Grandmother Tale

Informant: Zoe Virant collected this from her mother about her grandmother. Zoe is 18 and my best friend at USC. She loves this story because she grew up hearing it and her family believes that it is true. Received via interview and annotated.

Tale of Zoe’s Grandmother: Nana was born 1932 in Chicago. It was during the great depression and Prohibition. Great grandpa worked as an electrician and do to the times didn’t make a lot of money. Because it was prohibition, there were many illegal breweries making beer in Chicago. Many if not most were run or operated on behalf of Al Capone. There was one near the apartment Nana and her parents lived in. When brewing beer, the beer needed to age for a couple of weeks to ferment and develop alcohol. The brewers didn’t want to keep all their aging barrels in one place because if the got busted, their stash would be destroyed. Therefore they would pay locals to hide barrels while they aged. Grandpa did this to make extra money so there were always a few barrels stashed around the apartment. As nana was learning to walk, they would turn a barrel of beer on its side and nana would push it around the apartment. Supposedly turning the barrels helped them age faster. So nana learned to walk pushing Al Capone’s beer around the apartment!

Thoughts: I am from Chicago so this story was very interesting to me. Al Capone is such a huge figure in folklore in Chicago that its amazing to think that my friend at USC has folklore in her family associated with Al Capone.