Lucky pop left New York for Philadelphia

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.

6 comments on “Lucky pop left New York for Philadelphia

  1. contoveros says:

    Facebook friends provided the following messages:

    Janet Mather
    WOW! Thank you, Lucky!

    This is a true story and I only discovered the possible name of the chorus girl by uncovering it on the Internet.

    Unbelievable stuff is out there if we just open ourselves to the possibilities and look for it . . .
    Steven Carey
    How you doing buddy?

    I feel lucky!
    Kathleen McPeake Gilliano
    Bless you……💙🙏

    Thanks, Cassie. I feel blessed when recalling some of the things that made us who we are today. Can you believe some of the stories that our kids’ kids may tell about us?

    Great to hear from one of my favorite grade school friends. St. Ludwig’s sure did us a lot of good
    Bill Benedict

    My pop had a colorful life after leaving the Greek island he called home and coming to America when he was only 15. No wonder he settled in a place called Brwerytown.
    Calliope Contoveros
    You are blessed! I loved reading this story in your book and all the other stories as well…

    Achilles had many stories that my brother George and John told me about when I got older.

    He was known as “Charlie West” when he lived in New York. I also heard that he did some time in Sing Sing, the prison outside of New York City. I believe it had to do with his time working at the speakeasy.

    Good hearing from you cousin!
    Terri Kiral
    Cool story, Michael. You have many wonderful tales from your life. So glad you are sharing them all
    Contoveros: As one of the crooners from the good ‘ole Roaring Twenties once said: “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”
    Angela Marie Petrilli

    Yeah, my pop had done a lot of things that made him stand out from the crowd. He ought to have seen him dance the Greek Snake dance well into his early 70s!
    Frances Eberwine Holod

    I guess you say that to all the boys from Brewerytown, don’t you?
    Nancy Romano
    Wonderful, love your writing.

    I can’t believe it is Nancy McPeake. After all these years.

    I asked Peggy, one of your sisters, to go steady 55 years ago this April 11th. I felt like I was one of your family members after spending so much time with you guys on Poplar Street in North Philadelphia.

    So good to hear from you. Give my best to everybody!
    Mike Sangiacomo:
    Great story!

    Thanks. I did some research while checking out Lucky Luciano on the Internet. I couldn’t believe that Wikipedia gave us the name of the dance hall girl that he used to date while living in New York City.

    I fudged a little bit, claiming that the girl my pop was seeing “may have been” the girl I named in this Blog post. I took an educated guess with that bit of information.

    I still remember what my wise old newspaper mentor once told me when I started working at The Mercury: “Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story!”


  2. I think we need to give you that nickname now “Lucky” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What? WOW! I had to read it twice!


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