President, Ken Lickenbrock
Vice President, Sue Bechtold
Treasurer, Melissa Meirink
Secretary, Clare Goelz
Charles "Chip" Gray
Joe Harnist, II
OF 'THE ADVOCATE'
William P. Shannon, IV
NOTE: This example is
purposely not about St. Clair County history.
Milk expiration dating,
courtesy of Al and Ralph Capone.
It was reported in the early 1930s that one of Alphonse (Al) Gabriel
"Scarface" Capone's Chicago family members became sick from drinking
milk that wasn't fresh... but had not soured yet. At that time,
there were no controls on milk production or distribution. Thatís
probably the main reason he wanted to buy a dairy processing and
Al had been trying to diversify his investments in legitimate
businesses for some time, even while consolidating his brewing,
distilling and distribution concerns.
As Al put it himself, "You gotta have a product that everybody needs
every day. We don't have it in booze. Except for the lushes, most
people only buy a couple of fifths of gin or scotch when they're
having a party. The working man laps up half a dozen bottles of beer
on Saturday night, and that's it for the week.
But with milk! Every family, every day, wants it on the table. The
people on Lake Shore Drive want thick cream in their coffee. The big
families out back of the yards ["Back of the Yards" (the old
Union Stock Yards) is a neighborhood in Chicago's "New City"
community.] have to buy a couple of gallons of fresh milk every
day for the kids. Do you guys know there's a bigger markup in fresh
milk than there is in alcohol? Honest to God, we've been in the
wrong racket right along."
Raffaele (Ralph) James "Bottles" Capone, Al Caponeís older brother,
with the help of Murray "The Hump" Humphreys, Frankie Diamond and
Diamond's brother, Johnny Maritote, who was married to Alís sister,
Mafalda opened the Meadowmoor Dairies at 1334 South Peoria Street in
Chicago on May 4, 1932.
Ralph Capone got the nickname "Bottles" not from involvement in the
Capone bootlegging empire, but from his running the legitimate
non-alcoholic beverage and bottling operations in Chicago. Ralph was
most famous for being named "Public Enemy Number Three" when his
brother Al was "Public Enemy Number One."YOUR FULL NAME
Ralph planned to undercut local fixed dairy pricing by the Pure
Dairy Association Union. Ralph had milk shipped in from Wisconsin
dairies and bottled by Meadowmoor. Chicago dairy retailers refused
to sell Meadowmoor milk. In those days, milk was sold by the dairy
companies to vendors. The vendors operated their own trucks and they
resold the milk to retailers. The retailer then sold to the general
public. The vendors also refused to deliver Meadowmoor milk to
Chicago gangsters were accused of responding by bombing Pure Dairy
Association plants resulting in a literal Milk War in 1932-33.
Four years later, in November of 1936, Cook County Stateís Attorney
Investigator, Tubbo Gilbert, was indicted for helping the Teamsters
fix retail milk prices in Chicago. By that time, the Chicago
teamsters were little more than an extension of the Chicago mob. The
scandal involved Dr. Herman Bundesen of the Chicago board of health,
as well as officials of local 753 of the Milk Drivers Union. The
indictment read that they had conspired to fix the amount of milk
delivered in the city to squeeze the smaller distributors out of the
business, leaving only Meadowmoor Dairies.
Despite a mountain of evidence, the case went nowhere. States
Attorney Courtney refused to bring it to court and refused to allow
Tubbo Gilbert to resign.
It's also interesting to note that a few years after the price
fixing scandal died away, Murray Humphreys managed to drive most of
his competitors in the dairy business out of the market by following
through with Al's idea of dating fresh dairy products.
Ralph insisted, and you've read how persuasive the Capones' could
be, that a law be passed that Grade ďAĒ milk could not be sold as
fresh milk more than 72 hours after it left the cow. He convinced
the Chicago City Council to pass a law that clearly stamped the date
on milk bottles where the consumer could read and understand it. The
practice is now required of all meat, fish and dairy distributors
across the country.
Meadowmoor became the Richard Martin Milk Company in 1961, although
the Meadowmoor name still appeared on their milk containers for some
It was likely that the Caponesí had already cornered the market on
equipment to stamp expiration dates on bottles, and the passage of
the legislation would help him take over the Chicago milk market.
YOUR GRADE IN SCHOOL
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