth and relaxation. His brother Ralph Capone even enters his race horses at several meets in Cuba. After his trip with Torrio, Capone decides to return again since he is living in Miami, Florida, which is a short distance via hydroplane. He is purportedly there for a little R&R, but there is even talk of a booze deal while visiting Cuba.
Al Capone is on the list along with Chicago Evening American editor Harry Read, Capone Miami lawyer James Francis "Fritz" Gordon, his dad R.A. Gordon, Alderman Albert J. Prignano, Capone hoods Nicholas Carew (Nick Circella) and Sylvester Agoglia (New York) and Miami Dr. A.J. Bertram.
NC660-M was N.Y.R.B.A. Airlines which stood for New York, Rio, Buenos Aires.
Capone flew / sailed on this plane. The plane was later destroyed in a hangar fire on April 16, 1935.
Capone and company lodged in 3rd floor suites at the Sevilla Biltmore Hotel in old Havana.
The Hotel today boasts with plaques Capone's stay in a sixth floor suite there which is erroneous.
Wooden triangular souvenir trinket box picked up by the Capones while in Cuba circa 1925 - 1930.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Various 1930 newspaper headlines mentioning the Capones in Cuba.
(Al, Ralph and Mafalda).
Inside of trinket box. Al visited Cuba from 1925 to 1930. His brother Ralph went there with his wife in November 1930 to promote his racehorse. Their sister Mafalda also went to Cuba for her honeymoon in December of 1930.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Inside the Sevilla was a beautiful spanish patio where the elite like Capone would meet.
April 23,1930, the Capone party arrived in Havana and registered at the Sevilla Biltmore Hotel in old Havana.
The party went to the Tropical Gardens where free beer flowed and the party atmosphere was all the rage.
Later that afternoon they all went to dinner at a restaurant.The Capone party visit several cabarets that evening for entertainment.
The Tropical Gardens where partying and free beer drinking brought together tourists galore. It was also a good place for relaxation and mob business.
Miami lawyer James Francis "Fritz" Gordon, Al Capone and Cuban Navy Commander Julio Morales Coello at the Tropical Gardens, Havana, April 23,1930. Coello served as aide to President Coolidge for his visit to Cuba in 1928, and met the Lindberghs for their respective visit to Cuba in 1929.
Subject Identification research Mario Gomes (Photo Credit : State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/55382)
Coello seen above with Al was even once identified as Babe Ruth by a Capone relative. This wild assumption is totally way off base as Babe Ruth's presence was accounted elsewhere for the entire time Al Capone was in Cuba. From the April 23, 1930 - May 1,1930, Babe Ruth was in New York, either in limbo due to two days of a cold wave, practicing or playing at home or in a visiting town.
Cuban Navy Commander Julio Morales Coello with Charles and Anne Lindbergh 1929.
Coello is mistakenly identified as being the Mayor of Havana, which he was not. The Mayor of Havana in 1930 was Mariano Gomez.
Same spot today at right where this famous photo was taken.
(Right photo courtesy of Mr. Vicente Monzón)
The background where Capone stood was also a tourist store selling Alligator goods and Cuba's finest cigars.
(Mario Gomes collection)
Top; Illinois State representative Albert Prignano, R.A. Gordon, former Georgia councilman and father of "Fritz", Al Capone and James Francis " Fritz" Gordon.
Bottom; Miami Dr. A.J. Bertram and Chicago American city editor Harry Read.
Tropical Gardens Havana, Cuba April 29,1930.
Courtesy: The American Catholic Historical Research Center and University Archives (ACUA), The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
On the morning of April 24th, (at the Sevilla Hotel) the Cuban Secret Police on orders of the American Embassy take the Capone party to Police headquarters for some questioning. Al Capone is asked if he is here to bomb some buildings for the May Labor demonstrations? Capone and party immediately laugh out loud at the wild accusations. The Chief of Secret Police asked Capone what was he doing here in Cuba? Capone replied he was there to spend some money and drink some wine. The Chief replied that the Cuban Government was glad to have him as a visitor and that his stay would be a pleasant one.
The party returns to the Hotel for breakfast and then visits various places in Cuba.
The following days are spent sightseeing and shopping where Capone buys various gifts to bring home along with some fine Cuban cigars. The party returns to Florida on May 1,1930.