by Max Brantley
Steve Arrison, the P.T. Barnum of Hot Springs promotion, has come up with another good gimmick. A recently unearthed photo of gangster Al Capone and his missus enjoying a little leisure time in the Spa will become a promotional postcard for the resort.
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — A rare photograph of legendary gangster Al Capone that also includes his wife, Mae, in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, has been discovered and will be made into a postcard to be used to promote the city as a convention and vacation destination.
“It’s extremely rare to find a photo of Mae Capone,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I am told by historians that it is even more rare to find a photo of the two of them together.”
“The photo, which was discovered by Mike Shaw of Shaw’s Antiques in Hot Springs, shows Capone and Mae riding in a small donkey cart at the Happy Hollow Spring adjacent to the National Park at the foot of Hot Springs Mountain,” Arrison said. “Capone apparently loved to have his picture made at Happy Hollow during his frequent visits to Hot Springs around 1920.
“We issued a previous — very popular — postcard showing Capone riding a donkey at Happy Hollow with his brother, Ralph (Bottles) Capone. There is an almost insatiable interest among the public for information about Capone’s link to Hot Springs, and our CVB Sales Department has found our series of early-day Hot Springs postcards to be an invaluable tool in promoting meetings and conventions as well as the city as a whole.”
Previous CVB postcards have featured President Bill Clinton at his Hot Springs grade school; Babe Ruth at Oaklawn Jockey Club; Bill (Bojangles) Robinson tap-dancing down Central Avenue; President Franklin D. Roosevelt; fishing legend Jerry McKinnis and others in Hot Springs settings.
The wording on the new Capone postcard reads:
“Family Getaway in Hot Springs”
“Like millions of other Americans, Al Capone loved to make a family getaway to Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Here Al is shown in Happy Hollow at the base of Hot Springs Mountain in a rare photo of himself with his wife, Mae. The photo was made circa 1920. To plan your own Hot Springs family getaway visit hotsprings.org or call 1-888-SPA-CITY.”