THE REAL THING
To begin with, I must say that I came from the poorest family on earth -- at least that was the way I felt when I was a little boy. As a boy I went barefoot most of the time. Never did I receive anything at Christmas time. I believed in Santa Claus and hung my stocking up every Christmas, but never ever found an apple, all I would get on Christmas was being awakened and having my father try to give me a glass of whisky, which I used to refuse -- it was too strong.
One night when l was about eight years old my brother and I were awakened about 1:00 o'clock in the morning. What woke us was my Mother and Father were having a fight. It was about a dispossess . At this time the rent was about seven dollars a month. My brother told me to dress up. He was three years older than I, so I dressed up and he took me on Park Avenue around 114th Street By this time it was about 2:30 in the morning, so we broke into a store. I don't remember what kind of store but all I know we took two bags of Fairy soap. We found the bags in or around the cellar as
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this being a market neighborhood potato bags were common. At this time Fairy Soap was 5c a bar. We went from house to house and sold the soap for 2 bars for 5c. When we knocked at the apartment doors most of the people knew us. Well, I don't remember how much we made but I do remember it helped pay one month's rent.
It was around this time that I earned the name of Joe Cargo. I started to build my own toys. I would get a soap box, put an axle on the end of the box and I would use two wheels from a baby carriage and put one on each end of the axles, and put a screw on each wheel to keep the wheels tight. Then I would use a 2 by 4 about 5 feet long and put two more wheels in front and put a bolt in the middle and put a rope on each end of the front wheels so that I could steer the wagon left or right. I would put one leg in the wagon, sort of kneel in the box of the wagon and I would push with my left leg to the ground - holding the rope in each hand at the same time with my hands on the box. Most of the time I would go at 116th Street and Park Avenue because it had a steep hill. I would go on top of the hill and come down full speed. If any car or truck was passing by
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at the time I was coming down well the only thing I could do was to try and go either left or right and then I might turn over. Its a good thing that at this time there wasn't many cars. Well any way as long as I had a wagon on my hands and it could carry a pretty good load I started to go for junk with the wagon. By junk I mean brass, rags, iron and things like that. I would go on the West Side and do down to the basement apartments and ask the sup if he wanted to get rid of any junk. I started to earn about three or four dollars a day. I started to get so much junk that I had to use a bigger and stronger wagon. Instead of baby carriage wheels I started to use wheelbarrow wheels. They were very strong and I could put any amount of weight on the wagon. So I started to pick up a lot of iron as iron started to go up as there was talk about war. Of course I'm talking about the First World War.
Then there was the problem of going to school. Since I built heavy wagons I started to make about seven to nine dollars a day, so I used to stay away from school some times. I stood away as long as 30 to 40 days just to make money and I used to give it all home.
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One time I took my kid sister along with me and this day that I took my sister along was on a Saturday. There was no school on Saturday, but some truant officer happened to spot us on the West Side and saw us with a load of iron and rags and every thing I could lay my hands on so he pulled us in and we were brought down to the Aid Society, which was on 23rd Street, New York City, at this time. Well they let her go home right away and they kept me about three or four weeks. So now they were very strict with me as at this time I used to go to P.S. 172 as it was on the same block I used to live. I must say since I was going out for junk we used to eat better. Well for a couple of years I helped make all kinds of wagons. I even made them for other boys.
When I was about eleven years old I went to the N.Y. Catholic Protectory for throwing a stone at the teacher. I didn't mean to hit her -- I meant to scare her but I happened to hit her in the eye. I felt real bad about it so I went away for 2 years. I was released from the N.Y.C.P. and I went right back for another two years. This time it was for not going to school now the second time.
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I was there at N.Y.C.P. in what we called the Aloysious yard, Let me explain how many yards there were in the N.Y.C.P. The smallest yard was called the Infants, the second yard was the Sacred Heart, the third was Aloysious, the fourth yard was St. Joseph and the last and biggest yard was St. Patrick. Now I made up my mind to be a good boy. I started to keep what they the brothers called a state of grace -- meaning if a boy received his communion for nine months without going to confession that meant that the boy didn't do anything wrong in those 9 months. I must say that it was hard to keep but I kept it but I took plenty abuse, in other words I was being pushed around whenever we were in the yard. They the boys will call anyone who tried to keep a state of grace a sissie. Well after I kept a state of grace I got tired of being abused so one Sunday we came out of the mess hall and I went to do some exercise when one boy came over and tried to chase me away. I got mad and I hit him so hard that he went down, In the meantime the brother saw it. His name was Bro. Lawrance. Well he blew the whistle and when the whistle blows you must stand right where you are ~~ that is the rules.
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So he, the boy, I hit remained on the floor. Well I must say I got punished. I had to put my both hands out and he would swing and if I pulled my hands in that meant double. They used a bamboo stick with tape around it to hit us boys in the C.P. Well I must say that I was off and running from then on. I was ganged up and that meant plenty of trouble. Whenever someone of the gang got in trouble it meant trouble for me. So I became one of the rough boys at the N.Y.C.P. But as I go on with this story I will explain time and again how I was saved in the underworld life that right now I believe that this state of grace helped me along in the life at least I believe it, as you will seas I go on, how many times I was saved by near luck. I must say that every time I missed being hurt I thought of the state of grace. I can't confide to anyone but I think by myself, as I said as I write I will explain each time that I got saved from being murdered will let me tell you what the C.P. did to most of us boys. If you went to the C.P. and you were naive, you can bet that 90% of the boys that came out of there were pretty tough. When I was in the small yard of the N.Y.C.P. as I explained, there were five different
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yards in the small yard. I don't remember where I worked as I do remember what sports I used to play. I used to play handball but we played a different style in the Catholic Protectory. We only played 6 points and sometimes the game lasted 1 1/2 hours. There would be a line on the hand ball court say about 5 feet off the ground by the handball court, I mean the wall. Of course there will be a line on the right and a line on the left, and then when one of the players made five points he would go about 200 feet in front of the court and the other player will throw the ball to the player in, say we call it outfield and the player would hit the ball with his hands right or left whichever way he was used to playing and he must hit the handball wall above the white line. Of course there would be also a line on the right and left of the wall. The balls we played with were very lively and not too many times did the player send the ball right to the wall, that's why I say that sometimes the game lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Then in the summer I used to play baseball. I started out as a catcher but I was a very poor hitter, because I used to try and kill the ball. The brother would always give me Hell for swinging so hard. He used to
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tell me don't try and kill the ball. But to tell the truth I didn't understand him. I guess I was too young. There used to be 6 classes and each class had a ball team and there was another team that used to play against the other yards, like say. St. Joseph will play against St. Patrick and so on. In the small yard I wasn't on the main team but when I went to the St. Joseph yard I made the main team. In the St. Joseph yard there was two main teams one was called the Stars and the other called the Pearls. I was on the Pearls. I was the star catcher, but although I improved a little I still didn't hit too good. We used to play between ourselves by that I mean the Pearls and the Stars will play all summer and at the end of the summer the winner will win tubs of ice cream. And it will be up to the winning team whether we get any or not, but they used to give the losing team some. Then in the winter time I used to play on the basketball team. In other words I played all kind of sports. Believe me that was the wisest thing to do because the weather used to be real cold in those days specially at that time there wasn't any houses around those grounds. The toilets used to be in the yard under a shed and wide open only a sliding door
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for our privacy and besides the seats would be all frozen. So I used to wait until we went to the dormitory by the time we got back to the dormitory it would be forgotten. Later on in years I felt the affects of this doing in my older days. In fact until right now I still feel the affects of those younger days in other words, I've gotten to be constipated, ever since. Now we used to receive visits once a month and we were allowed to receive a package of fruit candy and things like that. Then my people would leave a dollar or two and that would go on our credit in the candy store that the brothers had in the yard. In fact there was one candy store in every yard and that would be opened once of twice a day. When we played handball we used to play for candy. There was some boys that used to smoke, but I never did. They would use part of the round shoe lacing that they used to give us. I didn't learn very much in the Catholic Protectory as to tell the truth all they taught us was the catechism. It was always pray and pray all the time. I don't mean to say that it wasn't right, but I figure they should have taught us some thing about life. To be truthful all I knew about life was religion.
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Then when I got into the outside world I was very naive. Those kids in the Protectory were very evil minded, believe me when we took a shower God forbid if some of our body was exposed. You wouldn't hear the end of it. We used to put tights on before we went under the shower. I don't mean that the brothers were evil it was the boys. The only movies we ever saw were still pictures and believe me we thought they were great.
If we did anything wrong we would be put on penance and that all there was penance and penance all the time. It wasn't hard to get into trouble, it was the easiest thing to do. Most of the time your yourself didn't know why you were put on penance. Now as far as the brothers were concerned some were good and some were real bad. Take brother Alble, well he was in charge of the tailor shop, and he would give you a certain amount of buttonholes to make and I would do all my best so that he won't have anything to say, but no matter what I did it was no good. He would say show me the bottonholes you made, well when he saw them he would hit you on top of your head with the tape stick and believe me it hurt awful. So what
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happened. Brother Alble dies, so they put his body in display in the chapel. All the kids from the five yards had to view it, when it was my turn I almost fainted when I saw all the spit on Brother Alble's chest. So I spit at him too. What happened after the funeral, we all went on penance the whole five yards for about two weeks. Here is some of the penance: when we went in the yard we will stand in line with our hands on our heads and when we went to the dormitory we had to stand in front of our beds the same way until 10:00 o'clock at night that would be about two hours and then when we went to the movies we had to do the same thing. They didn't take any of our food away. Well the kids felt that no matter what the price was to spit at brother Alble it was worth it. So you can imagine how bad he must have been. He was close to 80 when he died. But I must say one thing no matter how bad it was I did become very religious. I will explain what I mean later on.
Now we had the best band of all. They, let's say, St. Joseph School, St. John School and so on, well it amounted to about 100 bands, once a year they would take about 100 boys and the band down to see the circus at Madison Square Garden, and they would
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hold a contest of all the bands. This year to my surprise I was one of the boys that went. We had on a uniform and they were very pretty. It was wonderful. We went down by subway. I don't remember which one but it was a subway. We had the time of our lives. No one ran away. I guess I'll finish now talking about the Catholic Protectory. Only say that Catholic Protectory won. God forbid if they didn't win, it would have meant more penance. I don't remember what year it was but I went and visited up there and the brother brought me all over the place and that is all. I could say more but it best I don't.
Let me explain the neighborhood of East Harlem as a kid before and after I came home from the New York Catholic Protectory, especially the first time I came home. First I'll explain how we stood on the corner at First Ave. and waited for a wagon or a truck that the rear doors were not locked from top to bottom, for instance a grocery truck or wagon. We would jump on the rear of the truck or wagon and lift any thing we can grab. Say like a tub of butter or a small box of cheese or anything. Now the big guys of the block would buy it from us. When I say us I mean us kids. They would tell us if we did not sell to [line missing]
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some money so we can have a few dollars in our pocket. One of the older fellows would fit in my story later on. His name was Crazy Chuck. He was the most feared guy in the block, of course I'm talking about 108th St between First and Second Ave., the same block as I talked about in the early part of this story the murder stable.1 One time some kid and I stole some suits from a second hand store and we put the suits in the hallway of one of the apartments in 108th St. As we were coming down the block with another load We caught one of the older fellows stealing our second hand suits. Well this was too much.
I picked up a brick and I told him put those suits down or I'll hit you on the head. He said he took them as he did not know who they belonged to, so I said they belong to us. See we got more. So he said that he would buy them from us. I said OK that's different, now when we had a few dollars, especially if it was in the summer, we will go to 96th St and First Ave. where there was a boat there that had a swimming pool. We didn't go there too often because that neighborhood was rough. Some times they will grab us being we came from a different neighborhood. They will search us and take everything we had in our pockets. This caused a fight as we will get the rest of the boys and we will go back
1 This section was inserted after many other pages were in place. Valachi has not yet discussed the Murder Stable.
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and we would have stones, bats or iron bars and whatever we can get our hands on. Sometimes we caught them and sometimes we didn't.
It got to be that way with all the blocks,and we started to fight different blocks and when we were alone we had to get from one block to another we will go through the cellars and come out on the next block and then cross the street and so the same thing. For instance if I wanted to go from 108th St. to 106th St that was what I had to do. We weren't safe any more no matter where we were even when we will be in the poolroom or in the cafe. We always had someone watching out for us.
Now when the First World War was on we started to have block parties. We used to go around and make a collection and we will get a neighborhood band and we will have real good fun. In those days block parties were common. We will have nothing but clean fun. Sometimes I did go out with some of the girls on 108th St. but all we would do was go to Central Park if it was in the summer. We will rent a row boat or if it was in the winter we will go to a movie. But I did not go with any girls steady. And I can say only that it happened once or twice
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that I went anywhere with neighborhood girls. Before I stop writing about when I was a boy I want to say that I learned all the card games there was as I did waste a lot of time in these cafes, Most of the time that I spent in these cafes will be between the hour of 9 to 12 at night.
I forgot a few things as a kid so I'll go back when I was going to school. Things were so bad at home, we were six, three boys and three girls. I never got along with the older one and neither did I get along with the young one. My sisters I got along only with one. She and the young boy are dead today. I'll talk about them one at a time. First I want to talk about when I used to steal iron I would get in one of those and rags and things of the like just to eat. places like where they cut stones or Burns coal yard or places like that and I will take whatever iron or brass I could find and I would go
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to the junk shop and make 50¢ or $1.00 so that I might have some money to eat. One time at night I and two more fellows were hungry we saw sausages hanging in the window of a store of the kind which sells meat and groceries and we had a bakery around the block that used to make bread all night so we decided to break the window and get some sausage and we would go down to the bakery and we will cook it, but when I broke the window I stuck my hand in and opened the door. So the other fellow got a bushel and started to put groceries, sausage, nuts, and all kinds of things into the bushel. Then he finds a five gallon jug of wine so he starts to drink, I didn't care for wine so I didn't drink any. The first thing you know he got drunk. He lived down by the East River so we had to cross First Ave to get to his house. He was married so we were going up his house to have a feast so I told him to let me go first and when I cross First Ave. I will wave him to come or not, so as I reached the corner a cop was coming down the Avenue, so I crossed and when I got into the block and the cop couldn't see me I warned him back but he was so drunk from the wine that he paid no attention to me. As it
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was about 3:30 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning. I heard every word the cop asked him what was he carrying and he answered mind your own business, then dropped the bushel and started to run. The cop shot him in the leg and he got arrested for burglary. I didn't come around the block for a couple of days as I was ashamed as the people in the block were talking about these great boys that go out and rob sausages -- so they started to call this guy the sausage thief, but they didn't know who the other two guys were that was with this guy. I made believe I didn't know anything. So you see what could happen to cheap crooks, that was the talk. They put $25.00 dollars bail on this fellow and he was lucky he got a suspended sentence. I got to realize that the cheaper you steal the quicker you can get into trouble so that was a lesson that I never forgot.
Then I remember that I used to go into an empty apartment and steal all the lead I could lay my hands on. Maybe I would break into a couple of apartments to make a few dollars. All this I'm talking about is to show what a struggle I had and how bad the neighborhood was, nothing was safe -- we used to steal the 50 gallon wine barrel on the people that used to make their own wine. We got one dollar a
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gallon for the wine. All this I'm talking about is when we were kids that's how we grew up. Sometimes I went on Second Ave and I would break the little side window on a clothing store and I would steal a coat or two that were on display. One time we rented a furnished room for ten dollars a week - I and another fellow - so when the rent came up we couldn't pay it so we were walking on Third Ave. and we noticed a clothing store and the owner had his back turned so I went in and took an arm full of suits which were about ten suits as we were walking down 112nd St toward Second Ave. two cops saw us carrying the suits as they were walking toward our way. We dropped the suits and we started to run. I got caught and the other fellow got away. I got a suspended sentence on this rap. Everything I talk about these cheap burglaries is between the age of 8 to about 16 1/2. I'm writing everything I can remember, of course, I could never remember everything because I certainly robbed a lot of stores, all kinds of stores.
There was an oil store on the corner of 108th St I must have robbed it three times and on First Ave, 108th St there was a dry goods store I robbed this store about three times. Most of these
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stores had bars so I used to get the fire escape ladder from the building and put it behind the store window and I would force the bars apart with a two by 4. I would take some cheap piece goods and then sell it to the women in the block. Anything to make a few dollars, but I would not fool around with any stick-up. I had too much sense for that kind of stuff.
There was a pants store on Second Ave, I was making a hole from one store to another through the wall when all of a sudden I heard a tap coming from the pants store telling me to go away, I thought that was very nice of the guy, he could have called the cops instead. I don't know if he knew that it was me. So I went in there and bought a cheap pair of pants just to see if he would tell me anything, sure enough he told me about it. He was telling me about some fellows were trying to break in the other night, he said he could have called the cops but he figured that it was some kids from the neighborhood, so I told him it was nice of him and I told him that they won't try to rob him any more so we became good friends after that, and his daughter used to smile at me all the time so I spread it around the neighborhood and
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them that they lived in back of the store. I never used to go out with any of the girls around the block. I didn't intend to get married, so why bother, if I wanted to play I knew where to go without getting married. Some of the girls used to tell my sister what a stuck up I was -- not a stuck up it was just that I had a bad name as a burglar, so I was ashamed not stuck up. And my sister used to tell me that I was crazy. This was the sister that I loved. Her and I were always good pals. In fact she is the one who got arrested with me when we were kids on the West Side as I told in the early part of my story. Of course they knew about me because I was already arrested and my name was in the papers even though I wasn't 18 yet.
Around 1918 when I just got out of school, I and three others joined the Army. We had gotten our uniforms and we were dressing up when it came the truant officer and he recognized us and they kicked us out as he told them we had just gotten out of school. We had joined to go to Fort San Houston. Whatever we were going to do there I don't know but I was only 15 years old. Maybe if they had accepted me things might have been different. So they told us to come back when we were of age, so I told him try and get me. I was disappointed as
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I wanted to get away from everything. The war didn't last long since the time we tried to join maybe about six months.
At this time as a teenager I was hanging out in the cafe in the block. I didn't start hanging in poolrooms, not yet, I'll tell about that later. In this cafe we would hear lots of stories as most of the owners were old timers and knew most of the gangsters of the old days. I knew most of the names of the gangsters of the old days. I don't care to mention them because I didn't like what they were doing. These are some of the rackets they were in, they would shake down the push cart peddlers, no wonder my father used to pay a dollar a week he used to tell me that he was broke because of Sharky, the one who got killed in the cafe I told about in the early part of this story.1 Another racket they had was some kind of a game, most of the time they were at lllth St and First Ave., it was some kind of a fish game, they would have three small boxes and the red fish would be attached to one of the small boxes and the guy would play with his hands and when he stopped the player would have to guess and pick which box would have the fish. They had so many busters around no
1 This section was inserted after many other pages were in place. Valachi has not yet discussed Sharky.
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one knew whether they were players or busters, but anyway this was the racket they were killing themselves. At least this was one of the important ones. I didn't learn about the artichoke racket yet but I will tell about it later. Now another racket that the boys didn't like was the women racket. If any of these old timers would have survived when I got older I think that I would have given them a beating. But none survives, only one or two good ones. I'm talking about the mobs before our time. This will cover the years between say 1908 through 1919. Another racket they had was a shakedown on poor business men. If a business man was known to have money, first they would write him a letter telling him that some time in his early life that he had raped a girl and they would put an age on the girl say that she was 8 or 10 years old. They would tell him that the girl had moved away but now she is back. After a few letters they would have someone contact him that knew him. This fellow would tell him the best thing to do would be to pay because he could not afford the scandal. Even if he couldn't remember, the guy would pay as he would worry about the family finding out, just the rap alone was disgraceful, so nine out of ten will pay and then move away. I'll talk
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about how I found out about this racket later on as I myself helped one of this kind of deal. After I became a member of Cosa Nostra. By writing this kind of information is to explain how the underworld from cheap doings and how they climbed to the times of today and how the Americanized underworld and the Italian born mobsters thought. The Americanized usually stole for their money, where the Italian born since he is a kid he has racketeering on his mind. That's why I'm explaining the best way I can. The Americanized feels that he is taking a chance for his money where a greaseball (Italian born) wants to racketeer, even the Americanized crooks. I guess I explained myself the best way I can. I don't want anyone to think that I'm protecting myself as a good one, I'm only explaining Why We do not get along with the greasball -- in our hearts we don't care for one another.
When I came home the second time from the Catholic Protectory I went to P.S. 83. I don't remember the exact year I came home but I'm sure
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it was between 1917 or 1918. I'm more sure that it was 1917. Well anyway my father got me a job with him, It was a job after I came from school. I think I was earning about 50¢ an hour, sometimes I worked until 9:00 o'clock at night. It was a filthy job, it was what is known as the City Dump. In other words when the City Wagons dump the garbage we the workmen will sort out rags, bottles, brass, bones, paper, or anything that can be used. You can imagine how the dust and ashes got in our lungs. Then my job was changed - I was to carry the bushels full of junk. When I was finished with the bushels, then I will carry the used paper which was put into mattress cloth, on my back, the reason why my job was changed was because I was young. It was dangerous because I had to cross from the scow to the dock and they had a plank from the scow to the dock. Most of the workmen were old so they would be slow in crossing from the scow to the dock - besides most of the men didn't know how to swim.
When I was 15 years old I got my working papers and I got out of school. Now I had a full job on the dumps. I had to get up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning. I lasted about one year, I was
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disgusted because I could never be anything for myself as my father used to take the pay. I mean my pay. I'm sorry I must say that he used to trust all week buying whisky for himself, so at the end of the week he had to pay. So there used to be more fights at home. Now I must tell you how I lived. In my bedroom which was a cold flat no hot water and the toilets in the hallway. We used to bring home wood and used coal that we got from the dumps -- we packed it all in my bedroom. For sheets my mother used old cement bags. They were sewed together and made sheets out of them. So you can imagine how rough they were. I was going out with a girl that lived across the street. She lived on the top floor I lived on the ground floor and we lived next to the famous murder stable at 108th Street, First and Second Ave. She could look right in the house when the light was on and when she told me that she saw me the night before going to bed, I used to get a heart failure because I felt guilty of the filthy house. I must say these things or the reader won't understand.
As I was working about a year as I said before I went
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on a burglary up in the Bronx, Well that was the first job I went on since I came home from the N.Y.C.P. I got arrested that night we robbed some kind of a store. I don't even remember, all I know when we were going up to the L. a policeman stopped us, I mean the other fellow name was Buck. He found coins on us, they were wrapped and they had the store name on the wrapper and we were held in small bond and my people got me out within a couple of days. I don't remember what happened in this case, but I do know I did no time for it. I went back to work with my father for a couple of months. Then I remember I got my chauffeur license and I got a job driving a big sightseeing bus that was during the summer time. This job lasted about two months, then I got a job delivering furniture. On this job I was driving a small truck. This job lasted about a month because the regular driver came back as he was sick and he was working for this furniture store for a long time. Then I got a job in a fur factory and I lasted three days as the job I had other workers were telling me that it was a job that if you don't be careful I will develop the con. T.B. -- that's all I had to hear. I quit within
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Then after this job I got a job in Long Island. It was Lofts Candy factory. My pay was $17.35 a week. I used to give $10 a week home and the balance I had to buy clothes and whatever I needed. I lasted here about a month. You see I couldn't get a decent job as the murder stable was constantly in the newspapers at this time -- always someone was getting killed and this is the same stable that I used to go and sleep because it had moving vans and I and some other boy would rather sleep there rather than sleep home, because home was full of bed bugs and no matter how much my father burned the springs the bed bugs would always be there.
Let me tell you about when the boys from 108th Street went looking for a job. I mean a decent job. The question would be, where do you live? Well I would say 312 E. 108th Street. They would snap back and say no we don't need anyone. Some will say that's where the murder stable is, nope we don't need anyone. The boss of this stable mob believe it or not, was a woman. She had a mustache, and when she caught us sleeping in those vans believe me she would wake us up by hitting us on top of our heads with a broom handle. I
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hated her so much, in fact all of us hated her. I used to see her sitting down in front of the stable and I used to pray that someone would kill her. Well anyway it happened and later on in years I found out why she got killed from the older man that I got to know when I was about 25 or 26 years old. This is what I was told, she had a beautiful daughter and one of the boys raped her. When the old woman found out about it she stabbed this fellow to death but this fellow had a friend and this friend was doing time at the time of his friend's death, but when he came out he killed this woman with a shotgun. Believe me I was around after she was killed. She was laying on the floor. I made it my business to get in there somehow and I just spit on her and said its about time. I guess everybody was happy as she was a very mean woman. The records of this woman being killed is on the police blotter.
Now around this same time I was a good friend of some fellow named Tonno and he had a cousin and this cousin owned a big cabaret up in the fashion section of the Bronx. It is Forham Road today and in those days it was all woods. This fellow's name was Diamond Joe Pepe. Well after going there a few times, one night he
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asked me to go down the cellar with him and there he had a guy hanging. He pulled out a knife and he cut one finger off and put it in his pocket and said to me. See this fellow well he was no good. You look like a nice kid that's why I want to teach you. Now if you tell my cousin or anyone else I'll put you up there. Well you can rest assured that I never told anyone until he was long dead. It wasn't long after that that he was killed. I forgot to mention why we used to go up there. We went there because Tonno used to borrow one of his three cars and we used to go joy riding. Later on in years I found out who killed him just like I found out about every thing else in the old days in Harlam when I was sent to Sing Sing Prison. I met Diamond Joe Pepe's friends. I was 19 going to 20 around 1923. I was one of the youngest inmates in Sing Sing and these old timers took me with them because they knew I came from the neighborhood and they used to tell a lot of stories so one day I asked about Diamond Joe Pepe. Here is the way they explained it. When Diamond Joe Pepe was sent to Sing Sing for 10 years for a murder, all of his friends deserted him, but he had a girl which stuck by him, and she got him out in a couple of years. Before he went home he swore that he'll get all of
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his former friends. That's why he opened a cabaret, he figured when his old friends would drop in and see him he would show them around and when he saw fit he would kill them and then hang them down the cellar. Believe me I did not tell these fellows anything about Joe Pepe taking me down the cellar when I was a kid. I figured they might think that I was lying so I kept my mouth shut. In fact, I hardly used to talk, I was impressed being with these fellows as they were real old timers. That's all about Joe Pepe.
I forgot to mention that the name of the Cabaret was called the Zoo. They later changed the name to the Garden Inn. Today it's a used car store, it's called the Bel Monte Motor, and I know the people that were there around 1950 or somewhere around this time. I went in the store and I noticed the dance floor was still there so I asked the fellow to take me down there. He said what are you crazy? I never thought that he would know anything about what happened in this store years back. He said I don't go down there if you pay me. I said show me the cellar, he said I'll take you there and open the trap door for you but I won't come down. I said good
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enough so I went down and to my amazement the rope was still on the beam. God I didn't forget it for a month and if anyone care to go and look they will see the dance floor and if they go in the cellar they will see the rope as I left it there. I just as well mention it now and finish writing about Diamond Joe Pepe.
One time I remember when my father was beat up. At this time there was no work on the dumps as the scows were on strike. It lasted about a year. I was very small but I remembered what it was all about. I remembered the name of the man who had it done, it was because of a loan that my father made and couldn't pay on time. As I was getting older I kept asking about this man. All I remember that he was a baker and I knew they called him Louie the Baker. Well at this time we moved at 109th St, First and Second Ave. I was about going on 17 years old. So one day I asked someone whom I knew and he told me that this man had died. I was almost sorry to hear it as I wanted to give him at least a good beating. This block 109th Street was no better than 108th Street. In fact it was worse. I used to live on 109th St. before we moved 108th St. and then we moved back to
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I remember when I was a kid I was standing next to the counter of a lemonade stand which was in front of the cafe, all of a sudden the tough guy of this block, his name was Sharky and always carried a gun and you could always see the gun when he sat on a chair in front of the cafe, threw me on the floor in back of the counter and all I heard was bang, bang, the fellow across the street didn't fire a shot, all he did was hold his gun in his hand. Later I found out why he didn't fire a shot it was for fear that he might hit some of the kids or women that was in front of the building which was in the same building of the cafe. At this time I lived at 327 E. 109th Street. I don’t remember how old I was but I know I was very young.
Not long after this happened we moved into this building. I don't remember the address. Around this time my father used to go out with a push cart. This was before he worked on the dumps, sometimes he will load the push cart in the evening and will leave me to watch it until he got up and this will be about 3:00 o'clock in the morning because he had to go down to 75th Street and First Avenue because this was where the market was. Sometimes I used to go with
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him but not very often. Well we lived here about six or seven months when all of a sudden two men walked in the cafe which was about 9 or 10 o'clock at night and they shot Sharky and another man. I remember I was looking from the key hole from the hallway and I could see Sharky laying with his head on the table and his arms hanging and the table was full of blood. It didn't make any difference what building we lived in as it was the same thing no matter what part of the block we moved. In fact this block and 108th St. was always in the newspapers. 108th Street they will say the murder stable 109th St they will call Little Italy because this block was the hangout of the mustangs. We used to call the ltaliano born, mustangs, because most of them didn't even speak English. As I grew up all we will hear was about so and so getting killed and how old they were and how long they lasted. Most of them were very young when they died. I remember talk about a guy they put on the car tracks on First Ave. at 111 St. I don't know if the trolley car went over him but I remember they put him on the trolley car tracks, it was supposed to have been in the wee hours of the morning. I remember another killing that I
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saw as a little boy. This was father and son. Later I learned the father was a napetano boss. They didn't want to shoot the son but he got in their way and yelled shot me please do not shot my father. So they shot both of them. This funeral was one of the biggest of all the ones I saw around this time. They used to have funerals almost every week. I must say that we got so used to hearing some one getting killed that us kids would try and guess who was next. Every kid had a favorite - so did I. My favorite had died already. He happened to be Sharky. Say like I heard who did it. The next thing I will be saying will be so and so is next and that's the way it went.
Later on I will tell you how I met some of these old timers as I grew up and when I was in Sing Sing Prison. I could tell you now that Frank Costello and Willie Moore1 came from this same block 108th St. So you see what I mean. Frank is 72 years old now I am 60, so you see when he was 24 I was only 12 years old. So you can imagine how I felt when I grew up and I got in with some of these names that I heard so much about when I was a little boy. Before I tell
1 "Willie Moore" was an alias used by Guarino "Willie" Moretti.
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about my next arrest in Jersey I'll explain how I tried to work but in vain. I even worked on the snow in the winter. I also worked in a button factory. Each job I didn't last long because there was no money. Finally I got a job on a scow. I had to say I was 21 years old but I was only 17 1/2. It was no red tape, a captain of a scow named Tail Light fell over board and drowned. Another captain on another scow came and told me about it. I told him I didn't know anything about Scows. He said don't worry I'll teach you everything. So I went with him. He brought me to the Company. It was O'Brien Bros., 80 South St. Well I got the job. As soon as one of the Tugboat Captains saw me he started to yell. What are they doing putting babies to work now. So he asked me how old I was. When I told him 21 he said if you 21 I'll hang. So I told him to go where I can't say. After all the pay was only a 100 dollars a month. The only thing good about it was that I would sleep in the day and go and burglarize at night. Not much but just to get along. After all I used to give home most of my pay so there never was enough to live with, sometimes I was broke and had no food on the scow so I will go and rob a dinner and take whatever food I could get. I would take coffee,
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ham, eggs, canned milk, even bread. This only lasted about six months because one time I didn't go on the board for about 4 or 5 days and when I did go on the boat it was in wee hours of the morning, and the boat had a bad list, so I got scared and I went down to the office and told them that I was sick. They asked me if I knew someone to replace me. I said I did so I went and got an old man and I talked it in to him. This way if I wanted another job sometime I will be in good with the company. Because its bad if you stick them. As it happened one time right after I quit, I got arrested in Jersey City. I went there with 4 more guys and we were supposed to rob a fur store but we got a flat tire and while fixing the flat the cops came along. While the cops were questioning the driver, one of the guys dropped a gun on the floor and the gun game right near my foot so I kicked it away. The other guy kicked it back to me. Well anyway we all got arrested. Believe me none of us knew that this guy had a gun when we atarted from N.Y. We were all young and this fellow was the oldest. When we went to the police station we found out why he was carrying a gun. He had excaped from the N.Y. Pen. We didn't even know that he was wanted. I gave a phony name. The name I gave was my uncle's name. We were held in $25 bail. Every one got out
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except me. Finally I remembered I did my uncle a favor a few years before. I was over to his house one night and these people were very rich. although they lived in Harlem. They were very scared this night that I remembered I stayed there quite late because they were all up. His mother, I mean my uncle's mother, was dying and they called the priest and they couldn't get an answer as it was about 3:00 o'clock in the morning and everybody was crying so I asked my cousin what was the matter and she told me that they couldn't get the priest and that Grandma was dying so I said I'll go. So I went, I had to walk about 9 blocks in the snow, but I got the priest and when we got back and the priest saw my uncle's mother it was about 5 or 10 minutes before she died, I was only thinking about this but I did not send for my uncle. I figured he might come and get me out because of this favor that I had done. Sure enough he came and got me out and he told me this will be the first and the last time so don't depend on me if you get arrested again because he didn't like bad boys. The fellow who owned the gun pleaded guilty and the rest of us stood trial. We were out on bail for a year.
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We had a disagreement, it was 6 and 6 so we never went to trial anymore. The Jersey City arrest was around 1920. I remember that I went to work again, but I needed money to pay the lawyer so I had to go robbing stores.
This time I was going with one fellow whose name was Ponzi. We would pick a store that had a lot of silk shirts as silk shirts were very expensive and you can make a small package. First we would buy a couple of locks and hasps, we will put them on the front door of the hallway in those days people won't be out 4:00 o'clock in the morning so we will gamble that if anyone was coming home to this particular building we will hear him trying to get in. The main reason why we put the locks is in case the burglar alarm went off we will have a chance to run up the roof before the police broke down the door. We will make a hole from the hallway wall to get into the store. It was very easy because it was all plaster and slats. I'll say it took about 20 minutes to make a hole for a boy to get in. Once in one will stay in the hallway and one will go in the store. You see you got to be careful as to what you do when you were in the store. First you had to find where were the burglar alarm wires.
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Then I will take a roll of boxes I got under the counter and take the shirts out of the boxes and hand them to the other guy and I will put the empty boxes back where I took them so if the watchman or the police looked in the store on his routine check he won't see empty shelves. That's how a lot of burglars get caught they don't use their heads. If you are in a dress store you don't take the whole rack you take about 3/4 and spread the rest of the dresses so that it don't look empty. Well I got along pretty good robbing stores and I quit the job. I don't remember where I worked but I kept robbing stores or factories. I robbed dress stores all kinds of stores. Let me tell you a little more about myself when I was in my teens. First I want to explain how rough it was to go out stealing and why I got to stealing. In the first place I must start as far back as I can remember. I'll go back when we lived at 109th St, First and Second Ave. You see these are the two blocks we lived. First we lived 109th St. then we moved to 108th St., then we moved to 109th St again and then we moved back to 108th St. I remember when I didn't wear shoes, used to go around with no shoes in fact a lot of kids didn't wear shoes. My feet were bandaged most of the time, either stepping on a nail or on a piece of
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broken glass. I got a nail under my left foot once I'll never forget, it went in about a half inch - believe me it did hurt. As kids way back as I can remember we hung out down the East River. In the winter we used to make fires in the empty lots at 107th St and in the summer the best thing to do was to learn how to swim so I will be prepared in case they throw me overboard.
Whenever I got my hands on 6¢ I used to go to the Star Theatre and whenever I saw a bathroom in the movies I would get sick and tired of going home. As I said we had no bathroom and no hot water and to get a bath we had to go to the public baths on 109th St and Second Avenue. The line would always be long and it took a couple of hours by the time I had a bath so you can see why I used to notice the bathroom in the movies.
I must say as I was getting older even though I was stealing I must explain it was no joke to get used to it. You can just imagine when it was zero weather how tough it was to go out and rob a store when I would liked to have stayed in bed, but the kind of bed I was getting out of was nothing to miss. I was making up my mind that I don't care if I die because life wasn't easy at least that is the way I
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felt. Going out with any girls when I was a kid, God forbid. I would be ashamed until I started to steal and was able to buy some shoes and silk shirts and everything. If kids stole for thrill well I must confess that I wasn't one of them. I stole because I was hungry. Up to now at my age I look back what I went through. I won't dare wish that I was young if I were to go through the same thing again. Believe me I watch the way the teenagers get treated today. If they only knew how they are being treated they will appreciate it, God bless them. I enjoy it so much when I see that they have it better than let's say me.
I remember when I was about 16 I used to talk to a certain girl, we the boys used to call her jazz baby because she used to be always happy and whenever I was sitting on a corner at 108th St she used to pass and most of the time she will sit with me and she used to tell me that she liked me. She didn't know how much I liked her because I never told her the reason why I never told her was because I had nothing to offer her and I could not afford to be falling in love. I knew I didn't care to settle down and try and raise a family on bread and milk the way I was brought up. That's all I remember having as
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a little boy. Bread and milk tastes good, every thing tastes good when your hungry. I'm sure I didn't want to get involved unless I would afford it. Not long after this she came along all excited asking me had I heard that her mother died. I said no and she said well Joe my mother died and I must get married and I have you in mind and she said I hope you don't fail me as I must get out of my house as I have a mean father. I said Florence as this was her real name I cannot afford to get married as I ain't got five cents and besides I have no intention of getting married unless I make good and the way I intent making good you won't be very happy as I intend stealing. She said Oh no so I said you see why and she said why can't you get a job and she work and we will get along. I said the jobs don’t pay much and besides I want to live I don't intend to raise a family and make them struggle the way I did in life, so we remain that she will be coming around and in the meantime if she met some one else that she like she will get married and I said Ok. She was very pretty and it wasn't long after that some guy that I knew came over to me and asked me if I knew a girl called Florence. This fellow was a friend of my brother and he was older. I said yes. He
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wanted to know what I thought of her and I said why. He said because he is going to marry her, and I said why don't you leave her alone she is a fine girl and the reason why I didn't want to go out with her is because I don't intend to work and besides you are a thief and you will break her health if you get arrested. He said no Joe I don‘t intend to steal, that's why he is settling down and I said well that's different. I wish you the best of luck. About a year later I heard that this fellow got arrested and that he got 30 years. Gee when I heard this I asked about his wife. Well this fellow told me that he heard that she went crazy. I said to myself, boy was I right. About 25 years later one of my sisters asked me if I knew a girl once called Florence. I said if it the one I know the last I heard was she went crazy and my sister said that's the one. My sister said that she lives next door to her and she asked me to have you come over sometime. I told my sister to tell her that she didn't see me because I was afraid that I might feel sorry for her and I didn't want to start something that I didn't want to start when I was young so I never went to see her. I know she had a son and that is the story of Florence. I figures if I
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had to fool around with any girls I'd better look around and find someone like me that did not care to get married. You will see later on I was 32 years old when I got married.
One night when I came around the neighborhood I met one of the boys and he told me that the boys went up to the Bronx to rob a factory. This was late at night and this fellow and I were sitting in front of a building when these fellows came around and they had a truck. They said they had about 2,000 sweaters, so I asked one of them if there was anything left at this factory they were talking about and he said that the shop was full. I asked him if anyone noticed anything when they left and he said no, so I asked him if he would drive me near the place and he said OK. I asked the other fellow if he wanted to come, he said what are you crazy. I just got up and I made this other guy drive me. When he left me off I went right up to the factory. Instead of me taking sweaters I took piece goods, about a couple hundred yards. I went out and I got a taxi and I told the driver that I had to move some packages and that I'll give him $25.00. He said how far was I going, I said Harlem. He said OK so I came to 108th St. with the cab driver. I took the
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goods off and I paid the cab driver and the next thing I knew one of these guys was questioning me as to how I found out about where the factory was so I said what difference does it make did he own the factory and I asked were you through. Wasn't I taking a big chance going along after they got through. So another guy spoke up and he said what do you care that he went there, give the guy credit he earned what he got. I didn't know this other guy but he said that he was glad to meet me and he admired someone like me going over there all alone. He said that he came from 124th St and to come around and see him. I said OK, if you want to see me I'm always around 108th St. He said to me that he was looking for a steady guy to steal with. If you had nerve enough to go to that factory all by yourself you must be OK. I said well when you got to do something it got to be done. After all I figured you guys found the spot and broke into this factory and no one saw you guys when you left so it was on a plater for me, so he looked at me sort of admiring me. Later on I'll talk about this fellow as we got older. We met and fought against one another.
Well anyway I continued robbing small stores at this time
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I'm still a kid and I and another fellow will go out and rob but what we robbed we would peddle to people we knew. We were too young to sell to swag buyers so if we stole suits we will have them into some house on racks and we will get a few guys at one time and when we were through with these guys we would get some more and that is the way it went if we got dresses or silk underwear. We will get a few girls at a time, as we did with the man. Believe me the girls went wild when we had something for them. One girl will tell another and before we knew it we knew hundreds of girls, especially when we had coat cloth or furs. One morning I was early or I was out all night, I was walking toward Third Avenue, it was about 5:30 in the morning, and I saw one of the kids with a bundle on his back and I said Hey. He asked me to go on the corner and see if the coast was clear. As you know that is the toughest thing to cross over when someone is carrying a swag. So I did and I told him I wanted to see him that night. When I did see him I asked him how come he was stealing alone and he said he didn't like mobs and besides if his brother found out what he was doing he would beat the Hell out of him.
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So I asked him how was he getting in to stores especially if they had burglar alarms. He said he was drilling through the floor or from an empty apartment from upstairs. I was getting tired of getting into stores from the hallway so I told him I will double up with him. He said OK so the first place I went with him was a ladies underwear place. Gee the way he would come under the counter I was amazed, in other words if a person didn't know how to figure he would nine of ten come out in the middle of the store and that is bad. But when you come under the counter you can take all the time you want and if it was on a Saturday you sure can take all your time, because the store doesn't open on Sunday. So in this store we took all the silk underwear and all the silk stockings. We would take the swag away with a hired laundry wagon. It cost four dollars to hire a horse and wagon. This kid knew where to get the horse and wagon and we would use laundry bags so that it won't look bad. There weren't many policemen around in those days so you could do a lot more than today, that's for sure.
Well I went with this kid until that fellow came around, the fellow I met that night when I went to the factory that night. He asked
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me if I knew anyone with a car. I said sometimes I do. As you know cars weren't around in those days. But I knew a guy that used to get cars from different people he will have 30 or 60 days to destroy them for insurance, what I mean by that is the report won't go in until a date was set, so he would sport around with the car and when the time came he would destroy it. Sometimes I went along just for the ride. Well anyway, when I did see him I asked him if he had a car and he said no but he expected to get a chandler - this kind of car they don't make any more. In about a week this fellow, his name was Handsome, at least that is what I used to call him. So now I went looking for this other guy to tell him that I had a car. His name was Charlie. So he said when you are ready come around with the car. So I said OK. So the next night I and Handsome went around and he said let's make an appointment for later that night. He said I should go down to the Tangerland Dance Hall which was on 86th Street on Lexington Avenue. This would be the first time that I would be going to a dance hall. So that night Handsome and I went to the dance hall and there was Charlie. I should say Charlie knew his way
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around. I was very shy but he force some girl on me to teach me how to dance. Gee it was swell and the girls were beautiful. Well we took a couple of girls home that night as we had plenty of time. The dance hall closed at 3:00 o'clock at this time, in fact there weren't any more dance halls around as this was about the first dance hall to open, at least on the East Side. I was so impressed as the girls not only were they pretty but they were swell to talk to.
Now we go to 86th St, between Third and Lexington Ave. First we drove around to pick up a milk can and Charlie told me that when he throws the milk can that Handsome should race the motor at the same time so that the sound of the glass won't be heard too much. As it turned out this car had a cutout and when he put the cutout on it made plenty of noise and my job was after he threw the can I should take the fur coats off the dolls as all I had to do was lift them right off the doll and they will come off easy, but he said I should be careful that I should wait until all the glass came down, Be careful he said, but when he threw the can, Handsome got scared and he pulled away with the car, and we were left in front of the store
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with the coats in our hands. So all of a sudden I saw a car coming racing in our direction so I thought it was the cops instead when he reached Lexington Ave. , he turned around and he came back so we jumped in the car and we took off so Charlie told me not to bring this guy around anymore. Charlie said that he would get rid of the coats and he did. For a couple of seconds of work I got a couple of hundred of dollars, so I said to Charlie that I'll buy a car and when I do I'll learn how to drive and then I'll go looking for him. Not long after that I bought a 1916 Packard. I paid about $375 for the car and under a phony name. So I used to go down the river and I had a guy teach me how to drive and this fellow taught me how to take care of a car, how to have all the tires even at all times and change oil and make sure that points are always right and see that the timing chain would be always checked and make sure that I would always have good breaks. So I went and saw Charlie and I told him what I was doing and he said fine, when you are ready come around. I said as soon as I get a chauffeur license I will be around. But in the meantime I was still robbing small stores to get by. But in the
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next couple of days Charlie came around and he said as long as we are going to get together that he, Charlie, was going to quit the people he was fooling around with so I should meet him that night around his neighborhood which was 124th St and First Ave. I met him that night and he brought me to his house. I didn't even know that he was married so I met his wife. That night we robbed a suit factory. Before we did I went around 105th St and Third Ave., as I knew a cab driver, as Charlie had asked me if I knew someone who would move the suits away for us when we had them all packed, as you know I still didn't know how to drive. I thought of the laundry wagon but if I didn't get the cab driver then I would tell Charlie about the laundry wagon, but the cab driver said OK that he needed some money. He said he would be in front of the restaurant all night as this restaurant was open 24 hours a day. Well we went to this factory about ll:00 o'clock that night and we were ready about 2:30 and I went and got the cab driver. When we put the suits in the cab there wasn't much room so I told Charlie that he was married and that I will get in the cab by myself and that I would meet him on 126th St
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as this is where we were going to leave the suits but as the cab driver reached the building, as Charlie had given me the address, a cop was coming from First Ave. and we were coming from Second Ave. I told the cab driver to step on it but he didn't move so when I saw what he was up to, I took off and I went into the building and up the roof. I got away through 125th St and I walked to Charlie's house. Luckily he was there, he thought that I was arrested because he came with another cab and he saw the cop talking to the cab driver so he thought that I was arrested so we figured we can go back to the factory as we had more bundles up there so I told him about the laundry wagon as it was about 4:00 o'clock now so he said fine and we went and got the laundry wagon and we took the rest of the suits. We had backed up. We still made a couple of hundred. The cab driver I didn't see for a long time after and he told me that he had a lot of trouble but that everything turned out all right. He said he told them he didn't know us and that we told him that we were moving and that if he knew anything he would had run too.
While I was learning how to drive, I don't mean just drive
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I mean to learn as an expert. Charlie and I did a few burglaries. We robbed a couple of lofts, factories that were making dresses or children dresses. It was about this time that I started to go around 107th Street on Third Avenue. Now I'm all set to drive and we started to go out with some boys from 106th Street. We did so many jobs that it is impossible to remember them all. I'll only talk about the ones that we got shots fired at. In other words if we did five jobs we were fired at, at least 3 times, as what we did was very dangerous. Of course I was the driver.
Now this is what I was taught about driving. As I must say a good man was teaching me all the ropes. First thing I should do he will say, check all the tires, if you use 25 pounds of air in your tires, when you go and do a job put in about 32 pounds of air and make sure that all the tires were equalized, the reason for doing this was so that you can turn on two wheels. The other guy who is chasing you is not prepared. So I even developed a habit of inspecting the tires right on the scene. As soon as we pulled over to the store I would get out and go all around the tires and see that there was no
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flats. Before I talk about anything else I must tell you as to what happened on 59th St. when we were about to crash Bloomingdales, I went around the car as I said I was checking the tires and I found a flat. As the tires were very skinny at that time and it was snowing so it was hard to tell if there was a flat besides we could had picked it up just as I stopped, so you see if you get off a hundred times and check, once that you find it, it paid off. I was very careful in everything I did. The proof is they never caught us right, by that I mean they never caught us on the scene, and whenever we got into trouble and the police were chasing us I never took the long run. I always went around and around the block and the guy sitting next to me would tell me go right go left and so on. I always avoided going the long run. There's no sense going 100 miles an hour and then crash and besides going that kind of speed you can always kill somebody. I always used new tires especially when we didn't pay for them - it was easy to steal tires in those days and I always had a couple of new tires on hand. One time while stealing tires on the West Side someone took my number of the car and turned it over to the police. I
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got arrested for it. Although I got some beating from the police, I refused to sign a statement as I claimed that so many people drove this car I didn't know if someone did this or maybe the people who gave you the number may have made a mistake. I was charged for Grand Larceny, but I beat the case because they did not find the tires on the car nor when we went and steal. Just before we crash the store window I would bend the license plates upward so that no one could take the number. The front plate I didn't touch, but I will put the bright lights on so that it will blind them if they tried to take the number from the front. When we went a couple of blocks, I will pull up in a side block and straighten out the plate. Now if we got a chase then after we lost them, we will straighten out the plates, it got so that the police would stop Packards and they will look at the rear license plate to see if it was bent, but we didn't use this car for joy riding only for burglaries. I used to keep it out of the neighborhood. Another thing we had a habit of sitting three in the front, because we always used a touring car and it was very cold, so we would lift up the floor board in the front and we would keep warm.
Now as far as Bloomingdale's is concerned, the night we got
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the flat we went home that night, but the following night we went there and we crashed the window by throwing a milk can in the window, and we got about six expensive furs. What I am talking about or telling you now will be between the age of 17 to 20 years old, because I went away to Sing Sing in November of 1923 so I be telling you about burglaries because that is all I did in these three years.
Now I will go on with my burglary, after we got a couple of chases by the police while crashing these stores and being that I would use only second speed going around and around the blocks, my timing chain had to be adjusted quite often. I got to know some good mechanic and he told me that he could speed up second gear for me and that it would cost about a hundred dollars, so I told him to go ahead. He explained to that he would put a pinion gear in the transmission and it will give second speed a fast pick up. When he was finished and I tried the car, boy was I impressed. The police couldn't come near me any more. Now we went after furs, suits, silk dresses, cloth coats and oriental rugs and tapestry. I'll tell you about the tapestry later on and also jewelry. Now as this burglary were going on I started to meet lots of people and started to go out
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cabaretting and it got so that I couldn't go many places without meeting lots of guys. As we made the headlines about crashing big name stores and it was always in the newspapers, other mobs started to take notice as they would read the battle the police gave us and how many shots they fired at us. These other people would ask who is the chauffeur. Here is how I got a big tab in a cabaret, there will be the West Mob there and there will be the Jew mob here and the first thing you know they will sent over a drink, sometimes they had 7 or 8 on their table so naturally I will send them a drink and by the time I left there will be more coming in and besides some of my own friends will be coming in. The main place I used to go was the Cotton Club at l43rd Street and Seventh Avenue. The Irish mob owned this place and I got to meet most of them. I also met Cab and his sister one time or another. Well any way there was a lot of cabarets on the West Side and in the colored section. If anyone wanted to enjoy himself and have some fun he had to go to the color town. Now 125th Street at that time was almost better than 42nd Street. There was the Ritz and the Alliemove, both on 125th Street, one was on Lenox Ave., and the other was on Seventh Ave. In the early
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part of the night, say from 9:00 o'clock to the late hours, we would be in one of the dance halls, could have been anyone as by this time they were coming up strong. There was the Dream Land at 125th St., this is where we went the most; there was one on Eighth Avenue, I only went there once; there was the Tangle Land on 86th Street and Lexington Avenue, and there were a few more scattered around the City. We went there once if we didn't like it we didn't go back. Now while I was going here and there naturally I was living here and there so when I used to go home my mother would wake me and ask me where did I get the 100 dollars bills I had in my pocket. I would say that I was gambling. I told her everytime I came home and I got money don't wake me just take a few and keep them. I figured in the end she would have it all saved which she did. Later on I'll tell about this as she died about the early 50's.
Around this time I started to go out with the fellow from 107th Street. After awhile we got close to one another and they wanted to team up with us, by us I mean Charlie and I. They didn't want us to fool around with anyone else. Well it did get that way, these fellows knew a lot of people but before we teamed up with these guys on 107th St.
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we had one fellow from 106th St that we wanted to stay with, his name was Gap. Especially Gap had a lot of contacts. I don't know how he got them but he used to get them and Gap is the one who introduced me all over the City. Well he will get contacts like we would rob a store and get a lot of old junk and we will receive say a thousand dollars. Most of these jobs were done from the rear, see the owner would collect insurance but in meantime he had all his stock hidden some where. The same contacts came from the watchmen from the neighborhood. I never did any business with them but The Gap did. The watchman will tell him what store or factory he wanted robbed sometimes. He even came around to see that everything was all right. After these stores were robbed the watchman would go around there and the first thing he would have them on his pay roll and then he would tell the Gap to see that they were not robbed any more. What I didn't like about this fellow was that when one of his own stores were robbed he will come around and ask us to try and find out who did it. When he came to me I would tell him to see the Gap. This watchman's name was Fiose, later on I will tell how he got killed in 1928 or 1929,
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Now I will tell about getting together with the boys of l07th Street. The first job we went and did with these guys was a silk store up in the Bronx. Well when we saw how they worked we were well satisfied. As you know we had lots of trouble with other guys that we went out with from l06th Street. Some of them came once and they Wouldn't come again for all the money in the world. They will say, you got to die with this racket it is too dangerous. So we stuck with the Gap1 and the boys of 107th Street. In the job all in the Bronx we made l7 hundred dollars. I remember that clearly because it was the first job. Here is the way we worked at this time. I'll say it was dangerous, one of the fellows would throw the milk in the side window by the side window, I mean the big window, the can will go right through the partition and one guy will go in and hand out the bolts of silk and one guy will stay on the corner. We usually were four but sometimes five because we couldn't get rid of the fifth man. We didn't want to embarrass anyone. Actually the fifth one was in the way. Before we went out we would take the rear seat out of the car so as to put plenty of goods in the car, especially
1 Dominick "the Gap" Petrelli served as Valachi's Mafia mentor.
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if there were suits.
Now the next job we did with these guys was also in the Bronx. This one they really got a shaking up. As the guy was in the store handing out the silk the guy on the corner came running ever and told me the cop was coming. So I blew the horn, but the cop was on top of me. He opened my door on the driver's side and started to shoot at me point blank but all he hit was my straw hat and I pulled away while he, the cop, was holding on the door and emptying his gun on me. He chased after me and the other guys just walked away. Well I must say I don’t know how I got to Harlem as at this time I didn't know how to read. I'll tell later on where I learned how to read, but I got to Harlem and when I pulled in to go into the garage I found them waiting for me and they all started to kiss me when they realized that I wasn't hit. I had some silk in the car but not much. The car had a couple of bullet holes on the body but they were puttied up. I must say all the stores were alarmed. They either had bell alarms or Homes protector, in other words the bell will ring and the Homes will ring only at the Homes protectors
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any distance and it will take them at least five minutes to come. It took us only a minute to rob a store. I know because I tested it on 125th Street once. The Homes' people were at 125th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenue and I threw a brick through a window on Lexington Ave., and it took them five minutes to come. That is a distance of 5 or 6 blocks. One time I went with some fellow from 108th Street as this fellow had a car. His name was Dan. He asked me to give him a break and let him make some money, so I asked him what was on his mind. He said he knew a store that he would like to rob, but didn't know how. He said we will use his car. He had an old Winter Six, so I told him that I would go with him. He said he just wanted to take his brother along with him so I said OK; so the next night I came around 108th Street and I met him in the Hawk Wing Club, which was a place around the neighborhood, and the boys used to come in and play cards. When we went all the way up in the Bronx, well it was a grocery store, I told him that I thought he was crazy, I ain't going to rob a grocery store and that I wanted to go back to Harlem. He said OK, so on the way back to Harlem I saw a fine suit store, so I told him that if he wanted to make some money
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to pull over to that store, so he did. I got out of the car without looking around for any cop and in kicked the door window right through and I went inside and his brother followed me in the store, but when we came out with the suits in our arms Dan was gone. We stood there looking at one another. In the meantime Dan came back. He said that he went all around the block. He was all excited and he was shaking so much that he could not change gears. All of a sudden I saw a cop sneaking up from building to building. I said to Dan, don't get excited be calm and I jumped on the running board. I told him that a cop was coming. The moment I mentioned a cop he went crazy. When I saw that he was that way I just walked away from the car and he pulled away, but he seemed to have trouble changing speeds and the cop was running towards the car. I took off. Next day I read in the newspaper that they both were arrested, in a few days they came out on bail. So when I saw them around the neighborhood the young brother gave me credit for taking off. He knew that his brother was the cause of his arrest. Again I realized how important a driver was so I started to practice some more. I used to take my car down to 111th Street, down the river, as there
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was a sharp curve and I would start to 25 miles an hour. Then I would start at 30 miles an hour and so on. Then I would back up, say about 15 miles an hour and then 20 miles an hour and so on. The idea of backing up was in case sometimes I got caught in a dead end street I would back up and the idea was to back up fast and have the car in control at all times. One had to think of everything. We got so many chases from the police that they started to call us minute men. When we got picked up at 104th Street Station they used to tell me that they'll get me yet. By this time they knew what we were doing but they got nothing on us, that is what they used to tell me. I would tell them you keep picking me up and we are going to rob the stores on your precinct and they would say good this way we can get you, so not long after that we did a job at ll4th Street and Second Avenue which was their precinct. But I stayed away from the block and I started to hang out in another precinct a few days after Frank's Cloth Shop was robbed. We robbed a suit store which had the best suits in the neighborhood, they were 3G cloth and they went so fast for $20 a suit. We got about one hundred suits. Right away they
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started to look for me and some of the other boys. By this time the boys on 107th Street got some Jew outfit to buy our silk and we were getting one dollar a yard for the silk. It was easy to count. We would get a ruler that was one yard and mark it on the table and then one fellow would get on one end and another fellow would get on another end and as they measure one yard they will fold it, so it would be taken from one bolt and put into another. We got up to 3,500 yards on one job but the average amount of yards that we got would be about 2,500 yards. Then they found a buyer who wanted Oriental rugs. They were very safe and easy to fold and they bought good money and the big guys started to give us orders for Oriental rugs and even gave us orders for fur coats for their gals and their wives.
Now this is how I met a beautiful girl. One of the boys sent me there to see if she wanted to buy a fur coat. I remember clearly that it was a mile coat. They don't make them any more. She lived at 136th Street, Broadway, which was a fine neighborhood at that time in fact it is still a good neighborhood. At this time we were peddling the coats because we didn't have many of them and
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besides we would get more money. This coat was worth $1, 200. I remember this case as I'll never forget it, I'm about to tell you why. Well when I got up there and I knocked on the door she came in a bathrobe. I had the coat in the car, not the Packard but a car that belonged to one of the boys. I told her who sent me and she thought the coat was beautiful. It had a big, big collar and wide sleeves and I asked for $300. She said she will take it, but I am a businesswoman, if I show you where you can get 5 and 6 thousand dollar coats would I give her the mole coat for free. I said that I had partners and that I would tell them about it and if they said OK then it is OK by me. She said I'll be home all night that if its OK. That I should come back and if it ain't OK I should come back anyway because I love that coat and that she will get the money some how. So I went around and I spoke to Charlie and he asked me if she was pretty and I said that she was a doll. He said you go and see where this fur store is and then I will take a ride with you and if we like it we will give her the coat. So I went back. She said that she wanted to go out that night and she asked me if I had some money, I said yes, she only asked me if I had any money only because she wanted to make
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sure that I wasn't broke because she intended to take me cabareting that night. So after I saw the fur store which was on 57th Street right off Sixth Ave. The name of the firm was Mason and Simon, one of the most exclusive fur stores in New York City. I saw coats with price tags, one was $7,500 and another was $6,OOO, and the rest ran like $2,700, $2,500, and so on. It was one of the biggest windows I ever saw. Now she takes me down to the Village to Jimmy Kelly's, which was one of the best clubs down the Village. There was a covercharge of $5.00 a person. I must admit that I was very green. I wasn't out with any girl like her up to this time. To tell the truth I told her, I figured by telling her that way I won't look bad. After all I was only about 18 years old and 18 year olds weren't as smart in those days as they are today. I get so impressed with the young people today and I admire them for their brightness and smartness -- that's my way of expressing myself. When I was out on the street I used to enjoy just being in their company. In our time there were no bars, the only thing there was around was speak easies. Well after I left Jimmy Kelly's I drove her home and I told
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her that when we do this job that I will get in touch with her, but she said ah no, I want to come. I'll stay a block away. Sol told her that I will talk it over with the other guys and if they agree that I will call her up. Everyone of us was young so they said go ahead, pick her up when we were ready to go. So the next night we decided to go and get these furs. I called her and she said that I should pick her up. So I picked her up about 3:00 o’clock in the morning. It was about 4:00 o'clock by the time we got there. When we got to 57th Street I left her off on Fifth Ave. and 59th Street and we drove around to find two milk cans because the window was so big, but instead of milk cans we saw two bundles of newspapers, so we took the newspapers and I drove right to the store, got out of the car, looked over the tires, lifted up the plates, got in the car raced the motor and they threw the bundle of newspapers at the same time at the window and it made two big holes. One guy jumped in the display where the coats were and he started to throw the coats to the other guy and before he had had a chance to get them all the cop came from nowhere and he started to shoot at me because I was driving. The last guy who was in the display window was left behind. Well I had to go because the cop was almost on top of me, but the other guys told
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me to stop as Al was left out and that he wasn't in the car, so I looked to see how far the cop was, well he was about two hundred feet and Al was about 100 feet, so when Al almost reached the car I had to go again. I went about another two hundred feet and I stopped again, this time Al made it and he held on to two coats, so all together we got away with about 5 coats, two were very expensive. Its lucky for the cop that we didn’t have any guns as we never did, as we never wanted to shoot anyone. We just thought we grab and run. Now as I reach Fifth Avenue I see the cop on Fifth Ave. grab the girl. I was coming down full speed and I made a left turn on Fifth Ave and then I drove to Harlem and we brought the coats to someone's house that one of the boys had prepared before we went for the coats after looking over the coats Charlie and I went to the girl’s apartment, the light was on and we rang the bell and she opened the door. When she saw me she kissed me and hugged me and she was saying what a chauffeur and then I told her I saw the cop grab her. She said that when she heard the shots she started to run and the cop grabbed her. The cop asked her what was the matter and she told him that she heard shots and she started to run so
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the cop left her and he started to run toward Sixth Avenue. That night we slept in the girl's apartment. I slept in one room and my friend slept in another room. The she came to my room and when she did she came in her step-ins, but poor little me was very shy so I hid myself under the blanket. As you know I explained it in the early part of this story, the Catholic Protectory made me very shy, to tell the truth it took me quite a while before I got over my bashfulness, but that day I had to take the Packard out of the garage as Charlie went home to his wife and I stayed with her all day as she wanted to be driven here and there, so I drove her all around the town little did I know that she was preparing to go away that night. I left her in front of her apartment and I went over the next day, there was no answer but the landlord came over and told me that she moved out. So I went and saw the guy who sent me there the first time and he told me that she went back to Philly. He told me that she was afraid of us as we were too young. He said he tried to tell her that we were alright but she was afraid that we will be arrested and that we might squeal on her. Well I laughed because we afraid of her instead she was afraid of us. But I respected her for
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[Page 54 of the manuscript was missing from the Valachi Papers held at the JFK Presidential Library.]
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writing this story about her I just figured her age today, if she is still alive, she would be close to 70, so I close writing about her with all my blessing to her.
Now it around time that I was walking along Third Ave. that I happened to stop at a jewelry store and I saw $10,000 rings and $2,500 rings and so on so. I started to add up the amount in one tray - it added up to about 60 or 70 thousand dollars, so I got an idea and I ran to 107th Street and I saw one of the boys there and I started to tell him of what I saw. So he took a ride with me as he didn't believe what I told him. He was right as I didn't know how to read at this time. Later on I will tell where I learned how to read. But when he added the both trays he totaled about $27,000, so it was OK anyway. So within a couple of days we were all set to go and rob this jewelry store. We went there about 10:00 o'clock in the morning. I will stay about a block away from the jewelry store and the boys will be walking around the block and I was waiting for a signal to drive in front of the jewelry store. Being it was in the summer time, there was a girl sitting in front of the jewelry store. Now when I'll pull up in front of the jewelry
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store I will be waved away. So not to make it look suspicious I will tip my hat to the girl and make her believe that I was trying to make her. Now this happened a couple of times, finally one of the boys came over to explain why I was called and then waved away, he told me that two cops were talking for quite a while and they were a half block from the jewelry store. Finally it was about 2:00 o'clock when they called me for the last time. As I pulled up the girl was not there at this time so one fellow hit the window with the hammer, he stepped away and the next one took the trays and another one had a gun and he was keeping the crowd away. Now as the guy with the trays came over to the car he bumped into one of the bystanders and he dropped some of the diamonds. Believe me as we pulled away some of the bystanders picked the diamonds and they were putting them in their pockets, it was on 121 Street and Third Ave. As I made a right turn I saw the bystanders pick up the diamonds. The boys on 107th Street sold these diamonds to one of the main guys on 107th St. for $4,000. I thought they should had gotten at least $7,500. In a couple of days 2 of these guys were picked up and given a line-up, but the girl picked out no one. And the next day she made a statement to one of the reporters and she said I can't
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understand how such good looking young men could be thieves. One of the guys said that the girl gave him a smile as though she had recognized him.
Now by this time we were meeting a lot of guys and they started to come around and asking if they could borrow this chauffeur so they can use him on different jobs. Well they will ask me and I always refused.
As we used to borrow what we call a peteman, that means a guy who can open a safe, as we were doing all kinds of burglaries we took quite a few safes out of stores, but they were small and they would roll them out and then put them in the car. Now we were going all over the City taking stores like Fur Stores, rugs, silk suits, dresses and everything that could be sold to the new swag buyer that they had. All I remember was that his name was Moe and some policeman killed him while he was unloading some silk from a truck, of course the silk was stolen. We were hanging out in turkish baths in the late hours, there was one on St. Nicholas Ave. and there was another on 125St on the Westside, it was called Hollander.
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About once a week we would visit a Sadie Chinks, she had a few girls there all the time, She was well-known and still is talked about today. Of course she was paying protection and so we felt safe. Now I was starting to get over my shyness and starting to feel like a real knock around guy.
I was trying to stay away from 1O8St because it was starting to get hot for us as the cops were starting to get real mad at us. They used to grab us everytime they saw us, You can see by my record that I was arrested about 6 times in 1923. I will be held for 48 hours, get charged with whatever they felt like charging you. One time they were looking in the book to see what happened in the last week and picked out some crime and charged me with it, Sometimes I will be alone and sometimes I will be with one of the boys or maybe two others. One Saturday afternoon the kids my age were pestering me to take them out for a ride, so I went and got the Packard out of the garage. We used to keep it at 125St and Second and Third Ave. I picked the boys up and we went on Fifth Ave. and we were going for a ride. Well I got a flat and I didn't have a jack so I was driving back through 108St to go to
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the tire place on First Ave. As I was coming down 1O8St, Second and First, I happened to look in the mirror and I saw the bulls creeping up on me. I recognized two of them, they were Daugherty and Caupoto, so I didn't have anything in the car but I knew they will beat me up so I put it in second and started to go toward First and I was heading for the East River. I was going like mad, Daugherty was known as a sharpshooter and he hit another tire on me, now when we reached down by the river I made a right turn and as soon as I turned we jumped off the car and let it go by itself and we jumps over a fence and we disappear. Later I found out that the car ran right in to Burn Brothers Coal Yard and it crashed. They didn't see us jumping off, Then I heard that they went back 108th St, they were so mad and Daugherty was blowing his top. Everybody was telling me I better go out of town as he, Daugherty, was very mad at me. I stayed away from the neighborhood for a couple of weeks. Then I had someone talk to him telling him that the kid ran because he was afraid that he was going to get a beating. Well he wanted to know why I didn't go and claim the car. In the first place the car was a wreck, so I stood out of his sight.
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I heard there was hundred of people around that afternoon. So I had to buy another Packard. I always used Packards, they were big and besides they were fast. Now I'm on the lam so all I did hang out on another precinct until I got arrested for speeding on First Ave. and I was brought in 104St. Police Station. The first thing they did was try and contact Daugherty but thank God they couldn't locate him. So Detective by the name of Tommy Enright took over. He sent the other three fellows home and he kept me and charged me with some burglary and he went to work on me. He was so drunk that sometimes when he swung at me he will miss and hit the wall. At that time there was an Enright who was Police Commissioner and Tommy was his nephew - so everyone used to say that he was taking advantage of commissioner, but at Police headquarters Inspector Courtly put me on the stand and announced, "Gentlemen, he said, "this is one of the window crashers so take a good look at him and make sure you know him when you see him riding around at night with a big Packard," and he mentioned some of the boys that I used to hang out. Well this Packard and I went and claimed it, but I had to bring the follow that was supposed to be the owner as I mentioned before I never put any Packard under my name.
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Within a few days we were out robbing again. Now as this was the beginning of summer time we were having a hard time on these burglaries as people were out on the street at night, so we were getting a lot of trouble, especially the cab driver when we were robbing a store, a cab driver will pass us, he will seewhat we were doing and he will pick up the first cop he'll see and come back, but most of the time I will keep a tab on him as I was at the wheel. Sometimes the cop got close and sometimes we beat it before he got close, but when he did get close all he could do was fire a few shots and before know it we were gone.
Now comes the job on Tremont Ave. at 177 St. Now I must first tell you about the Police Department, they had put in operation brand new Cadillacs just for us minutemen. It may sound like that I am exaggerating but this can be verified by the police, as some of them are still alive. I must say it myself that we were real cowboys and we were the talk of the underworld. When we used to meet in cabarets, by that I mean other mobs, the first thing they will ask who was the chauffeur and the boys used to introduce me and they used to say good luck to you kid. Anyway the way I feel about what I am telling you is that I was pretty well known in New York and they will know whether I am exaggerating. I will go
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on with the Tremont Ave. job. This will talk for itself as I was picked up for this job. We threw a milk can in the big side window and the can went right through the partition and one of the fellows went in the store. This was a silk store. One fellow was on the corner and the third one was getting the bolts of silk from the guy in the store, and he was putting the bolts in the car. I had a spot light on the left side of the windshield as I saw a car coming toward us slowly as I started to blow the horn as that was the signal for this guy in the store to come out. At this same time the guy on the corner came over and he said Toots there's a car coming on the Ave. I said and there is another coming straight ahead. By this time everyone got in the car. All of a sudden I had a gun put to my head. It was a very big man, as I found out later his name was Captain Stutter, he said I finally got you after three years. By this time all the boys in the car started hollering step on it Toots, they used to call me Toots at this time because I used to like that song "Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye" The detective told me to take it out of speed. I said OK as I was talking to him I was making attempts to get up and get out the car but I was doing this so that I can turn the wheel to the right as the wheels were aiming straight
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ahead. All of a sudden I dived underneath the dashboard with my head and I fed the gas with my right hand and held the wheel with my left hand. I pushed the gas peddle down all I could. They all started to shoot at one time. All of the windshield was shot off, there was no glass left. When I came up with my head I found myself in the middle of Tremont Ave., now I was driving like a wild man. The cops were about two blocks away. It was the Cadillac behind me. As I was coming and reaching Third Ave, there was a trolley car stopped in the middle of the Ave. If he goes forward we are all dead as I could not go to the right, because it would had been too much of a turn, now if he stands still then I could make it to the left, but I must jump the sidewalk. Well he stayed still and that was the break that I got I'll say that I was going about 80 miles an hour, this was a lot of speed in those days. Now I'm way ahead of the cops. They had to slow up as they to saw the trolley car. I know because they told me about it. Later in this story I will tell you about how they happened to tell me. Now I knew I was hit in the arm and all I can hear in the back of the car was everybody yelling that they were hit. For a moment I thought that I had a car full of wounded men. As it turned out only I and one more was hit, the other guy was hit an inch below the heart but he was OK as the bullet was only about a half inch
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inside of his skin, that is in the back, in other words it almost came out of his back. Now the police got the car at 107St Garage. Let me explain how they got it. We took the Grand Concourse down to Harlem and at that time they had police booths on the Grand Concouse, as we came tearing down the Grand Concourse they, the police, emptied their guns on us. Now as we were speeding all this time the top flew up and it was hanging on the end of the car. Now when we got to the bridge I don't remember which Ave., a cop tried to stop us. Instead of stopping I went like mad. So that is how the cops traced the car. I wasn't laid up but a few days with my arm as the bullet went through the arm and it came out at the other end. Now about a week after this happened or it could have been 10 days, we found a fur store on 104th Street and Broadway. Even though it was summer time there was a couple of coats in the window of a store. I don't remember what kind of coats but Gap wanted to take one of these for his wife so he told me that he had a Hudson, a brand new one, he said that he borrowed it even though it was a stolen car being I had no car. I said let's go. So we went and got the car out of the garage on 108th St, First Ave. It was about 10:00 o'clock at night and we took a ride on 104th Street, Broadway, as
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we got there and we were riding on the East Side of the Ave. I heard a siren so I looked on my left and there was Det. Broderick, he was from the Broadway Squad. He was waving a badge and he was saying that they were detectives and I made an attempt to pull over to the side but instead I threw it in second and I rode away and at the same time it started to rain and I went straight on Broadway and I turned right on 110th Street and went left on to Edgecomb Ave. as there is no Way to turn right on Edgecomb Ave. so I was afraid to turn left as I was afraid that they would stay on Broadway and I will run right into them so I kept going straight. I kept asking the boys where are they and they kept telling me to keep going so I don't know how it happened I found myself coming down to Edgecomb Ave. again. By this time it was raining hard. By the way they had a brand new Cadillac. Well we had a brand new Hudson, so the chase was on. Now coming down from Edgecomb Ave it went right into 8 Ave. now on Eight Ave. there was the L, that is what it is called the 8th Ave L. So I'm coming down full speed as you know these L. Pillar. Well anyway we wound up all the way down town and finally we came back uptown and we wound up on Seventh Ave. I
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don't know how but that's where I took a mad turn and I made it and they had to go straight so I came to a stop and we all got out of the car. I said so long boys looks like I'm going to take a rest as we are getting into too much trouble and one of them said. You not kidding. I went to Morris Park and rented a furnished room and I stayed there for a while until I got into more trouble. There was a friend of mine who had a Packard and he wants to sell it to me because he knew I had no car so I told him that I didn't want his car as it was already known. I figure that if I ever left the car behind sometime they will know where the car came from at least they could trace it there in Harlem, He finally talked it in to me and I took the car so I used to park it in front of the furnished room. I was there about two months when one night I went to get in the car and I was asked for the ownership card of the car. When I went to look for it I realized that Mike hadn't given me the ownership card so the cop wants to pull me in for stealing a car so I told him if he will come with me to 106thSt and see my friend who sold the car to me I could get the ownership card. So he said, the cop, I mean that he could not leave his beat but he will take me to the station house and when it came to 12 o'clock he would take me there, so we
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went there about 1:00 o'clock in the morning. I was lucky to find him home sleeping. I knocked on the door and he opened it and he saw a cop with me, he said what's the matter, I said you sell me a car and you don't give me any ownership card. Gee he said, I'm sorry but when he went looking for the ownership card he couldn't find it. Then he remembers that his friend had it, so the cop said the best thing to do was bring it in court in the morning. So Mike said OK. Now when we went to Headquarters that morning the cop found out that I was wanted in the Bronx for burglary so the cop told me why didn't you tell me about it. I don't get any credit for this. So I told him that I didn't know it myself besides being wanted for burglary they caught up with me on some traffic ticket that I didn't answer, so I got 10 days in the workhouse and when the 10 days were up the detective from the Bronx came and got me. I was taken up in the Bronx and before he took me to his own precinct he brought me to a couple of police stations and he would say, "Do you guys know who this kid is." They will say, "No," and he would aay, "This is the kid that drove 719-864" [ N.Y. license plate in 1923] that was the number of the Packard I still remember it.
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And they would run over and ask me did anyone get hit that night and I would tell them that I didn't know what they were talking about. I'll say he brought me to at least 4 or 5 police stations. When we went to the Bathgate Station, as this was his precinct, he said, "Sit down I ain't going to hit you. I'm giving you credit for two things, one is that you didn't hit anyone that night and another is that you guys didn't fire a shot that night. I don't know if you guys had guns or not, but if you did shoot, instead of being here for burglary you would had been here for murder, so that's why I'm not going to hit you." I didn't answer him. He said he made me out at the wheel that night and he put a warrant out for me the next day, so I was brought to court and held under $10.00 bail and not long after I had a hearing and Captain Stutter positively identified me. He said that he and 12 other detectives had fired 12 shots at me, he said he thought he hit me but he didn't, he said that there was about a couple of dozen shots in the body of the car and that all the windshield was shot off. Now this statement is at the Bronx County court. The store was crashed on July 12, 1923. I was arrested around Sept., somewhere around there. I had Goldstein and Goldstein for my lawyer. Dave was the one who always came to court. His brother later became a General Session Judge. His first name was
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Jonah. Now the boys did not get me out on bail. I found out later that someone spread a rumor that if I got out that I will jump bail. This person turned out to be a phony. Well anyway the lawyer told me that I didn't stand a chance so he was trying to make a deal with the D.A. I was in the county jail about 6 weeks, then I went to court and pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and I was held two weeks for sentence. When I went to get sentenced, the owner of the store was there and when my name was called he got up and told the Judge which was the toughest judge that ever entered Bronx County Court, he the owner of the store, wanted to know where was the attempts when they took $10,000 worth of silk so the judge tried to explain to him that when a defendant pleas guilty and saves the court expenses he is allowed to plea to a lesser charge, but the owner insisted that it wasn't fair, so the owner told the judge to ask me what did I do with the silk so the Judge asked me what did I do with the silk so the lawyer told me to answer if I can, so I said that I threw the silk away in an empty lot. So the judge said that I must withdraw my plea and stand trial. So the lawyer told him that he didn't think that he had the authority to do so, I will write to Albany and have an answer for you in a couple of weeks. So I was remanded for a couple
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of weeks and when I was called the lawyer told me that when I'm called in front of the Judge that I should walk out with a strut, he said that by me walking out with a strut that I will be sentenced to Sing Sing and by me going to Sing Sing I would be out in about 9 months where if I be sentenced to Elmira Reformatory I would have to do 18 months. Gee, when I heard the difference I certainly did come out with a strut and when I did come with a strut the Judge told me, "You think you are fooling me because you walked out here with a strut. Well I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you your wish. You know why? The sooner you are released the sooner you will be before me again." But before he sentenced me the lawyer handed him the papers and the Judge read them to the owner, he told the owner that the court tried to have the defendant redraw his plea and stand trial but his counsel has proven to the court that the court had no authority to do so, so the owner thanked the court and I was sentenced. I received 1 year, 3 mos. to 2 years and 6 mos. In other words I will do 11 months and 20 days. I will get credit for the time I had in already, which was a couple of months, so I will be out in less than 9 months. So in a few days I was taken to Sing Sing Prison. I was
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driven there in a private car, When I arrived at Sing Sing I was given a cell. It was so small that it looked like a hole was dug in a rock. No toilet or wash basin but there was a bucket. Well I must say that I thought I'd never make it. The sweat was coming down the walls as though it was like being under a dock, as when I used to swim in the East River sometimes I will go under a dock and rest there, that's why it reminded me of the dock. As soon as some of the friends came over and especially they brought some real good food to me as they were allowed to cook. I was what they called the reception. I was very glad to see someone that I knew from the outside. They told me that after the ten days are over that things will be different. Well then I felt better. In the ten days that I spent there each day we will go some where like one day to the doctor and another day to have your record taken and they take more pictures of us and things like that, while in the reception they had a wonderful show, it was called the Plantation Revue and it was playing on Broadway and they brought it over to Sing Sing to entertain the inmates. Well they brought us there and they put us in the back. We had such a good time and it was such a wonderful show that I didn't believe that I was in Sing Sing. It
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wasn't over until about 12 o'clock. As I understand the Irish boys had the show sent to Sing Sing. When I was released from the reception I was invited with the boys I described in the early part of this story. They were old timers and they found out that I was from the neighborhood and I was friendly with one of the old timer's brother on the outside world. As I said these are the fellows that I learned about Diamond Joe Pepe. I went to work on the coal pile as this is where they put you until they are ready to assign you to where they think you should be. They called me in the Warden's office in about 10 days and I met Lewis E. Lawes as he was the Warden at this time. He seemed to be a fine man being I had only 9 months to serve. He thought I should go to work up on the Hill as they were building a new Prison. Then I was assigned to go to sleep in the dormitory. Boy was I happy to get out of that cell. I was put to work with a 16 pound hammer and believe me I loved it and I had a fine boss his name was Mr. Ferguson. He used to work just as hard as any inmate. Now I find out that they have what they called a Mutual Welfare League and this league had what they called a Sergeant of Arms, and as I understood this Sergeant of Arms had to be voted in by the inmates. There was two parties, one was
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called Tammany Hall, the other was called the Cheese Party which represented the Republican Party. All my friends were Tammany, so I was Tammany, so right you make hard feelings, and they took this very serious. The officers did nothing as the inmates ran the prison that was represented by the Mutual Welfare League. They had what we called deputies, instead of an officer being in front of you it will be an inmate, now if any inmate was in anyway out of order, all you had to do was report him to the sergeant of arms, but the deputies were OK. So everybody was happy. Now I ate in the auto school with the boys I was with, I will call them by their first name, there was Jim, Pete, Dan, Laine and myself. My job was to make coffee in the morning and then I would go up on the hill and work and I don't come back until 4:00 o'clock. And I would find the food ready when I came down to the prison. If you received any money or didn't get any it made no difference, there was always enough money, but I didn't have too much as I said my peaple were poor and I won't ask them for any money but I had friends that sent me some, and besides money we were allowed to receive a 60 pound package of all kinds of food too numerous to mention. Now one day while coming out of the dormitory one of the Cheese Party
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men tried to pick an argument with me. As when I first came in the prison he used to be very nice to me. I didn't know that he was being nice so that I join the Cheese Party. When he saw me with the Tammany men he got sore at me but I didn't know anything about it, so I tried to say hello to him and he called me a name so I looked behind me when he said something thinking that he was talking to someone else, but he said it to me. I mean you, you so and so, before I had a chance someone stepped in and got hold of us, one got him and another got hold of me. When I went to eat that morning after I made the coffee, Dan said to me what happened I said nothing, he said don't worry I took care of it already I went up to that guy's place and told him plenty whenever you get into any trouble don't keep it to yourself Dan said, so I said I was ashamed because I just came in the joints and I'm already in trouble. He said don't worry we know what it's all about. We know its about the Party because we used to see him talking to you when you first came in. We had our eyes on him. We didn't tell you anything because we felt that we didn't have to. Why should we corrupt you when you just come in the joints we know you going to be with us no matter what. So I said that is for sure, Well I certainly
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learned a lot from these fellows. Things were different in those days, especially Sing Sing. Everybody was mobed up. There wasn't much trouble but if there were you had to be with someone or you had to be just a punk and stay to yourself. That's what Willie Sutton used to do always to himself, although he was a gentlemen (Willie Sutton excaped later)
I was shocked as to the kind of people that was there. I knew of at least 3 lawyers and big ones. There were policemen, judge and what not. There was a millionaire there I don't remember his name but I remember he took care of the flowers and the garden. As I understand they wanted to commute him but he refused because he wanted a full pardon. See if he gets a full pardon it means that he was
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innocent. I explained it because some people don't understand the difference. There isn't much more that I can say other than I met lots of men that were very impressive. For instance Bum Rogers, who later on was wanted for every crime that was committed, he finally was arrested a few years later. I don't remember how much time he got but he hung himself in Dannamora State Prison. I also met some more boys. My friend Louie introduced to me one guy I want to tell about, his name was Brother Mac. After talking to him a little while I said to my friend that I didn't like Brother Mac's eyes and Louie gave me hell, he said that I shouldn't talk about him as he was a very important fellow and that he was with the Irish mob. I said that I'm only telling it to you. Well we forgot it, as Louie had told me all about his case. He told me that Brother Mac and 3 others had killed a man in Dobbs Ferry. He said that they chopped this man's head with an axe for $500 dollars. He said that a girl was involved and two guys. Now 12 years had passed before they caught the fourth guy. Now it was big headlines in the newspapers. So Louie tells me that the girl and the other guy which were in Auburn Prison will now go down to White Plains and
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testify against this fourth guy. So I said look out if Brother Mac don't do down and testify. He yell at me again. I said I can't help it that this guy looked phony to me. Well Louie said I told you that he is one of the Irish mob in here, meaning Sing Sing. So again I said to him that I'm only telling it to him. He said but I don't want to hear you talk that way so I kept my mouth shut, they all expected the girl and the other guy to go down to White Plains, instead the next day they lock up Brother Max. Now this was the talk of Sing Sing Prison, so everybody is keeping their mouths shut to see what's going to happen. Within 3 days they take Brother Mac down to White Plains. That done it. Everybody started to talk. Now Louie brings me to some of his friends. He tells them about the way I felt about Brother Mac. They were so mad that they didn't say a word. All they did was shake hands with me and we broke it up. Now Louie is asking me, how did I get that feeling. I said Louie I don't know its one of those things, I didn't like his eyes and he looked very sneaky to me that's all. After all I said we were walking around and we got to talk about something. He said this buy, Brother Mac, has been living and hanging around with the best guys in this prison in the last 12 years. As it turned out
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the other guy and the girl refused to go down so it took Brother Mac to go down and convict the fourth man. I talk about things like this to show what a phony world this is.
As I said before, I ate in the Auto School. Well I was going into the auto school to get something as this was on a Saturday afternoon and there was a ballgame going on and I didn't feel like watching it. I saw a guy that I knew from in the prison and he was working on some thing which looked like a muzzle of a gun so I asked him what are you doing Joe. He answered that he was making a shaft of a stool, so I said wish you luck Joe. He laughed and said thanks. I forgot about it. About a month later Joe got up to one of the towers that have a guard in it and it was broad day light and he stuck up the guard and he took his rifle as it was later brought out that he had outside help and he made a clean get away. God did the newspapers raz the Warden. Some of the headlines were like this. "Let's be thankful that Joe Trainer didn't take the Warden with him." I understand he took the guard along with him. He was out about 40 days when he was arrested in Jersey for a stick-up and later received a 30-year sentence.
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Now, other than watching a few ball games and watching visitors come in from the outside on Saturday and Sunday, my nine months were up and I was on my way home. I received about 17 dollars cash and a ticket for the railroad and I was on my way to New York City with a parole of 18 months. Now before I go any further I most say something that I forgot to mention before I went to Sing Sing from the Bronx County Jail, which was at 163rd St. and Third Ave. At that time friends were able to come and visit me. I got a visit from a guy named Joe. He is still alive and he is in Italy. He was deported some time around 1945, AsI said in the early part of this story, one mob would try to borrow someone from a different mob such as a chauffeur or a "peteman," which means a safeman. He Joe tells me that if I want he could get some boys to get me out of the County Jail because they had a good job to do in Brooklyn. There was a $50,000 payroll they had a tip and he, Joe, was telling them about me being the good driver they had heard about. He asked me if I was interested, he said they would stickup the guards and get me out so that I could drive the car for them. I told him, what are you crazy what do you want to do, ruin me and furthermore
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I wouldn't go with any strangers. I told him to forget about it. Well as I was doing time in Sing Sing they done this job and they killed two guards as I understand the two guards refused to give up and they had to shoot them and they got $50,000 just as I was told. It happened at the last subway station in Brooklyn. Later on I will tell how I met one of these guys when I went back to Sing Sing a second time.
Now I go on to tell how I came home and went back to the mob and started to go out stealing again. The first job I went on was a drug store. I was only out 3 days and I didn't go crashing windows as I hadn't seen any of those guys yet I went with one of the boys from 108th St. He tells me that this drug store had at least 6 cases of whisky, the whisky was bonded and it was worth $300 dollars a case as this was still prohibition. Well believe me as we were breaking into the back of the store I don't know how they found out, but the cops were coming in the front way. Well as we will never rob a store that didn't have at least two ways out we will never try and rob it. So we ran out in the backway and we wound up on the roof. They fired some shots at us but thank God we got away and that was that. So I decided to borrow a few hundred dollars and I took it easy
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before I went around 116th St and First Ave., as there is where the boys were hanging out at this time. I mean the boys from 107th St as I was away the boys had met some Irish guy and they were all hanging 116th St. That's why I took my time going around 116th St. I say it was about two weeks before I went 116th St. This place where the boys hung around was a very large pool room and cafe. It was so big that it could hold about 75 men. It was owned by an old timer of the old days and as I said, there were very few that survived from the old days and this was one of them. He was the nephew of one of the old timers which was a big boss of the Naples gang. His name was Curley. Everyone used to say and wonder how did he ever live through it, but he was a nice fellow. The Artichoke King, Ciro Terranova, also hung out in this place and some of the Irish mob also came to this cafe or pool room which ever way to call it. Believe me sometime there were a hundred men. At night we used to go to Joe's Restaurant at 116th St., and there all the window crashers came around. Let me tell of some of the new guys that I met that I didn't know before. From the Irish mob there was the Dutchman, Pete Hestler, Steve Folley, Frank LaPuma, Nick the Burglar and Joe Rao, who came
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from 116th St, Mike Coppolo, which I had already met at Sing Sing Prison but I didn’t have much to do with. So in Joe's restaurant that night one of the guys told me that the mob was getting too big and that there already teamed up and that there was no room for me. They had a new chauffeur, so I was about to go home when one of the fellows from 107th St. called me and asked me to stick around. He said to sit on his table and that Big Dick was coming and that I'll go with them as they had somewhere to do. I said OK. Well Dick did come and he made an appointment at 116th St, Lenox Ave. There was a restaurant between 115th St and 116th St on Lenox Ave., called the Vienna Restaurant and down stairs there was a bowling alley and both of these places were opened all night. Well that night we went out and crashed a suit store and we got about a hundred suits. One of the boys had a big Cadillac and that was what we used. As I said in the early part of this story we always bent the plates. As I kept going to 116th St and First Ave. I found out almost what everyone was doing. There was Mike Coppolo hooked up with what they called the Big Six. Ciro Terranova was at the head of the Big Six. They were nothing but pickpockets. In other words
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if two or three of this Big Six were out picking someone's pocket they would pool it. Some of them even went out of town anywhere that they knew will be a virgin territory. As I understand, they made lots of money. Now as I started to go around the Vienna Restaurant I met a lot of boys. There were mobs coming in this restaurant from all over the city. There were the Diamond Brothers, Lack Leg and his brother Eddie, there were the Jew boys and the Irish boys from the Yorkville even came. In other words, this Vienna Res. or bowling alley was the very late spot of the City. Thieves came from all over, which later on in years became big names.
Now we also started to hang out at a Dance Hall called the Dream Land this dance hall was at 125th St, between Lenox and Seventh Ave., even after the Dance Hall closed we will go to the Vienna Restaurant. It got to be a late hour spot. Although there were some speakeasies that we used to go, some were 125th St and some were here and there. Sometimes I didn’t see daylight for a couple of weeks. As we got home or to the baths in the wee hours of the morning and got out in the street say about 9 o'clock at night. Now the Irish boys were coming around to these spots even though we didn't steal with these boys, not yet. We were getting closer to one another. They went only for stickups. Now we started to
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go cabareting besides going to the Cotton Club. We also went to other color places. And also went to the Garden Inn. In the early part of this story I mention a Cabaret called the Zoo and I mentioned that a Diamond Joe Pepe owned it. Well this is the same place, now its called the Garden Inn. It was a classy place. It got to be that I couldn't go there without costing at least two hundred dollars. As all the mobs were coming up there and as you go in the joint someone will send you a drink and then someone else will send a drink and before you know it you will be sending them drinks and they were 4 or 5 or even 6 in their party and those drinks add up, at the end of the night. Now to get away from this kind of tabs I started to go to the Pelham Health Inn which was on Pelham Parkway and this was one of the best Cabarets in the Bronx. It was really high class all through the years, until it burned down around the early 50's, and that's the way it was from one spot to another and pulling at least two or three burglaries a week. We stuck to burglary because if we didn't get killed on the jobs as it was a dangerous racket I'll admit. But besides stealing in the wide open spaces that it took only a minute or so, there wasn't much time involved, and another thing we took what we saw with
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our own eyes, instead of getting phony tips. I did go on some of the other jobs which I would talk about later but the dozen or so times that I did go we never got what we were supposed to get. Results was we better stick to burglary. Not only that, we didn't get what we supposed to get. We didn't get 10% even of what we were supposed to get. We got so that we didn't believe any tippers as in those days tippers got 10% of what we got on a job so we felt that they will tell you this and that because they wanted to make money and doing nothing for it. Now I'll tell you about some of the other boys I met going around the night spots. Here is two more cabarets that I used to go to. There was the Ritz on Seventh Ave., 125th St., and there was the Alamo on Lenox Ave, 125thSt. which were expensive placed to go but that's how I would meet people. If people from downtown wanted to have a real good time they would have to come to Harlem, there were the best Italian Restaurants along 125th St. There was Tasso on Lexington at 125th St. Riccis between Lenox and Seventh Ave. and Frank's near 8th Ave and 125th St.
Let me tell you a few mobs that were big. There was the mobs from West Side that ran the docks, It was headed by Lingie Mitchell.
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I mean down town West Side. There were the boys from Hells Kitchen on Tenth Ave., it ran for instance say 40th St. to the 50th, then there were the Jew boys, Lepke and Gurah, also Little Augie from the East Side down town, down around the 10th St on the East Side there was Spunky Wise, and his boys. All of these boys you will meet them in Lindy’s Restaurant on Broadway in the late hours besides meeting them in Cabaret, there in Yorkville you had Red Barrett and Steve Folley, in the Bronx there was Joe Baker and the Forham Mob. These guys and myself had no hint about Cosa Nostra at this time, but I did know for instance that Ciro Terranova or Ciro Morrello was the big guy of Harlem. I knew he was a big man but I didn't know just why he was so big. He, Ciro Terranova bought lots of coats and swags from the boys. I used to be there in the apartment sometimes when he used to come to look the swag over. They introduced Ciro to me and he seemed to be a very soft spoken man. Once I had picked a very expensive dress as I wanted to give it to someone, I don't remember who, and Joe Rao asked me to put it back and Ciro spoke before I had a chance to say anything. Why can't he take it and turned around to me and said do ahead and take it. I took
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it and as I did I gave Joe Rao a nasty look. After all I was one of the partners, they, the other boys, at this time most of them were married and they always took coats and dresses for their wives. I seldom took anything as I had no girl and no wife, at least at this time. I did take a couple of cheap dresses or coats for my sister, they used to ask too many questions so I didn't bring them anything any more and besides I didn't like bringing that stuff around as I felt that I was stealing it twice bringing that stuff around was evidence. Well any way, this was the beginning of hard feelings between I and Joe Rao. Speaking about Joe Rao he was always down at the Alamo, I want to describe both the Ritz and the Alamo. There would be a revue of 24 girls and with a leading lady and we would sit right along side of the dance floor as the dance floor and the customers was all on the same floor. It will be a two hour show. They had an early show and a late show. One was 9 o'clock and the other was 12 o'clock. The place used to close 3 o'clock in the morning. Now there was another cabaret or Italian restaurant as I call it that way because there was no entertainment only eating until about 11 o'clock at night. It was a restaurant until 11 o'clock as the owner was a brother of one of the
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fellows that took care of me when I was in Sing Sing. I used to go there and eat quite often and its name was Joe's Yankee. In this place I met an Irish fellow, his name was Frankie Daley. He was bothering me about driving for him and a couple of more guys. He will tell me that it was a trolley car that they were going to stick up. All I had to do was drive he will say that it was a collection and that they will stick it up on the last stop. I kept telling him that I wasn't interested in stick-ups as he himself should know better as he should know that they were giving a lot of time for stickup guys. I told him that it was tough on guys that had to go out on stickups. He asked me if there was any room for him to come in with me on burglaries, I said if I had to go out with everyone I met in Sing Sing I'll be out of my mind. Now he not only asked me this time but everytime I went in the place he used to hang out in this place as the owner liked him. Joe Yankee himself sat down one night and asked me to give him a break. So I explained to Joe. I said Joe I'm doing fine with burglaries why should I go out on stickups and besides we will be four and besides most of all its a five thousand dollar job and they never find the right amount. Joe said I was right. I asked Joe if Frankie Daley owed him any money he said what am I going to do he comes
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here every night. I said to myself I thought so. One day I got up and I heard about the trolley car stickup and that they had killed the conductor and the motorman. All I know that after they done the job the driver was going like a wild man with no one chasing him finally he made a bad turn and one of the rear wheels broke after he hit a curbstone so they picked up the owner of the Cadillac, his name was Marino, and he squealed on the other three, so they picked up two more and Daley was the last one. Marino and another guy turned states evidence and I don't remember if two burned in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison, or just Daley. Daley I'm sure he burned. Now I saw Joe Yankee and I said Joe you see what I mean and he just shook his head.
Now one day we went up to the Bronx, Pip the Blind was with me and we met the Forham boys. As it was late in the afternoon there was a silk store on Arthur Ave., and it had a burglar alarm. As I wasn't too familiar with them they told Pip the Blind that they will bet that we could not rob that store. Pip told them not only would we rob it, we will sell it to them. As he knew that the Forham boys were buying Swags, so Pip said to Joe Baker give me your address and tomorrow
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morning we will bring the swag from the store to your place wherever you want it. Pip said we get a dollar a yard for silk and we will give it to you for the same price. Pip told them to have the cash ready. So that night about 4 o'clock in the morning we went up in the Bronx and Arthur Ave., and we circled around to see if a cop was around as we saw none we pulled over to the store and one of the boys picked up an ash can threw it in the window as I raced the motor of the car to kill the sound of the crash and we loaded the car and we drove to the address that Joe Baker had given us, it was a private garage and we pulled right in the garage unloaded and we left one guy there in the garage and we went and woke up Joe Baker and told him the swag was in the garage. He just shook his head and laughed, he said do you guys want money now. So Pip said send someone to the garage to count the yards of silk and we will see you tonight. We we went to the turkish baths and that night we went up to the Bronx and collected. I don't remember how much but I know it was pretty good. As we had loaded the car all we could put in and no one even saw us when we pulled the job, doing that same week we Went to Brooklyn on Fulton Ave., as we often took a ride there as we wanted to rob the Hudson Bay Fur Co., but always there was a watchman sitting in front of the store. This night we decided to pull the fire alarm a couple of blocks away. After we pulled the fire alarm we came back to see if the watchman went to see the fire. After all he won't know that there was no fire. All we wanted to do was get him away from the store, sure enough he ran to see the fire as he did we pulled over to the store
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and this time the boys opened the front door with tools that someone had told the Gap about. The Gap surprised me this night, as he was not in on the Bronx job so hept it to himself until he himself would be with us. Well it worked out fine and we got 40 furcoats. This night and the next day there was a headline in the newspapers, Burglar Pull Fire Alarm to rob the Hudson Bay Seal Co. These coats we peddled to individuals as we get more money. We made out pretty good but I don't remember how much as we were cutting up the money as coats were being sold. One night not long after this job was done I met the Gap up in the Bronx at the Garden Inn Cabaret, as he was with 3 of the Irish boys. I went there by myself with a cab. After spending most of the night there. In fact we closed the place. The Gap had a small coupe a 4 passenger Oldsmobile, everybody was drunk but me. On the way down he was going 75 miles an hour, everybody was telling him to let me drive. Well the car was light in weight, and it almost flew in the air. So I dug up a story. I said Gap let me off on such and such a Street as I got to see someone about a tip on a silk loft. I know that if I didn't give him a story he won't let me off. So he said you sure. I said yes its for next week. So he stopped and let me off. So I took a cab and
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went home. That morning about 9 o'clock in the morning someone came to my house to tell me that the Gap had crashed on all the places on First Ave. at 108th St. He said he hit a lamp post at 75 miles an hour. He said there were four of them and they didn't know who the other guys were. So I said Ih I told the kid that I had gotten off the car somewhere in the Bronx I told him I knew the other three guys. I asked if any of the other guys died and he said he didn't know. That afternoon it was all over the newspapers and the picture of the crash was in the papers, and in a week's time they had the Gap charged for the murder of Dot King as she was an actress that had been killed and robbed. I knew the Gap did not do it so I figured that the police wanted to get this murder off the books in case the Gap dies. It showed the Gap being identified although his face was all bandaged up and all you could see was his eyes. He stayed in the hospital about 8 months after he came out of the hospital he was put in the Tombs Prison and got bail put on him. Then he had to go on trial and I remember he got ex-Judge Groal for his lawyer. Well as I said he was identified in the hospital but after the jurors got the case they came out with a verdict of not guilty. Now
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I don't know just when it happened but right after this we went on a fur job and the Gap was there with us. I gave some guy a chance to make some money as this fellow never came with us before, we used to call him Buck Jones, he came from the Bronx and he was the one who got me a job on the scow in my earlier days. So I spoke to the Gap to give a chance so we did a fur job and we put the fur in my house, there were only four of them, two were very expensive. At this time I was living next door to my people as I didn't want to wake them when I came home late because my father had to work. Now Gap and I went to the baths and when we got out of the baths we went to my house and we found only two coats, the good ones were missing. We didnt know what to make out of it. Well the only thing I could do was make good. I understand the other two guys wanted to take it out on me but the Gap told them that I was with him and he never lost sight of me so he knew that I didn't take them, so I made good. About a month later a woman from 126th St. told the Gap that this Buck Jones sold two coats to some friend of hers. So the Gap came and told me about it. He asked me if we were going to take care of him. I told him Gap I said
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I paid for these coats and besides Buck is a moron and I want to take him out again with us and I want to take his share so I could make up for what I paid. He said that's a good idea. I went and looked for Buck and I asked him how was he doing. He said pretty bad. I told him that I'll pick him up some night and let you make some money he said Ok I'm always here 126th St between First and Second Ave. Not long after that I picked him up and we went out and we done another fur job and we got pretty good coats. As I said I took his share but Buck never came around for his money so I went 126th St and looked for him. I asked him how come he didn’t come around for his money. He said he knew all about the women telling Gap that he took the two coats the last time he came with us. I asked him what made you do it. He said the other fellow he hung out with told him that he won't get any money so he figured that if I took the coats that will make it for sure that I got my share. So I told him that he was lying because you took the best ones and besides that there was only 4 coats and that two were more than his share. About 3 days after I spoke to Buck the Gap came around and he told me that he had cut Buck's face from ear to ear. He said I wanted you to get even to
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get some of the money back but he had to do something about it. He said you don't know how hard I argued for you. Your friend Charlie wanted to kill you. Mike asked me if I was with you to the baths the way I said you were I assured him that I was and he said that it was good enough for him. He told me to keep it to myself but don't ever forget it. Now the word will get around and guys will want to know why I cut Buck's face this way Charlie will find out. We had not told anyone that we found out who took the coats. We didn't want Buck to find out, that's why we kept it a secret but as I said all I was thinking about was to make some money. I wasn't interested in violence, I want to explain at this same time the radios came out and the Gap said tonight we are going to get some radios for ourselves. He found some store on Westchester Ave. that had a lot of radios and they cost a lot of money. I said what are you crazy. He said you can sell yours if you don't want it. I said OK I will sell mine. I knew I didn't have the room in my house as they were very big they had a horn, a big speaker, and they needed a couple of big batteries. Well I said don't bring too many guys, the less you bring the less we got to get he said we will be four so that night of
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course we always take the seat out of the car, so we can have plenty of room. We went up in the Bronx at Westchester Ave. and we took four radios and believe me they loaded the car as no one seen us two of the guys got off the car and took a cab and we had radios. I don't remember but I sold mine. I mean I don't remember how much I got but enough not to waste the night.
In the middle 20's there was a prison break at the Tombs Prison some of the inmates killed themselves as things did not work out. Until this day they never found out how the guns got in there. Although some of the prison officials got in trouble over this. Now I will tell how the guns got into the prison. My friend the Gap was the guy. Here is the way he got them in the prison. Around 4 o'clock in the morning he threw them over the prison wall. I don't know who but they had someone in the prison that got into the yard. I will say the very first one to get in the yard - well he picked them up and brought them to the boys in the prison who gave them to the inmates, as I understood from reading in the papers that the inmates had an appointment to all go to see the doctor at the same time. I don't remember just what happened but the attempt failed. I can't remember the inmates names but I do remember that
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one of the inmates was called Red. Now I want to tell about a fellow I met in Sing Sing. His name was Patsy Motto that came from Albany, New York. When we were in Sing Sing he and I had a talk and we were talking about fur coats and he was telling me about some store up there in Albany was loaded with furs. So I knew he was well known up there as he was a fighter. So one night I thought of him and I took a ride up there with a couple of fellows and I brought along the new tools that we were using. When I got there I found him fast and I told him what I came therefor. I wanted a drop in Albany as it will be suicide to try and come to New York City after robbing a store from the front door. Well he showed me a drop by the drop I mean where to put the coats for a week or two, and then I told him that I would have to do the job about 4 in the morning so we took a ride and killed some time and we came back about 3:30 in the morning. As I pulled over to the store to see how things will look I happened to look in back of the car window and I notice that there was a car parked in the next street. In fact I could not see the car other than a glance through the store windows. I didn't have any tools in the car. I had hid them in the side street so I took a ride all around the block and I came up the street where the car was and to my amazement
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it was a car loaded with policemen so I made a left turn and made it appear as though I was going back to the store than I made another left turn and I headed for the road toward New York. We left the tools behind and went home. We had no trouble on our way home. I called Patsey Motto a couple of times as I knew where he hung out but he would never get on the phone, then I forgot about him. Now one night I was up in the Dreamland Dance Hall and Joe Rao, Gap and Charlie came up and they told me that we were going to go out and do a job on 57th Street and Six Ave., the one we did a couple of years ago, the name of the store was Mason Simmon. I had just bought a 1921 Packard and I paid about 3 thousand dollars but I didn't buy it direct I made some one else buy the car under a phony name. We went to 57th St about 5:30 in the morning. As we did the first time, two milk cans were used as I said before it was one of the largest windows of any store I ever saw. They managed to get most of the coats. I'll say we had about six, one had a price tag of $7,500, the cheapest one was worth about $2,700. Again we got fired at this time I swung around and went toward 6th Ave. As I turned the cop took good aim and I felt something hit me right under my heart but I didn't feel any pain and the cop hit one of the tires but it just chips it. The bullet went through the mud guard.
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Now when we got home I opened my coat and there it was - the bullet went through my left part of my body but it didn't touch any part of my skin. It came out on my right side of my clothes. I told the boys that it seemed to me when ever you guys got a tough place to do you guys come and look for me. I told them what happened to Pipie as they were using him steady. I told the Gap later that I didn't mean that for him. He said he understood. So Charlie told Joe Rao, see what I mean. As though Charlie always wanted me. Being Pipie was a friend of Joe's they were using him a lot. But I made them understand I didn't care that if I wasn't with them, I'll be with some of the other boys. It made no difference to me. A few days passed and again I was up the Dream Land and again the same three guys came up and I was there all by myself. I was talking to one of the girls. This time they told me that they had a fine place up at 174 and St. Nicholas, and that the cop was in on it. I told the Gap that I didn't want to go. He said that this cop is OK, he is Richie Luby's brother. Now Richie was another new guy, but although he was Irish he was not a friend of the other Irish guys. So they talked it into me. That day was a warm day during the day but it got very cold at night. So when we went to gas up at the garage I
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borrowed a navy coat from the garage guy. So we went at 174th St about 3:30 in the morning. I pulled over to the store which was on the West Side of the Avenue. They got off the car and they went right to the door of the store and they were working on the door when they came back in a hurry. They said that the tool broke and if I thought that we had time to go back to Harlem. I said sure, in fact its better. I felt that we came too early. But being they had the cop in the bag they didn't care what time we went, as I drove away slowly the cops must have thought that we were going away not knowing about the tool breaking. They pulled up to us right alongside on my left without saying a word. They started to shoot at us. All I heard was one shot, as later on I found out that there was about 60 shots fired. I also learned the car was swaying very slowly hitting one curb and then the other. As I found out later that the cops could have gotten the car but they must had been afraid that we had guns or maybe they just wanted to kill the whole bunch of us. All they were doing was coming close to the car, open fire and then back up. I could hear them screaming pull him out, pull him in the back seat but I could not answer them,
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finally I heard the car roar away. Then I heard them say let's throw him out as they told me later that I answered and said I ain't dead. With what they heard me say they were very happy. They drove to 114th St. and Pleasant Ave. and they went for the doctor but the doctor was not home so they put me on the floor and they fired about five or six shots in the air hoping that the Police will come and get me to a hospital. They claim that they came back about an hour later and found me still laying on the street, so they put me in a hallway in a baby carriage and they went looking for the doctor again. This time they found him. So they brought me in to the doctor's office and the doctor gave me a bottle of whisky - a whole fifth. I heard he worked on me about an hour as the bullet layed around the nerves in other words the bullet was twisted around the nerves so the doctor had to pull the nerves and hold them up so that he could spread the lead apart with another tool so every now and then the nerves would slip from the pliers, then he would grab them again and again. I understood Joe Rao fainted with a hard fall. Again I could hear everything, but I could not talk. They they put me in some woman's house for about a week as they had to find some hospital to put me and they did. They put me where nuns were as I was told that I
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was talking too much and they were forced to move me. I remember them moving me only because the car seemed to be going a hundred miles an hour. At least that is the way it appeared to me. I understand they were going five miles an hour. Now I am in the other hospital and when I did wake up I asked the nurse to put on the lights and she will tell me that she couldn't put the lights on if she did the police will find me. I didn't know that I couldn't see. As I was told that the bullet just touched the eye sight bone. I wasn't told this until I was able to see. Some of the boys will come and see me and they will hold a five or ten dollar bill and would ask me to tell them which was which, I will say put on the light and I will tell you. They will tell me that we couldn't put the lights on as it will bring the police. The doctor said and I say myself God forbid that I knew that I couldn't see. I don't know if I would have made it. I was only about 21 years old, even though I was very strong as I explained in this earlier part of this story, I worked on the hill at Sing Sing and I worked on a 16 pound hammer, could anyone imagine how would I ever live especially having no one taking care of me. Who would want to live. Now as the weeks were going by I would wake up and then go back to sleep. I understand I had ice bags all over my head.
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I called the nurse once and I asked her if she won't tell any one I will ask her if she saw what I saw whe will say that she won't tell a soul. Then I will ask her if she saw car, trucks, bells ringing, up at the ceiling all she will do was start writing. I remember this by myself what I am going to tell you. I woke up and I saw a very dim light, and I could see a very pretty face so I called her and I asked her if she came from heaven. She said no, but I come from the other place and she asked me if I will still think that she is pretty if she will put on the light. I told her to put the lights on and I will tell her the same thing. She said no. She couldn't put any lights on as they were already on. Now I was starting to feel a little better and the doctor will ask me if I saw any more funny things up at the ceiling. The only thing I couldn't shake off was my head. God did it hurt. Not long after I saw the doctor, by this time I was walking around not much but enough to get me tired, the elevator door opened on my floor and it was my mother with a girl from the neighborhood. The girl excused herself and she told me that my mother was bothering her as my mother knew that I knew her brother she said my mother had a dream that I was shot so she will beg her to find out from her brother where I was and that she should take her to the
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hospital. So I stayed a couple of more days and I found out that every bill was paid so I told the murse that I wanted to go home. She said she will call the doctor and see what he will say. He wanted to know how I felt, I told her to tell him that my head was OK so he said I should go home, but he will like to see me in about a week. I went home and in a week I went to see him and he was satisfied that I was ok. Now I started to go and see a movie and in a short time I was back in the Dream Land. Every one I met seemed to know all about what happened, well everyone gave me a good hand. One night Joe Rao came up to the Dream Land and we started to talk. I told him as soon as I get strong enough I had a tip on a silk shirt factory up in the Bronx. I told him that I was talking to some girl from First Ave. and she told me that there was no burglar alarm and that the factory was at 174th St, Park Ave. The next day the Gap came over to my house and he asked me about the factory and that Joe Rao told him all about it. I hope you ain't thinking of driving it right away as my head was still bandaged. He said yes we will do it right away as I need not go up to the factory that all I ae to do was stay in the car. After all you had not made any money in a couple of months and then he went on to tell me that they were so mad at the cop that had the beat on St. Nicholas Ave. the night I got shot that a day or two later
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they went up there looking for him and as they were going around his beat to find him that a motorcycle cop tried to stop him and the rest of the boys that were with us that night. and they fired a dozen shots at him but they did not hit him. They only wanted to scare him. From now on he said we will not go out anymore without guns and that they will get Richie Luby, but they going to make it die out. As I said Richie Luby was the brother of this cop that was supposed to be in on the job, but had tiped off the cops. He said they know they can't get us so they the cops are looking to kill us. The cop that hit you he said was a sharpshooter. Well any way he said be up in the Dream Land tonight. So I went up the Dream Land that night. There was Pip, Joe, Charlie and Gap there. Pip had a 1923 Lincoln and I had no 1921 Packard. So we started off about 12 o'clock that night and while Pip and I stood in a dinner they went over to the factory and they didn't come back until about 3 o'clock. They said that they needed a truck as there was a lot of silk shirts that they had packed. They said we will load both of the cars and then come back with the truck, because there wer a lot of cases of shirts and that they had all the swag on the ground floor. Joe and another guy that was with us remained at the factory while the others
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came over. They caught a watchman making a telephone call from a phone booth in front of a laundry. They asked the watchman if he had already called the cops he said yes, so they went to work on him with iron pipes. In the meantime Pip and I went there with his car, as my car was parked a couple of blocks away from the factory. As we were getting off the car we saw a car coming toward us from two blocks away. So we all jumped into Pip's car and he drove me to my cas. As I got in the car I tried to start it but the starter wouldn't turn as we had no time I left my car and I jumped in the other car and I said there goes another car. So that morning I went to sleep over my sister’s house. I wasn't there no more than a half hour when Funzi came over to the house. He said that he wanted to go and pick up the Packard. He said its a shame as it was some car. I'll take a chance as the car is a few blocks away from the factory. All of a sudden he said to my sister come on take a ride with me. Being I was so tired and I had just gotten out of the hospital I couldn't think very well, not realizing that he was the one who hit the watchman I said go ahead. They weren't gone five minutes when I just laid down on the bed and I fell asleep. The next thing that happened I was being awakened by the Police.
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They had a hard time waking me. When I did open my eyes I wasn't surprised. I just asked what's wrong. They said you know what's wrong. They told me to dress up and go along with them. So they brought me to the factory. There was the watchman and the girl that gave me the tip. As soon as the watchman saw me he said no, no I didn't see him. He said they both were tall, then they asked me if I knew the girl. She was so white I thought she was going to collapse but when she heard me say that I didn't know her they said in front of her that she said that she knew me. I said I'm sorry if she does I don't remember her. The Police said its funny that she lives only a half block away from you and besides she lives in the same building as Funzi lives, I said I'm sorry I don't know her. How could I involve her as when I spoke to her about where she worked she did not know what I was up to, she was telling me that she worked in a shirt factory and that they were making good shirts. I asked her how much were the shirts selling for, she said they sold for $25.00. I said twenty-five dollars. Gee I said it must be good silk, she said the best. Then I said give me the address I'll come and see you sometime and I will drive you home. Before I got the address from her I told her that the place must be alarmed
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and she said its funny but it ain't. I know she was looking for a date from me but I didn't want to fool around with any girls from the neighborhood, especially if they were good girls like this girl was. I wanted to be respected from the families in the neighborhood. I figure even if I did want to take some girl from the block to a movie I won't have time as I was out at night and slept all day. I had some boy friends from the block and they had sisters, sometimes I will go and see some of my friends from the block and if he wasn't home I will sit with their sisters and stay there a couple of hours and will play the pianola and sang songs. That's the way it will be around the old block. Let them like you. So I was booked and charged with assault in the first degree and burglary in the third degree, the bail was $20,000 for me and I don’t remember how much it was for them but I bailed everybody out. Now while I'm out on bail the Bulls sent for me and they told me that they will have the case thrown out of court for thirty-five hundred. I said OK but we must get someone to OK you and they will OK me. They said they didn’t need anyone to OK me as they knew of me. So I said well I want to put the money in someone's hands then I know that everything will be OK. So we talked and we finally agreed to call
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someone we both knew and the next day I gave him the money. But we were indicted and before we went to court they, the Bulls, send for me again, they gave me the money back and they said that Inspector Conklin had sent for them and he told them if Joe Valachi beats the case he will want to know how. He said that the Inspector told him that I was the chauffeur for the window crasher and without me they will have a chance to get this mob. Well what can you do. So they told me that I had a good case but they thought the watchman was going to identify me. They said that I could break him down then on the other hand they asked me how were the other two, meaning my sister and Funzi, so I said I see. Now they were telling me that the watchman was in a bad way that at night he will open the window and yell police, police. He would wake up the whole neighborhood and besides no one wants to know anything about him. The shirt factory claims that he did not work for him. The laundry says what business was it of his. So he don't want to know anything. Now he is going to be put in relief, so we both agreed he should have mind his own business. The Bulls told me that if we got away with all the swag we will have had 140,000 thousand dollars worth of silk wholesale. Now when we go to court for a pleading who do
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I go in front of - the judge that sentanced me the first time, the judge that I came in front of him with a strut, so he said to me, having you been before me some time ago, in fact not too long ago. I said yes your honor. He said there was something important about that case, he said that he did not recall, then asked me if I did. I said that I didn't recall anything of importance in the last case. So he raised my bail $25,000, so I got out again but the bondman went before another judge fearing that Judge Gibbs, that was his name, will raise the bail again. Now I'm out and I ain't got any car so I'm going around in cabs. I wasn't out but two weeks when I took a ride to the Dream Land, actually I was ashamed to go around because of the arrest. So I stayed up the Dream Land a little while and I went to the baths. I was hanging out with Frank La Puma, he belonged to the Irish mob. We weren't doing anything. One night we took a ride up at the Garden Inn and we met Joe Rao and some of the boys. Gap had got arrested but I don't remember for what. Frank left early and I stayed there at about 2 o'clock in the morning. Someone said that there was a Cadillac parked in the back yard of the Garden Inn and it belonged to the Irish mob and that it was stolen. Joe said why don't we go out and do Abbies as Abbies
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was a clothing store in the Bronx on Southern Boulevard, 163rd St. It was a tough spot. Then Joe said that I could use the Caddy at any time as they, the Irish boys, had told him so. We had no car as the Police had my 1921 Packard as I was claiming that the car did not belong to me. So we went out and we robbed Abbies and it was a clean job. Not even a cat passed. So the next night I went to the Dream Land and the only one there was Joe Rao. I wasn't there 20 minutes when some one told me that I was wanted out in the Hall that someone wanted to talk to me. When I went in the hall there was Frank LaPuma. He told me to tell Joe Rao that he wanted to talk to him. Then he told me that not to mind what he was going to tell Joe Rao. So I looked, he told me that he was looking for an argument with Joe Rao and that he was going to claim a share of the suits that’s why they told Joe to use the Caddy any time he wanted and that's why I came with you up at the Garden Inn last night. He said we don't want any money we are only picking as we don't like these guys. Only two we like he said is you and the Gap. So in that case I told Frank I'm not going to call him. He said you right
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I'll go in and call him so I said let me go in first, so he said OK. When I went in the dance floor Joe came my way and he said who was it, I said Frank. He wants to talk to you, but I told him if he wants to talk to you that he should come in. Joe said you did right. As we were talking Frank was calling Joe with his hands so Joe said to me come along with me. So I went. Now Frank was telling Joe, did you use our car last night. Joe said yes they told me to use it any time I wanted. Frank asked Joe who told you to use it. Joe said the Dutchman, then Frank said that the Dutchman wants a share of the swag So Joe said OK let's go to 116th St. and First Ave and I will get you a share. Frank said let go and Joe said to me. You come too, so Frank said he don't need to come. Joe said why he was there with us last night so why shouldn't he come. Joe said let's go so we went and none of us had a car so we went with a cab. When we reached 116th St, First Ave., Joe got out so did I but Frank stayed in the cab. He said to Joe Rao I'll see you tomorrow night, make it 8 o'clock. He said let Joe meaning me come with he as I have no money to pay the cab. So I went with him. He tells me that I saved Joe Rao's life. He said that's why I didn't want you to come. Gee I said I had trouble. I just came out and I want to
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make some money. He said don't worry you can come with us. I told him that I didn't like stickup. He said we going to get one good tip. Anyway he said don't go around there tomorrow night. I said OK. I stayed at the Dream Land and Frank said you can get off I'll pay the cab, I was only kidding that I was broke. So the next night I went around 116th St but no one was around so I went back to 107th St and no one was around so I was standing on the corner of 108th St. I met a close friend and he said come on let's go up my house, we'll play some Lotto, as this was a day before Christmas Eve, so I went with him and we were playing for small money. I enjoyed it so much that I slept there one night and I forgot all about Frank and the boy. When I did come down I went around 107th St, Second and Third Ave. Of course I'm talking about the famous 107th St. As I got into the block I was surrounded by a half dozen men. Some of them were greasballs and they were talking in Italian, they were saying let get him, let get him. Big Dick, Al Brown and one or two more were there. All I remember that I was saying what is this all about. Then Vincent Rao from 107th St, as everyone looked up to him at this time, he took me on the side. He told me that the Irish mob liked me and I could get in with them and then I could set them up, and
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then call me and the boys will come and get them. So I said I got to do it and he said yes. I asked him what happened he said they shot up 116th St and First Ave. So I told him that I'll call him and he said call me at the Pompei Restaurant. Now the Pompei Restaurant was owned by Willie Moore and there used to be the biggest crap games held over on the top floor, it had about four floors and it was a classy place and they also had entertainment. As I never shot crap so I hardly went there and if I did go I will go there to eat, it was on 125th St, 7th Ave., could have been Lenox Ave., I don't remember. All the big shots went over at this restaurant. By big shots I mean Ciro Terranova, Dutch Schultz, and all kind of big shots from out of town, Charlie Lucky used to go there too, even though he was nothing but a soldier. I didn't know anything about soldiers at this time but I found out later. As this was at night when I went to 107th St. The next day I went at 105th St and First Ave as I knew a friend of mine, his name was Mike. I knew he will be with the Irish mob if there were any trouble. Guess what happened, Mike sticks a gun in my back and he tells me to walk toward the river. I said this is fine, last night I got stuck up by those guys on 107th St and now you stock me up. He says ain't you with them. I said if I was with them
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will I be here or he said I'm sorry what are you got on your mind. I want to join the Irish mob. He laugh, boy am I glad to have you, come on let's go and meet them all, he meant the Irish guys. Tell your story to the Dutchman, by the Dutchman I don't mean Dutch Schultz, this was a different Dutchman, I don't remember his name he had more guts than all of 116th -- in fact they all had guts, too much. We went to an apartment and there I met Dutch, Frank LaPuma, Steve Foley, Pete Helssler and that's all that were here at this time, so I told them that I want to join them. Dutch being a good man, he tells me that it isn't right. After all you been brought up with those guys. I said I know but I have no choice so he said let's hear your story. So I told him that they think that I drove the car when you guys raided 116th St and the only way I could make up for it is to set you guys. I'm supposed to call Vince Rao tonight at the Pompei. He said what time I said 8 o'clock. So he said I was only thinking of you, you will have to live with these guys all your life. So I said I went to Sing Sing the first time and they didn't do anything for me and now I got arrested again and they ain't doing anything. I go 107th St and they stick me up and they give me a tough thing to do. They know I don't like this kind of stuff. So I'm out to get some of them,
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especially Big Dick and Charlie Bullets, who does he think he is. After all he is my friend and he should stick up for me, instead Vincent Rao told me that he is hunting for me so I'll go and hunt for him. I don't need them, not when they look out only for themselves. I see how you feel he said what are you going to tell him tonight. I said I'm going to tell him to tell the boys to come and look for me and shoot me as I'm going to look for them to shoot them. So he said you felt sure that you can be with us. Well Frank told me that night at the Dream Land that you guys were not looking to involve me. So Dutch said to Mike, do you take the responsibility for Joe. Mike said with his life. Now I said you see what I mean, what's going to stop them from thinking that I made a deal with you guys and set them up. So you see the spot they put me in. If they had any use for me they won't put me in a spot like this. With that the Dutchman told me to call Vincent and tell him what you like. At 8 o'clock I called Vincent Rao and I told him what I had to tell him and he said, No, No, meet me once more and I'll explain everything. I said, Vinc if I see you once more I don't come back. As I was trying to tell you last night, remember when I said, I gotta do this and you said yes, so I said what are you worrying about the bond if
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I die you won't lost your money. He, Vinc, had the bondsman for me. I said to Vinc, see what kind of guys they are, I need money to take of my case and they make trouble for me so I don't care and they know that I did not. Drive any car they shot the guy in the head that drove the car. Well they don't like me. I don't like them so we even. I said, Good-by Vince and I hung up. Now the Irish boys started to explain to me as to what really happened that night they told me that they went 116th St. and no one was there so we went to Charlie's house at 116th St. and we sat there and we told the women, Lottie and Charlie's wife, that we wait all night until they come home as they owe us money. They waited a couple of hours and they got tired and they figured if they can't protect their women to hell with them. As they came out of Charlie's building which was at 116th St. and Pleasant Ave. They heard shots from across the street. Now 116th St. is just as wide as 42nd St, if not wider. The Irish boys didn't fire a shot. Joe Rao and the boys were firing and running at the same time. Frank and the boys were just running after them but were not shooting only yelling at them, telling them to stop, let us take a shot at you but the tough guys just kept on running. Then they take it out
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of poor souls. The next day Joe Rao and the rest of the tough guys went 105th St where Patsy Caputo was. This is the one who drove the car and they knew it and they shot him in the head. But they also shot another poor soul, I don't remember his name, he was a hard working fellow and he had gone to the cafe to tell his friends that he had just received word from the hospital that his wife had just delivered a baby boy. He got shot and killed and Patsy went to the hospital but pulled through, although he was never the same again but he lived. This is the story of the boys of 107th St. and the boys of 116th St. They not used to have to go looking for their enemies they want them on a Plate, so I had it hard through the years, but I got along the best way I knew how.
Now the war was on. All they did was shoot at poor souls that had nothing to do with anything. Like once they shot at some guy the guy stopped and put up his hands and asked what is the matter and they told him they thought he was Joe Valachi. I used to go around at night and when I walked I will walk with two guns in my both hands. All I wanted was if they got me I wanted to get at least one of them.
One night I walked in the pool room of Kid Thomas. He was
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an old timer. Everybody ran out of the poolroom. So I said to Thomas what is the matter. He said the boys from 107th St. just left. They rush in and look around and walked out with guns in their hands. I used to go around there when I was finished with my work with the Irish boys. We done a few stickups but not enough to talk about. As I said I didn't like stickup. One day we got a tip that Charlie was in the Star Theatre, the Dutchman and I rushed there but too late. I knew the manager as he didn't know what was going on. He told me he had just left. So we will be together and break it up at night so I had to take care of myself. Most of the time we will be up on the roof during the day but we didn't go around like wild men. Well this went on for about 3 months as no one got anyone. The big guy of this outfit, I mean the Irish mob, was Nick Caputo, who was the brother of Patsy. He said that maybe there will be peace. He wanted to know how the boys felt about it. They told him no good. He didn't say anything, but Frank got mad and he told me that he was waiting for a hand grenade and that he and I were going to ride on the Third Ave. L and that we will be on the last train and we will throw it in the pool room on 107th St, Third Ave. Holly Gee I said they all up there. The poolroom belonged to Vincent Rao, He said I don't want to tell anyone only the Dutchman.
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Gee I said Nick is talking about peace. I said they kill us all. I rather go on this way I heard some story about these guys, they always make a phony peace, that's just what happened overnight. We were told a few days after Frank and I had a talk, that we all got to go to the Pompei Restaurant on such and such a night. Well I don't remember the night but we all went up there and there was a lot of people there. All I recognize was Vincent Rao and Willie Moore and all the boys of course I knew the boys but I didn't know the older guys. All we did was shake hands with one another and it was phony as can be. Dick was calling me names and I was calling the same names at him. The Dutchman was always staying close to me and he was telling me, tell him some more call him more names. And that's the way it went so I stayed with the Irish guys for a while as I will tell of a few things that we did. I mean with the Irish boys actually I knew from the beginning that after peace I won't be with them very long. They had a lot of nerve, too much, but no business head and I know it will be a short life staying with them. For instance, I'll tell you a few jobs I did with them. They had a tip on some guards delivering about $40,000 and it was going to the bank. It was around 73rd Street between Park and Madison Ave, That's where a certain car was supposed
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to come through at a certain time and there was supposed to be two men in the car. My job was to bring this car to a stop. I will be in the car all alone and they would be in the block hidden in hallways. I will look through the mirror and when I see a car coming, one of them will give me a signal if it was the car as it was supposed to be at a certain time and we were there about 20 minutes early. A few cars passed before I got the signal. I brought the car to a stop. I managed to block them in pretty good. Five big men got out of the car, and one of them was waving a badge and telling me to pull over at the same time one of the boys waved me away. I made believe that I was going to pull over but instead I pulled away and I took off. I had a phony plate on the car so didn't need to worry about the plate number. I couldn't understand why they told me to go away. When I saw them they told me why they waved me away. They were pretty mad at the tipster. The car was supposed to be only with two men instead there was five men and they were only three and it was broad daylight and they figured it will be a battle.
The next job I went with them was a safe in a Long Island store at night. At this time I owned another Packard. This one was a Sedan.
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It was about 20 miles from the bridge of 59th St. It was about two o'clock in the morning when we got there. We took the safe from the store and we were driving tovard New York when one of them got an idea. We had rode about 15 miles when he said to pull over to an empty lot and it had a fence all around. They took the safe off the car and they were working on it. While they were working I happened to look around and I noticed a cop piping from the gas station. So I said it very low, I said listen very careful don't look up. There's a cop behind the gasstation and he is looking at everything we are doing. As soon as I mentioned the word cop one guy had sneaked away, he was not a member of the Irish mob so he must had been the one who had the tip on the safe job. So I ran towards the car and Frank ran with me and we got into the car and we pulled the car towards the safe and the Dutchman. I got off the car and gave them a hand to put the safe back in the car. Now I must go out through the gas station entrances, it was the only entrance and the cop was behind the gas station and he was taking everything in. Now when I reached about 15 feet from the gas station I stopped and I told Frank that when I'm about to pass the gas pump I'll be about 6 feet from the cop, he
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could hit me right in the head. Frank told me to bend down a little as I drive and don't worry as I did he yelled to the cop, if you raise your arm I'll hit you right in between the eyes. The cop did not say a word he just kept looking as we passed. When we got back to New York they opened the safe and it had about $1,400 and one of them suggested that they give nothing to the other guy. He had told them that there was supposed to be $5,000 in the safe and besides he ran away like a deer. Now I started to talk to these fellows and I told them that we could make money every night if we go out and crash stores and stop getting phony tips, they said they will think about it. So one night they decided to come with me on a burglary and I brought them to the best suit store I could find. It was 110 Lexington Ave. and the name of the place was Apple Brothers. It was a 3G Store in those days, 3G clothes were the best around. When we went and do this job I left someone at the wheel and I opened the door with the tools that we were using at this time. No more crashing windows. When the door opened I threw the tools at someone and I ran inside and came out with an arm full of suits. I'll say I had about 20 suits. I saw the post was clear so I made another trip. By this time Frank and one more guy came in the store and then I took the wheel.
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A couple of passerbys were passing to go to work. The Dutchman started to stick-up these people and was lining them up against the wall. So I called him, but in the meantime, we were through and we were on our way. I told the Dutchman he should not do those things as this is not a burglary any more it becomes a stick-up. They said it did not make any difference to them, but I said these people could identify us. They said they did not like this kind of work. They asked me how much will we I make. I knew we had about 100 suits so I told them I'll get $2,000. I figured I will peddle them instead of turning them over to a swag buyer because these suits went like hot cakes. Guys will take 4 or 5 at a time and I made just two thousand dollars. When I brought the money and we cut it up they told me that they didn't want to do this as they didn't like it. I started to look around for some other guys and make up a team and start burglaring again. I was realizing that I'm not going to gain anything with these guys. I figured I'll stall these guys until I'll be settled with some other guys. In the meanwhile they told me that they had a tip on a subway station and that this was the station that had the collection of all the money so I went with them and I was at the wheel while they went down stairs at the subway. I was parked about 200 feet off the corner of the subway
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station. The motor was running and I had a gun on the seat of the car. When I noticed two detectives coming toward my way I knew one of them and as they walked by me they stuck their heads in the car but they just looked and walked away in the meanwhile the other two guys came up from the subway and I took off. When I got about 10 blocks away they asked me if I saw anyone I said yes. I saw detective Summons and another guy. They looked at one another and one said to another I told you he saw them. So the Dutchman said to me, I don't know what is the matter with those guys the way they treated you. Not many guys would had stayed on his post after seeing two bulls coming your way and you stayed there. They didn't know that this was going to be my last time, that I'll go anywhere. As I said, big chances and no money. I asked them what happened down at the subway. Frank said that when he told the guy in the cage that this was a stick-up he threw himself under the counter and that he had to go away. I said I knew something was wrong as you guys came up too fast. I went home that night and I started to think what would happened if those two bulls didn't go away. The next day I went to see Mike and I told Mike that I wasn't going out with those guys any more. I explained everything to them and now I'm telling you. He said he did not blame me. Mike said that he will team up with me. I said fine, now a few days later they had a job in Long
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Island and it was a good one. I told Mike no good. I was going out of town. I met some guy from 112nd St. and I found a couple of more guys from 108th St., as I had to find new company. I was on the outs with the old mob. This fellow from 108th St had some friend in Allentown, Pennsylvania, so we took a ride to Allentown, Pa. We were four. When we got to Pa. the people over there told me about the Hamilton Ave. Fur Co. so I went and looked it over. It was a big store and I was surprised to see it had no burglar alarm. Now we must have a car as we went there without a car. One of the boys in Pa. told me that he knew where to get one. I said its got to be a big one and fast. He said how did I like a Haynes. I said OK, how old was the car. He said about two years old. I said fine. Now I want to look at the store at night. One guy was in a hurry as he had a girl waiting in New York so I told him that he can go home I ain't rushing things. I got to know what I'm doing. So he said that he told his girl that he would be away only two days. I told him go home buddy. He did. Now we were out with one of the boys from Pa. and every now and then we will take a ride at the fur store. Every time we passed there it was different, one time the lights will be on and the next time the lights will be out. So I told one of the guys that tomorrow night you would
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have to stay there and see how those lights go in and out. The night before we intended to go and rob the store this fellow went there and sat in his car and watched, He noticed that a man came and opened the store and turn on the lights so he stayed in his car and waited to see what happened. He saw the man come back and again he opened the store and this time he turned out the lights. He stayed there and again the man came and he done the same thing, so he came to a conclusion that every hour he comes and turns on the lights either way. He came and reported it to me. So I said OK, now we know how they go on or off. The following night we went and got the car in the private garage and I sent the guy to the store and told him to come back as soon as the man came. This way we will have an hour's start on him. We didn't need an hour. Well he came back and he said the man just left. As it was only a 7 minute ride to get to our place we knew we had plenty of time. We went to the store and I put one of the boys from Pa. at the wheel and I put one fellow on the corner. I opened the store with the same kind of tools we used in New York. It was an easy door, it was a double door. Three of us went inside and we were bringing out the coats from the store into the car. It was the
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biggest store I ever saw in New York and there was plenty of coats. We had made one trip apiece and we went in for another when we heard shots. We ran outside to see what was wrong. The guy on the corner saw a car stop across the street and he fired at the car to scare him, the guy took off after he fired at him. I was starting to go back in the store when they told me not to. They said that guy will pick up a cop and he will come back. I knew we didn't have enough coats but I knew they were right so we jumped in the car and we took off. Now we had to take the straight road for about five minutes and a trolley car motorman was keeping up with us and he was blowing the whistle of the trolley. So we shot a couple of shots at the trolley but not to hit him and he stopped blowing his whistle. We got to the place where we were going to leave the coats for a week or two and we went to sleep in another house and the next day we left for New York, but two went by car and two went by train. One of the Pa. boys brought two of us in with his car. Now while we were in New York we were riding in my friend's car and it was a flashy green Packard, sports model. When two gypsies, as we were stopped for a red light, jump in the car and were insisting that we sell them the car. My friend told them that he did not want to sell the car. They didn't want to get off the car so
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we gave them a beating and we threw tham out of the car, About three days later we got arrested and charged for robbery. They claimed we took three hundred dollars off them, I tried to tell the cop that they were phonies but he won't believe me. We got out on ten thousand dollars bail. We checked on these gypsies and we found out that they have a king so we went and see the king. The king told us that he knew them and that is a racket they play from state to state. They make their business to find out whose got a record and they find an excuse to get a beating and then shake you down. They know that a guy can't afford to be arrested who got a record. He said he will talk to them and that we should see him that night late. So we went back that night and he said they want 15 hundred dollars. We blew our tops. What can we do. We had to pay it as we were going to court the next day. When I went to court I told the cop that the gypsy won't be in court. He said it can't be. No you see, I told him they went out of town. He asked me where. I told him what are you kidding I should tell you where they are so you can go and get me in trouble. They didn't run away from you they ran away so they could go and shake someone else. I told you they were phony. Since when I take money from people especially in the day time. The names were called in
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court and they were not there. So he asked for another 48 hours and the Judge said OK, make sure you have them here the next time. So we went back to court and again they weren't there so the Judge dismissed the case. I told the cop, now I got to go and steal and pay for the shake down and the bondsman and lawyer. He said I would had never believed it.
Now to get the coats in from Pa. I sent this guy and his girl to go and pick them up. I told him to drive within the speed limit when he comes in so we won't have more trouble as we had enough. He came in with them without any trouble. We sold one here and one there and we had to make up for the pinch. The guy from Pa. told me that there was a silk mill out there and it was the same way the watchman comes around every hour. I told him we will buy a car, under a phony name, and we will go out there. He said fine, I knew a guy who had a nice Packard and I told him that I got a friend who wants to buy your car. I know you have it for sale, he said that's right. I told him what the guy was going to do. He was going out of town with the car. I told him in case of any thing you don't know me. He said give me a name and I'll sell the car as long as I get paid and change the registration. My friend paid him for
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the car. I don't remember how much and we went back to Pa. We parked the car in a private garage and we went to sleep. When we got up one guy came with me to get the car out of the garage and there were two men posted there one on each side of the garage. We opened the door and I went inside and the other fellow stayed in front of the door of the garage. I was afraid they might shut the door on us if we both went in. I started the car and I was coming out, I was half way out when I stopped to pick up the other fellow. Those two fellows called me as Louie got in the car. I just kept on going. We went back to the house. We hid the car, as we intended to rob a silk mill. That was the reason why we had come back to Pa. so I called the thing off and I decided to go back to New York. I suggested that one of the fellows from Pa. come along with us and accompany us back as we did not know the roads as they did. One of them came along and we took a couple of guns along with us. We were doing fine going through the back roads, No one noticed us when we got to Easton, Pa. which is about 30 miles from Allentown. Louie said that he will know the roads from hereon. So the kid from Pa. got off the car and we went on our own. We didn't go a mile when Louie got confused and we found
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ourselves on the main street. As I was parked for a red light a cop called me and as he was coming toward our way I took off and the chase was on. Somehow I found myself along the railroad and it was a rough road and as I had a 1918 Packard and the wheels were large I lost them all for a while, but every now and then some car will come out of the dark and start shooting at us. We will return the fire and they would back up and we will lose them. I didn't know where I was going but we knew we were headed back towards Allentown, Pa. I kept speeding all the time as we got near to Allentown, Pa. A motorcycle cop shot out of the woods, he had a side car. He pulled up close to us and started blazing away on us. He hit the gas tank and one of the guys. As the Packard in those days had air pressure I noticed my air gage went to zero. So I took it out of speed and made the car roll. In the meantime the boys in the back fired a couple of shots at the motorcycle and they backed up. As I was going I saw a cemetary and there was a horse fountain in front of me and I told the boys that I was going to crash so get ready to jump. As it was a touring car we all jumped out at once and I found the wounded man was following me and telling me don't leave me. So three of us
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remained together and we were running through the cemetary as we figured its best to get out before they will surround the cemetary and we were going through back yards. We went about ten blocks from yard to yard. Finally we looked into a window and we saw an old man and an old lady so we knocked on the door and someone opened it and we went in. These people happened to be Italian and we gave them a story and we put the wounded man in a chair. But the next day I sent out Louie as he knew his way around. He was the one who knew the people in Pa. He went out in disguise. He came back to say that we were right in Allentown, Pa., and that they were going to have a house to house search. So I put the wounded man in the back yard in one of those toilets and told him to say there as it was better than getting arrested. I put a couple of blankets on him and I went back to the house and I told the people that they were going to come and its best they keep their mouths shut or we will shoot it out when they come. Early that night they came but they did not search they figured that they were old people and all they did was ask if they saw anyone in the last day or so. We were hid in the house. They told them that they did not see anyone. After they left I told them you see its best for all. I promised them that we will get out that night. So I sent for
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two guys that were running things out there, like a few sport houses and some gambling. Well they will not see me and I told Louie to go back and tell them if they don't see me that I will go after them, so they made an appointment for the following night, say about 9 o'clock. When I got there with Louie I told them that they must give me help to get out of town as I had a wounded man on my hands. He asked me how many were with me. I said three of us. I told him that I didn't know what happened to the other guy. So he said that the cab driver out there were like cops and that he will speak to one of them that he can trust and make him drive us to New York. He said they won't stop cabs. I said fine. In a few hours he sent the cab as we told him where we were, so we got in the cab and most of the trip we laid on the floor of the cab. He took us right through. We even passed cops’ cars on the road, but the cops will seeonly the driver, so we got home in New York City. We got out of the Pa. cab a few miles before we reached our neighborhood, and we took another cab. We got to 108th St about 7 o'clock in the morning. Now the wounded man got himself a doctor and as I understood that he was hit in the lung and that it was a good thing that he was outside in the cold as the blood froze in him. It it didn't freeze he would had bled to death.
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I forgot to mention that I had a hundred dollars on me and I gave the cab driver from Pa. $90 of it. Now as I was out on bail in the Bronx case it wasn't long before I got called for trial. I must tell you before I went to trial I was told that the Packard that they got in Pa. was put in a museum and the fellow who sold me the car came over to my house and told me that the Police were over to his house and they wanted to know who did he sell the car to. He gave them the name but I don't remember the name and they asked him that if they get the man would he identify him. So he told them that he certainly would. So I told him to let me know if there will be anything new. He said OK. I never heard from him any more. Now we went and bought the Pa. papers on 42nd St and we read that the Police were getting hell as they wanted to know how the car got out of the garage with two policemen being on duty at the garage. I was sorry I didn't stop when the cop in Easton, Pa. , stopped us the thing we had guns but I couldn't afford it. As I had a case in New York City.
Well the case came up in the Bronx and I'll say it was about 3 weeks after the Pa. affair. So I went to trial. There were 9 witnesses that had taken the stand, there was the watchman -- now he says that I saved his life, meaning that I stopped the fellow from hitting him. It
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sounded good but it was no good as he puts me on the scene. When the lawyer asked him didn't you say that he was not the man when they first brought him to the shirt factory. He answered that he did not remember then, they had the Packard people take the stand and they could not say that they sold me the car. Well everything was going fine until I heard my sister was the next witness so I raised my hand and I told the D. A. that I wanted to talk to him. So we sat on the side and I asked him what will he do if I cop out, he said that he will drop the assault charge and give me a plea. As I was a second offender he said he will give me burglary in the third degree as a first offender and I must be sentenced as a second offender as in those days they gave the first offender a split sentence and the second offender a flat sentence in other words I could receive no more than five years. So I said OK. I had so much trouble that year that I didn't mind going to Sing Sing Prison for a rest. The original Judge, I mentioned in the early part of this story, now is dead so I had a new Judge. The original D.A. now is a Judge so I can't face him so I had an up state judge and he was very nice. When he asked me after I pleaded guilty and I went for sentencing what I had to say I said your Honor I want you to know that I owe Sing Sing Prison 2 years and
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I must finish my old sentence and then I start on the new one. The Judge said that he had no record of my owing Sing Sing 2 years. He said how did you get out on bail if you were on parole. I said I didn't know. I want to tell the truth your Honor I was surprised myself. So he told the court clerk to check on that before I pass sentences, so I sat on the side and the check came in and they called me again. The clerk told the judge that it was true that I owed Sing Sing 2 years. Then the Judge said that he was going to give me 5 years as long as you already have 2 years, I'll only give you 3 years so that's what I received and in a couple of days I was on my way to Sing Sing Prison.
When I reached Sing Sing, as this was my second time, I knew most of the inmates and they all wanted to know how much I received this time, when I put up three fingers some were glad and some were sad they would say Gee you beat me again. I will answer well I always told you that burglaries was better than sticking up. They will answer, you not kidding. The same boys were there that I used to eat with my first time and they were taking care of me in the 10-day house and they told me that I was welcome to go back with them again. I was surprised as I thought that they will have hard feelings because I went with the Irish.
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They really made me feel good, especially one guy, his name was Pete. He told me that they knew everything and they thought I had gotten a bad deal. Well I got out of the ten-day house. I went back with them and one of the guys that came from St. Louis told me I can go out there with him so don't worry about anything and we are for you. Gee I said thanks. He told me the time that he had already spent in prison he had met lots of guys from Harlem and he did not think much of them. He thought most of them were bluffers. Well I went to work on the coal pile as that's what we called the receiving station. Then one of the fellows from Harlem came over and asked me if I wanted to go and work with him up in the dormitory he said it will cost a couple of cases of whiskey. I said no. Then when I told the boys that I was eating with, they told me to take the job they told me, that two of them were due to go home and another was going to get a job driving the prison garage truck and besides we think by you going up there you will save that guy's life as no one likes him and he is due to go home in about a year and then you will be the boss up there and that is the best job in the joint. So I said he is the brother of one of the boys I had trouble with, so they said what do you care you ain't afraid of him. If he talks out of line, tell him off. His name was
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Dominick. He came and see me again and he said that he had ordered the whiskey and that whenever I say the word I can go up there. So I told him OK. In a week I was up there. I wasn't there long when he told me that the reason he asked me to go up there was that he didn't want me to go around talking about his brother and the boys on the outside and that he didn’t have any use of the fellow in the prison, I told him that I did not intend talking about his brother or anyone else and if I had any thing to say I'll say it in front of you and anyone else in this place so cut it out and let me work and don't bother me. I said I beg you to mind your own business. Well I know how it is. I know how you feel, they didn't help you on the case. I said I did not expect any help I only hope if they get a deal like I got that they be able to take it. Not alone they didn't help, on top of it all they wanted to kill me. So let's forget about it and I don't want to talk about it. We in prison and that is a different life than the outside world. He said you right. I was there a few months when one Italian and a couple of Irish guys came up in the dormitory and the Italian guy, his name was Tom Abruzzo, he challenged Dominick to have a fist fight and the others were there to protect Tom and they seem to have
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knives so I took a bat that we had always up in the dormitory and I told Dom go ahead and fight him. I was standing there with the bat in my hands. So they fought. Dominick got a few punches in the face and he quit. Now I talk this over with the other boys I wade to be with they told me that they had no right coming up there after all you eat with the guy and besides that's like coming in your house, so we talk to the Irish guys and tell them that they done wrong and it should not happen again and you go and tell Tom that he has to take you on because he came up to your house. One of them said let's go I will come with you, so we went up in the Dep room where Tom was and we told him how we felt. The Dep Room was where all the good boys hung out when they weren't working so Tom said I didn't have any trouble with you but if you feel that way its Ok with me, so we made arrangement that when its time for the movies we will meet up in the Dep room and we will have it out. We fought about 25 minutes and he got hit so bad that he quit. Dom was there when we fought.
Now time is marching on and some guy comes in from 116th St. and he was older than I. I didn't know him and Dom introduced me to him. This fellow had a very hard name -- it was an Italian name, I can't
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remember, I'll try to write it the best way I can, it was a long name and it went something like this Mastromeine. From the way I understand he was some kind of a Don in the old days and he was a partner of a real tough buy but his partner had been killed. They called him Little Eddie. I didn't know him but I heard about him. So they both will talk about all the old timers. So one day they got into an argument, I don't remember what it was all about, but Dom started to tell me that Mastromeine is nothing since Little Eddie is dead. I got along with Mastromeine, but this is what happened. As each one was going ae soon, say in about 6 or 7 months, they had 30 days difference between them, in other words, one will go home and the other will go home 30 days after the other went home. So Mastromeine went home first and Dom started to tell me how he was going to get him. About a week before Dom went home Mastromeine got killed. We read it in the papers. Dom felt bad because he wanted to get him. Now Dom goes home he ain't out long before he gets killed. So I could not help thinking about the both of them, in other words, they never met. Now I read in the papers that Frank LaPuma gets killed. They shot him sitting on a stoop in the late hour of the morning. Well all I could do was just think. Then the Dutchman
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comes up and he has 30 years. I didn't even know he was arrested. He was helped in the hospital because he had got shot in the leg on the job that he got the 30 years. So I went up to the hospital to see him. The first thing he tells me that had I gone with them in Long Island the time that I refused to go he won't be here in Sing Sing. I told him I couldn't help it as we went and done a few things and we never made any money. I proved it to you when we robbed that clothing store in Harlem and we made $2,000 as we didn't make that much in all the jobs we pulled and besides they were all serious crimes. I said you see you got 30 years. I told him Pete Halssler is in the death house. He said he knew that. He went on to tell me that when they made that peace up at the Pompei Restaurant they had sold you and Frank LaPuma out, by that he meant that the peace was made on condition that in time Frank and I were to die. He went on to say the Bum got Frank. He did it for Ciro Terravano and Ciro gave the Bum a hundred dollars. He said that the Bum would had never done it if he, Dutchman, don't go to jail. But don't worry he said he'll get his. He is out on bail and I expect to meet him in Dannamora. Then I said in other words, Nick Cauputo sold Frank and I out. He said that's right. The Bum was afraid of him and when Ciro told the Bum that
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this killing is Nick's wishes, the Bum went "hook, line and sinker, " but I promise you it won't be long and you will hear that Nick will get his. I said I hope so. He said you can bet on it. I thought a little while and then I said Gee it's a good thing that I did go away on the rap up in the Bronx. He said now pay attention to me. When you get out make sure that you make new friends, keep away from the old mob. I won't be there to help you. Now he goes on to say that a fellow with a lot of time that he has can't stay in Sing, so in a couple of days he is going to hit someone on the head with his crutches and he will be shipped to Dannamore. He can't stay here because it is too close to the City and the time will never pass. He said we better say good-by now as you never know I might hit someone tonight. I said OK. Then I asked him if he had to wear or use the crutches all the time. He said no. He said by the way you know who shot me. I said no. Then he said Frank LaPuma, he shot me by accident on the job, but he did not mean it. He said he ran into the shot as he was shooting at a policeman. I said what happened to Pete Helssler, how come he killed Monkey Riley, as we kids from the neighborhood put this name on this Policeman, he said do you remember when we were playing cards in the Cafe and Monkey Riley came
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in and he wanted to chase you home. I said yes | remember. Well here is what happened the morning that Monkey Riley came in the Cafe, we were playing cards and he walked in and saw me playing cards with the Irish mob. There was Pete Halssler there and Frank LaPuma, Dutchman and myself. We were playing four handed, it was an Italian game, I don't know how to call it in English, and the policeman told me, so this is where you are getting yourself mixed up with these guys. Get up and go home. So I was getting up to go out when Pete said to me sit there and don't move, so I sat there. Monkey Riley said to Pete I got my hand on it. As he had a raincoat on, you could not see his hands so Pete said, you just pull that right arm out and I'll leave you there. Monkey Riley said I'll get you. So Pete said I'll be waiting for you - so I told the Dutchman so it come, the trouble from that night. He said yes. He said you look through the key hole on the back door in the death house find out when he plays handball and you could talk to him, So after the Dutchman left as it was the next night when he hit a nurse on the head with one of his crutches and I could not see him any more. As the first train that goes out he will be on it. When I looked through the keyhole I could not see Pete but I saw another guy playing handball with the priest, so I asked when does Pete
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Halssler play. He told me that Pete played and he won't play until tomorrow again and he told me the time. So I asked him if he can give Pete a message for me, he said yes but he must yell to give it to him. So I said it OK, tell him that Joe Cago was asking for him, he said OK. The next day I went there and I called through the keyhole, and Pete came over as the priest does not say anything. I asked him how he felt and he said fine. So I asked him to get back a little so I could see him clear, so he did. I said he looked fine, He said he felt fine. I told him that the Dutchman was here and that he had 30 years, He said he knew that he was arrested but he didn't know how much time he had. I asked him what happened with Riley and he said that one night, 4 o'clock in the morning, he, Riley, sneaked up on him and stuck him up. He took his gun away but he didn't know I had another gun on me. I had it in my stocking, since that night he came in the Cafe I always carried two guns. I knew that he will sneak up on me some day as we were walking towards the policestation I went for my gun so fast that I shot myself in the leg. I hit him in the throat and as he fell he was chocking and pleading and I told him I had told him time and again not to bother me but he wanted to get me. I hit him 4 shots. After that he said he went up Whitey's house and the cops
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traced the blood and he got arrested. He said that he got such a beating that he was in the hospital a couple of months. So I asked how did he feel knowing that he was going to burn. He said all I got to do is think of Monkey Riley how I got him and I'll die a happy death. I don't remember when, but Pete died in the Electric Chair.
Now I was starting to get more company from the outside. There was a fellow named Joe and another fellow named Dolly Dimples came up with a 10 to 20 year sentence. I knew Joe but I did not know Dolly Dimples. Dolly sent word that he wanted to see me while he was in the ten-day house, so I went and saw him. He said I don't know you but I heard about you. He said I heard about the trouble you had on the outside and as they killed my brother years ago I want to be with you. He said they used to call my brother Coney Island. Gee I said I heard about him when I was a kid. I liked him on sight. He said he had other friends in Sing Sing and he didn't want anything from them so he asked me to take care of him while he will be in the ten-day house. So I said OK. I said I will get you to work with me in the dormitory and we will eat together and I don't want you to ask me to get this guy or that guy to come with us up in the dormitory as I don't want to bother with anyone. He said OK. Now some of the fellows
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asked me if I was taking Dolly with me. I said yes. Gee they will say I know him from the outside. Then I will say well talk to him. Well the ten days were up and I got Dolly a job up in the dormitory without paying anyone as I became very close with the Principal Keeper, so I asked the P.K. as Dom had gone home and I didn't have anyone yet, so it was easy. Now Dolly comes to work in the dormitory and in a few weeks a friend of Dolly's comes in and Dolly asked me about getting this fellow to come up in the dormitory. Dolly knew that I knew him now I knew we were to get more men to come to work in the dormitory because it was hard to keep clean. Dom kept it to two men as he didn't want to mingle with anyone. Knowing this fellow was just a fellow from the neighborhood and didn't have any ties with anyone and he was a nobody I agreed. In the time that I was already in Sing Sing before Dolly came in I got close with an old timer, his name was Alexander Venero.1 He was one of the leaders of the Navy Street mob from Brooklyn and he was Naples and he had killed one of Ciro Terravoa's2 brothers that came from East 107th St. At his time they were killing one another. They were fighting the Sicilians, the reason why they killed Ciro's brother was because they had killed a man that Alex had sent to deliver a message and Alex felt that they killed a
1 Valachi was referring to jailed Brooklyn Camorra leader Alessandro Vollero.
2 Valachi misspelled the name of Ciro Terranova.
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workman and for that he wanted to get one of the bosses. So Alex and George Pelligrino, which was also at Sing Sing at this time, they sent for Nick Morello which was Ciro's brother, they used both names,1 so Nick brought along another guy and they went to meet Alex in Brooklyn. They both died. Now I don t remember in whose funeral they were but the Police arrested 100 men at this funeral. So a couple of Naples guys opened up and George Pelligrino and Alex and a couple of more were convicted. Now of all the guys that were convicted one of them didn't get caught at all, but he was known, so after l2 years he, Louie the shoemaker,2 gave himself up. Now it was in all the papers. So Alex told me that everything will be OK as Louie the Shoemaker had put up fifty thousand dollars, to make it short, Louie the Shoemaker burned in the Electric Chair besides losing his $50,000. Alex knew Dolly's brother, he was Naples and he said to Dolly the Sicilians killed him. He started to tell us that you can hang out with a Sicilian 20 years and if you get in a fight with one of his own kind he will go against you. He said before I go home that I should remind him as he wants to have a talk with me. He said we will walk together for a few nights. We used to walk all around the dormitory Dolly and I and Alex also told me that while we are in
1 Ciro, Nicholas and Vincent Terranova were half-brothers to Mafia leader Giuseppe Morello and sometimes used the Morello surname.
2 Valachi likely was referring to Tony "the Shoemaker" Paretti, who was executed in 1927.
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prison as by now he know I'm no troublemaker that I could depend on him if any trouble came up regardless who it is with. So Dolly and I told him it goes the same way with us. It wasn't long before some kid by the name of Pete LaTempo came up in the dormitory and knocked on the door and said that he wanted to get something from his bed as he slept in the dormitory. I knew him but never had anything to do with him. As I let him in and I went about my business and started to mop as that was what I was doing before he knocked. Dolly wasn't there he had gone some where I don't remember. The fellow I had gotten up in the dormitory, his name was Yap, nickname, was in the toilet. All of a sudden I felt a sting, so I looked behind me and saw this guy waving a butcher knife so I started to run after him and he was yelling that I was cut. I just kept going after him and when I caught him I hit him a good rap on his mouth, he was shorter than I but by this time my knees were getting weak. He ran out and Dolly comes in a few minutes after he left. I was bleeding heavily and the hospital was only one flight above the dormitory so Dolly brought me upstairs and then got put in the hole and so did Yap and a couple of more close friends of mine. They asked me who cut you the P.K. was doing the talking. I said I didn't know. I
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received 38 stitches on my left side. Now I had some Irish friends and they sent word up at the hospital they wanted to know who done it. I sent word back and now they know and they were out to get him, but he was always hanging out in front of the P.K.'s office and someone else was doing his work. He worked in the Mess Hall. He started to get scared and gave himself up. Now when they told me that he gave himself up right away I figured that he was put up to do it. Now they let all my friends out and Dolly came and see me up the hospital and he also figured the same thing. He did not lose any time but he was sent to Dannamora. One night I spoke to Alex in the dormitory and he also felt the way Dolly and I felt. We figured that was the reason why he had given himself up. The guys who steamed him figured that it was best because the kid may break and tell why and who told him to do it. Well anyway I told the one I suspected it was funny that the kid hung out with you guys and I never had a word with the kid, but its OK I said next time send a guy that will do a good job. Of course they denied it. Now some more boys came from the neighborhood including the Gap and the Gap talked it in me to let them come and eat in the dormitory. I told him
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what the Dutchman had told me and he said don't worry about nothing because I heard them talking on the outside and they know that you got a bum rap and besides they all know that Joe Rao was the guy that steamed them that you drove the car 116th St and by now they know who it was. He said besides play dumb and keep it to yourself. I said OK but Dolly and I want to be by ourselves. They Dolly spoke up and told the Gap that regardless of who don't like Joe they better hate me too, as I'm with Joe all the way. Now Dolly and I used to walk around so much together that they started to call us the Dolly sisters. Now I explained to the Gap that he and the boys which were about 8 or 10 from the neighborhood not to mix with politics you know the Irish mob in here is all in politics and Al Gullieo is trying to talk to me to get you guys in politics as you know they have two parties over here being I'm here longer than you guys. I understand and we don't want to run any Prison. They got a lot of time so let them worry about it. We will all vote for Tammany and that's all. He said he agreed and he will tell the boys. Al Gullieo was Italian but he hung out with all the Irish boys. Now the boys started to call us the dormitory mob and we were well respected. We got everything we asked for from the Sergeant at Arms, his name
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was Tim O'Hara, and that is the way we were doing out time just staying to ourselves.
I knew Willie Sutton and he was always to himself and a gentleman so when he made the Dummy and made his escape I went down to the P.K. office and asked the P.K. if I can see the Dummy. He was a nice man and always joking so he said go ahead so I did. He had it in the back of the P.K. office. Boy did it look real I said to Sheehy as that was the P.K.'s name, how did he beat the move. I must explain what I mean by the move. At 1030 at night that is the last count and when the officer comes around if you are asleep he will wake you because they had pulled a dummy escape in Sing Sing years before Willie Sutton did, but Willie Sutton got into a certain position and he will make the guard bang bang and bang on his door before he will answer. So after six months the guard got used to him and he will count him without waking him up. Now the idea is instead of your being in the cell he will be hid somewhere in the prison now when he gets counted in the guards go off the Walls after the 10:30 count they wait when its OK. Now once you beat the count you got all night to come out of your hiding
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place until the next morning -- the count is made about 5:00 o'clock. Now when the next count comes the guard that counted him at 10:30 ain't there any more, he goes home at 12 o'clock so when the morning count came the guard found the Dummy but by this time God knows where Willie Sutton was. The guard that was on that 10:30 count got fired. This is the low down that the P.K. gave me.
Now I'll tell about a guy that Dolly used to see quite often, his name was Pete the Greek and I used to see Dolly talking to another guy, this guy slept on my left in the dormitory, his name was Tony, and he was doing a 20 yr to life sentence and he will always tell me, "Imagine you be going home in a couple of years. Boy if I can get out of here I'll do anything" so I used to say, That's why I was against stickup. You see one mistake and you ruined for the rest of your life and you lucky you didn't die," because he killed a store keeper, he didn't burn because of his age but at this time he was in Sing Sing about 12 years. So one day I was walking with Pete the Greek and he tells me, "I suppose Dolly told you what we have in mind." So I said, "Yes," but I didn't know anything, so he tells me that he is got the guns buried. Boy I almost fainted but I didn't say anything, so I got Dolly on the side and asked him what are
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you doing. I said, "Dolly tell me the truth are you talking to that guy Tony next to me." He said, "I might as well tell you," so he went on to tell me that he was planning it with Tony and I don't want you involved so I didn't tell you anything. I said, "Dolly that guy is no good. He is trying to get out in the worst way," so I asked him what way did they expect to go, so he told me from the visiting room. I said, "How?" So he told me that they all get a visit together, he, Pete and Tony, and they will stickup the guard at the desk and stickup the guard at the front gate at the same time and have his brother ready outside with a car. I told him, "You are out of your mind and how are you going to get through the roads?" He said that his brother will have a room rented about 10 miles from the prison. I said, "And won't your brother be involved." He just looked. I said, "Let me talk to Tony and let's make a joke out of this and I'll tell him to forget about it." Dolly agreed. I spoke to Tony and told him to forget about that thing with Dolly as they were only kidding you a couple of months later they installed a new set-up in the visiting room. They had installed an extra guard in a steel booth and with a small machine gun. Now Dolly was convinced and so was Pete. Dolly got his 10 to 20 for sticking up the Starlight Park Swimming Pool. They were seven in all and only 3 went to jail. They were not caught on the
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scene. They were picked up in a round-up and were identified. To explain about Dolly a little more: when he was released from prison he was out a week and he went crazy and died in the crazy house at Dannamora State Prison.
After this things went pretty good and time was marching on. The only things of importance that happened was a battle in the movies. It happened in the toilet. Three or four guys from the Cheese Party were cut up pretty bad and after they got well in the hospital they were shipped out of Sing Sing to different prisons.
And I mentioned in the early part of this story that I met one of the boys that had to do with the Diamond Brothers that burned in the Electric Chair. He was the one who gave the tip. His name was Anthony Pattano, and he was locked in the dormitory and being I knew about the stickup I talked to Tony and I told him how they wanted to get me out of the Bronx County Jail just for that job, and that I had refused. So he goes on to tell me that he had given these guys the tip three years before and at that time they didn't like it. Now three years later they go and do the job and he Tony knew nothing about it and here I am, I lucky I didn't burn and I ruin my father as it cost about $150.00, but after I went home
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a couple of years later I read in the newspapers that he got his freedom after he served 6 years and as I write this story the best way I can I remember that I went to school at Sing Sing Prison for about 18 months and that's how I know what little I know.
Now we started a baseball team and we were having a little fun instead of being too serious and I was on the Harlem Team and I was one of the pitchers and we played the Bronx Team. I don't remember who won. As for food in Sing Sing we cooked our own and had the best of everything. No wonder they called it the Country Club.
Now I have about six months to go and one night I went to get a cup to have a drink of water and as the guards used the cage at night and I used to use it in the day time, we called it a cage because after the 10:30 count one guard will be locked in the cage with a gun and one guard will be walking around in the dormitory. The reason why they locked the guard in was so that they can't mug him and take the gun off him. As I went for the glass I was hit so hard with a key and the keys they used were big. Before I knew what happened I hit the guard so hard that he went down and they could not wake him so I made the other guard open the door so that I can go to the P.K. office. It looked bad because when I hit the guard
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everyone started to clap their hands. When I got to the P.K. office I didn't know what to say, all I knew was that I was bleeding from behind my ear. In the meantime the guard came rushing down and he wanted to get at me but the Assistant P.K. stopped him and the guard told the A.P.K. that I hit him. When the A.P.K. asked me if I hit him I said all I know is that I got hit and I don't know what happened after that, so I was locked in the hole the next day the guard came and see me in the hole as we used to have apples in his pocket every night and he used to pick one at a time and he will eat it so when he went for his apple someone put human waste in his pocket. So I happened to walk in and he took it out of me. He said he talked it over with his wife and that his wife convinced him that how could that fellow do anything like that when he works in the place in the day time. He said don't worry he is going to see the Warden and he make sure that I won't lose any time. So he did and I didn't lose any time, but I made it my business to find out who did it. It was the Irish boys and I told them off and they felt bad and they never figured that I'd get the rap. Well I never had any use for them ever since, now when I had about 3 months to go Al Gullieo came and sat on my bed and he explained to me that in about six months by that time you will be out on the street I want you to tell all the good boys that you know that there is
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going to be a break at Sing Sing and that they wasn't to be anyone to get out it was only to get a couple of guys out on parole and we don't want anyone to think that we are rats. They are working on this a couple of years, he said, "We don't care what the other inmates think as they are no account. We are only interested in good fellows." "They are digging an underground tunnel and it runs from the prison under the railroad tracks and it will come out on the road." So I said, "OK." So when I came out I told the boys that I knew and in a few months there was a big headline in the newspapers. This is the way it read, "Sing Sing Prison Break Foiled." All I did was read it and laugh, no one got away and no one got in trouble and about a year later 3 of the boys earned a parole one of them was Jerry Sullivan and the two I can't remember now, there was another fellow that wanted to talk to me as my time was getting short. This fellow was one of the guys that did the cutting up at the movies, and he was in Sing Sing about 10 years and he had about 8 months to go. He wanted to know from me as I was only there 40 months at this time and being I knew lots of people on the outside he didn't want to talk about what he wanted to know to anyone else so he talked to me about it before I went home.
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It was personal. He asked me will the boys on the outside hold against him of his carrying on in prison. I asked him if he wanted to know the truth, he said, "Yes!" Later in this story I will explain what happened in later years. When I had one month to go Alex talked to me and he told me that he had heard that I was supposed to get it when I get out. He said I could go two places, one was in Long Island and another was to Al Capone. I told him I'll decide what I'm going to do when I get out I will keep in mind what you told me.
Now before I go home I want to explain in highlight my 44 months I spent in Sing Sing and the kind of people I met. There in Sing Sing, first I'll tell you about the greatest pair of lawyers. They both had one year to serve. Fuller and McGee. I don't know how many millions they embezzled and they always had a smile. They used to walk around like Dolly Sisters. A Judge was doing time, I don't remember his name, there were a couple of Policemen, a district attorney and the President of Slone League, he was doing a year, his name was Williams H. Anderson and what we called good boys. That helped things in order by their diplomacy for instance when they spoke they would use the word like Sir. all classy. Guys no rough stuff only if they were forced, in other
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words the fellows who used to wear the cap and the fireman shirt were on their way out. The fellow who was a nobody on the outside will make all the trouble and he will walk around with arm garters. If they didn't have guys that had common sense you never know what would had happened. Now I'll explain a little more about working in the dormitory. I and Dolly used to walk around the dormitory. He will take one side and I will take another side. When I passed their beds and I didn't have any mail for them they will say something under their breath, sometimes I didn't mind and sometimes I will say, "What did you say?" and they would say nothing. I was expecting a letter so Dolly and I used to change one night he will take one side and the next night I would take the other. One night there was a fellow named Baldy, he came and sat on my bed and he had a knife in his pocket and he sat on my bed and he said to me that his bed was moved an inch meaning trouble. Dolly was giving out the mail and I was laying on my back. The way he was sitting I couldn't move, so I was talking loud so that Dolly could hear. Well Dolly heard and he came from behind and he gave Baldy a rap and as Dolly done what he done I jumped at Baldy and I took the knife off him, As I did the guard came running over but he did not see the punch or the knife so
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we made it appear as though we were playing. The next day Baldy came up in the dormitory in the afternoon With the Gap. He said that he was sorry and that he was in the wrong, he said the real reason why he was mad was because he was finding a note under his bed every night and that the note said that he was a rat on his case so I asked him where are you from and he said Brooklyn, them I said do I know you from the outside and he said no. They why you think I done it, no he said I don't think that you done it but I figured you must know about it so I said go ahead and take a walk and get lost we have our own troubles. Now talking about these fine people, at least I thought so. They would have fine shows coming up to Sing Sing and besides they used to donate to the League, one night they had an actor by the name of Richard Barthelmess. I don’t see him any more, it was the first time he ever was in a prison and the way he put it when he got on the stage he said I expected to meet cut throats and he must admit to his amazement he found such fine gentlemen and he was stunned. He explained that he found out that the Warden allowes his young daughters to go to church with the inmates and that the Warden's wife, Mrs. Lawes, visits every inmate that sick in the hospital. He said that he was going to donate 500 but now I'll
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make it $1,500 and he also found out that Sing Sing Prison had the best critics, in other words, some of the movies used to come to Sing Sing before they hit Broadway and they will show the movies the the inmates will write their opinion of the picture and first prize was $500, second proze $250 down to $25.
Now I am getting short and I am about to go home. I told Dolly to behave and don't get into any trouble. I wasn't home a week when I heard on the outside that Dolly cut Baldy pretty bad and sent him to the hospital and he was shipped to Dannamorae Prison and he never was right ever since. His brother told me that Dolly waited for me to go home and as the years went by in or about 1937 I heard that they done away with the Mutual Welfare League at Sing Sing. All the Class went home and the new breed went in and there was hardly anyone that could support the League and that's all I know about Sing Sing Prison, or let me say that's all there was of any importance.
But I came home with an education, not only that I learned how to read, before I went to Sing Sing the second time I didn't know how to read, I didn't learn much but I can read something and know what I'm reading before I went in I couldn't read the streets in the Bronx and
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if I didn't go through 7B work as I did I won't be able to be writing what I'm writing today. But of all the education I'm talking about is what they call an education of worldly-wise, and also a study of human nature. I could sit here all my life and I won't be able to explain just what you pick up in another world and Sing Sing Prison was another world. Sometimes I think its not good to know too much, a person can talk to me and it won't be long before I'll know if he is sincere and you can't afford to tell everyone you meet that they not sincere, they they won't be many people you will be talking to. I'll know and still will be talking to the person and say things to them so that they don't realize that you know they are not sincere. I could afford to talk on this line as there isn't a person alive that can say that I wasn't sincere unless I knew he wasn't and you can bet that I was always the loser many times. I could had gotten out of trouble if I wasn't sincere. No one could buy me as I go on you will understand what I'm talking about, especially in money. I'll always want to find out a person in money rather than in death, read this boys and you know that I'm right. I rather have one friend that is half sincere than to have a hundred guys that are looking to go a step forward on your expense. In life I have been hard luck as friends are
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concerned when I did find one I will lose him in death; that's why some of the boys called me a devil and that is why I hung out with girls. One thing I can say when a girl is with you she is with you and to the day I die I'll always have the highest respect for all the girls, God bless them all.
Now I am out on the street and the first thing I noticed I was getting the cold shoulder from the boys. I had trouble with some of them, didn't even stop and say Hello so I decided to go to Far Rockaway. I mentioned in this story that Alex had given me two choices to go to Long Island or Al Capone, so I went to Long Island to give it a trial. Well all I found was a family and they had a couple of men working and they were bootlegging. I had everything I wanted but I lasted about 10 days. Sometimes I helped, but only in packing, so I decided that I'll go back to New York and I'll see some guy that was with the boys, this fellow used to be a good friend of the Irish boys and I knew that when we had the trouble in 1924 he was not mixed in it, but I also knew him very well and he will not tell you one thing for another, so I told him what the Dutchman had told me and that I could not afford to go out and steal and watch myself.
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At the same time I figured if I don't get a favorable answer then I will go and see Al, but he told me that its a good thing that I came to him as he didn't think that they carried that grudge any more. He said I should go around in a couple of days. In a couple of days I went around and there was another guy there which I knew very well and he was one of the guys that was in the trouble in 1924, In fact he was one of the window crashers. He told me that I should go about my business and I should forget the old trouble. Now he asked me what am I going to do for a living. I said I can't stay on a corner that is for sure. He said they were not stealing any more. I said I know. He went on to say that they are racketeers now so I laughed. Well he said if you intend to steal make sure you always take the wheel this way you know you are going to take yourself home. I told him he wasn't kidding. He said if you get your hands on good suits or good coats, come around we'll buy some. I said OK, I'll come around only when they good. He said good luck to you. So I thanked both of them and I went away. Now I started to think just what I was going to do. I went to 108th St and I studied some of the boys and I decided to speak to a kid that
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I knew was a good burglar and I asked him what was he doing and he said he was still burglarizing but not much and he introduced me to another kid. He was about 21 years old and he looked like a nice kid, his name was Nickie and a good dresser. Naturally I already had a name so anyone I meet will be glad to meet me. They were hanging out at 110th St, Lexington Ave., so I started to go to 110th Street and there I met a bunch of fellows I knew from East 109th St. So Nick, Spike and myself started to burglarizing. I knew this kid Spike knew his business and as I had went with him before in my earlier days. Spike was my age and as I said I must find new guys to go with, and I could not afford to go out crashing with these guys because they didn't know, and especial Spike, you could not let him do it for any amount of money. Although Nickie was talking to me about it, he said he heard a lot of stories and that he things that he will like it. I said, "No Nick its a dangerous racket and if I had at least one guy from the old days I wouldn't mind but its tough and you need some kind of experience." I said, "I ain't in no hurry. I only want to get along."
Now there was a poker game on Lexington Ave., right off the Ave., and I started to go up there. I didn't know the game too good but I soon
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picked it up. I was lucky and I was winning and I got close to more guys. The slot machines were OK around this time and the boys from the old days were coming around to collect on the machines and they will see me around 110th Street and they used to talk to me and ask me how was I doing. I will say all right. When they left the guys will say to me you used to be with them guys and I will say yes but I would make it short. Now one of the boys from Sing Sing came home and he came and looked me up. His name was Solly. He said that he wanted to take me to Newark, New Jersey, and that he had met some Jew boys and they wanted to give him a job that was to go out and destroy whatever certain trucks were delivering for a certain company, I don't remember the name but it had to do with some union, a clothing union. I said no good. So Sol asked me if I had anything for him. I said that I was stealing so he said what's the difference I'll steal. He was one of the guys they locked up in Sing Sing when I got cut. So I told him come around as I knew Spike didn't care to go out too much and besides I saw that Nickie knew his business. So I felt that I could use him and besides his brother had a big name but he had died from TB. He didn't come around too soon but he came around in about three months. By this time we were doing pretty good and besides the summer
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was coming soon and I intended to slow up a little because I had in mind to last outside as sooner or later something will happen. I didn't know just what but I knew there was a mob and I figured sooner or later they will fight among themselves. In the meanwhile Gap came home from Sing Sing and he came around every now and then. Everytime he came around he came with a different guy. He said he had some machine out working so I said can I get some and put them out he said no. He said you want to stay to yourself the way you are doing and if you put machine out you will be like an outlaw. These machines he went on to explain belong to Frank Costello and he is paying and they have stickers on them and if you ain't got any stickers on them they will be taken in by the Police so I said have you got any stickers, he said yes. So I said you see what I mean. Gap said don't get excited in time everything would be all right. Yes I said in the meanwhile I got to be stealing, so he said just steal enough to keep you going. I said that's just what I'm doing. He said Charlie put him in the machines and they only had enough to make a living. I said, "Hey Gap, I think that these guys are all mobbed up." He said he knew so "that's why I'm telling you to take it easy. Catch on?" So I said, "Let me know what its all about." He said, "I'll keep you in touch." And I
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told him about Solly coming around and he said he is OK, take him in with you, you can break him in. So I told him that's just what I'm doing. I ain't going out much not like we used to do, I’m going out once a week just to live good and don't spend much. Now I knew an old timer at 108th St, his name was 99, I don't know why, but that is what they called him. I knew him a lot of years since I was a kid. In fact I used to kid him and I used to call him a hatchet man because he was Sicilian. He also started to talk to me and he will tell me how some day I’m going to find out what it is all about and I used to laugh. Nickie, Spike and I went up to Forham Road and we did a job there and we got on the roof and took the tar, say about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long off, then used a 2 inch drill and drilled holes in rotation as not to use a saw as that makes noise in the silence of the night and we used bags to put the dresses in. We will send Spike down to the store with a rope and he will send the dresses up and we will pack them. We got a couple of hundred dresses and we took the rumble seat out of Nick's car and we will take it to Harlem. I had met a guy named Fat West and he asked me to give him a break and give him some swag. He lived in a nice spot by the River and I made him a steady swag buyer and I gave him this load. Three dollars straight regardless of what the
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dresses were worth, They averaged from seven dollars to thirty dollars as the store was not an expensive store. By this time I had bought a small cheap car just so that I can get around, It was a Hupmobile. They don't make them any more. My brother was in the Bronx County Jail and I was to be a witness in the case as he was accused of a robbery that he did not commit. He was identified along with two others and he was visiting me at the time he was supposed to have committed this crime. I had about 20 days to go when he came to Sing Sing, as I had already told the guard at the visiting room at Sing Sing Prison to look up the record and see what time it was that my brother had visited me and the record showed a half hour difference. In other words it was impossible for him to leave Sing Sing and be at the scene of the crime. Sing Sing is 30 miles from New York City and besides the guard knew him and it was important after all if the guard don't know you and you pose for someone else you won't get in. If the guard don't know anyone who comes to visit, say his brother, he will ask all kinds of questions, so he had to come to court with his record books. It took 3 or 4 months before the case came to trial and he had no bail because he was a fourth offender. As it turned out the guard saved him and the other two were convicted and they got
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long terms. Now I started to worry as I know my brother was a very poor burglar. Well he is out and he started to bother me and tell me about this store and that store and besides the other boys will not go anywhere with him because they know he will make all kind of noise when he is robbing a store. So he bother me so much that I went with him just once and it was in Jersey where he found a store. So I went with him and I had a hard time to bring Nickie along. He came for my sake. Now we go in the cellar and we were going to drill through the floor and he insisted on picking the spot where to make the hole. Well he did and he came right in the middle of the store. Now it was too late to start drilling another hold so I stuck my head up and through the hole and I noticed the hole was right in line with the front door. We wanted to call it quits but he wanted to go in. Now I asked him please let's go home and I'll give you say 150 dollars so he said OK and we went home. I felt that I just got out of jail. Now he is talking all over the neighborhood and saying how yellow we were but no one will pay any attention to him as everyone knew him. I knew now why he always got caught red handed in stores. Well that was it. I had to think for myself after all I was no angel and I could not afford another conviction and then I'll be a fourth offender.
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So he started to go with two kids from the neighborhood and one night I came up to the poker game and there he was and he was stuck about 300 dollars by this time I knew the game good. He was only out about two months at this time it was about 11 o'clock so when I heard that he was stuck I asked him to let me play and if I win I will give him all the winnings so he said before you do I want you to come with me and I want to show you something. He said its only 117th Street and Third Ave. As we were at 110th St. it was only seven blocks so I said OK. He showed me a silk stocking store as soon as I saw it I told him that I knew the place and if it was any good it won't be there waiting for you. He wanted to know why it was no good so I told him its got no way out you go in one way and you must come out the same way so in my country its a death trap, that the way we work. So we went back to the poker game in about 1 1/2 hour I won enough money for him to be even. As I was tired I went home and slept. It was about 6:30 in the morning when I woke up. I got dressed and went to the poker game. Sure enough I went to 117th St and Third Ave. and asked a cab driver if anything happened around there. He said some guys got arrested trying to rob a store and that's all he knew.
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So I went around to 110th St. and I heard he went broke and he had left with two kids. Then I waited for the court to open. I went there about 9 o'clock and the detective came over and spoke to me and asked if that was my brother. That I had come over to the court to see I said yes and he told me to have him postpone the hearing. He said that he didn't know me but he had heard about me. So when he came up for the hearing I sent a lawyer to tell him to postpone the hearing. I don't remember if he had a lawyer or not but he insisted on having a hearing as he said that he knew what he was doing. So he had his hearing and he was held for downtown, meaning he has to go to trial. Now when I went and see the boys that knew these detectives they said they couldn't do anything for him, because they won't change their testimony for anything that's why they wanted to have him postpone the hearing. When I went down to the Tombs to explain it to him he said that he thought that he had them beat. Now he tells me that the D.A. wants to give him a plea to petty larceny, which meant that he will get three years in the pen but he refused and he went to trial. I got a lawyer for him and fought his appeal which he lost and he ended up by receiving life. I went to see him once while he was in Dannamora and he blamed me for everything. I felt so
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bad that it affected me for about six months and I never went there again.
I want to mention that I was released from Sing Sing in the early part of 1928 and I went to visit him around 1930. Everything I talk about right now is before I became a member of Cosa Nostra.
And here I am. I forgot to mention that when I went to see my brother at the Tombs while he was on trial I was arrested and charged with a crime and when I asked why was I being arrested the Bulls told me that they had orders so that I can't be of any help to my brother. I was taken to some police station and booked and taken to Police Headquarters and was put on the line-up and then taken to the court and I don't remember what charge they placed on me and the same day that I went to court in the afternoon I was brought to the Tombs and that's where I saw my brother. I wasn't on the same tier with him but I did manage to see him and send all kinds of messages to him. There is where I tried to tell him to take what they offered him but as I said I couldn't do anything with him. And I must say had I known any better I would had gotten him committed to a hospital as he really was sick. But he would not admit or he didn't know that he was sick. And that is the full story of my brother
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and to this day he is still there. He is at box A, Dannamora, New York, under the name of Frank Roceo, Dannamore, New York. Box A is the bug house. He is there since he was arrested in 1928, until now it is 36 years.
Now I go back to a tip I got on a store in Paterson, New Jersey. A friend of mine tells me that there is a big store out there and it has no burglar alarm and it is a new store. It looked more like a factory and this fellow had a vegetable truck. In fact this was one of the fellows that lived in Allentown, Pa., and he had come to New York after we had the trouble out there. So he wanted a chance to make a dollar so I told him that I'd go but he must drive the swag in with his truck or I won't go. He said OK, he will load the truck with empty barrels and put all the swag in the barrels. Sol went there and we got into the store early so we can have all the time to pick the best coats and dresses -- they were cloth coats. Everything went fine and he drove the swag in and we followed in a car but we stayed back at a distance or the police will think that we were following a whiskey truck. We got over the Ferry and I let them peddle all the swag as they wanted to get all they could out of it. We done pretty good. I only brought one of the regular burglars with me, it was Nickie.
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I'm going to tell a story about Nickie. One night we were robbing a store and we were in an empty apartment and through the empty apartment we were drilling a hole as Spike was not there at this job. I had Solly with me with Nickie. We we drilled the hole and as Nickie was lightest of us in weight we let him go down to the store, and he was putting the suits in the back room of the store and when he had enough then he will tie them in bundles of 10 on the rope and we will pull the bundle up with the rope. When Nickie was finished we pulled Nickie up with the rope. All of a sudden I see that the guy that we are pulling up is baldy and as he is getting his head in the hold that we had drilled I was trying to drop him back in the store. Nickie got wise and he said, "Joe its me." I said, "How did you get to be baldy." With that he pushed his hair back and again he looked as though he had a good set of hair. Then he went on to explain that he had a bunch of hair only in the front of his head and when it will hang all in front of his face then you will notice that he was completely baldy in the middle and the back of his head and with a shine. He said, "I'll been ashamed to tell you" and he showed us how he would cover his whole head with what hair he had in the front of his head, it was really something and as I said he was only 21 years old and very good
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looking. Everything went along fine and we took about 100 suits and three or four suits for ourselves.
Now we are hanging out at the Rain Bow Garden at 125th St, Lexington. Of all the boys we are hanging out with only Solly, Nickie and I are going up to the dance hall and to my amazement lots of the boys from the old days are hanging out there. The first thing I notice that Nickie is fooling around with a girl named Helen. Already I found out that she is going with a friend of mine the same fellow who straightened me out when I first came out so I told Nick, "Please don't make me feel bad. I see you fooling around with Helen." He said she is crazy about him. I said, "Nick as you are new in these dance halls most of these girls are got steady guys and Helen is going with a friend of mine." As he was a kid he did not know these fellows. One thing for sure I said, "Please don't give the girls any dresses as if you do they will talk and we are going to look like fools with these guys." We are starting to go up the dance hall every night and we are getting to meet quite a few girls. Now I notice that Nickie is taking size 12 dresses whenever we rob a dress store. He had one sister and she was size 40 as she was very fat so I said, "Nick you are taking size 12 dress, why?" He said it was for his aunt
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I said, "OK Nickie I hope so." So one night my friend came up as he wasn't coming too often and as I saw him I went up to him and we started to talk how are you doing and in that line. I told him and to my surprise he told me not to tell anyone that he was stealing on the side. He said only something worthwhile. He said I have you in mind on the next one. Don't let any of your guys know anything. I said fine I don't feel too happy with the guys I'm fooling around with but this kid Nickie seemed to be a nice kid. "Hey," he said, "Is he your friend." I said, "Yes." "Well tell him to stop giving my girl dresses. I didn’t mind that he is giving Helen dresses but as long as he is your friend then I don't want him to look a sucker." So I said, "Frank I warned him." So he laughed all the time Nickie was looking while I was talking to him but I was ashamed to call him so I told Frank that I will take care of the situation about Helen. Now I didn't say anything to Nickie in the dance hall but I did when we left that night. I said to Nickie, "Now don't be getting mad at Helen as to what I'm going to tell you. You knew who that guy was that I was talking to, did you?" He said, "Yes, she told me." "Well Nickie just the way I told you, her boyfriend knows all about you giving his girl dresses but he found out that you are a friend of mine. He told me to tip you that's why I say
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don't be mad at Helen. She knew that she could not afford to go anywhere with you. She knew well enough that sooner or later that you would meet her boyfriend as she saw you come in with me every night. Tell the truth Nickie did she make an attempt to pay you for the dresses." He said, "Yes" "Now you tell her that you found out who her boyfriend is and let her know that there is no hard feeling." Now here is all the girls we got in close with, there was Dotty, Heley, May, Florence and Josie. Here is the way I worked the dance stubs. I will buy about 25 dollars worth of dance stubs and I will give each girl 5 dollars worth and I will say when you not busy I will dance with you this way I didn't feel like a sucker. Sometimes I will be sitting at a table and one of the girls will come over and say, "Come on Joe let’s dance, things are slow."
Now I will talk about some more of the burglaries. Nickie, Solly and myself went to do a job on Madison around 114th St. and 115th St. and it was a silk store and we noticed that there were empty room above the store. Gee anytime that we spotted anything like that we will do it right away before someone will rent the rooms. Well we did a fine job as we came just where we wanted with the hole, right in the back room. We took a pretty good load of silk bolts and we got through about 6 o'clock in the
morning and it was a good thing that I went and sleep with Nickie because when we got home he noticed that he lost his chauffeur license. He thought he dropped it in the empty rooms where we had drilled the hold. I said what time is it he said about 6:30 so I said come on let's dress we will pass by the store and make sure that it is closed and if it is then we can go up there and get the chauffeur license. We did. When we got there it was staring us right in our face. We grabbed it so fast and we got out right away. Boy was Nickie happy.
Now Spike comes around and he said that he went to a broadway show and he parked his car in a parking lot on 42nd St between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, in a parking lot and he noticed a suit store and an empty apartment right above the suit store. As we had done the silk store on Madison Ave. and Spike didn't know anything and we didn't say anything. I said, "Spike take a ride down there and go and see how the empty apartment is situated." This way I stall for a few days. He said he would. We sold the silk and we made very good. Spike came around and he said that he checked the empty apartment on 42nd St and he said the building is almost empty and we can lock ourselves in the apartment and there is a way out through the back yard and we can come out on 43rd St.
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in case the burglar alarm should do off and it is a bell alarm, in other words if it goes off it will ring out loud. So I said fine we will go Saturday night because the parking lot will be packed and it will be better for us by the time we will be finished it would be about 4 o'clock in the morning. I said bring plenty of rope. We can make bundles of 25 and we won't need to take the hangers off the suits. "OK", Spike said, "I see you 108St Saturday at about 10 o'clock." We met Saturday and we went with two cars but we did not park in the lot on 42nd St. First we parked one car somewhere on 51st St. Then I drove them to the building on 42nd St. and then I went and parked on 51st St. Then I took a cab and I went to 42nd St. and I went to the building and I went upstairs as Spike had told me just where to go. It was a big store and we drilled a hole through the floor and Spike and Nickie went down to the store by rope and they hand me the suits and I piled them on the floor of the apartment when they got as many as they could they came up and they explained that they could had gotten more but they were afraid because they found wires and they were afraid they might kick one of them whenever we found wire like they did we will get some strips of white paper and we would put them on the wire very lightly so they could be seen easily. Well we made up the
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bundles and we had four. As there was a window in the building and it faced the lot we figured we will put two bundles in each car. We left Spike in the building and Nickie and I went to get the cars. We came to the lot on 42nd St. by this time it was empty as it was about 5 o'clock in the morning. We saw the cop, he was on Eighth Ave. on 42nd St as 42nd St is a very long block. We pulled right in the lot. Spike threw two bundles and I put them in Nickie's car. He pulled away and I got the bundles from Spike and as I put them in the rumble seat of the car and as I came out of the lot Spike came out of the building, got into the car and off we went. 42nd St is a very busy street but the way this store was situated and with an empty apartment and a lot right next to it it was made to order. If it wasn't for the wires they had in the store we would had taken the whole store. That's the first time we did anything like this in that kind of a district. We crashed windows, yes, but never a burglary. We got about 105 suits. As none of us took none of them we sold the swag to Fat West for l0 dollars a suit. We didn't do anything for a week or ten days. Someone found a store up on Dykman St. it was between Dykman and Broadway. It is all the way uptown and as it was getting very cold and it was near Christmas Time I didn't want to do anything until
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after the holiday. I was taking it easy with my money as all I was doing was going to the Rainbow Garden and from there I would go to Rudie's Restaurant, have some breakfast and then go home. I had no girl at this time and I had a couple of thousand dollars, but Nickie pleaded with me and said that he needed some money as he had bought new furniture for his Mother and he went for $1,500. I said, "OK, we go." So Spike, Nickie and I set out to go to Dyckman Street. We went in the yard and we climbed to the low roof from the clothesline pole. Now we started to work on the tar of the roof as we were going to drill a hole through the roof to get into the store, but three guys cannot work at one time because we will be in each others way I was working -- I want to keep warm -- so they decided they will go and have some hot coffee, so I told them, "Go ahead." When they left, I started to work harder. By the time they came back I had the hole almost finished and they brought me back some coffee and a ham and egg sandwich and it was about 2 o'clock in the morning. Finally the hole was done. We let Spike go down to the store with a rope. It was a dress store, Spike was down about ten minutes when he asked to be pulled up and told us not to make any noise as we were pulling him up. When he got up he said that he had saw a flashlight in the backyard. So we tip-toed to the edge of
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the backyard and we looked over the rail of the roof and we saw a bunch of cops in uniform so I made an attempt to go towards the fireescape of a higher roof but Spike stopped me - he said they will shoot us down so he said follow me so I did and he went on the other side of the roof and we looked down and it was on the Broadway side and it led right on the sidewalk right on Broadway and as the cops were all in the back yard we didnt see any on the street so Spike said to me shall we take a chance as he said that I jumped and Spike followed me and the ornamental flashing fell right on my leg but I was able to run as the ornamental flashing fell to the sidewalk - it made an awful lot of noise. All I heard when I got up to run was, "Halt" -- Spike was ahead of me and I was following Spike and the cop was following me so Spike saw an opening, a cellar leading to a back yard so he ran down to the cellar and I followed. When we got to the yard we ran into a boiler room. We saw we were trapped and as there was no way out so we had to come out of the boiler room but as we opened the door of the boiler room they had all the spot lights shinning in the yard so we closed the door fast. All of a sudden I noticed that there was a pile of coal in the boiler room, so I said Spike those coals run all the way to the ceiling so there must be a hollow on the other side if we can climb on top of that pile we can go on the other side and we will stay here all night and
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day. So he started to climb and I followed as my foot hurt me. He had to give me a hand to climb so we got over on the other side of the pile and we laid there by the wall of the building and the coal. We were there about fifteen minutes and as we were there holding our mouth as for fear of coughing or making any kind of a noise. We heard the door of the boiler room open and someone said, "No, let's go." We looked at one another, although we could not see one another we felt our eyes. After a while we wondered what happened to Nickie. Well we laid there and in a couple of hours we heard the door open and we heard someone shoveling coal then close to the door and then left. Spike said, "What shall we do?" I said, "Spike I'm going to stay until it gets dark. We got this break and we ain't going blow it." He said, "You not kidding. I don't blame you." So I said, "Spike, tell the truth, when you and Nickie went for coffee did anyone see you come back in the yard." He said, “I was thinking about it. I saw some guy look us over when we were in the dinner. I thought we lost them but they fooled me." I said, "If you hadn't spotted the flashlight they would had killed us like dogs they would not know that we had no guns and they weren't going take any chances. Well anyway no matter what happens we got this far even if they get us now they can't prove that we were
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robbing the store so the worst is over. I hope Nickie made it.. He said he hoped too. Well that night about 8 o'clock we came down from the pile of coal and we cleaned up the best we could and we went and got a cab and we went home and we found out Nickie made it and he came up my house and he said that he was climbing the fire escape and he saw empty rooms and he went in there and he hid there and when he heard them in the hallway and they tried the door of the empty room and it was locked they left. I said no Nickie they left because a cop chase us and he saw two guys. When you went to have coffee you were two of you so now they chased two guys so they figured we got away or they would had turned that empty apartment upside down. After he heard what I said he agreed.
While I'm at it, let me explain how Fat West got rid of the swags, I figure that everyone doesn't know the neighborhoods - I'm talking about Harlem and the Bronx. I know how Fat West Worked that's why I gave him a good price. For instance he had 100 suits he will get rid of what he could to the men that were brought up in the neighborhood and what he had if any left of the swag he will give it to someone else that he had as buyers and he will get rid of the remaining swag, say for about 12 dollars. He will not hold a swag too long. Now if he had dresses he will do the same thing there
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were so many girls in Harlem and the Bronx and the dance halls. One can never imagine when he got the cream out of the swag which means that say half of the swag was sold for 7 to 15 dollars a dress. He had his money in and more he will take the balance of the swag and give it to one person even if he had to sell it at cost price because he knew he will get another load soon. Sometimes we got real good clothes -- no matter what we had then he will make real good. He done the same thing no matter what we brought him. He acted accordingly. I know I had to explain this as I realize that lot's of people wouldn't know where to go if they wanted to buy a bargain, but Harlem and the Bronx has been known for years as bargain hunters.
Now I go back to Spike. He had found a suit store on Broadway near the Dyckman Street Section as a few months passed since we had the trouble on Dyckman Street. It was a good store. Spike had a small car and he would take long rides with his girl and he would go hunting for stores and at the time he will take his girl out for a ride. Of course the girl won't know anything. As long as Spike found the store I knew it will be OK as he knew his business. This time we took Solly along with us so we were four. There was a poolroom above the suit store
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and the poolroom closed about 1 o'clock in the week days. It was easy to get into the poolroom and we had to drill a hole from the poolroom to get into the store. Now everything went along OK but this time we had about 150 suits and that's a lot of suits so I got a guy that had a truck. He had a brand new Rio truck. Every now and then I used to use a truck when we had too much swag. As there were very good suits someone suggested that we keep this load and we will get 20 dollars a suit so I said that's a good idea because the boys on 107th Street will go for these suits. I don't remember the make but they were good. Spike had a friend on 108th St and he wanted to give him a chance to make some money. He lived alone and he was out of work. We got to 108th St. and the swag was taken off the truck. They were packed in bundles of 25. Now the truck went away and we went upstairs as this man lived on the first floor now we put up ropes and we put the suits all in one room and we put them on the rope by their hangers and put all the sizes where they belong and we were picking some for ourselves. When we got through I had about four for myself. If anyone took more than four he will pay for whatever he took. Now I left mine to the guy that was in the house and everybody done
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the same thing. When we were about to leave Spike had his suits in his arms. So I said to Spike where are you going with those suits. He said, "Hey Joe, everytime I pick suits and I leave them in the house someone changes the suits and I'm always stuck." So I said, "Do you think that I want to steal twice what's the matter with you suppose we walk right into a cop. You know it happened before." He said he had the tags off. I said it will make no difference because if the cop sees them even though there's no tags on them he will know that there is a swag in the block and they might search every apartment in the building. "What would you do.:" Then someone said that Joe is right but Spike was stubborn. Then I said, "OK Spike. You know what I'll do I let Nickie and Sol go and we'll wait about 10 minutes and then I'll go out first and you will wait on the first floor in case of anything I will speak very loud so that you will be able to hear me." Now as I reach the hallway entrance a cop is just passing by and we came face to face so the cop said, "What is this a few minutes ago two guys come out of this building and now another guy." So I said out loud, "Gee officer I live around here." With that the cop hears a russle of feet climbing and running upstairs as it was about 5 o'clock in the morning. you could hear every sound. Now I
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realize I must act fast so I made one dash and ran across the street like a deer. I ran in a hallway and then in the backyard in back of the hallway there was a door and the door led in the yard. I ought to know 108th St. I knew every hole. I heard a couple of shots but he could not hurt me I was so fast that before he will be able to pull his gun I was already in the building. Now when I was in the 107th St. yard, as I was going to cross the yard from 108th St. and come out 107th St., I heard a couple of more shots and from the sound of the shots they came from the 108th St. roof on the side where Spike was so I came out 107th St. and I walked toward 106th St. and I took a cab, went and got the papers and went home. I was home about a half hour and Spike came over to the house. I lived on Second Ave., between 108th St. and 109th St. I lived alone and my people lives next door. When I heard the knock I thought it was the cops. I didn't care because he could never make me as it was too dark especially the lights of the lamp post had just gone out. It was Spike and he had his hands on his face. He said, "Joe I give up." I just looked and said, "The last time it was on Dyckman Street that you wanted to go for coffee, now it was you again." I said, "What did you do with the suits?" He said that he threw them in the yard. I said I thought so you know where those suits went they
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went right on the floor in the hallway. You know as well as I do that those windows have screens on the windows. He said, "Yes." I thought about it as I ran so I said I had a feeling you were going to do just that and I took a chance getting shot for what because you want to steal twice you know who changes your suits, its Fat West. He runs out of the good suits and then he takes your because he knows we pick the best. He said yes but he never takes your. I said sure he does but I don't say anything because he tells me that I could get all the suits I want and he pays me for them and he keeps me happy but this time you had them in a different house and the old man would had never thouch them. He said Gee I never thought of that and I said neither did I. Spike tomorrow I go to 107th St and I think that those guys will take them all. He said you not kidding they some suits. So the next day I went 107th St and when they heard that I had suits and the brand I just can't remember the name, they told me hold them all who wants 10 some will take all the size that I had that will fit him. To make it short they went like hot cakes. If there were any left it was because they were big sizes but anyway we doubled our money. This was 1929 that I'm talking about. I had a Locomobile car, it was a coupe. I don't remember the year it was but I do remember that I paid $2,500 for the car it was green.
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One day right after what happened on 108th St. with the cop I was pulling in the garage at 107th St. between First and the River and I met Fiore the watchman. He was pulling in the garage at the same time as I was and it was in the afternoon. He was going in one entrance and I was going into another and he said to me, "Is that yours." He meant the car. I said, "Yes, its mine." He said, "Its some car" and I said, "Yes, I got the money robbing stores," and he said, "I know it." And I said, "Maybe you think that we are still kids and you want to give me a beating” as he used to hit us when we were kids. Fiore said, "As long as you don't bother me I don't care what you do. You think I don’t know that you had suits." I just cut him short and I said to myself, "See it don't pay to peddle the swag."
Let me tell something about the Gap. He was just like my school teacher but it was in crime. He was the loudest dresser than anyone I know and that goes for anyone that knew him. He wore the best of cloths but loud he came around with a hat he said it came from Italy it was made out of straw, felt, and some other mixture. He said it was worth 200 dollars. He had on his back a yellow suit with a big flower and loud tan shoes and spats. Everyone would say, "Hey did you see the Gap? Did you see the
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yellow suit" and so on, He never picked up a check no matter how much he had in cash but he had a personality that you just couldn't stay away from him, He took everything cheap there was no crime that was to dangerous for him. He was the one that was on the Star Light Park Robbery that Dolly Dimples and the other guy named Joe that got 10 to 20 years. This job was his idea. Only two of the guys got time for it, could had been three, I don't remember. He never sent a penny to anyone that got time for him. Us kids in the old days all looked up to him. With all his faults he had good points. He was known all over the five boroughs, He knew all the mobs in New York City and then some, I must say he was the one that brought Irish mob around in 1924. In the earlier days there was a block party at 1O6th St. and First Ave. the cops caught up with him. He wasn't doing anything, just hanging around the block party, so one detective took a smash at him well he hit right back and before you knew it they had him on the floor on the Street on the car tracks laying on the floor and he looked as though he was dead. They took him away in a patrol wagon. Now he gets a name as a cop fighter. Only being seen with him I was in trouble with the police whenever I got picked up by the cops or they saw me around the neighborhood they would say this is one of the guys that hangs out with the Gap. Now he comes around and he tells me that he was thinking about what I
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told him about Joe Fiore the watchman as I told him about meeting Fiore the watchman at the garage and what Fiore told me when he asked me some question. He said that he had an idea. I asked him what kind of an idea, he asked me how is that kid Nickie that you hang around with, I said he is OK. At the same time some kid around the block was telling me about him working for some iceman at the time this kid was telling me about the iceman Solly was with me. He heard the kid tell me that the iceman had lots of money and he can easily be shaken down, so I chased the kid. When he left Solly told me that he thought that it was a good thing. I told Solly forget about it, that kid is no good. I said you are a stranger around here and you don't know who is who. Solly answered me and he said "Oh, the Gap's idea was that we rob the shirt factory at First Ave. and 108th St." I said, "What are you crazy." He said that he heard that they are making good shirts and that they got plenty in stock. I said, "Gap, you know who is the watchman? What do you want that guy coming around looking for us and since when you want to steal. You doing OK you got machines running and you got a few things going. What happened if this guy Joe Fiore comes looking for us?" So he said that he will take care of it. I said how and he said shoot him. Then I realized what he was up to. He said don't tell the
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kid anything. Just tell him that we are going to take the factory. He said "I'll meet you up at the Rainbow Garden's tomorrow night" as I said we were hanging out at the Rainbow Garden. So I told Nickie about it and Nickie was impressed just knowing that he was going to do something with the Gap. So the next night we met at the Dance Hall and we left about 1:30 in the morning. We got into one car and I don't remember whose car as all three of us had cars as we were on our way I said, "How are we going to get in." He said, "Don't worry, I know where there is a sledge hammer." I said, "What are you going to do with a sledge hammer." He said leave everything to him. I knew right away that we weren't going to do anything. I said to myself, "He is just picking on Joe Fiore." So we parked the car in the neighborhood and we went to the factory without any tools. We were surprised that the Gap led us to the back of a chicken market and he had the hammer waiting there. We climbed the fire escape and we went to the third floor and the Gap started to bang away at the door - it was a steel door. I said, "What are you doing? You will have the Police and the Fire Department." He said, "That's all, let's go." We went back to the Rainbow and I told the Gap I ain't going around 108th St. for awhile. He said, "No don't." The Rainbow closed almost as soon as we got there.
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Gap went about his business and I went with Nickie, now I told Nickie please don't go around there because whoever gets caught will get a beating and it will look bad if we do. Nickie said how would he know that it was us. I said Nickie you never know who saw us. Why take a chance, he said, "You right." I didn't even go home. I went to the baths. I asked Nickie if he didn't want to come The next night I heard that they caught Nickie. Fiore had the Bulls with him and they gave Nickie a good beating. They wanted to know from him where can they find Joe. Well when I heard about this I went and look for the Gap up at the Rainbow and sure enough Gap is there. It was about nine o'clock. Before I got a chance to say anything he said that he knew about Nickie. Gap said, "What is that kid stupid? Did you tell him to stay away from 108th Street Sure I did. "Now what?" I asked him. He said that he heard that Fiore is looking for him. He told me wait here for me I'm going somewhere. I said they may come and get me here so he told me to stay in the office. He said Joe is OK. Joe Jones owned the Dance Hall at this time, so I went in the office and I waited. Gap came around in about 2 hours and he was laughing and he said, "Now you really are in trouble." I said, "Why?" He said, "Fiore is dead." I said, "No kidding." He said, "I swear." "Well," I said, "Let's get out of here." He told me to go and
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find Nickie and make sure you tell him to stay away. I went to Nickie's house and his mother told me to go to Nickie's Aunt's house. So I went there it was some where in the 90's. I found Nickie there and he was scared to death. I told Nickie, "Does anyone know you live here?" He said, "No." "Well," I told him, "Don't go out until you hear from me." Nickie asked me if I knew who killed him. I told him I didn’t know, as he had me a little worried, he looked so scared. Well I kept away for about two weeks as I understood they weren't looking for anyone. I don't know where I met Solly and he said, "Let's take a ride 108th St. Lets see if we hear any thing. We weren't there 15 minutes when the Bulls came and locked up everybody in the poolroom. There was about 20 guys in the Poolroom and every one went in. When we got to the police station I took a chance and gave a phony name. I figured they hadn't seen me since I came out from Sing Sing and being I was away 44 months and I was out a year as this was 1929 and they had not seen me yet. They let everyone out except 4 of us and they were beating some guy and they asked him if his name was Joe. This guy was yelling, "My name ain't Joe." You can imagine how I felt when I was hearing all this. Now it was about four in the morning when Smith cane down from upstairs as he was about 6 foot 2 he picked me up by my hair as I always
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had a lot of hair and he carried me up stairs. He brought me in a room and there was Gap stiff on the floor, bleeding from all over and they kicked him and threw water on him to wake him. When he opened his eyes they asked him where did you get this note. They had a note with my phony name on it, I had given to one of the guys that got out of the police station earlier as I knew they won't keep him because there was a few good honest working guys in the block and he was one of them. I had told him to go to the Rainbow and give this note to the Gap in case anyone would had come to the Police Station they won't ask for my right name. The Gap said, "Joe sent it to me." He could do nothing about it he had to admit because on the note it said, "This is the name I gave to the Bulls, Charles Gerbano," then signed, "Joe C." on it, that was my nickname. Now they take me into another room and there was about 15 cops and Billy Quain, he is rated as the toughest Bull that ever came out of the 104th St. Police Station. He sat me down into an arm chair and one Bull put his arm around my neck and holding my left arm at the same time and another Bull was holding my right arm and Billy Quain picked up my right leg and put it on his lap and he said to me, "Did I ever bother you before?" I said, "No." and he said 'I won't pick you up if I didn't have you right," so I didn't answer him. He
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asked me, "Who killed Joe Fiore?" I said, "I didn't know." He gave me a rap with the black jack. Then he would ask me who did this and who did that. He had given me about 20 raps - it hurt so much that I thought all the cops flying. As I did they all went to work on me. He hit me on the back of my neck and then he bend me down and he was hitting me on my spine. All this went on for about 2 1/2 hours. When I saw the other two guys which were left of all the guys they had picked up they only locked up Solly, Gap and I. We were all crippled in the same leg, the right knee and our neck and spine were in bad shape. When we went to court the judge wanted to know what happened, we told him we fell down the stairs and the judge asked all three of you fell down the stairs, we said, "Yes" everybody laughed. The charge was extortion and when I found out that it was the iceman that they extorted I all but fainted. The complaint was that we got 500 dollars from the iceman. When we went in the bull pen I asked Solly did you get 500 dollars from the guy. He said, "Yes but he did not have the deal he said speak to the Gap." So I spoke to the Gap and he said that he got the deal from the kid. "Gee," I said, "Don't you know who the kid is?" He said, "What are you worrying about, don't worry about the iceman." I said, "Don't worry about it." They got him in the house of detention it means that
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they got him in the civil jail and he gets 3 dollars a day as long as he is there. Gap said, "I bet you that even though they got him in the house of detention he won't be in court." "OK," I said, "We'll see." So I said "Did it pay for 500 dollars? He said he was supposed to pay 2,000 dollars more but when the guy went to collect he saw the Bulls and he ran away. Then you knew this was coming up he said how do you think I know that he won't be in court. Well I said I can't say anything after all if I turn a deal down and someone else gets it. I can't say anything its just my hard luck that I got pinched for it. He said if the guy come to court he won't pick you out you weren't there so I said, "Did you speak to him yourself?" He said, "Solly and I spoke to him." So I looked at Solly and I didn't say anything but I wasn't going to forget it. After all he slept with me and he never said a thing about it. Well we went to court and the cops asked for another 48 hours and they put up some kind of excuse. Now we were held without bail all three of us had records. Now when the next 48 hours were up, this time the Bulls told the judge that the iceman even though he is in jail he is scared to death. These guys they told the judge are so powerful that someone contacted him and now I can't get him to come to court even though I told him that he will get six months in jail. He said he don't care
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if he gets 5 years, so the judge told them that he will give them another 48 hours and that if they don't bring him to court that he would have to turn these defendants. The Gap started to holler at the judge. He was saying that he was a married man and who was to support his wife and kid while the Cops are going out and trying to get some evidence to hang us. Well we went back again and again the iceman was not in court, so the Judge said although it breaks his heart he must dismiss these men. So the police told the judge that he had told them the whole story and was willing to testify and besides we were waiting for them to come and collect the rest of the money but they never showed up. They must had seen us and now he don't want to come out of jail. He is so scared. So the Judge said he has no right to hold them any longer, so he dismissed the case. Now the cops were waiting outside for us and they were telling us how they were going to get us. We just took off and I told the Gap that I wasn't going to pay anything for lawyers. I said you guys take care of that. He said who is asking you for anything.
Now a few days passed and the Gap came around and told me to be at 106th St. and First Ave., as there was to be a party and they want us there, He told me to bring Solly and Nickie. So I said, "What's that for."
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He said, "When you get there you will find out." He said, "If you don't know it, anyone that stands up with Smith and Quain is made." I said, "No kidding." He said, "Do you realize the beating you took and Solly too, OK," he said he the Gap could take it but he is built like a bull. He said, "I tell you the truth I didn't think that you guys could had stands up under that beating." He said, "I'm glad they didn't get Nickie." I said, "Me too, OK." I said, "I'll see you 106 St." whatever night it was as I don't remember, so we went that night and we met all the Italians there were about 30 of them. I never knew they were anybody. They had a table and there was plenty of food and all kinds of drinks and they told us we can go around there any time we wanted. Now the Gap comes up with another deal. He was telling us that he was going to get a letter of introduction and we were going to go to Rochester, New York, and there is the best furs you can lay your hands on. He said they would give us a drop or they may even buy the coats. It be the biggest fur job we ever did because they have no safes, they have burglar alarms but what do we care about burglar alarms. So I said with a smile, "Do we chip in on the expense?" He said, "You guys are going out so go out one night, do a job and don't split the money and we go out there." So I said, "How do we go?" He said,
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"Two will go by car and two will go by train." I said, "I let you know." He said, "Make sure that we are going if you tell me because I can't get the letter and then change our mind, you make me look bad." So I started to kid him, "Say the truth, Gap, did that Fiore affair do you any good? I heard that you have the watchman business now." He said, "Later on I'll tell you." I got the surprise of my life he said, "Guess who was Fiore partner," I said, "Who?" "Don't talk about,"" he said, "Billy Quain was his partner, but he is going to drop it because he don't trust Fiore workman." I said, "Who is that, Sally the watchman?" He said, "Yes, he is OK." "Then you are partner with him?" He said, "Not yet." "No wonder you went alone, tell me how did you meet him." He said, "Forget about it, I'll tell you some other time." Well later on he did tell me. He said he saw him in the car on First Ave., 107th St. I already had a gun hidden in the building 107th St. because I knew that's where he use to park with his car. He will wait for Sally, his working man, so I opened his back door and I asked him I hear you are looking for me and he said yes he started to say I'm surprised. Before he finish I hit him one shot right in the back of his head. The gun jammed. I got out of the car and I went through the garage and I came out 108th St. I went on Second Ave., hailed a cab and I had
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thrown the gun in an ash can and I came up to the Rainbow Garden. He said, "I ain’t going to use 45 any more, they ain't what they use to be." I said, "All you guys that were in the Army are crazy about 45. I'll be afraid to pull it on anyone. I feel that it won't go off."
Now we find out that there is an empty apartment above Fox Clothes Shop - it is on Second Ave., 108th St., and he had good clothes, but I said, "I don't trust anyone but Spike to drill that hole because he had Home's protection and that rings up at their office and besides Spike is been waiting for someone to move." I said, "We'll give Spike his share and we go with the Gap with our share, we will have 3 shares. We will make sure we will get at least 125 suits." So we went looking for Spike, we found Spike and I told him about the empty apartment and he was happy. He said he has been trying to rob him for a long time. He said he could do nothing from the cellar. He knows the floor is bugged - meaning alarm, but not the ceiling. We got together and we went and do the job. It was hard work. Spike had to crawl on top of the racks and with his right arm he will lift a few suits at a time. I don't remember how many we got but we done pretty good. It was tough getting the load out of the building because Second Ave. had a bad name for burglaries and besides there was a phone
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call box at 109th St, Second Ave. We got the suits out and everything went fine. We gave them to Fat West and we told Fat West to take all the tags out of the suits even though he was about a mile from 108th St. He did what we told him and we charged him 10 dollars a suit. We had about 8 hundred dollars for the trip to Buffalo. We told the Gap what we had and he said we had enough. He said we leave next week.
The following week we left for Buffalo or Rochester, I don't know which way to call it. Nickie and I went by car and Gap and Solly went by train. I really forgot what Hotel we were supposed to meet. When we left New York the weather was fine but when we got on the road it was murder. Sometimes we had to stop overnight in a hotel and stay there for two days. I don*t remember when and where but I know we got there a week late and when we got to Rochester all the telephone poles were collapsing. We called the Gap and he asked what happened. I told him about the snow and he said that it was coming down in Buffalo just as bad. He said they had not gone anywhere as they were waiting for us. I said, "I tried to call along the way but I couldn't because of the phones being out of order." He said he knew any way we got there. The storm was going on for about two weeks and the only thing we did was stay in the Hotel and go to movies or shows.
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So we went broke and there was no sign of let up. So we decided to come home. We met one man Gap introduced to us and he advised us to go home and we did. So I started to complain to the Gap so he said I must go with him and see the store. I did and he was right. We said we Will be back but after we left and the hard time Nickie and I had had coming back we were swearing that we will not come back after all we figured it wasn't easy to get together and make a trip like this and look what we run into. I don't remember how long it took us to get back but I know it took at least a week and that was because I ruined my car or it had taken longer.
Now I met a woman who has a dry goods store and sells dresses and all sorts of women wear so we started to burglarize all kinds of women's wear specially silk stockings. I don't remember just what stores I took over but I supplied her plenty. One day we were delivering some children dresses to her and they were too many dresses to put in her store so she jumped in the car to show us where to put them as she owned a house and it was in the afternoon. I was driving and a cop saw me pass a stop sign and he hailed for me to stop. I never do such things whenever I got something in the car but we were busy talking and I didn't notice the sign.
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I said, "Well Kakie, I can't stop so you better duck if he shoots." It didn't last long before I lost him. She got the biggest thrill. Now I turn in my car and I buy a brand new Auburn - it was a roadster and it was dark blue.
And as I was going to the Rainbow Garden I started to get close to one of the girls - by that I mean closer than any of the other girls. Sometimes we went for coffee at Ruidy's Restaurant, but I never drove her home.
Now Spike found a suit store on Westchester Ave., near Prospect Ave. We went up there and we got in through the cellar and I parked my car on Prospect Ave., which was about three blocks away. When we got finished we realized that we need the truck. I left the two of them down the cellar to pack everything and I went in a dinner and I called the guy and I got him at his house. He was glad to hear from he. He had notes on the truck and he wasn't going too much. We did not use him too much only when we need him. I told him where to come. I told him to meet me at Macy Place, which is one block east of Prospect Ave., so I sat on a stoop of a building and my own car was parked about two blocks further down Prospect Ave. I could see the truck when it will come. He came about
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a quarter to five. As there was no one around I jumped on the truck and I went to Westchester Ave. and as we went two or three blocks down to Westchester Ave., to see if we see any cops. We didn't see none. We pulled right to the building and in no time the bundles were on the truck and we let him go and we walked around to Prospect Ave., got in my car and went to meet the truck in Fat West block, which was 123rd St., between First and Pleasant Ave., a very dead block, and we always have it arranged with Fritz the truck driver if we don't show up for any reason way he waits about 20 minutes, then he should pull in the garage and if we don"t show up at all then he must use his own judgment as to where to put the suits or whatever he may have. He had a friend down the river that had a junk yard and there was where he intended to put them in case of anything. We had to think of everything you never can tell, we were known guys and might get picked up. It never happened but we must be prepared. The suits were sold as usual to Fat West. This trip I remember we had 130 suits. The bill for Fat came to 1,300 dollars as none of us took any. Now we had to hustle a little harder as we wasted time and money out of town. A night or two after I went to the Rainbow and I took this girl for breakfast. This night we were alone. This girl was very pretty. Her name was May. Everyone was after her but she had a boyfriend
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from down town as I was always talking to her, I say for a couple of months. This night she told me that she broke off with her boyfriend and she asked me if I will drive her home. I asked her where does she live. She said Prospect Ave. Well, Prospect Ave. is very long. It covers about 15 blocks. As I was riding along Prospect Ave. and when we reached near Westchester Ave. she pointed to a building and said that's where she lives. It was the building where I was sitting two nights before. I need not say how I felt. I just said to myself, "Its a funny world" and when I told Nickie about it he didn't want to believe it, not that he doubted me but it was hard to believe it. One night when we were up the Rainbow and Nickie was standing with me when she came over I asked her where does she lives to make Nickie hear it. She said "Prospect Ave., you know, you drove me there." I look at Nickie and he just laughed.
Now we found a dress store up the Washington Height. It was about 221 Broadway, somewhere around there. This night Solly, Nickie and I went there and we were going to get in the store through the skylight on the roof. It had no alarm - it was a new store and we figured we will do it before they put in an alarm. Not did it make any difference but we felt like doing something without so much tape. When we got on the roof the moon
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was shining bright and the people that lived in the high apartment could see us if they looked out of their windows. So I looked at Solly and Nickie and I said that I feel creepy up here and they said that they felt the same so I said, "What are we waiting for, let's get out of here" and we went 110 Street, Lexington Ave., and we were sitting in the coffee pot that used to stay open all night and there was one of the guys that hung out on Lexington Ave., his name was Monk. He said that he had a phony license and that he can rent brand new Buick cars. He said some of them ain't even got 10,000 miles on the speedometer. So I asked him if they were seven passenger. He said, "I can get any kind I want." I said, "Can you get one tonight?" He said, "Yes." But I also wanted to know if he can come along with us. Well I told him with what I got in mind "I'm pretty sure I can use you. Are you got a phony address on your license?" He said that he has two licenses, one is his real name and address and the other is phony in name and address. So I asked him, "How much do you need to rent these cars?" He said all he needed was 20 dollars for deposit and then when he turns the car in they charge him by the mileage. In other words, if we travel 30 miles before you turn the car in we pay for 30 miles. He said yes.
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I asked Monk, "Do you know Johnnie D. good?" He said he did. Then I told Monk everytime he drived me here or there with his cab he shows me how he can drive. Monk said he is a good driver. "Yes," I said, "How would he stand up under fire. I know you a long time but I don't know him at all, only meeting him in poker game and he driving me home in his cab and he never wants to charge me but I won't let him. I always pay and he keeps asking me to give him a chance." "Well Joe, Mond said, "Everyone around here would like to go with you. They all know the people you were with one time and they all know they big guys today and they also know why you not with them today because of the trouble you had with them in 1924, that's the talk of the neighborhood ever since you came out of Sing Sing." "They all say that it is a wonder how you made it and especially with the guys you were with all gone, you know how it is." I said, "Yes Monk that's all straighten out." "Monk," I said, "Here is 20 dollars and go and get a car. I'm not going to do anything with it tonight. I just want to look it over and I want to see what kind of tires they have. If the tires satisfy me I'll use these cars. Now can you take care of the guy so that he will give you the same car all the time, say you can call him early and ask him to hold that car for you that you are going to rent that car and if the car
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is out he can hold it for you when it comes in." Monk said, "As we go on there are so many new cars and they all have new tires that he the guy can have, say about 5 cars all new that he can hold for me." What he meant was that if they all were out as long as he will call him in advance the man at the rent yourself office can hold anyone of these five cars and if one of these cars are there when I call early then he will give it to me early and I will park it some where until we got to use it. I said, "It a good idea and we will put plenty of mileage on the car so that the guy will be happy to give you a car early." "Now go and get one and bring it here on Lexington Ave. I want to look it over and I want to take it around and see how do they are." He left and he came back sometime later and I was surprised to see the car it was brand new and it had good speed and the tires were also like new. It had a very fast pickup and it went about 55 miles an hour in second speed. So that was OK now I'm going to talk to Johnnie D. Well when when I did talk to Johnnie I told him that I wanted him to drive for us and I intended to renew the old crashing days but not by crashing windows, we have a way of jimming the doors and the alarm won't go off until the door is open. Now I want to know what do you do if we get a chase whether you take the long run or go around the
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blocks. He answered that going around the blocks was better and using only second speed this way the car will pick up faster as you turn and besides it is less chance of crashing into something else. "Ok, Johnnie, be around tomorrow night. I got something easy to start with until you break in and then we will go after good stuff. I had that store in mind that we walk away from two night before." The next day I went down to the river in the junk yard and I got two leaf of a truck, actually they are springs from a truck and they will have to be cut in different sizes and need to be sharpened by a grindstone and the springs I cut with a bolt cutter.
Now the following night I had my tools ready and I used Monk, Johnnie D., Nickie and I and I went to the store where we had been a few days before. Solly by this time was going out with a girl from the Rainbow and everytime he had money you could not find him. I didn't care because there was starting to be too many guys already. But one thing, no matter how many guys were getting in with us Nickie and I would always be there and with Johnnie D. with us and he was the driver now we are three for sure. Sometimes we were five going on one job. I soon cut that out because five was too many and one will be in the way. If five were around and I didn't want to hurt anyone's feeling I would let one go home and I
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would give him a share rather than having five in the car. For this reason I was hanging out up the Rainbow most of the time with Nickie and Solly. Solly would always be busy with his girl so I didn't care. When he was broke he would hang around like a pup. Well we done that job up at Washington Heights and what a disappointment we took every dress in the place and all we got was 90 dresses. The racks had curtains so you could not tell if the place had a good stock but any way I was glad because we had got started crashing again. I really didn't like those sneaking burglaries that we were doing. I really want to do things in the open because you can see them when they coming, rather than to be trapped the way it happened up at Dyckman Street. Now I was going after small stores. I'll say I did at least 6 of them before I broke them in as each one had to do his share. Johnnie was at the wheel. When We were crashing a dress store in Long Island, it was on Steinway Ave. and it was a main avenue and we got a chase from the Dolly Sisters, we call the two cops that patrol the streets at night, the Dolly Sisters. Johnnie handled the wheel pretty good and I was satisfied and now I started to hit Broadway and all good neighborhoods where we can get good clothes. We did a good dress store at Irving Place down town and we got dresses, some
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of them were worth good money. Now one night we were all at the Rainbow and Monk was to meet us at Rudy's Restaurant when we got our breakfast and we were sitting around and one of the girls lived downtown around the 60's -- we drove her home and some other girls were with us and we knew we had plenty of time so Johnnie and I took a ride and after we dropped the girl off we rode through the street where we expected to come back to see if the door of the store had a long steel bar connecting from the floor to the door knob and it will open with a key. Now if it had such a bar we won't be able to do anything. It did not have a bar but Johnnie slowed up too much, We did not know it at the time but we found out later. We came back after we left the other two girls off and we went back to Rudy's and I told the boys that we must go there about five o'clock in the morning. It was right off 84th Street, Broadway. Well we went back five o'clock in the morning and we done the job and as far as we were concerned no one seen us. I remember Solly, Mink, Johnnie and I were on this one as Nickie was busy some where, but I don't remember just where. Solly and I went to the baths and when we got up that afternoon we found out that Johnnie got arrested when he turned the car in. I hadn't seen Monk yet and someone told me about Johnnie being arrested. I looked at Solly and he looked at me.
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Now Monk comes around and he tells me that Johnnie wanted to use the car to go to long Island to his mother's house, so Monk told him to bring the car in. Well I get a lawyer for Johnnie and the next night I meet the lawyer, he was ex-judge Francis Z. Mascuso. He tells me that Johnnie and whoever he was with had taken a ride on 84th Street and Broadway at 3:30 in the morning, then they went back about 5:30 in the morning and they robbed a dress store. So I told the lawyer what did Johnnie say. He said that Johnnie told him that when they did go back that they bent the plates and that the cop or anyone else could not take the number but the judge said that when the hearing comes up in two days he will find out more. Now when the hearing did come up in the few days and when he heard the policeman's testimony, the policeman said that he had noticed this car pass the store at 3:30 in the morning and someone had noticed the same car at 5:30 in the morning and that it was the same car that passed at 3:30 that same morning and when the police was asked by the lawyer if he had taken the license plate number, the policeman said that he had taken it at 3:30 in the morning but when the car came back at 5:30 in the morning it had its plates bended and that it was impossible to take the license plate numbers. So the lawyer asked him if they had a hundred
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buicks lined up of the same type would he be able to pick this car out. He said he could if he saw the license plates because the plates figure to have a dent in the top of the plate so the judge said that he wanted to see the man that rents these cars out. So they put the case over for a couple of days. When it came up again they put the man on the stand and they asked him if he had noticed most of his cars if they had their plates bended and the man said that when he heard about this case that he went over all of his cars and found that 90 per cent of the cars had their plates bent. Then the judge asked the man to leave the stand and dismissed the case.
Now Johnnie gets out and we talk things over. We are all in the Coffee Pot at 110 St. and Lexington, I said to Monk, "How do you think you stand with the guy at rent it yourself office." Monk said he will go and see him. I said go right away. He called him to find out if he was on duty, he was not but he will be there later so I told Monk to remind him that a lot of cars had their plates bended and I said you know we ain't the only ones that bend plates. That guy told the truth in court, he wasn't going to say something that wasn't true. Well Monk went and see him that night and he came and see me at the Rainbow and he tells me that the guy is OK and he knows that most of the plates are bended. So I suggested that we get
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a car and we won't do anything with the car and we will se if we are getting a tail. We will do that for a week - at lasted they all agreed. I told Monk to lay out the money and when we do something he will take it out. He done just what I told him to do.
The first time we went out we went to Long Island and we tried to do a dress job and all we had a chance to do was get about 40 dresses when a cop came out of nowhere, but he was about a half a block away when we saw him. He fired a couple of shots at us and he hit the window in the back of the car. Now we can't turn in a car with a bullet hole in the window so we broke the whole glass off and we made it appear as though someone was drunk and broke the window but we had to pay for it.
Now I run into a bit of luck. I met a guy that I knew was a live wire. He tells me that he is interested in getting some tapestry. I was glad because it will make a little change in things, instead of doing the same thing. It will give Fat West a rest for a while and besides we would have to go into different neighborhoods like Madison Ave. We hadn't touched Madison Ave, so I liked it. I told Bull to look for some stores for me as I don't know where to start. He said get in the car. I did and he went to Madison Ave in the 70's. We parked and we walked to a store and he said
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"1, 2, 3, 4, get those four tapestries and I pay you 2500 dollars." "OK." I told him I will have them in the morning would he have the money ready. He said he would. "How about if I bring them straight to you?" He asked, "About what time?" I told him, "Say about six o'clock in the morning." He said, "Fine." So I got hold of Nickie and Johnnie and I tell them if we use our own car we won't need Monk. "I got something good." I told them what I had and Johnnie said, "OK, we'll use his Ford but make sure we bend the plates." "OK Johnnie," I said, "For this time I would but you must get rid of one plate after we do it because I don't want you to be going around with a bended plate because you got arrested and the cops may be looking for bended plates. You know once you bend a plate you can never take the dent out no matter how you flatten it out." He said I was right. He will do just that. So that night we got lost and we did not go 110th St. or the Rainbow. I don't remember where we went but we did go on Madison Ave. about five thirty in the morning. We looked around as we always do and when I thought it was time to pull over to the store we did and I and Nickie got out of the car. We opened the door with the tools and the door Was opened fast. I opened the partition doors and in no time I had the four tapestries. When doing these things you work so fast you can't even imagine.
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I went to Bull's house which was 116th Street and Pleasant Ave. As the tapestry make a small package, both Nickie and I went up as he lived on the First Floor. As soon as I knock on the door he was waiting for me. He spread the tapestry. He took the money out of a drawer and he counted it out. Before I left I told him to find another place. He said, "Come around tomorrow night, I'll be on Pleasant Ave., and I'll have a place for you." I said good night and we left. Nickie and Johnnie said to me, "Where did you find this angel?" I know him when I was with those other guys before I went to jail. I said he will be giving us all kinds of orders, you see. That was a fast 800 dollars. I told the boys I went around the following night and he took me to First Ave., where all the rich people live. It was somewhere between the 60's and 70's and he showed me a little store that had pictures. They are drawings. They were all sorts of drawings. He said, "Clean it out and I give you a thousand dollars for them." I said, "OK" after all you got to take everything that comes along. He told me that they were in carton boxes and they had some on shelves. He said take everything. That was just what I did - took everything on this job. I used Monk, Johnnie, Nickie and myself. After all I figure I got to keep Mink happy. We took these to the house on
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108th St. and we were looking them over. We were surprised to see some of the price tags. They ran something like, $2.50, $3.50, $7.50 up to $14.00. Well, we said Bull is nobody fool but they were not worth a dime to us. I got in touch with Bull and he told me where to bring them. I forgot just where but he got them. He paid me and he brought me on Madison Ave., again and he shows me a little store somewhere in the 60's and the store was around the corner, right off Madison Ave. To my amazement he showed me a silverware store. He told me to take everything I could lay my hands on. Again the four of us went there. We took the seat out of the car so we can take a lot of silverware. It was so easy that we even put the light on in the store. Riding with the stuff on the way to Harlem it sounded like Liberty Bells in the back of the car. I had left one guy off the car a few blocks away from the store so that we could ride more comfortable. This stuff we brought 108th St too. I went and got Bull and I brought him over to the 108th St. drop and he looked over the silverware and he said that he was giving me top price so he gave us $1,200. Now he said he wanted some oriental rugs and he showed me a place on Lexington in the 80's and he told me that this is the kind of stuff that his man is ordering. So I said, "When is he going to order more
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tapestry as this is the stuff that brings in the money." He said, "Soon." Now the boys asked me where does he get rid of the stuff, its hard stuff to get rid of. I told them I asked him the same thing and he told me that his man sends the tapestry to London, but I don't know what he does with the other stuff, like rugs, silverware, and those pictures we had the other day. In fact that's the first time that he ordered that kind of stuff. All we used to get in the early 20's was rugs and tapestry. They asked me how do they get rid of the tapestry in London, did he ever tell you. I said yes he told me something about when a mansion's furniture is auctioned off, I don't know how it goes, but he the people in London have a way of throwing the tapestry in with the rest of the mansion's furniture and they go along and sold in the auction. After all do you know that he had $14, 000 worth of tapestry when he gave us $2,500. They know what they doing. After all to us it ain't worth a dime, but when you have someone in the market for something and he give us an order what do we care how much he get so long as we get ours. They all agreed and we felt we were glad to have a guy like Bull with us.
Now we go and do the rug job. This turned out to be a little fun. We went there pretty early, say about 1 o'clock in the morning. We knew
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just where the rugs were. We had the seat out of the car so we can get enough rugs. I don't know how he did it but Nickie is coming out of the store with a rug hanging over his head -- I had to help him and we were all laughing. We loaded the car with all we could put and we could not fit in the car the last one that came out of the store. On this job we used two cars -- not to put rugs in the second car but to follow us when we were finished so that he could pick up at least two guys from our car to the second car. Of course, we do this only is things went smooth. If we got a rumble then we just have to go. We used two cars I say in the year of 1929 a half dozen times. Well we didn't make much on this as it was more of a accommodation than anything else. We made 800 hundred on the whole deal but I told Bull I hope this is the last as far as rugs are concerned. We dropped the rugs up at 108th St.
And now it was getting very cold. It looked like the coldest day of that winter. So Bull had nothing ready so this night right after the rug job I went down the Village as I had Monk, Johnnie, Nickie and myself. There was a cloth coat store that I was after and I was waiting for a cold night and this was the night. Again we took the back seat out of the car and we got a pretty good load and I dumped it over at Fat West, and I told him
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that we will be back, that is after we counted the coats, there was about 80 coats, and I told him that we make the price when I get back. Fat West had about six rooms and besides he had empty rooms next door, so I went after a suit store on West Farms as West Farms was a tough spot. I figure this was the night because it was so cold. We did this job without any trouble and we brought the suits to Fat West. He said, "Gee you guys are making up for lost time." Of course, he didn't know that we were doing other things. We got 100 suits on the nose. I asked what time it was and it was five o'clock in the morning. We had started early due to the cold. I said let's go to Park Ave., around 46th St., there was a very expensive dress place or store. We done this without any trouble. But all we got was 90 dresses and I didn’t know that it was 90 but I could tell by the load so I brought this load to 108th St. and then I went back to Fat West. So we made the price on the coats 20 dollars straight as there were some coat tags on them $189, but most of them were like $39 to $89, but very few $39. and we charged him 10 dollars for the suits. No one took anything this time, so it was $1,600 for the coats, and $1,000 for the suits. Now we went 108th Street and I looked at the dresses and suits and I asked the boys if they wanted to split this load. There wasn't much but
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there was tea gowns worth $275 and there was a couple of ladies suits worth $250 and the cheapest dress was worth $100 or better. No dress under $100. I did not talk about it but all this time I was seeing May up at the Rainbow but not too serious yet. So I had her in mind with the dresses and suits, as most of them were her size. She wore size 12 but I wasn't ready to give them to her yet and I was meeting more guys up at the Rainbow. The talk between May and I will be like this, "May I would like to go with you, I know you broke up with your boyfriend and I know you like me but I am afraid because I have no steady income." And she will say that she can work and that she is making good money and I will tell her that I will like to get her out of the dance hall and that is the way we were talking. All of a sudden she tells me that she had ordered some furniture. She said there was plenty of time before she will get the furniture, at least 6 weeks.
All the time Gap was telling me about me getting in with the mob but I would just listen and say nothing. Here is some of the guys that I met one time or another: Bobby, Steve, Joe, Jack and Tom. Well these are the ones I was getting close to and as I met them I will introduce them to Nickie and Solly and they will all give me the same talk it does not pay
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to steal any more and that kind of stuff. I will just listen and then say to myself, "They all give good advice but no one afford anything."
Now I have another talk with May. I asked her why she had to wait six weeks for the furniture and she tells me that she had to wait because she did not have all the money for the down payment. So I asked her how much was the down payment. She said $750. I told her I had an idea and if she will do what I say I will be interested. She asked me what did I have in mind. First I asked her under what name was she getting the furniture and she told me under a phony name and that she had her sister OK her and that her sister was going to get out of business in a couple of months. She was getting tired of running a candy store and she intended to move far away from where she was living now. "Well," I said, "In that case here is what you do. I'll give you the money for the furniture and you save what you got. Say you move somewhere up in the Bronx then when your sister is ready to move, then you wait a month or so then you move to." Then I asked her, "Is this your right name that you are using up here at the dance hall?" She said, "No." So I told her, "I give up. I can't catch up with you myself." She laughed. "How much did you spend for the furniture?" She said, "$4,000." "Hey," I said, "You
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really mean it," "Well, she said, "when I broke off with the guy downtown I left everything and that is why I am living with my mother right now and I had my eye on you for the last six months and I like you more because you held your place." I said, “May the truth is that I have been afraid of you. You see you are so pretty and I feared just what I'm doing. I knew you will want to live with me and to be truthful that why I never asked you out in the first four or five months that I been dancing with you." And she said, "That's why I went for you." To me she said. "You looked as though you were shy and I notice that when you danced with me you kept at a distant. The other guys in your crowd everytime they see me they ask me out." "Oh," I said, "I knew this was going to happen," and she answered, "So did I." Well as I said I'm aguy that worries as I'm here today and I don't know where I'll be tomorrow. So I asked her how did she like the guys I spoke to or who did she think were in my crowd. She said, “I don't know. I rather see you with Nickie, as for Solly he talks and acts as though he wants to be with those big shots that come up here."
By this time Joe Jones sold the Rainbow Garden, Vincent Rao bought it and naturally more guys from 107th Street were coming up there
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but I will stay to ourselves -- by that I mean my crowd, besides Nickie and Solly were Gap, Bobby, Tommie and a few more that came around once in a while. One of the fellows that hung around the Rainbow but was nothing but a bookie. I was standing by the rail and he said to me, "I don't understand you were so close to these guys and you are not with them." I told him, "That's the way it goes but I don't mind as long as things are peaceful and everybody is happy -- who cares." "But," he said, "I know that sooner or later you will be connected with somebody. I hope it will be with these guys. I hate to see you go out stealing. You know I know you since I was a kid and I always saw you 107th St. and everyone of these guys stopped stealing and you must still go on doing the same thing." "Well." he said, "I'm going and I wish you all the luck in the world." I didn't think he meant anything wrong by his talk as I knew he was one of those guys that came out of 107th St. and had nothing in him other then to book a little horses or some kind of sports so I passed it out of my mind as to what he said.
Now in a few days I picked May up at her house in the Bronx and we went out looking for a couple of rooms in the Van Nest section and she found three lovely rooms on the top floor on Van Nest Ave. and the rent
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was 50 dollars a month so she put a deposit on the rooms for the following month. In those days one did not need any reference as there were plenty of apartments with plenty of empty rooms. As the first of the month was only two weeks she had to start things rolling so she went and pay the down payment on the furniture and she took a week off from the Rainbow and I was helping her as best as I could. First thing she told me that she did not care to go back to the Rainbow as she did not like her new boss. I said I agree with her. She said if anything goes wrong she could always go back to her mother. In two weeks we living at Van Nest Ave. in the Bronx and some of the boys started to come around with some of the girls from the Rainbow, including Solly and my friend Frank, who had straightened me out when I came out of Sing Sing as he was going out with Helen and Helen was a pretty and a nice girl so I was starting to mingle all around with all kinds of boys.
So one night my friend was there and I had to leave at 3 in the morning. He asked me where was I going. I told him that I was going out to steal. I told him the other guys will pick me up downstairs and he asked me not to tell those guys that he was there and also told me that he stopped stealing and that he is looking worward to do something for me. I
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thank him and the buzz rang and I had to leave. We went out that night and we got a load of dresses on Boston Road somewhere. Whatever we made I told the boys that I was going to stay home for a couple of days and if they needed me for anything I'll be home. The next day I remember clearly that it was raining and as I said I said I stayed hime all day and all night. One of the boys, I think it was Johnnie brought me my share, it was the following night and he tried to talk it in to me to go and see a show but I refused. I was getting a kick helping her putting up curtains and things like putting this chair here and this chair there and hanging picture frames. Solly came over with his girl Dottie. It was in the wee hours of the morning and he rushed in my bedroom and told me to get up. May had let him in the apartment. I got up and went into the parlor and May and Dottie went into the bathroom. Solly told me they had killed a big man and it looks like trouble and he tried to describe to me the big man. Well anyway I could not remember him. He asked me if I was going to go to the funeral. I said, "No, there be a lot of guys there and I don't want to be notices." He said he was going. "Well I ain't," I answered.
A few days later my other friend came over and he brought his girl Helen. He also came in the wee hours of the morning and we had a good
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talk and he went on to tell me that he was trying to get me in the mob with Ciro Terranova, the artichoke king. So I told him I doubt it because Big Dick and I don't get along and Big Dick carries a lot of worth. He said he knew and he was thinking about it. After all I know he never forgave me for being with the Irish Mob in 1924. So I told my friend Frank, "Here is what we do. I know I am going to be approached. If I do and it may be with people that you don't like I'll move out of here that will be a warning to you that someone approached me." "After all," I said, "I can't steal all my life." He said, "Fine, after all what difference does it make where you are as long as you would be connected with somebody. We can always watch out for one another." "OK," I said, "That is the way we will leave off." Now I said, "I'm going to have another key made and you can have one so if ever you come you can use your own key. We may be out and I don't want you to come all the way up here and you shouldn't find anyone home. We expect to put in a phone as soon as we will get around to it."
Now I went to look for Bull and he was waiting for me and he tells me that he found a joint on Madison Ave. He said it is a tough place but if you score there you will make real money. It was a tapestry store. It
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was somewhere out 51'st Street. We took a ride down there and we parked the car and we took a walk and he showed me the pile of tapestry on the left side of the store not far from the door. It was a big copper door - it meant nothing that door will go in faster than the regular door. It had Home's protection. Well I got the boys together and I told them about it. I didn't go to the Rainbow or anywhere the boys were. I mean the mob boys. I felt, let about ten days go by before I go around there. I figured, let me go out and make some money. Well I told Nickie I want a big car for this store because if I get a break I want to clean up. There is a 16 cylinder Cadillac at 108th St and First Ave. I know that garage and it is on the third floor and I know how to run the elevator -- the guy that works there after he gets most of the cars in for the night he goes to sleep. We go there about 3 o'clock in the morning. We get into the elevator and we go up as if we are going to get our own car and there is no alarm out for the car. I used to park in that garage. I know Nickie said OK with him, so I got Johnnie and Monk as for Solly I didn't even go look for him as he was busy trying to be seen by all the mob boys over at the wake. As I understand the police held the body for two days before they turned it over to the undertaker. Now we went to the garage and I did just what I told Nickie I was going to do. We got the car and we went down
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to 51st St and Madison Ave. I saw the post clear and we pulled right over to the store. I got out bent the plates as a force of habit and I went right to the door and I opened it in no time. The moment the door was opened a police car came from 52nd St. He came from a side street I saw him right away. We jumped in the car and we speeded away. We lost them in a hurry so I told Johnnie to go up in the Bronx toward Morris Park Ave. Everytime I use to go home to Van Nest Ave. I will see this dress store and I promise myself that I'mgoing to rob it the first time that I ain't got anything to do. Now in the Cadillac there was a chauffeur cap and as we were riding on Morris Park Ave. I saw the Dolly Sister in front of us so I told Johnnie to put on the chauffeur cap and we stiffened up in the back seat as we passed the cops. They looked but they didn't say anything. Now as we reached the dress store we made a right turn and we went all around the block and as we pulled up on Morris Park Ave. I did not see the cops any more so I told Johnnie to pull right to the store. We got out of the car and we went to the door and we opened it in a hurry and we clean out the store. We went to Fat West. We dropped the load off and I told Johnnie to get rid of the Cadillac. We got about 250 dresses and I told everybody tonight. No one takes anything. Now Johnnie
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comes back and we made a price on the dresses - 3 dollars a dress. I felt that I did not waste the night and we were lucky that the police car on 51st St. came around before we went into the store. Now as my car is parked in front of the building on Van Nest Ave. I asked Johnnie to drive me home with his car as it was parked at 110st St, Lexington Ave. He said OK. Now when he reached Van Nest Ave. and I was just about getting out of the car the police car pulled over and asked us where are we going and where we came from. I told him that I live here. He said where. I said there and I pointed to the building the cops said lets go up there and I said do you want that I ring the bell and my Wife will look out the window. He said go ahead and ring so I rang hard so that she will look out of the window as we lived on the top floor and there was no elevator. So she looked out of the window and they were satisfied but they went on to tell us that a couple of hours ago a big Cadillac was going along on Morris Park Ave. and they had a chauffeur at the wheel with a chauffeur cap and we pulled along side of them and we let them pass by, we thought that we might hurt their ego. Why the son of a gun, you know what they did, they robbed a dress store. Now I don't trust anyone any more the Police said,
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Now I'll talk about a fellow that I wrote about in the early part of this story -- the guy who got us arrested in Jersey City. I think it was in 1922, could had been in 1921. Believe it or not he use to march the boys 1O8th St. up and down the block. He will tell them that he was going to make them soldiers but he never bother me. I used to go 108 Street but I did not hang there anymore. I was hanging around the way I have been describing in this story in 1929 and it was in 1929 that Chuck came over to my house and asked me to give him a break and take him along with us on some burglaries. He said after all, "I know you since you were a little boy and you know that I hung out with your brother." I said, "Yes, Chuck, I know you hang out with my brother. I'll take you along as you say but remember, Chuck, guys like you forget that kids grow up. You and my brother have the same style you won't give us kids credit for growing up. You know, Chuck, what is the use of kidding, when I tell these guys that you are going to come out with us they going to be doing a little worrying because all they hear is how crazy Chuck is. Now give me your phone and I will call you the first chance I get." Well the only guy that I can sit down and reason with will be Nickie. I talked to
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Nickie and he almost fainted, he said, "Joe, I think that I will quit for a while." "Look," I said, "We will give him one chance and we will see how he will act. I don't want to feel that I didn't give him a chance and besides he was a big guy 108 Street all through the years. I must show a little respect for him. We will pick an easy joint." Nickie said, "That's right, we go and take that joint in Long Island - the one on Roosevelt Ave." "Good," I said, "You know what we do? I'll drive and you and Monk will take the door. There's no alarm in this store and the dresses are cheap. What do we care, we will get $2.50 a dress so we will give Fat West a cheap load for a change. OK," I said. Now Nickie starts to think again. He said, "Joe I'm thinking about Canarsi." Then I said, "You right." Nickie was referring how Chuck killed Canarsi. Chuck had shot Canarsi six times in the head. No one knew the reason why. The whole block heard the shots - it was about 3 o'clock in the morning. Although they all heard the shots no one called the police but they did write letter to the police about the shooting and Chuck was arrested but beat the murder charge as they had no witnesses. No one dare ask him anything about whether he killed him. Everybody knew he did it because some of the people peeped out of the shades of their homes.
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Well I told Nickie we play dumb and watch his every move. So the following night we went along just the way we planned it. We picked Chuck up and we drove to Long Island. On the way I asked Chuck if he had a gun. He said he did. Now I said, "Chuck, please listen careful in case of any trouble don't try to shoot anyone. If you got to shoot make sure you shoot only to scare them. You know the Police know who is crashing all these stores. They don't pick us up because they have nothing on us but God forbid if we shoot anyone, we all got to run and don't worry about anyone taking my license plate number" and I went on to explain how we bend the plates. He said OK. We reach the store in Long Island and it was dead, not a soul in sight. We rode along the Avenue. We left Chuck off up the Ave. and we told him to walk slowly towards the car. I parked in front of the store and Nickie and Monk went right to work and in no time they cleaned out the store. Everything went fine - not even a cat in sight. We picked up Chuck and we were pulling away when all of a sudden I heard 6 shots - bang, bang - from in the car and he was firing right through the windows for a moment I thought that he was shooting at me with the window closed the noise of the shots were deafening. I asked him what was he shooting at. He said someone was trying to take
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the number of the car. I said, "Chuck, the plates are bended." Well no one spoke any more and we pulled in a side block and I told Mickie to straighten out the plates, and we drove to Fat West's house as I let Chuck to think a little and see if he can figure out how we felt. We unloaded the car as Chuck and I stayed in the car even Fat West came out of the house to help. I was so disgusted I just stood there thinking. I told Nickie to stay there and count the dresses and I took Monk with me and we had to break the glass and I wanted Chuck to see what it meant to be shooting at the windows as we had to turn the car in to the drive yourself office but nothing seem to bother Chuck. After I broke the glass, I told Monk, Boy we are having a lot of trouble with these cars." Monk said, "Don't worry about it as I'm taking care of the guy." This night I went home in Harlem and that afternoon Chuck came over to the house and he said that he wanted his share in dresses and I told him that's stealing the swag again. He said that he can get more money for the dresses. So I figure why argue there will be no more after this so I said, "How we going to do this?" I said, "You can't pick, it won't be fair to Fat West." He said, "No, I'll take them the way they come." I don't remember how many dresses there were but he went with Monk and he took his share in
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dresses. I called Monk as I said I was good and disgusted. Well now we got together and we tried to figure out what made him shoot. We came to the conclusion that he shot at the dummy in the tailor shop. Well that was the end of Chuck but he comes in again about a month from now. I went up town to Van Nest Ave. and I told May to dress up as I wanted to take her to Ben Martin in Jersey as this was a very nice place it had a roof that opened in the summer and closed in the winter and when it was closed it had a sky blue ceiling and with stars. I knew then that it had a gamble place upstairs but I never went as I said I didn't care to shoot crap as I felt that I worked hard for my money. I loved their hamburger steaks. I never tasted any hamburger like they served they could match it but not better. We had a fine time and we got home about 3 in the morning and the next night I went up at the Rainbow and no one was talking everyone looked so serious. Bobby Doyle started to get a little closer to me and he started to talk with all kinds of digs and he was telling me that they were going to hang out 106, Third Ave. and that I should go around there if ever I was up in the afternoon. I told him if I'm around in the afternoon I'll be around. He was another guy that will give advice, it don't pay to steal and that kind of line. Now we started to go around
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106 Street and one of the boys had a bar and we started to go into the bar, it was 105 Street and 106 Street on the East Side of Third Ave. Here we met more guys like Joe Palisade, Steve, Tommy, who was the owner of the Bar, and some greaseballs which are not worthwhile mentioning, all giving us the same advice. Nickie, Solly and I were the only ones going around there of course the Gap also used to come around and we will go to the Rainbow when we left 106 Street but we were still going out regardless of the advice they will give us. Now things were getting a little harder as the Spring was coming and we were taking things easy and I got a proposition about going into the Lemonade Business. I spoke to my father about it as I remember that he worked for an icecream company one summer. He told me that he will like it so I accepted the deal. It was from two boys from 108 Street and they wanted to buy a cheap truck and I gave them the money. It wasn't much and they rented a cellar at 108 Street and they were preparing for the first of April. None of these had any money so I put all the money - it didn't even cost a thousand dollars. I figure even if I didn't make any money my father will earn a salary. I don't remember how or who brought this news to me but it must had been Solly because he hadn't been with us in the last 4 or 5 jobs. He said that he found a
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dress store in Mt. Vermon and it was so exclusive that they had models there working and no burglar alarm. Mr. Vernon isn't far from the Bronx so I said OK we go tonight but I'm going to being two cars because I don't like riding with four men in Mt. Vernon - it is a gamble town and we might get stopped. I said I'll take my Auburn and one guy will ride with me and the other two will ride with Johnnie but Monk wants to come so we are five. So I said OK. Solly, Nickie and I will ride with me but I want to park my car about 4 or 5 blocks away from the joints. We we went up there that night and believe me it was a good dress store. It was so large that it had a double door and they are the easiest doors to open. There was no seat in the Buick and we got a good load. When we got to Fat West he looked happy. It was the finest load of dresses since Park Ave. We checked everything and the prices ran pretty high - some of the suits were marked 150 dollars and some dresses were up to two hundred dollars - so we told fat we wanted ten dollarsca dress and he started to cry so we made it 8 dollars. We had close to three hundred dresses. We took 3 dresses apiece and we made out pretty good. Now I brought these to May and I forgot to mention that I had given May the other dresses that I had for her from Park Ave.
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Now the boys 106 Street are asking some little bits of questions, say like how do you feel about Ciro Tarronova or Ciro Morello, either name as he was known by both names. I promised that I will explain how Ciro tied up the artichoke racket. The artichoke is a desert that the Italian must have on the table at least on Sundays. I say Sundays because if the artichoke is too high they, the poor, can afford to buy a few artichokes only for a Sunday table, of course, money peoples can buy them every day. Not only that it is almost a must - it is a vegetable that can be kept in a warehouse, say for a couple of months. How does or how did he do it? He will buy every artichoke that came in New York City from the wholesaler and then he will have his own stores spread through the city. One of his agents was a guy named Muskie. He came from 106 Street, First Ave., he used to run around with a 16 cylinder Cadillac and he was sort of a nasty guy. You will hear remarks here and there if he wasn't with Ciro I shoot him but everyone was afraid of him because of Ciro. That's the story of Ciro how he made his millions on the artichoke racket and he earned his name as the Artichoke King, because he was in a position to make his own price so the public had to pay 20¢ for a veg. that should cost 5¢.
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Now when I was being asked these questions, I ran and told the Gap. He just said who asked you. I said Bobby Doyle. "Well I think they may be some trouble," Gap said. "Hey, Gap," I said, "What is this all about?" He said what are you worrying about you might get a chance to get even with some of those guys but I don't understand I told him he said you would. In those days the mob guys didn't tell you anything. One had to guess and when two mob guys had something to say to one another they would excuse themselves and talk on the side. Then I told the Gap I didn't like Bobby Doyle - he said he is OK. I don't know I said he is always looking to borrow money. Well I figure let me go about my business and go and steal. So I met Jim on Lexington Ave., as I said I was getting close to all the boys on the corner of Lexington Ave. and he starts to tell me that he is got a payroll in Staten Island and I tell him I don't like stickup and he was telling me that he will like to get away from the guys he is paling around with. Jim I said I like you. I could take you with us once in a while as we are already too many guys. So he said how about if I use two of your guys. I said who, he said Nickie and Solly. I said do they know about it, he said yes. Well I said OK with me. He goes on to tell me that the guy is in on it. I said
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which guy. He said the guy who is carrying the payroll. Now I'm sure I won't come. I told him I don't like those kind of deals, they never done me any good. In fact I got shot in the head with one of those deals. With that Solly and Nickie pulled up. We talked and we left off that only Solly will go with Him. When Nickie heard that I didn't want to go he said count me out. Now Nickie goes home and Monk came around and Monk and I are taking a ride on First Ave., 108 Street, as Monk is got to pick up a tire for his car. As we were passing 108 Street Chuck calls me and he said that he wants to talk to me. I got out of the car and he brought me to a broken down car. It was a Hudson. He asked me how did I like it. I asked him whose car was it, he said ours. I said what do you mean by ours. He said we are going to use it on burglaries. I said the night we went out is that the kind of car that we used. He said well you were worried about the windows when I shot through them. I laughed. He said what are you laughing at. I said at the car. I asked him how much did you pay for it. He said come here I want to tell you something so I walked towards him he said you can do whatever you want with them guys, without you they ain't worth a dime. Use this car so you can give me a share, give me a chance, I'm a fourth offender. How can I use such a car, you know I
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always use the best cars. So he said, "Then its no good?" I said, "That's right." With that he gave me a shot on my jaw. I don't know how I didn't fall but I got so dizzy that I saw the block spin around like a merry-go-round, but I was cool until I came around and I was walking with him and I was on the right side of him. All of a sudden I hit him so hard with my right that he went down, I jumped on him and was biting his fingers and tried to bite his nose, but I heard him tell someone in the crowd to go and get that. I understood what he meant and I got up and I ran towards Monk and we took off. When we got to First Ave. we heard bang-bang. He fired 6 shots but we were too far. We went 110 Street and Lexington Ave. Two boys shot down to 108 Street and they came back and they said that there was a very big crowd 108 Street and also plenty of cops and they were looking for Chuck. Well that was that with Chuck for now. Will come back with him later. The boys 106 Street heard about it and they sent for me and asked me what happened and I explained to them, of course, they said don't worry about him but not to go home for awhile as everyone knew that he was dangerous and sneaky, I didn't go home.
I was going to Van Nest Ave. steady now -- we had too many things to do then to be thinking about the bug. In a few days Solly went with Jim
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to Statten Island and when they came back they came back with a disappointment. Everything went well for them but they only got $1,200 just as I always say you never get what you supposed to get. Of course, we had nothing to do with it that is Nickie and I.
Now in a few days someone found a nice suit store in Long Island and as it was a very large store, I sent Monk there to go in the store in the afternoon and make believe that he was going to buy a suit and see where or what part of the store were the good suits. Well I came around Lexington Ave., the next afternoon and Mink was there and I asked him if he had gone out to Long Island and he said that he had and that he had some $150 suits and that he knew just where they were. Now Jim comes 110 Street and he tells me that he has a good poker game to stickup some where in the Bronx again I told him that I don't go for stickup and besides I don't like the guys that he is going out with and if he wanted to come with us he will be welcome. He said make room for him and this will be the last time that he will go with these guys. Well I told him I'm going to Long Island tonight and asked him what time was he going to the Bronx and he said 1 o'clock in the morning. I told him, "I tell what I'll do, I will wait for you here in the Coffee Pot 5 o'clock sharp at 5 minutes past 5 I will leave. I
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put it off that late because that's the best time to go to Stineway Ave. OK he said if I ain't there five o'clock you leave. Fine I said. We got the car early that night and it was parked in the block between Lexington and Park Ave. When it came to be about 1:30 in the morning I got restless and I suggested that we take a ride on Prospect Ave. and see if we can do that dress store early. The traffic lights were being shut off at three o'clock in the morning at this time and I figure that we will be taking it easy and we went to Prospect Ave. but I could see that it was much too early so I was headed back to the Coffee Pot at 110 Street and I was riding on Third Ave. and when I was three blocks away I notice someone with a red lamp in his hands. I was driving this night as the boys were telling me that Johnnie is getting a little too swellheaded as I had broke Monk and Nickie in pretty good in opening the door there was Solly, Nickie and Monk with me. Solly was sitting along side of me in the front seat and he told me to slow up as he also saw the lamps. As Solly was a square as far as burglaries were concerned I told him to move over and give me some room. I said we just came off this bridge and I don't see anything wrong - in other words I didn't see any smashup or anything but I figured it might be cops so I step on the gas and when I got to the entrance of the
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bridge - I'll say I was going about 45 miles an hour, and I notice one or two uniform cops as I passed. They hollered, "Hey." I just keep on going I could not afford to stop - we had tools and a gun in the car. When I got to the other end of the bridge they were there to so I came tearing down like a demon - they just stood there and watched us go by. I didn't care for Solly much, he was sort of an actor and one of the biggest bluffers I ever met and I didn't like the way he will stand on the corner whenever he did come with us. You notice he was not with us too often that was his job standing on the corner as a look-out and whenever I got close to him his teeth will be dancing - in other words he was shaking all over his body and he acts so important when he ain't doing anything. Not too many guys had much use for him and he started to shake when he saw the red lamp - that's why I didn't give him any satisfaction by commenting I go back on Lexington and I wait for five o'clock as we are still going to Long Island. We put the car in the block and five minutes after five we left without Jim as he did not show up. We did OK and we brought the suits to Fat West and Solly asked me if I was going to Van Nest Ave. I said I was you know I had trouble with Chuck, he might be in my hallway waiting for me - now I mean on Second Ave. He said let's go and see, I
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said what for let him wait all night for nothing, he'll get tired of waiting I got to stay away from 110 Street to. He won't come up the Rainbow or 106 Street, he is a wise bug. I know him good. He will try to get me when there is no witnesses around. Now we go to Van Nest Ave, Solly and I we had two bedrooms, but I call first now we got a phone because my other friend might be there, he was not there so we went up to Van Nest. Solly and I, we got up about 1 o'clock that afternoon and it was about 2:30 when we got pulled over by the bulls on the bridge. I had the Auburn car and we were ordered out of the car. They asked for our names and wanted to know where we are going and we told them to Harlem and they asked us if we knew Jimmy Hamm, I said I heard about him. Solly said that he came from Newark, New Jersey, and he did not know anyone in Harlem. He told them that he was a cousin of mine. What time did you get home last night they asked. I said about 11:30 and they said and you just coming from Van Nest Ave. I said yes, well he said we are going to pull you in. I said go ahead and pull us in then they said go ahead and get out of here go to Harlem and find out what Jimmy Ham did last night, he shot two cops and one died and the other one is dying, so we stopped 106 Street when we got to Harlem and we bought the New York Journal.
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and there we read the whole story. It went on to say that their car was waved down as they were checking on stolen cars going in and from the Bronx or coming in from Harlem to the Bronx and when Jim's car was about to cross Edgecomb Ave Bridge and they were stopped by the Police by waving a red lamp to them and when the driver came to a stop two detectives jump on their running board and as they did they both were shot by Jimmy Ham and when this happened the driver of the car crashed into a trolly car and as they all got out of the car Jim was hit in the hand and his gun dropped and that Jim put his hands high in the air and that the rest of the guys jumped off the bridge and into the water and they all got away. One of the cop's name I remember, I don't remember the other, his name was Lt. Thomas E. Hill. For this Jim got 40 years to life and five years for the gun as this happened in 1929 and Jim is still in jail today. Now this is one of the things that I had in mind when I told the Senate Committee that the driver was the most important man that carries all the responsibility because you can see what happened in this case - had the driver held his head Jim would had not got arrested. Now after a couple of years I went and visit Jim up at Sing Sing and all he will say if you came that night I won't be here. I use to tell him that if I came with
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you that night you did not need to shoot anyone because it happened to us on the Third Ave. Bridge but I refused to stop. He will feel sick when I will tell him. Jim will say the driver is everything.
Now the boys 106 Street are starting to talk a little more to me. They are asking me how are those boys that you steal with and all that kind of stuff. Now Bobby Doyle asked me if I can get about six or seven boys. I will say I can get a dozen boys and he will preach about us guys stealing. I said, "Hey, Bobby, what will we do if we don't steal? It seem to me that you yourself is always looking for money." Now the other guy that looked important, his name was Tommy, he will tell you not to steal but he will try to put some money in your pocket so one day they called me in the backroom and they asked me point blank would I shoot someone if they asked me. I said will they shoot someone for me, they said yes then I will shoot someone for you and that is all that was said. Now I'm getting closer to a guy named Steve that is in the crowd. I can see that something is in the air from the way they talk but anyway I'm still going to concentrate on burglary as all this talk ain't putting any money in my picket and as all this talking is going on I was thinking to. There was talk in the newspapers that the traffic lights were to stay on all night and
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that will be bad and then there was talk that they were going to have two way radio installed in police cars. All this kind of doings will hurt us so I myself was hoping for something to happen but I was being careful because of all the rumors I had heard -- take Alex from Sing Sing he use to tell me that if you hang out with a Sicilian twenty years and you have a fight with one of them he will turn on you -- all these things I was thinking about and now I'm thinking I better take the wheel all the time now as it looks as though we might stop stealing. I was thinking very hard. Now the lemonade business is going and it is going pretty good but I hardly go around there because of Chuck and when I did go around there the men and women will stop me on the street and they will say Joe please be careful and that they were going to Chuck for me as they were afraid that Chuck will get me. They will make the sign of the cross. Chuck had been around 108 Street for years and they knew what he did throughout the years. I had the old man in the lemonade stand and it was not long before he got sick and he had to quit and when that happened I told those guys to pay me as they were doing pretty good and all I wanted was my money back. They said OK and they to did not want me to come around, everybody was worried. I got hold of Monk and I told him to look for store as I want to work hard and I reminded him about the lights and radio -- everything
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was looking like bad, but I really didn't care I could see that there was going to be trouble for sure especially this guy Steve, he was Italian born and he was always looking for me. He started to come up at the Rainbow Garden and he looked as though he was girl crazy. He will also asked me where did I live. I didn't want him to come up there as I did not want him to meet my friend, anyway he made it his business to come up there and when he did he met my friend but my friend did not come out of his room. Steve was telling us, by us I mean May and I, that he had met a girl and that he will like to double up with us, but I told him that we were not going to be there very long. Well anyway he went away and my friend got up and he asked me about Steve as he said that he knew him and asked me how did I meet him. I told him that he is one of the boys from 106 Street and my friend said that he knew him. So I asked my friend point blank what shall I do. He said think for yourself. I tried to get you with us, they are stalling me and you go right ahead. Then it is the way we left off right. He said yes so he asked me was I asked anything yet. I said no but I can tell from the way they are asking me questions, They are about to because they asked me about Nickie and Solly. Frank said it again think for yourself. Things are getting bad and there is nothing to
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steal. Well I said it again Frank no matter what happened I'll be thinking of you and he said thanks same here and we gave ourselves a brace and he went to his room and he went to sleep. I went out that night and I took May along with me as I had the Auburn car and I went to Fort Lee, New Jersey. This time I went to the Top Hat and we had a few drinks and then we had something to eat and we danced all night and we left when the place closed as May was a smart girl she asked me if there was anything wrong. I guess she saw that I was thinking very seriously. I said no but I do have something on my mind. I asked her how much cash did she have she said not much as she was spending money on the apartment and I told her to stop spending and that I will give her about a thousand dollars and for her to save it as you never know. She agreed and that is what I did.
Now we found a guy that wanted a swag and he lived in Brooklyn, all the way near Coney Island. I said fine as I did like to go to a virgin neighborhood and we went out there right away as I said I was driving at this time. I took Mak, Nickie and a new guy name Buck Jones, but not the Buck that the Gap cut up a few years back. Im those days there was a cowboy on the screen and his name was Buck Jones and anyone who talked about him usually they will name him Buck Jones. We went to Sutter Ave.
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and it was a fine dress store and Monk and Nickie went at the door they opened the door and they closed it fast and they ran to the car. They told me that as soon as they were about to go in the store a big dog came running towards the door. They asked me shall they shoot him. I said no get in the car and we pulled away. Se we went to Pinken Ave, a classy neighborhood, and we tried to do another fine dress store. As Monk and Nickie got out of the car they didn't even reach the door when a Ford came around the corner as they jumped into the car the chase was on. I went about two or three blocks when I found myself in a deadend street. Well I looked behind and I saw the cops car stop. I started to take the sidewalk on my right and as I done so I slowed up to a walk as I was afraid of getting a flat. I climbs the sidewalk very easy. As I did so all three of the boys got out of the car and they saw that I stayed in the car. They asked me what was I going to do. I said, "I'm going back" - with that they all got in. They said they were going to run in the building as they were talking I took the other sidewalk just as easy as the other one. In the meantime the cops were standing still to see what were we going to do. I took a deep breath and I put it in first speed and then in second speed and I stepped on the gas, all she had, and I aimed at the cops as though I was going to
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drive right into them with my bright lights on. Then when I got almost on top of them I swung right and left like a demon and I found myself in the clear but was saying that I was a devil and they all were laughing and told me let's go home and celebrate. We just came out of jail. Buck was one of the boys that I grew up with and this was nothing new to him. He kept saying he'll go anywhere with Joe at the wheel. So I headed for home and we had to disappoint the guy in Brooklyn.
Now I spoke to Monk and Buck and I told them that there was a little trouble in the air and I was telling them that I was not going to involve them as I wanted them to be on the street as this will be a serious trouble and I would have to go away but I want to keep in contact with you all the time. Monk said that please leave him out as he does not want to be connected with anyone. He said I stay with you if you are in a position to get anywhere. I won't need to come in, I'm not interested in anyone but you. I said I only want to know how you all feel so I'll know what I'm doing. I must think of you guys, all of you. I'll take Nickie and Solly with me. Then I got a couple of more guys which I have in mind. Then when everything is over and if it should turn out OK for us, then I could put you guys in at the end. How about you Buck, how do you feel. He said I'll do anything you want
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me to do. He said that goes for me and Pete although Pete was not with us at this time. Ok I said I got you Buck, Pete, Johnnie D. and Eddie. I will speak to him. As it stands right now I got everyone and you Monk, you don't want any part of. anything, is that right. He said yes. But I want you Buck to know what I got in mind - you will be on the street and if I want to post you somewhere to find out if a certain guy goes to a certain place and I'll give you a phone number where to call you may not go any where at all, it is only to tell these people that you guys are active. Do you understand, this way in the end I can say well they went here and they went there. I really don't want you in at the beginning, if that happened then I won't have anyone on the street. You may never know, suppose I don't get enough money to live on with these people, I'll call you guys and we will go out and crash some store, so Monk said I hope so. Don't worry I'm thinking very hard then they asked me who is this trouble going to be with. I have an idea but I ain't sure but I know it is going to be rough but I don't care you can see what trouble we are having and it will be worse when the two-way radio gets out. That was that, we went home without anything and I told Monk to pay for the car then he takes it out when we do something.
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Now I go home and I find my friend there and he was sleeping so I did not bother him. He got up about 8 o'clock and we had breakfast and we did not talk about anything. He left as he was going home to his wife. I don't remember what time I left but before I left I called Monk and I told him to get a car for that night and that he should go on Tremont Ave. in the Bronx and look for something, anything, as I wanted to break the ice we been having trouble in the last couple of jobs. I told him that I'll meet him in Richie's Restaurant about 3 in the morning. I said if you see Buck take him along. I went to Nickie's house that evening and I killed some time there. Nickie was home most of the time, he had a girl from his neighborhood and she was up his house most of the time so we left Nickie's say about 9 o'clock and we met some of the boys from 106 Street and no one said much just how are things and how are you doing. Bobby was there and he was preaching again and asked how are we doing. I told him we been having a little trouble and he said to take it easy and he asked me if my friend Frank was still coming up at the Van Nest Ave. apartment. I said he was sure enough Frank walks in that night and he sat down with his friends and all we did was say Hello to one another and Bobby was talking most of the night and again he was asking questions how many
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good boys did I have around me and pretty soon someone will be talking to me and I said I know he asked me how do I know and I told him that Steve is giving me a lot of hints so Bobby said that they told Steve about me and that's why he is showing an interest in you. I said I know it figures. Well three o'clock came around and we went to Rudie's and the place was jammed that night and we sat around until four o'clock and then we left Buck was there and we took him along so it was Buck, Monk, Nickie and I, Solly went with Bobby and we went to the Bronx and the mement we hit up there and Monk showed me the store I pulled right over as I was mad at the way things were going. I was anzious to break the ice and we did. We loaded the car until we could not put any more dresses in the car and we had to drop some in the sidewalk. I always forget to mention that when we had a load we always take the side street as we avoid riding through the main streets. We went to Fat West and he was glad to see us. He asked us what happened he did not see us for about 10 days. We told him about our hard luck and we counted the dresses and we had 350 which was good it brought us $1,050 so we all felt that we broke the ice. In about two days we were out again and did Ok. We went to Broadway in the 701s and we got some suits, although we had some shots fired at us. I was working
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hard now, first of all the summer time was staring us right in the face and I was expecting to hear some news from the boys and I was afraid I'll be told any moment now. When we got finished with Broadway I thought about the tapestry on Madison Ave., and I went and look for Bull and he told me that he had left word for me to come around. I asked him where did he leave word and he said 106 Street I told him I don't go there much anymore. He knew Chuck so I told him about the trouble I had that's why I don't go there too much, of course, he told me the same as I was told by everyone, he said the guy goes to London in about a month so try that place again on Madison Ave. I said that I would so in a couple of days I went down to 51 Street and this time I went with a Buick and without the seat. I went with Buck, Monk, Nickie and I. It was about 5:30 in the morning as we pulled over to the store. This time they didn't even get a chance to open the door the Dolly Sisters came around again and we got another chase but as usually we got away but I gave up I told the boys we forget about that joint so I went and see Bull and I told him what happened. I said that joint is a jinks, I give up so go and find me another joint. He said that's the best joints in the City but what am I going to do - twice I went and twice I got a rumble. I know he said come
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around tomorrow night and I see what I could find. I said OK. The next day I went around and he did not have anything worthwhile only rugs and I told him I don't want to bother and if we are still doing what I'm doing this winter after the summer is over I'll go after that place on 51 Street until then if you want me here is my phone number. You can call me now I don't know where I'll be because I'm going here and there and I'm staying home a lot I mean up in the Bronx now as long as I'm 116 Street I took a ride over at the Gap's house he lived at this time 124 Street, First and Second Ave. When I got there Gap said good he said that he had something for me. I asked what he said that there is a junk shop up the Bronx right off the bridge and the owner wants it burned down so I asked any houses near the shop. He said what do you think that I'm crazy. I said how much he said two thousand. I said Gee it must be a big place. He said yes but there be a lot of paper in the place and this guy wants to get out as he is getting old and junk is cheap right now and he is pretty good insured. I said come on get up and we take a ride and look at it. He said OK so we went and looked at the place and it was in a good spot not a house around, As we were together that night about 6 or 7 o'clock we took a ride to my house on Second Ave. and I found my father in my rooms as
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I lived next door to them I had my own rooms. I looked at him and he looked as though that he needed a drink so I handed him ten dollars and I asked him to get a gallon of wine. I notice a bottle of milk on the table but I didn't think anything of it and as I washed up and changed my suit the wine came as my kid brother had went for it. I handed the kid a five dollar bill and gave my Mother 50 dollars and we left. I said to the Gap you know it does something to you when you give the old people some money it sort of give you peace of mind do you find it that way Gap. He said you know the old man that I got he won't take a dime from me. I said yes I remember when I slept over with you when wer were kids remember the way he threw us out. He laughed and he said he's a tough old man. Yes I said but you are mean too and he laughed again. I said Hey Gap what am I going to do with that Chuck. He said we got to get him and I said you know what a head ache he is going to be that guy will wait for you in a coalbin all night and eat bread and onion while he is waiting for you. So he asked again how did you tangle up with him. I told you the whole story he said that's right you had no choice. Don't think that I wasn't worried when we were up the house he said no you got to worry in the wee hours of the morning not now about 6 months from now. You know him
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don't you I said. He said who don't know that nut. I said Gap let me ask you something what runs in these guys heads do they think that they smart. He said no they ain't got any more nerve and a guy like him don't realize that kids grow up. Then I'm right I said that's just the way I figured. I tried to give him a break and look what happened. Well we went here and there as it wasn't often that we went through the neighborhood so when it got to be about 9 o'clock I don't know why but I had my father on my mind. I drove over to the house and I told the Gap come on I want to see the old man. I just seem to have him on my mind. We went upstairs and I found the old man stretched out on the floor and the wine spilled all over the floor. So I looked at the Gap and he laughed and said he is drunk so we picked him up, I by the feet and Gap by his arms and we put him on the bed and we left and we went to the Rainbow all the time I was up at the Rainbow I was thinking about the old man so when the Rainbow closed all that was left there at closing time was Solly so I told Solly let's go for coffee at Rudie's and then I want to take a ride at the house on Second Ave. as Solly slept there with me so many times, this house was clean not like the old days. After all I'm a big boy now. When I got there I found the old man in the same position as I left him in the
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earlier part of the night and besides he had foam coming out of his mouth so I got scared and I ran downstairs and I ran to the policeman on the beat and as I happened to know the policeman I told him that my father was very sick and as I told him that I thought that he was dying at first I was exaggerating just so that he will call an ambulance as you know they won't call an ambulance unless it is serious but the policeman came upstairs and he took one look and we went downstairs and he called the Harlem Hospital and in about a half hour the ambulance arrived and the doctor in white came upstairs and he examined the old man and he said whom must I talk to I said to me. He pulled me on the side as by this time everyone in the family was in my house. He told me that this man is dead, not exactly dead, but he is in a coma and he will not pull out of it. I asked him how did it happened he said alcoholism. He asked me did he drink a lot. I said yes as soon as he said alcoholism I knew that the Doctor knew what he was talking about. Now I accompany him to the hospital and I started to tell the doctor about the wine and the milk and as I felt guilty he told me don't let it bother you because he was all burned inside. I asked him again did the mix of the wine and the milk have anything to do with this sudden coma. He said the wine and milk did help
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to bring it on but I won't worry about it because as I said he was all burned out so again I asked him is there any chance at all he said not a chance I don't know if he will make it to the hospital yet. Well we reached the hospital and they put him in bed and Solly and I left the hospital and I left the name and address at the hospital. We got home and Solly and I went to bed and in about two hours a telegram came as they wanted someone at the hospital, that it was urgent. So I asked Solly to go. He went and when he came back he waved at me with his right hand as my sister was in my house and he did not want her to hear the news so she asked what happened and I told her naturally everyone started to cry but I was dead tired and I told Solly that I wanted to get a little sleep he should go across the street and tell the undertaker about it they will know what do do. Tell them I will be there this afternoon by the time they get the body I would have some sleep. So that afternoon I got up and I went to the undertaker and I don't remember just how much it cost but in those days they used to put the body in the house so I had him in my house and the next day all the girls I knew from the Rainbow came over and they sent nice flowers and they stayed there for the remaining of the funeral and they also came to the cemetery. All my friends were over, including the Gap, and he could not get over it as I
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reminded him that he must had been dead the night we picked him up and threw him on the bed. I told him to forget about the junk shop and he told me that he took care of it himself. So I told him that he was a bug and he laughed. It happened so fase we could not get over it. He was only 52 years old. I didn't start to drink until I bought some bars that I will talk about later on. May was at the wake and when we came back from the cemetery we stood there I sent for something to eat and after we finished I left and went up in the Bronx and I took a good rest. I didn't come around for about two days. When I did come around I went to 106 Street and it was in the afternoon, and all the boys were there and they called me in the backroom and they asked me if Steve had asked me about him wanting to live with me. I said that he did and they told me not to pay too much attention to him when the time comes we will let you know something so I asked can I get some boys together so one man answered me and he said when we are ready we will ask you for the names of the boys that you are interested and it won't be long before you will know what's its all about so I said OK but I'm telling you now we are still stealing and Tommie said take it easy. I stayed there all afternoon and then I took a ride over at Nickie's house and I stayed there until about 9 o'clock and we went
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to the Rainbow, at the Rainbow we met Bobby and he was asking me questions about my friend Frank and he asked me how much did I care for him. I told him that I thought the world of him and I asked him is there anything wrong. He said no I would like to know if he asked you anything. I said like what. Well say like he wants you to be with him. I said he always wants me to be with him but I can't never as you know I had the trouble in 1924 and you know he is the one that straightened me out, so how am I supposed to feel. Well I must say Bobby is a very smart guy and one must listen when he speaks, but he did not say anything. He asked me if the Gap had asked me anything. I said concerning what, so he said never mind so I went the next day over to the Gap's house and I started to complain to the Gap and I told him I don't know I don't like that Bobby guy. He said he’s all right so I said he asked me too many questions. Listen they got to ask you questions then tell me what is it all about. He said they are thinking about asking you about Frank, what Frank I said he said the one who comes and sleep over at your house, I said why. Well don't get excited he said he is with the people we intend to have trouble with and so I said I think they want you to take care of him. What are they crazy I said listen Gap you know what I so I don't want anything
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to do with this mob you know how I am I always get these phony deals. How would you like for someone to ask me to take you. You know how think I am with Frank and you know me. Keep your head he said I'll take care of this I'll see that they don't ask you. I said no you tell them that you asked me and I said nothing doing now the Gap said don't do that you go and tell Frank. What am I crazy. I said, you know how we stand Frank and I if anything turns up that is if anyone say like you Gap asked me to join with you Frank told me to go ahead and he said I must think for myself. So you see what I mean. I'm glad we had this talk the Gap said I'll take care of this, how you understand and besides if any trouble comes up the way I'm made to understand, we have him to watch over us. OK again he said I take care of that now that you know what shall I do, tell me when I shall move out. That is the way we left off. If someone asks me to be with him naturally he knows its you he ain't dumb. I move out of the apartment and that will be the way he will know and he wishes us luck what do you want better. Well he said why do you think I want to know, I don’t know, Gap, it seems you and I get along with everyone. Remember the Irish guys in 1924 if you weren't in jail that time you would had trouble the way I did. I don't know he said if I was out
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there would have been no trouble. I said who knows, these guys 116 Street seem hard to get along, they are too many if you ask me. Well Gap I'm going and I'll see you up at the Rainbow and we met Bobby and the Gap spoke plain this time and he told Bobby that he Gap spoke to me and Joe does not like that deal Bobby understood and he said OK but then thought a little and then spoke to the Gap on the side well I knew that the Gap will tell me later whatever Bobby told him but Bobby looked a little worried. I sort of suspected of what Bobby was worried about, sure enough I hit it on the head. I did not bother the Gap that night but the next day I went to his house, it was late in the afternoon, he told me point blank that they won't want me anymore because I refused to do what they asked me to do. I said Gap, I figured that's what Bobby was talking to you about, wasn't it. He said yes but it ain't because you refused, they figure that you might go and tell Frank. I thought so I said, well no one should feel so sure without making sure that they know what they doing, you spoke to me what do they want I didn't know that they all knew when you spoke to me they want the other two guys and they don't want you he said but I told them and I told Bobby last night that they could have the other two guys without they they ain't worth a dime. So
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they asked me if I take the responsibility for you and that is what Bobby and I was talking about. Gap said that as long as he takes the responsibility Bobby also is taking the responsibility. Oh I see I said, do you want to tell me who made the complaint. He said not now, forget about it. I'll tell you later on. Ok I said I'll play dumb, do those kids Solly and Nickie know about this, he said I doubt it, who going to tell them: Well the reason shy I asked is that if Nickie will know I'm sure he will tell me but the other guy I won't gove you a dime for him. I caught up with him when he went to that wake he was telling Nickie about all the big shots he met at the wake. He will sell you for anyone who has more to say than you. Gap said he knows he is an opened book. Then I said can I leave him out, no he said its too late now if we made a move they will be wise. I bet anything he knows something about this I can tell by the way he acts he is already got a swell head, he is wearing his hat like Capone. I know he said. I patted Gap on the back and I said it is all settled I act as though I don’t know anything.
That night I went to the Rainbow as this was a very important move. I wanted to make sure that things looked the way I left off with the Gap. Bobby was going to the Rainbow pretty steady around this time.
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I got up there about 10 o'clock and Bobby was there alone. I walked over to him and we sat down at one of the tables and he asked me if I saw the Gap I said yes and he went on to say how long he knows the Gap and if the Gap takes any responsibility he knows that he is doing. So I said Bobby that the way I feel about Frank. He agreed with me and he gives me credit for what I did and that's why most of all I'm sharing the responsibility. I said I don't think it is fair to ask me anything that someone wants me to do for him for his own personal reasons, if it had to do that the guy is making trouble for us it might be a different story. Bobby said OK, don't talk about it, everything is fine. With that we got up and we went and danced. After this talk I went about my business and see where I got to make some money. The best things I can remember right after we had this talk we went up at Tremont Ave. in the Bronx and I remember clear we had a new guy with us, his name was Eddie, and I intended to put him in with the boys 106 Street and Third Ave., so it was Eddie, Nickie, Monk and myself. We had just loaded the car and were about to pull away when a cab driver made a dead stop across the street and he was looking at us and we were looking at him as we were about to quit stealing soon. I told Eddie to take a couple of shots at his radiator, I just wanted to scare him. He pulled away like
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a bullet. We all laughed because they gave us a lot of trouble all through our burglaries, I had told Eddie to make sure that he shot very low which he did. On the way home Eddie started to talk and was saying Gee I always wanted to come with you crashing stores but I told him you see we were too many guys so it was not my fault and he said let's go out again tomorrow night. I said no let's make it two nights because I want Fat to get rid of this load first. Well we reached Fat's block and we unloaded to my surprise we had 400 dresses, that is about the most we ever got and we got that much because there wasn't any women suits as they take a lot of room. I gave it to Fat for three dollars straight and that brought us $1,200 and we felt that we must go out more often so I told Monk to go and look for a couple of stores while we were waiting for Fat. I told Fat West to get rid of the swag as fast as he could, he said OK. In two days we went out again as Monk had three stores lined up. He had one in Long Island and as they were men suits, it was Broadway, L.I., and they were good suits. Monk got in the front seat as he had to direct me to the store. We went all around for a few blocks to see if we can spot the cop as we saw none we pulled right over to the store and Monk and Nickie opened the door very fast.
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They threw the tools in the car and as it looked clear there wasn't a soul around, Eddie gave them a hand and they loaded the car in no time. We headed for the Triborough Bridge, through Long Island, and we came out at 125 Street and we were at Fat's in no time. We had 110 suits and we charged Fat $12 a Suit, the only one who took any suits was Eddie and we told him to pay Fat at cost. I had asked Fat how long it will take him to get rid of the suits and he said two days. OK you owe us $1,320, he said make it $1,300. I said OK see you in two days. So he said here is $1,000 I owe you three hundred. I said fine I still see you in two days. Now about ten days past and I hadn't gone anywhere. I didn't go 106 Street or to the Rainbow so first I went 106 Street and there was no one around and then I went to the Gap's house and he was glad to see me. He told me to stay with him as we were going down to Midtown on Seventh Ave. He said we were going to a Bar. He said that Tommie owned the Bar. I said OK, I'll stick around. He asked me how we been doing. I told him pretty good. Well we went somewhere in the forties, I don't remember, it was more of a meeting place than a business Bar. There were about eight or ten guys up there and a greaseball and he had a big handle bar mustache and what I mean a handlebar it was about four inches long on each side, They introduce me to him and
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his name was Joe Pingola.1 I got close to him and he smell of garlic. Well we all went at the Bar and we were having a few drinks when the Gap called me on the side and asked me to call the Rainbow Garden and told me to get some of the girls to come down to the Bar but when he said it he said it sort of loud so I went to the phone and I called the Rainbow but all I did was ask for someone I don't remember who but I spoke to someone and I asked him something just to make conversation. As I was talking the Gap came over and he asked me if the girls were coming as there was someone too close. I said no the place is busy and they can't come, but when I had a chance to talk to the Gap, I asked him if he had lost his mind he told me to shut up. I told him who is this guy and if those girls came and they saw us with guys like Joe they would run away on us and will never talk to us again and if these are the kind of guys that I'm going to be with I'm taking off too, the girls were all pretty and young, how could I make or ask them to come down. Then I asked him who is he anyway and he whispers to me. You are going to drive him home he is our new boss. Holy smokes I said I'm sure going to take off. He said shut up he is going to die, so I said OK. Well now we were all at the bar and we stayed until about 2 o'clock in the morning and Joe wanted to go home and someone asked me to
1 This was Bonaventura "Joe" Pinzolo. Following the murder of Bronx-based Mafia leader Gaetano Reina, U.S. Mafia boss of bosses Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria installed Pinzola as chief of the former Reina family. Those who had been Reina's top lieutenants immediately began plotting the overthrow of Pinzolo.
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drive Joe home so I said OK and both of us left and they said that they were all going home so I got in my car with Joe. Neither of us said a word. I don't remember where I drove him but I know it was all the way down town and it was a swell hotel, and Joe said goodnight to me and he said that he will see me uptown. I said glad to have met you and I left and I went home as I had to go all the way to Van Nest Ave. I must had gotten home about three-thirty in the morning. The next day I got up in the afternoon and I went to the Gap's house about six o'clock in the evening and as I walks in the house he asked he how did everything go I told him that we didn't say a word to one another. Then he told me again that he is going to die. Now I go around with the boys like Nickie and Solly and I don't say anything about meeting that fellow Joe. We still were getting to go out stealing and the boys were still hanging 106 Street, Third Ave., and the Rainbow, and I went down to the Bar in Midtown a few days after I was there but there wasn't anyone around. I called Monk and asked him if he had anything and he said he did so I told him to get a car for that night and meet me in Ruidy's Restaurant about 3 o'clock in the morning and that he should bring one guy, I don't care who. I knew that I'll find Nickie up at the
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Rainbow as I had called him, I did go to the Rainbow that night and I met Nickie and Solly was there and I didn't tell him anything that we were going out, we stayed there until closing as no one else was there. All three of us were at Rude's and when Monk came he had Buck or Eddie, I don't remember, so we were five so whoever came with Monk wanted to go home as he saw we were four. He said that he did not feel good wo we remain four and Monk wanted me to see a store on Lexington Ave. in the 60's. It was an underwear and slip store, they were what they called stepin. They were on hangers and the store looked packed. Along Lexington Ave., between 40 Street up to 70 Street there were a lot of underwear stores, but none were packed like this one and I wonder how we did not see this store before. Fat had been bothering me for a load of underwear for a long time. I used to tell him how am I going to get them when there weren't enough in the stores, Well we did rob this store and I don't remember how many but it was an awful lot of stepins and slips, the stepins were worth seven or eight dollars and the slips ran like $3.95 to $12.00. We took some for ourselves and we done good. I remember after all we took as we had not had underwear since we were burglarizing through the roof or the cellar.
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Of course, crashing a door in the front of a store is all together different. There is no time and if they not hanging on hangers like they were in this store it is impossible to rob them from the front door. We made about one thousand dollars. Now we hear that a big shot got killed 116 Street between Second and Third or Third and Lexington, I don't remember, his name was Peter Morello, the Clutching Hand. He was a half-brother of Ciro Terranova, also known as Ciro Morello, but I didn't think anything of it. The boys 106 Street, Thirs Ave., didn't say anything. In fact no one in Harlem said anything. It was as though nothing happened but he had a big funeral and he was an old man. As I will go to the Rainbow after this old man got killed, I notice that the boys from 116 Street which were connected with Ciro Morello were staying to themselves and when I saw Frank at the house up at the Van Nest apartment he didn't say anything either. It wasn't long after this, say about a week when Steve came up at the apartment and told me that we were going to some farm and we were going to have a lot of fun. He said I should bring Nickie and Solly along and again he was asking me about moving and I told him that
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I thought that it be long but if we were to go away and it meant trouble that I did not intend to bring May along. I told him that I was going to send her to her mother. He didn't say anything. He gave me the name of the man who owned the farm and he told me that he would call me in a day or so. I told Nickie and Solly and I told them that when I will get the call that I Will call them. I got the call the next day and he, Steve, told me that we should be there the following day. We went there the following day and there was about ten or so other guys. Some of them I didn't know, but we all got to meet one another and we had a lot of fun. They were killing all the chicken and all the pigeons and the guy was blowing his top but laughing at the same time. He seem to be a nice fellow, his name was Tom. They had all kinds of gund, there were shotguns, pumpguns, rifles and even small guns. After fooling around with all the guns we washed up and we had something to eat and after we ate we sat around and everyone was telling stories. We broke it up about 8 o'clock that night and We left. Now as this was in the heart of the summer they told us that some of the boys were to a country club up in the Mountain and Gap was telling me that Solly, Gap and I were going to go there for at least
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two weeks. I said OK when are you ready he said in a few days. I asked if Solly knew he said yes. I wanted to know if Solly was going to bring his gal he said yes and so is he. Then I'll tell May that I'm taking her to the country. He said yes. In a couple of days we were on our way to the country. I'm trying to remember the place but I can't. Well it was a swell place and it was a Jewish Country Club and the board was 50 dollars a week in those days it was a lot of money. The first day we got there it was about 4 o'clock in the morning. We got our rooms and at about 9 o'clock that morning they threw Dottie, Solly's girl, out of her bed as she had gotten a room on the ground floor and all the guest at least most of them were there as she landed right on the grass and she was in her stepins. Believe me I heard it was a riot as I did not see it because I was asleep. The boss of this place called us all in and he wanted to give us our money back and more with it if we will leave. He said that it had nice people and we will ruin him. As I was writing I remember the name of this Country Club, it was the Livingston Manor Country Club. The next thing we started to complain was about the food so We got in with some of the guest and we asked them if they would join us as we were going to make spaghetti
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and they should not eat that night. We had gone to town and we bought all kinds of pots and all kind of meat and we had built a fiew in the middle of the Country Club and we cooked the spaghetti and all the meat of course we put the meat in the sauce and then we roasted chickens and we had bought all kind of fruit. Everyone had a fine supper and as they had dancing every night. You could not get in the dance hall if you were not dressed in evening wear. Now some of the people today still must remember in the late 30's we had a murderer and when he killed he signed his name as 3X, so naturally the word 3X became famous. While they were dancing that night and it was a very warm night someone in our crowd got an idea. He got a big white sheet and he made two holes in the sheet so that the flashlight will shine from these two holes as the holes were in front of his eyes and coming out of the woods and the flashlight under his sheet made the eyes shine in the dark and all he was doing was just walking slow and not a sound out of him. Now as the crowd stood there sort of frozen and were watching every move that we made and to make it look good we started to run and when they saw us running the got panicky and some of the women fainted. Well that was the end of us, the boss wanted
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to call the police but we calmed him down and we told him that most of us were going away. Gap and I went away when our rent was due for the week. Gap was talking about a farm that he knew besides being a nice farm he said you will be surprised to see how much they charge. He said he had been to this Farm the year before they give you all the food you want not that we were worrying about foot. He was saying how free they were with everything. He said it was in Port Jerris, the highest point, so we left and went to the farm when I got there I was shocked how clean the place was, we got our room and when she said $15 a week I could hardly believe it. That is $15 a person. So we decided to stay two weeks. We went swimming, horseback riding and rested a lot. After the two weeks were up we looked in the best of health. Gap had a flashy Packard and it was a touring car and it was a loud green and that was the car we used. We came back sometime in the early part of September. All the time we were away we did not talk about anything not one word. When I got back on the way I saw a fine store in Jersey and I told the Gap that it look as though that I'll be back in this town and he laughed and he said that he didn't think so. That was the only thing we
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talked about in the month that we were away. Now I am only back a couple of days when I hear that the greaseball that I had met with the handlebars in the Midtown Bar a few months before had got killed. He was killed in his office somewhere downtown. Now I met Steve as he came to the Van Nest apartment and he tell me that they are going to have a meet somewhere in Staten Island the purpose for the meet is that they don't know who is killing these guys. Now we got to go on this meet Steve goes on to say. I want you, Solly and Nickie to come. You three will be watching over us. I told him that I didn't understand. He said I may as well tell you we killed the Clutching Hand and we just killed Joe Pingola. I said what do you mean by we. He said what's the difference who does the killing we are all responsible so I said explain to me about this meeting in Statten Island. He said listen careful, we are fighting Joe the boss, now Joe the Boss killed our boss then he put this guy Joe Pinzola in his place without us having anything to say about it, so we killed him. Now they are calling a meet they figure that whoever don't show up is guilty, but we are going to fool them as we are going to show up. By us showing up we
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throw the suspicion off of us and you want us three to come to this meet. He said yes but you can't come inside you three stay outside and wait for us to come out. I said we are here to do what you want us to do, but when the Gap heard what Steve told me and that he wanted us to go to Statten Island he blew his top and he, the Gap, told me not to listen to that bug. Gap said you guys can't come to the meeting first of all by your guys coming they Will know that you guys are with us. I see I said I ain't going to listen to Steve any more and when he tells me something I'm going to tell him to see you. No he said use a little oil with him and just yes him that's all he means well but he is a bug. Now Steve come and see me again and he tells me that we not going to Staten Island. He said that they going in a few days now. I asked him just what could happen at this meet. He said if they are wise to us we don't come back. I asked what make you say that. Well he said after all they could had called this meeting for two reasons, of course, I told you the first reason then on the other hand they may have found out something now when we get there they will get hold of us after all we ain't many, we are about eight or nine, they are an army. Oh I see I said -- in other words, you guys are in danger.
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Sure he said. Gee I said I'll be on edge before you guys come back. That's why we changed our mind about taking you guys he said. Well I said why don't you guys just don't show up and just start to fight. No he said we could do more damage on the sly than going in the opening. I see I said, well I wish you all luck. OK he said I'll see you when I come back. Now I go to the Rainbow and the Gap and Bobby are there and they felt that there is nosense of talking about anything until we get back from that meet so let's have a good time and enjoy ourselves. Bobby asked the Gap if he wanted to go downtown with him and the Gap said its a good idea but not Joe, we leave him here. Its too close to that meet someone might see us down there and we will burn Joe. I didn't go anywhere those few days as now I know the meaning of the meet and I realized it is a very important meet so I just couldn't do anything so I went home that night after they went downtown.
A few days passed and the meet in Staten Island was over and they were very happy and the way it was put to me was that they, Joe the Boss, are in the dark as to who killed Joe Pinzola and Peter Morello. Now they tell me that Peter Morello was the Boss of all Bosses. Now Steve is coming around a lot and he tells me now you see why I've been asking you to move. I said fine I will move. Steve said let me
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find the rooms and when I do I'll come over so don't look around for any rooms. I said OK. Now I saw Bobby and the Gap up at the Rainbow and I told them about what Steve told me about him looking for rooms for me. Bobby spoke and he said this time pay attention to Steve. He has an address of one of the bosses that we want to get and we want to get rooms in the same building where this boss lives. Oh I said will they use my apartment to get this guy. No he said they want to get an apartment across the court of where this boss lives. I think he said that it is on Pelham Parkway. You see from your apartment when you move there they will be able to see Who goes and see this boss he is a partner of Joe the Boss and there might be a chance of getting Joe the Boss of not then we will get him. I don't know his name but I know what they call him in Italian and it is a very hard name what's the difference he said as long as we will get him. We stayed in the Rainbow until it closed and then we went for breakfast in Rudie's and Gap asked me to drive Bobby home as he lives in Forham and from there I can go through the Park to Van Nest Ave.
The next day Steve came over the house and he tells me that he found the rooms and that he wanted my girl to go and rent the
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apartment. I said no as I was with Bobby last night and he told me all about the Pelham Parkway Apartment and I don't want the girl involved in this, I will let her go home. I know that there is going to be some boys coming to the apartment when I move there, OK he said I'll get my girl to rent the apartment. I said OK and you know I was going to move anyway as I have a friend that comes here and beside someday they will find out about me being in with you guys so I can't live here any more, You see what I mean Steve when I told you that I was going to move I wasn't kidding. I know he said you think I don't know your friend. I know you do I said. OK Steve as soon as you are ready we will move. It wasn't long before he tells me that he has rented the apartment at Pelham Parkway and he said that he got three rooms 1/2 and that he gave $360.00 which covers the month rent and he had to pay a month's rent in advance which was one hundred and eighty dollars and he gave the doorman $20 for himself so that he will respect the people who will go into that apartment, I don't remember for sure if it was on the first floor or the second floor by this time we had a full house by that I mean we had two bedrooms, a rug, all kind of curtains, big radio, and a big parlor suit,
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but I let May take one of the bedroom as I knew she did not like her bedroom over at her mother's house. Steve used the apartment for about two weeks before I was told to go over to the apartment. I was told that Steve will introduce me to the boys that were going to stay there with me. When I got to the apartment it was in fine shape, everything was in order, there I met Joe Profaci the doc, Buster and Nick Capuzzi. They acted very nice and they were very respectful and I got interested in them right away. Well as long as no one knew anything about me joining these guys I kept going around the neighborhood and also to the Rainbow Garden. The time that I spent with these guys they were starting to tell me a lot of stories. First they told me that Joe the Boss Masseria had sentenced them all to death because they were Castellamarise. Now I will try to explain just what this meant. It is a certain small country in Italy and as everyone knows that there are all difference dialects in the Italian language, in other words, I will tell the difference between the Sicilian and myself. I am from Naples that is my people were, and I don't understand the Sicilian language as I do my own. They didn't tell me why they were sentenced to death but they tell me that the little that they were they
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decided to get together and fight so long as they all going to die they had nothing to lose. At this time these boys were all members but I wasn't and they explained to me I was what the described a proposed member which meant that I was on my way to be a member. Now as we will sit down and tell stories as one of the guys will always stay by the window and will be looking across the court. The building had one large entrance but when you got into the large entrance there was two entrances on the left of the building and two entrances on the right of the building, in other words, it was a very large building and it was a very new house as you can see the rents were very cheap in those days, $120.00 a month was a lot of money. Now looking out of the window will be no good for me because I didn't know any members so the other guys took turns, each will stay two hours that is in the day time, at night when everyone went to sleep there always will be someone looking out the window. I must say that I was glad that I didn't know anyone as it appeared to be boring, sitting by the window.
First I will tell how I learned all about our life in this mob. They will tell stories that were very frightening. They told me about the guy across the street. They told me that when this guy dies his wife will be very happy. I asked why and they told me that this guy had his wife's
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husband killed and then he married her but he knew for sure that she was unhappy. Then they were explaining if a member had made a lot of money, Joe the Boss will send for him and he will tax him so much and if the guy refused he will be a dead duck. Every now and then I will say that I was getting discouraged and I felt like disappearing and they will tell me that we are going to get rid of these guys, all of them. Joe Profaci was doing most of the talking. I must say although I was staying at this apartment I was still going out on a burglary as I always wanted to have some money in my pocket. As these boys didn't have much money and everytime I left the apartment I will come back with plenty of groceries, I would spend about 30 or 40 dollars, and they seemed to look forward to it. I will tell them about what I was doing and they would look and did not understand. I had seen a swell dress store on Pelham Parkway and Buster always told me not to rob that store as we were too close to the apartment. I'll say the apartment was about a half block away. Now while Buster was by the window Joe was telling me about Buster. He told me that Buster came from Chicago and that the mob had killed someone in Buster's family, I don't remember just who, but that Buster had gone on the warpath all by himself and that he had gotten about six of them and the mob will give anything to get
1 Valachi's mention of Joe Profaci as a Maranzano gunman is curious, as Joe Profaci was boss of a supposedly neutral crime family during the Castellammarese War. Some have suggested that this passage relating to Profaci proves that Valachi was inventing rather than recalling the story. The editor supposes that Valachi may have spoken with a Joe Profaci brother - Salvatore or Frank - and later confused him with Joseph. Salvatore Profaci was a fairly recent arrival to the U.S. at the time of the Castellammarese War and was very close to Maranzano underling (later crime boss) Joseph Bonanno.
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hold of him. He is Castellamarese and that's why the old man got him to join in with us. Buster was only 22 years old but he was Italian bred and he was a very serious young man, he was about 6 feet tall and very handsome and he was a sharpshooter. The rest of them were in trouble because of their nationality. Now as things were going along fine, one Sunday afternoon they spotted this guy was sitting on the bench in front of the building. I'll say we were at this apartment about seven weeks when two guys came up to the apartment and wanted Buster and I to go downstairs, and when we did go down there was a car around the corner and Joe Palisades and Solly Shields - they said they had orders to shoot this guy that was sitting on the bench which was the boss that lived in the building. I will not say his name yet as later on I will explain why. They wanted me to drive and Buster to do the shooting. I said that I will not drive as I'm sure that the doorman will wave at me as the man was sitting right in front of the doorman. I told them that you both know how to drive and why should I jeopardize myself. They admitted that they weren't sure of themselves at the wheel as they never drove under fire before. Then I said why do we need you two guys to sit in the car if Buster and I is going to take care of this. I said I ain't going to drive
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not when two of you guys are here and are only in the way. So Buster said I'll tell you what we will do. You drive and if the doorman should wave at you I promise you that I won't do anything. I said OK, I promise you that if the doorman wave at me which he always does when he sees me I'll jerk the car and I will take your aim away from you. Buster said OK. So I said let's both of us go why should I drive with four in the car. Joe and Sol said we are here now where are we going to go if it is done you and Buster will go a few blocks with us and then you will both get out of the car and we will go and tell them that it was taken care of. I said OK jump in and let's go. So I drove as we got near the man Buster was taking good aim and I looked towards the doorman and everyone saw him wave at me and I waved back at him. Buster put down his gun and I pulled over at the next street and I told Joe to report anything he wanted and if there was any penalties for what I did I'm ready. The same night Buster went and see the old man at his headquarter which was in Long Island. At this time as he slept there overnight and came back the next day and he had brought back the news what the other fellows predicted that were staying in the apartment that the old man had gave me credit for what I did and the other two got repremanded very
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hard and he said that they should be ashamed of themselves, of course, I made bad friends, but what did I care, it was better than being arrested. Remember at this time I did not know the old man and he did not know me, but he knew my name. Buster did not have any use for these two guys and as this was the first time he had met them he did not care to meet them again. Now is the way he felt in an emergency like that anyone could had driven, they didn't want to shoot and they didn't want to drive, why did they come at all. They both stink as far as I'm concerned and everyone in the room felt the same way. Now Buster and I started to get very close. I continued to go out with the boys and rob stores and I was letting them eat like kings. All the money that they were getting for four or five of us was $50 a week. Buster and I was starting to go here and there but nothing was happening and I started to stay away for days at a time and when I do get back they will be so happy to see me. Now I remember that a grocery guy owned me about $800 and all I can get out of him was a twenty dollar bill every time I went there, so I told Buster that I was thinking about this grocery guy and as long as we were going to be away for a long time I'm going to get groceries from him and I will bring them to the
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apartment so make out a list for me and put everything their hearts desire. They gave me a list and they had all kinds of cheese and all kinds of Italian hams and sausages and tomatoes and spaghetti and olive oil. When I got all this stuff the bill was 70 dollars. I must say that while we were here at the Pelham Parkway apartment things were going on elsewhere but we weren't getting the report yet, and as far as I and the people that I was with we were still working under the table. Now as I understand the 50 dollars a week was cut down as they had lost a man that was sending them $5,000 a week. This man was killed in Chicago, his name was Joe Aranillo, and he was killed by the Capone mob. Now they go on and explain to me all the mob that we are fighting, Al Capone in Chicago, Joe the Boss in New York, Ciro Morello, which of course lost his half brother as I said in the early part of this story, Charlie Lucky and Vito Genovese, Joe Adonis, Willie Moore, in fact everyone was with Joe the Boss, he was the big man and many more too numerous to mention and I will talk about them as I go on. People of the City of New York should remember these names and they were constantly in the headlines in the Thirties, especially Dutch Schutlz, he was a partner of Ciro Morello.
1 Valachi was referring to Chicago Mafia boss Joseph Aiello.
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Now they had gave us a picture of Joe the "Boss and we were told that we will never be able to go back as long as this man is still alive. If this man lives and we should make up and have peace he will kill us all, that's the way the boys told me and that is the way I am telling it to you now.
As we were at the Pelham Parkway apartment, say about 2 months, as I said that I was going here and there with Buster, we went somewhere and as we had done nothing wherever we went I don't remember now he was driving me home and as he had to go somewhere he left me off at the corner of Pelham Parkway apartment, as Buster pulled away and as I was walking toward the entrance of the building a car pulled up right in front of me and as Joe the Boss was about 5 feet tall as I was told I could not miss when I saw him get out of the car and the fellow that lived across the street was with him, as this was a Jewish neighborhood and I look so much Italian they made me pass and they follow me in the building and as I knew that I had to turn to the right of the building to go to the apartment where I lived and I saw by the ball of my eye that they were right behind me and they were looking me over and as I had heard that Joe the Boss had plenty of nerve I got
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a little worried but not scared as I had a gun in my pocket and I had my hand on the gun all the time and they had their hand on their own gun. I could see, now I go into the elevator as it was a self service I waited for them to press the button to their floor. I didn't want it to appear that I knew that they came from across the court. They motion to me to press the button as to the floor where I was going. I thought very fast and I pressed the button for the sixth floor as I didn't want them to see where I was going. Now when I got to the sixth floor they stayed in the elevator. I came out never taking my eyes off them and I ran down to my apartment and I was ringing very, very hard and the door opened fast and I ran in like a deer and yelling "Joe the Boss, Joe the Boss." Now by this time Joe the Boss and the other guy had to cross the court to get to their apartment. By this time the guy at the window came running over and he was yelling, "He is right, he is right. I just saw him cross the court, the both of them, come on get ready, get ready." They were putting the machine gun together. Now right away I realized I was in trouble. I asked what are you going to do they said Joe this will be the end of the war and he is so important we can't pass him up. I was going crazy and I was saying we don't need
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to do it from here we can go downstairs when they come out of their apartment. All they were saying don't worry about nothing and I was saying that I had done time twice and I don't believe in this kind of stuff. I got everything in this apartment, my pictures are all over the joint. So I was telling Buster can't you make believe that you didn't see him and all this kind of talk. Now I see it was getting dark and they weren't coming out so I was saying Buster I'm no actor, I hope that they won't come out. This way they can get another apartment across the court. Buster said I hope that they don't come out for your sake but I can't pass him by. Now it is about 11 o'clock and they didn't come out and besides the lights went out across the court so I was so happy I told Buster and the boys now that we have the whole night one of guys get in touch with the old man and let him know how I feel. Tell him that I was away twice. I'm sure when he hears what a fix I'm in the worse he will do is tell us to go after them when they would get into their car that will take the responsibility away from me after all we were not to do anything from this apartment. I can't take everything out of this apartment, it is impossible there will be too much evidence left behind. There are pictures of mine and May laying all over the house and in the trunks,
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So one guy did leave, I know it was not Buster, but I really don't remember which one. We stayed up most of the night and I went to sleep the next thing I know that someone woke me and was happy as he did because he was yelling wake up Joe, wake up Joe, we are going to leave. So I asked what happened, he said I don't know how they did it but they have another apartment across the court and it is on the ground floor, boy was I happy. Well as long as everyone left the apartment as they all went across the court in the other apartment I dressed up and I left and I went to Harlem. I went to Nickie's house and I spend all afternoon there. Well I don't remember how, but we found out they had got two guys. I didn't know who but me knew it was two bosses We also knew that they did not get Joe the Boss. Nickie and I started to figure out what was best for me to do. I had told Nickie what I had gone through the night before. Gee Nickie said its a good thing that they got the other apartment or I will had been in some fix. I told Nickie that I'm going to put the furniture in storage as I don't want to go through anything like I went through the night before. Well after we got thinking as what is best for me to do Nickie suggested
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why don't you go and see your brother in Dannamora, he has been asking you to go up there to see him. You got your chance now so why don't you go. Ah I said that is a good idea. I told him I will leave tonight, good he said, OK. I could not stand still any more so I said come with me I want to get my car checked, have the oil changed and have the car all greased and full the tank and I'll leave as soon as he is finished. I'm looking for a rest I said and this is it. So that night I called May and I told her to get a cab and come and meet me but she was very sick, she said that is had the grip so I left alone. I told her I'll see her in a few days and I was on my way that night. I don't remember what route I took but I do remember that I took it easy and it took me three days to get there. When I did get there the Prison looked rough. I heard so much about this place. I finally saw it. After going through a lot of trouble I saw my brother. Two guards were with him when he came out of the cell block. I knew right away that something was wrong. I asked him if he was in the hole and he said not but the guards laughed. Well anyway as I said in the early part of this story he started to blame me for his trouble so I figure I will leave him alone and let him talk. I felt bad but I did not
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show it and I didn't tell him anything as to what I was doing as it would had made no sense to him anyway. Well they told me that if he wasn't in the hole I could had seen him again the next day. I left that night and I was on my way back to New York City. Now I am anxious to get back so I was driving back very fast and I got back in two days but before I came in the City I stopped somewhere, I don't remember where, but I was so tired I want to sleep in some motel and I slept for about 10 hours. I got around in the neighborhood in Harlem and I went to Lexington Ave., at 110 Street, I figure that I need not worry about Chuck as I came on a surprise. I'll say that I was walking up and down the Ave. about an hour as there wasn't a soul around when a car pulled up and Chic 99 as this was his nickname called me and waving his hand fast he tole me to jump in and asked me how long I was on the former of 110 Street. I said about an hour he said you don't know how lucky you are and he asked me where was my car parked and I told him around the corner at 109 Street between Lexington and Park Ave. He told the driver to drive there and he did not talk any more until we got to my car. We got out the car and we got into mine and he told me to head for the Bronx and as we are riding toward the
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Bronx , he explain everything. He said that we got two bosses and he tells me their names they were Alfred Mineo and Steve Ferrigono. Now he goes on to tell me that they had a meet at the Pelham Parkway Apartment, all told he said they were about twenty of them and that afternoon they were breaking up the meet and they were coming out of the apartment in pairs two at a time every five minutes two will come out. Now they let a lot of guys go by, now these two bosses come out they didn't want to take a chance and let these two bosses go by if they knew for sure if Joe the 'Boss will come out they will had let these two bosses go by but they figure that let's drop these two or we may get nothing at all. Now we find out Joe the Boss was there and he was going to be the last one out. So he got away. So I asked him did they get the guy that lived there, he said yes he was one of them. Then I asked how did the wife react as I was told that she will be happy, was she happy, he said I know both of them, she was so happy that she is going back to Italy. 99 was an old timer. Now he tells me you know what happened you see they had a meeting as we did not know anything about it. Now you saw Joe the Boss by accident but they ?gure that one of them gave a tip on this meet now they don't trust one another, that's
1 Steve Ferrigno.
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makes it good for us he said then I said this turned out good for Solly and Joe. If we would had gotten that guy that Sunday we would had not got this break. Why does it make it good for them they already said its a good thing that Joe refused to do the job the day the doorman waved at Joe. What thost two guys did is not forgotten. He said what are they kidding in a case like that they make you drive the car. The old man doesn't want to know Joe Palisades any more. The other guy is a kid so we overlook it. All this time I am driving very slowly as we are headed all the way up in the Bronx. Now I asked him how did they get wise to us. Oh he said my sister is the one who rented the apartment downstairs across the court from where you were now we had to get furniture in there as we had told the doorman that this was an emergency that we had the furniture on the truck. Now we had to get the furniture right away so we went to a guy that we know and we went 106 Street, Third Ave., because we knew that he will deliver it right away. Now the other mob have connection with the police after all they are nobody's fools so when they went 106 Street the guy got scared and told them that I was the guy that went in there and bought the furniture and he even told them that my sister was with me. Then I