"Where you won't be gambling on a good time, but betting on a sure thing!"
Alphonse Gabriel Capone first came to Hot Springs in the early 20's . An exact date is not known, but we do know that he and his boss, Johnny Torrio, stayed at the Majestic Hotel prior to his owning a suite on the fourth floor of the Arlington hotel. The third and current Arlington Hotel opened its doors on New Year's Day 1925, and has hosted numerous giants of industry, notorious gangsters, politicians, and movie stars. Capone, however, remains as its most talked about resident. Al and his brother, Ralph, frequented the spa city, enjoying the horse races at Oaklawn Park and golf at both the Hot Springs Country Club and Belvedere Country Club. Belvedere sits on the site of the former Chicago Inn, which is believed to have been a frequent haunt for Torrio and his outfit.
Deirdre Marie Capone, granddaughter of Ralph Capone, in a 2011 interview with director Raines, spoke about her uncle and grandfather's visits to the area. "My uncle and grandfather loved Hot Springs, and after my uncle Al went away, my grandfather came here a lot, along with my aunt Mae to visit Owney Madden. My grandfather made an offer on some property just north of the town to offer a second chance for some racehorses that had been retired, but the offer was never accepted. My grandfather and Mr. Madden were very close," says Ms. Capone. Although Al Capone was a feared baseball bat-wielding crime boss in Chicago, his time in Hot Springs was peaceful and enjoyable to the community. "He was a big tipper," said Jack Bridges, Central Avenue cab driver and founder of the Arkansas Alligator farm, "he once gave me $100 to drive him from the Southern Club to the Arlington." The Arlington is located directly across the street from the Southern Club on Central Avenue.
Nate Robinson, whose family has been in Hot Springs for untold decades, in a 2009 interview said that
members of his family worked in the Arlington as housekeepers, and they would tell stories about Capone
and his men tipping generously and being very friendly to everyone they met. Capone had as many as 40 men
accompany him to Hot Springs.
James Ev Young, whose father was the Arlington Hotel detective, caddied at the Hot Springs Country Club.
Young said that Capone and his brother Ralph would play rounds often at the club, and when he, as a youngster
caddied for Ralph Capone, would be tipped $5.00. His buddies who caddied for Al said that Al always had one
player without clubs, merely carrying an empty golf bag, which contained a Tommy gun. This practice was brought
down from Chicago, and the man on the bag was known as Golf Bag Hunt. After Capone, Frank Nitti, Capone's
enforcer and heir apparent, continued the pilgrimage to Hot Springs, and along with his second wife, adopted
a baby boy from an orphanage in the spa city.
"For more eye-witness accounts and insight into the role these powerful people played in the life of Hot Springs,
Arkansas, visit the Gangster Museum of America, 510 Central Avenue, or visit the TGMOA Gift Shop on line."
We Bring Bad Things to Life