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My Childhood Friend, The Mafia Godfather

Updated on January 11, 2009

 Anyone who has read my All About Me & My Father Hub will know that I had a very strange childhood (to say the least). One of the strangest anecdotes in a very long list of strange anecdotes has to deal with a man who was a close friend of my father and mother, and who I remember with a great deal of affection: The Head of the Five Families.

Although I like to keep my skin firmly attached to my body thus will not refer to this fine old friend by name, any aficionado of Organized Crime history will quickly realize who I'm discussing. He was an impeccably dressed gentleman, soft-spoken, courteous and chivalrous in an old-fashioned manner which unfortunately no longer exists. (No, it's not John Gotti, who was a showoff of a dresser and a boor to boot!) He was always extraordinarily kind to me and I thought of him as a beloved uncle. I have to admit that there are many times now, more than two decades after his passing, that I think of him with profound fondness. He was a truly wonderful human being.

Since my family was quite renowned and "famous" among Italians, we were virtually adopted by this Godfather and were continually invited to spend weekends at the Brooklyn home where he housed his mistress. The house itself was nothing short of amazing: We'd park on the street in front of a row of relatively nondescript brownstone townhouses in a barely marginal area. Two men who wore buttoned up suits whether it was freezing or searing outside would come to the side of the car, peer into the vehicle, and then indicate their approval that we could get out of the car. Then, and only then, could we go to the door of the townhouse closest to the middle of the block.

When the door was opened, I'd feel like I had stepped into another dimension. The incredibly opulent foyer belied the dimensions of the outside of the structure, as it turned out that the entire block was one single luxuriant town mansion, and that only the outside seemed to the unknowing bypasser to be individual townhouses.

When I say opulent, I mean Saddam Hussein type of opulent. Everything that could be gilded in 24 karat gold was, and whatever wasn't gild-able was of the finest imaginable silks, luxuriant textures, and Persian rugs that felt like you were walking in soft butter. The cutlery at the enormous dining table was made of solid gold so soft that if you pressed down with your fork on the fine china plates it would visibly bend. The mistress had a diamond ring encrusted with so many stones of such great quality that it would catch the light and dazzle you from right across the room.

He would regale us well into the wee small hours with tales of his life, the people he had known, and yes, even the people he had whacked. We were trusted as members of his own personal family and in a very strange way it was essentially no different (to my child mind) than sitting around with an old uncle who had been a sea captain and relishing the salty tales of faraway ports, dangerous voyages, and exotic adventures.

 I can now with the wisdom of the years state conclusively that he was an extremely dangerous criminal mastermind and murderer who destroyed countless lives. However, through the memories of this very unique and special man, I can relive those childhood evenings of lavish dinners, cordial conversation, and the excitement of peering into a very different world.

Hey... I was a kid! What did I know? 


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Elena, I hope you enjoy it! Let me know your reaction!

      ParadigmShift, I'd be happy to show you the man behind the cat, but my mug is so ugly that it breaks the lens of any camera that tries to take a photo of it! :) Actually, Hal Licino is my real name and I discuss various aspects of my crazy life in many of my nearly 700 other Hubs! Happy reading!

    • ParadigmShift... profile image

      ParadigmShift... 9 years ago from San Jose, CA

      I love it! People (like me) often fantasize about living lives like this. But we only get to watch the movies. My wife is a banker here in California, and one of her regular customers (I won't say his name, but you might know him) is from that, uh, world, and I love hearing her stories about the things he says and his overall demeanor.

      So many people think the mafia doesn't exist anymore, but I know a guy who knows a guy... And it's not just the mafia, but the russians, the triad, they all still operate, just under different circumstances and operations.

      Great hub! Makes me wonder about you, "Who is the man behind the cat?"

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 9 years ago from Madrid

      Hal, thanks for sharing this memory, I found it fascinating, of course now I have got to run and read your other hub on this!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Aya Katz, although my parents were never involved in any Mob activity they were almost "adopted as mascots," thus were held extremely closely. Although it is difficult for anyone who has not been a part of a social circle such as this to fully comprehend it, think of it as cousins or in-laws that are invited to come over every weekend since everyone has such a great time together. It is also difficult to understand, but the "exploits" discussed were always saturated in respect, honor, and righteousness, of course according to their very special "Code." That code dictates that a man who avenges a wrong done to someone innocent by spilling blood is to be looked up to, given the ultimate respect, and honored much in the same way that ancient tribes would honor warriors. From our standpoint of law-abiding citizens we see the Cosa Nostra as a bunch of bloodthirsty crooks and greedy drug dealers, but they saw themselves as protectors of innocent, preservers of their traditions, and enforcers of a law and justice which could not be administered through the "corrupt" structures of the United States. As Southern Italians, my parents were deeply familiar with this "philosophy" and most certainly "accepted" it. As I said, it's like peering into another world and an exceedingly strange one at that.

      Netters, my pleasure! Thanks for reading!

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 9 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      That is so cool. Thank you for sharing.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Hal Licino, wow! That's quite a childhood memory. I understand that you were just a child, and you didn't see the full picture. But what about your parents? What was their view of all this?