The following writings are presented in their entirety. They are true stories regarding some of the events and personalities of the Brooklyn/New York mafia during the 1960’s. The only corrections made were for punctuation and clarity. Nothing was omitted and the content is exactly as the writer intended. -
Thanks, Doug Palumbo
I’m not a writer but I’ve got some amusing stories to tell so here goes.
I’ll start with marrying Butch, a “gambler tough guy, wannabe mafia”. He didn’t like to work and did everything in his power to make easy money. He worked for every bookmaker in Brooklyn, which is how I met Joey Gallo.
Joey first came to our apartment which I called “Fernando’s Hideaway” because it was in a basement behind a boiler room. It had iron gates to get in and iron gates to the back yard. No one could get in or out unless they had a big iron key for the gates.
I used to serve coffee to Butch, Joey, and the rest of the “hoods”. Joey didn’t like the coffee and said so. I told him if he didn’t like it, there was a diner one block down. He laughed and said I had a lot of balls to say that to him. After that, we became the best of friends.
On the weekdays, we took horse bets over the phone. On weekends, the guys would set up this huge table for the crap games. They would always take it apart on Sunday before the landlord would come to collect the weeks rent.
One Sunday morning, the guys must have had hangovers from the night before because they forgot to come by and take the table down. So, with only a nutcracker for a wrench and a strong knife as a screwdriver, I took apart the table and hid it in the shed out back…a few minutes before the landlord arrived. I got dressed and went to the restaurant owned by the Gallo’s and found everyone there eating a late breakfast. I made such a scene, everyone ran out leaving their food behind. Joey heard about the incident and had all the guys involved come apologize for leaving me in that lousy situation, which he couldn’t believe I took care of so we wouldn’t get in trouble.
Joey loved a good joke and a good laugh. I was at the restaurant one night waiting for my husband to have dinner. Joey’s mom and dad were cooking for the crew. The old man made a whole pig with all the trimmings. Butch had sneaked off to the trotters (as usual) so I was pissed. Joey told every one at the restaurant to have my husband pick me up at his mothers (Mama Gallo’s) house. When we got there, Joey gave me a gun filled with blanks and said I should scare the shit out of my husband. Sometime later, Butch came by Mama Gallo’s to pick me up. He came in all smiles and saying he won but he gave no apologizes. I took out the gun and started shooting. Butch almost shit his pants as he jumped out the window to get away…luckily we were on the first floor. Everybody had a good laugh and Joey sent one of the guys to get Butch who was already a block away.
The next story was while Butch was taking bets over the phone. I was making him an omelet before going to the beauty saloon. Kenny who was supposed to relieve Butch was at the door. Butch opened the door and found Kenny being pushed in by the cops. We were being raided. I immediately shoved the keys under the omelet in the pan. The keys were for the boiler room which held all of the betting sheets, books, and records. They searched the house and only found the one sheet Butch was writing on at the time. The cops decided to take us all to the station house, booking us for gambling. We went in a black paddy wagon. I couldn’t make the high step in my tight skirt so one of the detectives gave me a shove, pushing me with his hands on my ass. I swung my pocketbook (which contained a large jar of V05 gel I was taking to the salon) and hit him in the head. The guy ended up with four stitches and I ended up in a holding cell with black and blue marks around my middle from the cops poking me with their knuckles.
The cell was large with chicken wire all around it; there was a bowl (with a chain for flushing) and a small sink. Metal benches were along the walls for seats. There was a prostitute in the cell with me who had diarrhea from fright and stunk like hell. An old woman about 70 was taken in for selling homemade wine. She was dressed all in black and was still wearing her front apron.
Finally, we go to night court to see the judge. The judge wanted to be cute and called me “Red Headed Kate” (my hair was red at the time). My sister Chickie was there with one of the boys to bring me home. She waited all day for me in the salon where we were supposed to meet. She was so scared and nervous that her hair was limp from nerves. We ended up at the Gallo restaurant where Joey was waiting for us. We had a steak dinner (hadn’t eaten all day) and everyone was happy about the story of the keys in the omelet (no evidence).
We had to leave Fernando’s Hideaway after the raid (oh, I forgot to tell you, the assistant D.A. lived next door to us at the time and that was our second apartment in two years…so far).
The next story was when Joey had the lion on President’s Street at Mondo the dwarf’s club (Mondo was the only person the lion would listen to). Butch didn’t know the lion was in the basement. He left the card game (at Mondo’s club) to go to the men’s room (which was in the basement). He was sitting on the bowl reading his Bible (the horse sheet) when he looked up and saw the lion watching him. He kicked the door shut and yelled like a bastard for someone to help. All the boys went down to the basement and laughed their asses off. Butch was trapped in the basement toilet.
The lion was in the paper (The Daily News) with Joey and Mondo when Joey was on trial for a case. Joey told the judge Mondo the dwarf was his bodyguard. Joey also had a Superman costume made for Mondo for when they would go out to clubs. Joey would put him up on the bar where he would run back and forth.