If it wasn’t for an intervention by an Italian crime boss, I don’t believe I would be here today.
The mobster had engaged in such enterprises as gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging. In the 1930s, he ordered several of his henchmen to descend upon a lowly speakeasy where they located one of the employees in one of New York’s finest after-hours gin joints.
The thugs, three burly guys with brawny arms, ordered the young Greek fellow out of the speakeasy and into the back of a jalopy at knifepoint. They said nothing during the ride from New York City until they crossed a bridge going into New Jersey, That’s where they threw out the fellow and ordered him never to return to the Big Apple.
Or else . . .
Achilles Contoveros, also known as Charlie West, eventually made his way to Philadelphia where he met a farm girl from New Jersey, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Yes, my father had been working as a chef in a speakeasy when he was accosted and threatened with his life should he ever return to New York. It turns out that he had been dating a chorus girl, one who’s name may have been Gay Orlova, who liked the looks of my dad, who passed for a young Errol Flynn, the swash-buckling actor from The Adventures of Robin Hood.
What my pop didn’t know was that the girl, who was a featured dancer in one of Broadway’s leading nightclubs called “Hollywood,” was also seeing another dashing young Mediterranean fellow.
That enterprising man was from Italy.
His name was Salvatore Lucania, but most Americans know him as Charles “Lucky” Luciano.