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|Personal Stories and Experiences
Having started reading the book, I was intrigued by the chapter about Vito Genovese and the GIFA.
It got my thoughts going about my family and questions I had had in my mind for years.
Like most children I wanted to know more about my mother's childhood. Sowhen my mother and I
spent the weekend in Indianapolis for dinner and a play I used it as an opportunity to get some
answers to questions I always wondered about. My grandmother owned lots of property in Passaic
County, New Jersey and I wanted to know how they paid for it all. That's when my mother began to
tell me about "the numbers".
My grandfather, who left much to be desired, was bookie for the mob way back in the day.
According to my mother, my grandmother would handle all of the money. (If you knew my
grandmother now you would have fallen off your chair in shock! I think I did....) My Grandparents
use to own a beauty supply store on the corner of two busy streets in Paterson. My mother who
worked the store with a friend would take bets and ring them up on the register. I guess they would
collect thousands of dollars a week in quarter, fifty cent, and dollar bets. The "numbers" would
come from the horse track and would be posted in the newspaper, oh I don't know weekly or daily....
That's how my grandparents raised their eight children and bought all the houses my family owned
in NJ....My grandfather eventually went to prison when he got busted. And to this day my sweet
catholic grandmother still plays the "numbers".....legally of course.
Los Angeles, CA
To George Harrell, AJ Benza and Jerry Vairo
Hello All !,
I was fascinated by your presentations on the Coast show last night, Feb 16, 2010.
For me, it was one of the best Coast shows ever, Thank You!
First, for whatever reason, my parents gave me a copy of the book, “The Mafia Talks”, for my 14th
birthday. Along with a book on NATO, and another on how to win at debating, whatever sense that
makes. But I loved ‘em all.
Next , on the topic of Gambino Boss, Paul "Big Pauly" Castellano …
When I was at Juilliard in the 80’s, I decided I had extra time to take a job on Times Square to pass
the time on the weekends, so I walked into one of the many theatre area “bookstores” and was
hired on the spot. The location was 8th and 42nd, a four-level business structure. I was at length
interviewed by a tall gentleman, who was very well-dressed, and very polite to me and businesslike.
He wore somewhat smudged glasses with gold rims. I felt he was very fatherly to me, at least. After
working a three-hour shift at the store, I was told that “Big Pauly” was giving me a promotion. Of
course I had no idea what the manager was talking about. Who was Big Pauly, I said. “Kid, you were
talking all that time to Big Pauly and you had no idea kid? Big Pauly likes you, kid, Big Pauly LIKES!
You!”, the manager said. In my naivety, I said “wow, does he work here ??” The manager said, “lets
go talk to Big Pauly, he’s in the back, he’s in charge of EVERYTHING, kid, EVERYTHING, and he
LIKES you kid, he likes you!. … Kid, do you know what that means?” (Of course I expected the
worse, not being gay, but no, it wasn’t that). The manager said, “Big Pauly wants you to go to Long
Island with him, to do a few things at his house.” Additionally Big Pauly said that I would not have to
work in the store anymore, I could just clock in and hang out for the few hours or so, then clock out,
and I would be paid anyway, he said.
So, for the next shifts I traveled across the street to a few member stores and just chatted away with
the clerks. One senior clerk who knew who I was implored me to take his cause to Big Pauly, which I
felt very uneasy about doing. I worked a few weekends more and declared the “temp position”
which I had found for myself over.
In those weeks, I discovered that some of the girls from the American Ballet School, the ones I saw
every day at Juilliard, were employed late nights at the big store, which made the whole experience
even more interesting, since my girlfriend at Juilliard was a very jealous type, and a couple of the
girls told her that they saw me a the big store at odd hours, which I explained was spare work.
So far as I go, Paul was always a gentleman to me. He would give me meals when I was at the
stores and always asked how my family was, etc. He took a sincere interest in my well-being, just
like family. But it kind of bothered me that he worked in a locked, glass-mirrored security room,
which had no natural light coming in. Everything was florescent light lit, which seemed so
contrapuntal to his warm personality. I would visit Paul several times after my work stint, and I
remember his long blue wool winter coats, and how he looked a lot like a well-built football player
when he stood up to greet me with his gigantic warm, dry hands. Paul always made me feel good
about being there in the otherwise desolate environment of the store with its blacks walls.
Next, my opinion is that Colombian house keeper, Gloria Olarte, was “bad luck” for Paul from the
very start. Paul was a nice guy. I have seen this in other households, its all bad news from south of
the border, in my opinion. She should have been deported for “disloyalty”, if for no other reason.
(Yeah, I know, try to convince the Justice Department that disloyalty by a foreign national on a
member is a deportable offense. But the nerve! of her.) This is my opinion only.
Next, you guys have the where-with-all to put together an Italian NYC eatery “highlights” itinerary,
with such places as Sardis, etc., included on it. Italian “abundanza” food is NOT found at Olive
Garden, like lots of naïve folks believe, and I also found out.
Next, although my name is Welsh and my descendancy is from England, Ireland, Wales, Germany,
Alsace Lorrane in France, our family relatives have married into such families as Bonaduce,
Lagginni, Cameratta, De Lucia, Gianchiglia, Commandini, to name a few.
Next, I believe that in a legalistic way the function of the Italian immigrants of the early 1900’s falls
under the category of “we the people” and that judicial review in such cases falls under the “law of
contracts”, where it can be applied. So if someone pledges themselves to a cause, for example,
they better be prepared to live up to it. Or else don’t pledge it, or modify the terms of the contract,
whatever works. In other words, I have no problems with these arrangements. German courts have
recently upheld that Islamists exercising their contracts within their families are also beyond
adjudication in some instances. And besides, military arrangements are exercised all the time as
“law of contracts” issues, which supersede “law of court” reviews, so what’s the problem with the
Lastly, a long time ago I was told a story by a member, about Branchville back in the 70’s, which is
about 20 miles southwest of Port Jervis. There was large “blank” unmarked steel building there,
where this person was to make a beverage delivery. When he pulled up his truck to a door, a
security person came out of the building and ushered him in. There, he said, he saw barrels and
barrels - for as far as his eye could see. He made his delivery. As he was leaving, he puzzled about
the barrels, stocked up high to the ceiling, and many, many rows deep. The security guy opened
one and it was filled with hundred dollar bills in stacks. He said all the barrels were the same. He
told the delivery guy to just go ahead and “stuff whatever stacks you can fit into your coat and
pants and leave and have a good day”. But the delivery guy/member said he remembered the vig,
the vigorish, the interest on a loan that went unpaid.
He thought about his family and how any miscommunication of intent about the money stacks might
cause trouble later on. It might affect everyone’s life if a collection were to take place, that is, if the
security guy had no power to offer the stacks in the first place.
Years later, he said he made the right choice to turn it down and leave 50 thousand behind,
when he really could have used it.
Thanks for your time.