Not your regular milkman

Not your regular milkman

Mar 21, 2014

Not Your Regular Milkman

by Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele


Throughout human history, Good and Evil have been engaged in a battle for souls. In Romans 7:19, the Apostle Paul said, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” In verse 21 he laments, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”

Whether we like it or not, all of us are purveyors of darkness as well as light. Our personas are made up of vinegar as well as honey. Polluted sludge, as well as crystal-clear mountain water, flows figuratively through our veins. We’re schizophrenic creatures, with kind words and vicious gossip spewing from the same mouth.

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As Christians, we realize we’re imperfect beings. However, we also know Christ has taken our imperfections to the cross, and we become new creatures in Him. We have the gift of salvation and eternal life, in spite of ourselves.

Several weeks ago, while researching an article about the milk breaks I had in kindergarten in the 1950s, the name of a notorious Chicago gangster popped up.

Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone, a.k.a. “Scarface,” was born in Brooklyn in 1899 to hardworking Italian immigrants. As one of nine children, he started out as a relatively “good” kid, well behaved and sociable. After Al was expelled from a Catholic school at age 14, he worked at a variety of jobs for about six years before becoming involved with gang activity.

Author Laurence Bergreen, in his book Capone: The Man and the Era wrote, “You didn’t hear stories about Al Capone practicing with guns; you heard that he went home each night to his mother. Al was something of a nonentity, affable, soft of speech and even mediocre in everything but dancing.”

As his gangster career expanded, Capone headed a number of illegal activities in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931. These activities included prostitution, gambling, and supplying bootleg liquor during Prohibition. (Ironically, his brother James later changed his name to Richard Hart and became a Prohibition agent in Homer, Neb.)

Although Capone was a violent criminal, he also had a soft side. Many people viewed him as a modern-day Robin Hood. He donated money to the Catholic Church, was the first to open soup kitchens after the 1929 stock market crash, and ordered merchants to give clothes and food to the needy at his expense. When one elderly woman was evicted from her home, he helped her find a new one.

Capone was ruthless, but he exhibited some commendable traits: He had a strong sense of loyalty and honor, and was a good businessman. He was organized, charismatic, a hard worker, and politically savvy. At one point, he even took on the role of peacemaker, appealing to rival gangsters to tone down the violence.

In the 1930s, Capone succeeded in getting the Chicago City Council to pass a law requiring expiration dates on milk containers. This was a classic example of Capone’s good side/bad side. He didn’t like to see people—especially children—sickened by rancid milk, but he also saw the potentially high profit in milk distribution since Prohibition was ending. He reportedly kidnapped the president of the milkmen’s union and used the $50,000 ransom to buy a dairy that processed less expensive milk from Wisconsin.

In 1931, Capone was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was paroled in 1939 for good behavior and his failing physical and mental health. He died of cardiac arrest in early 1947, at age 48.

Did Al Capone ever regret his criminal past and ask for God’s forgiveness? Only our Heavenly Father can answer that question.

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