With the capture of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger this past week, I began to think back to my childhood when Raymond Patriarca was head of the New England crime family and he was based in Providence, Rhode Island.
My father, John, or in Italian, “Giovanni,” was a very colorful character and I suspected he had ties to the Mafia. Not very big ties, kinda like small strings, but, enough to always make me wonder.
I met him for the first time when I was 19. I was raised by my mother’s parents which consisted of three women. A grandmother, and two unmarried aunts. So, what I learned as a child I learned from my peers and in the streets. Which accounts for the fact that I first met him when I was 19…due to the fact that he was shunned by the family.
So what do ya say to your father when you meet hm for the very fist time? Not much, other than,, “Hey, where the hell have you been all of my life.”
Without getting into a volume of details here, my parents were divorced even before I was born. So my options for having a normal family were kinda limited even before I came out of the womb. I decided to come out anyhow…I hated the dark.
There were a few visits from my dad throughout the years, (8) where he would suddenly pop up with out-of-state license plates on the various vehicles he drove and then, as quickly as he came, he was gone.
So what leads me to believe that possibly he may have known Whitey Bulger? Or at least have run into him at one time or another. Just some fleeting thoughts about some of the times I spent with him.
Now Raymond Patriarca had his headquarters in a section of Providence, R.I. called, “Federal Hill.” His office was a vending machine company right on the main drag. He often would sit out in front of that building in a lawn chair and greet passerbys.
“Hey how ya doin’ Mr. Patriarca, knock off anybody today?”
“Nope, slow doin’s today Manny, but maybe tomorrow…have a nice day.”
Now my dad obviously knew Raymond because he spoke of him frequently, grew up in the same neighborhood, (one block down from his office) and obviously was, Italian. So they kinda spoka da language. Which I don’t, and still do not, other than ordering a pizza.
I recall one day on one of his rare visits that he took me to a pizza place just across the street from the Dons’ office. He pointed it out and I was in awe. As dinner was being placed on our table, the phone in the restaurant rang and the owner motioned to my father that the call was for him. As I dug into my meatball and spaghetti dinner for the first bite, he rushed over to me, said that we had to leave, and whisked me out the door. No explanations, even though I wanted one. Geez, I didn’t even get a damn take out box.
The very next day, as I recall, headlines in the local paper stated that a shootout had taken place in a restaurant on Federal Hill. So what would YOU think? Yep….someone warned him to get the hell outta there. At that point I didn’t miss losing out on that spaghetti dinner.
Now I know you’re all thinking that it might have been just been a coincidence. Maybe. But I still think he was connected. Here’s some facts that might convince you otherwise.
He would come into town, open a pizza place, stay there for a week or two, and then when I would return to see him, the place was empty. This occurred on four or five instances. Maybe a front for doing mob business for a short time…..which I don’t think included selling any pizzas..
I once traced his out-of-state license plate (Missouri) to see where he lived and the DMV sent me a response that the address associated with the plate was a vacant lot. I personally think that unless he lived in a tent, the address was fake. Ya think!
Once when I was covering politics for a TV station on election night, my job was to secure the political candidates for interviews. I was required to have all sorts of official identification plastered all over my body in order to gain access to the candidates on the upper floors of the hotel. Otherwise, no entry. So who do I run into on the very same floor that Governors, Senators and Congressmen are…yep….old daddy Giovanni. Go figure….and he had nothing plastered all over his body for identification purposes.
Then, when he died, all sorts of strange characters came to pay their respects. All in expensive black overcoats with those poodle collars and fedoras. WTF!
So, being of a curious nature, and knowing that he indeed knew Raymond Patriarca, I thought it would make an interesting story to write about. So….I bought an ad in a magazine, which shall remain unnamed, but is quite popular in New England, and placed an ad seeking information on my dad.
What did I get? Threatening phone calls to leave well enough alone. Which I did, because basically I’m no fool, and on top of that, a scaredy cat……big time.
So, I’ll never really know if ol dad knew Whitey Bulger. Perhaps had I lived with him instead of my grandmother and two aunts, life for me today would be a lot different. I may have followed his path, whatever that was, but, which I assume was somewhat sinister and involved the Mafia.
In which case I would not be writing this blog today, but possibly hiding out somewhere on the lam like Whitey Bulger.
Um….a brief note to the FBI if they’re reading this blog. I have never been a FBI informant or employed by the Mafia. I never met Whitey Bulger although I DO live with a 67-year-old woman. And I don’t have $800,000 stashed anywhere in the walls of my house.
I’m on Social Security and can’t afford to stash anything….(sigh)
Copyright 2011 MisfitWisdom RLV