Archive for the ‘ Miscellanea ’ Category

The Summit: Crime On The Agenda.

I think the Godfather franchise may be, if not my favorite, at least one of my favorites.

I even like Godfather III.

Yeah, I know, I’m one of two.

#sofiagetsnocred

Pacino, Brando, Keaton, Caan, they were all great, realistic, believable and the movies stayed pretty close to the book; which I also like.

So, why are we talking about The Godfather when there’s so much going on in the world?

Well, I’m not really a social justice warrior, I realize I can’t do much about world events, and it’s my blog so I’ll talk about what I want.

Back to the Godfather.

Remember the scene where they have the big meeting in UP state New York and all the mafia dons and their henchmen show UP?

Although the Godfather is a work of fiction, the meeting portrayed in the film actually happened.

And it happened on November 14, 1957.

So, that’s why, it was 60 years ago today.

The meeting was a summit of the American Mafia and was hosted at the home of Joseph Barbara, aka – Joe the Barber in Apalachin, New York.

The agenda included topics such as loan-sharking, narcotics trafficking, gambling, prostitution, and extortion.  Oh, and the big item on the agenda was who was going to take over for the late Albert Anastasia who met his “untimely death” at the hands of two men with scarves over their faces who were probably members of either the Profaci, Patriarca, or Gambino families (every one hated him) as he relaxed in a barber’s chair in New York City.

An estimated 100 Mafiosi from the US, Italy, and Cuba were there.  The meeting was called by Vito Genovese on whom the fictional character of Don Corleone is loosely based.

Everything was going great until the cops showed UP!

Local and state police became suspicious when expensive car after expensive car with out of state plate started showing UP in the sleepy town.

Knowing that Barbara was a shady character and had a house full of shady friends, they set UP road blocks and raided the meeting.

Many of the Dons in $1,000 suits headed for the woods and escaped; but roughly 60 underworld bosses were detained and indicted following the raid.

Most of the charges were dropped, but 20 or so were eventually charged with obstruction, fined $10,000 and released.

So what was the big meeting all about and why risk it?

In the early 50s, Vito Genovese was working to take over the Luciano Family.  Frank Costello was running it at the time since Luciano was in the slammer.  Vito felt it was time to make his move, but in order to do so he had to take out Costello and his allies, so he teamed UP with Gambino and they hit Anastasia.

Costello barely escaped a hit and decided to take a down grade from Mafia boss to “some guy who’s connected” which left Genovese in control of his own family.

But that wasn’t enough.  He wanted the entire organization and to be the boss of bosses.

So Vito called for a national meeting of bosses and Joe the Barber was kind enough to lend his country estate for the event, again.

The 58 acre tract of land west of New York City was located along the Susquehanna River near the Pennsylvania state line.

It was remote, quiet, and relatively unknown.

And most of the folks there drove Chevys or Fords with the occasional Buick.

So when Joe went into town and bought enough steak for 100 people and Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Imperials rolled into town, the law got suspicious.

Hence the road block and the raid.

Rather than cement Genovese’s power as the head of the Mafia, the meeting was the beginning of his decline in power.  Most of the old guard blamed him for the new found attention on the outfit.

Prior to the meeting and arrests, the Cosa Nostra, Mafia, or Brotherhood was all myth, conjecture, and theory.

After Apalachin, it was real; so real the FBI established a team to go after the gang.

In 1959 Genovese was set UP by Luciano and went to prison for 15 years.  He died from a heart attack in 1969.  The real winner turned out to be Carlo Gambino who actually became “the Godfather” and took over the organization.

As to Joe the Barber, the summit brought its host nothing but aggravation and humiliation.  His home was raided, his “friends” were arrested – and really pissed at him.  What should have been a feather in his cap turned into a nightmare.

He had been reluctant to have the meeting at his home as he’d hosted one the previous year, and had warned the bosses that a local cop named Croswell disliked him and would cause trouble if he got wind of the meeting.

Which he did.

After the meeting, Barbara was under investigation, indictment, and eventually charged with income tax evasion and submitting fraudulent corporate tax forms.

His business interest waned, he lost lucrative contracts, one with Canada Dry, and his health declined.

He too died of a heart attack in 1959.

His estate was sold and for a short while the new owners conducted “sightseeing tours” and spoke about the Aplachin Summit.

The most significant outcome of the raid was the fact that it helped to confirm the existence of the American Mafia to the public.

Even the FBI and its director, J Edgar Hoover had refused to publicly acknowledge its existence. Hoover had denied the existence of a “national crime syndicate” for years and expressed no need to address organized crime in America.

After the Summit, he was forced to acknowledge the syndicate’s existence and its influence and control of crime.  Hoover created the “Top Hoodlum Program” and went after the syndicate’s leaders.

All because crime was on the agenda.

Beso de Muerte

Linda Christian was an actress of Dutch descent born in Tampico Mexico the daughter of an engineer and his Mexican born wife.  She was born in 1923 and would be 94 if she were alive today.  She died in 2011.

Christian, an actress, was probably most famous as the wife of Tyrone Power and the mother of his children.

She also played Jane in a Tarzan film or two.

Her career was, meh, so so.

Christian married Tyrone Power in Rome at Santa Francesca Romana Church.  Her wedding dress was a form fitting gold damask gown and there were 2,000 Esther carnations decorating the church.

A month after her seven year marriage to Power ended, she took UP with Spanish race car driver Alfonso de Portago.  Never mind that he was married to American Carroll Petrie who had just given birth to Alfonso’s second child and that Alfonso was already dating model Dorian Leigh, who had recently born him an illegitimate son!

At the 1957 Mille Miglia race, Linda was photographed leaning into his car to kiss him before he started the race.

De Portago, 28, took off and promptly crashed killing himself, his navigator Ed Nelson and ten racing fans.

The press labeled the picture “beso de muerte” the Kiss of Death.

Aptly so!

Hope your Monday is a good one!

Ulster 5-2014

That was my phone number growing UP in Germantown, Ohio.

Of course, the town was so small we only had to dial the last four digits!

We could do that because Germantown’s phone system wasn’t part of the Bell System or General Telephone or any of the other big outfits that ran communications in the nation.

It was an independent telephone company but had to become part of the NANP, or North American Numbering Plan, which went into effect in 1951.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask.

Well, prior to the NANP, to call across the nation, you had to contact an operator who would then place the call for you.

With the NANP, direct dial long distance came into play.

It’s funny, most people alive today will never know what a telephone exchange is, heck, most people alive today, won’t even know what a land line is!

Cell phones rule and wall phones drool I suppose.

But back in the day, you know when you had no idea who was calling but you answered the phone anyway, and when you had to go home to call someone, and you had to be home to get a call, and there was probably only one phone in the house and it weighed a ton, the NANP was a break through.

From its beginning in 1876 and all through the first part of the 20th Century, the Bell System grew from a local company to a regional telephone system as the boys in New York bought more and more access across the nation.

These systems were connected with tie trunks, and each system had its own numbering plan.

Germantown’s was UL5, or Ulster 5, which equated to 855.  They were called exchanges.  Dayton had BA2, or Baldwin 2 or 222, just to give you a better picture.

The Baldwin exchange took UP 6 floors of a building on 3rd street in Dayton.

It was a pretty big deal.

The existing, rapidly growing plan resulted in an inefficient operation and the Bell System set out to unify the numbering plans in the 1940s so America could connect.

And so they could make money.

The new numbering plan was approved in October of 1947 and divided the US into 86 numbering plan areas, each one with its own area code.

That’s right, prior to that, you had to call an operator and ask tell them what city you wanted to call and they would connect to an operator in that city and that operator would connect you to the number you wanted and all four of you would be on the line because if one of the operators hung UP, the call was OVER.

It was cumbersome.

All the brains at Bell Labs worked really hard to come UP with the plan.

What did it give us?   Well, coast to coast direct dial calling #nooperatorneeded.

It was a technological breakthrough.

And, it was so popular, the Canadians, Bermudans, and West Indies folks wanted in.

Central America and the rest of the Caribbean opted out.

Since the Bell System is gone and AT&T is a company pretending to be AT&T, the NANP is administered by the NANPA, North American Numbering Plan Administration, which is overseen by the FCC.

They took over when the Bell System was destroyed by Judge Green back in the day.

#wearestillbitteraboutit.

The FCC bids it out, and right now, Lockheed Martin’s spin off, Neustar runs the show.

As cell phones became – some would say – more affordable, and there was an increasing demand for telephone numbers in the late 80s and early 90s, a way to create more numbers was studied.

The NANPA demanded 10 digit dialing even within in an area code because this opened UP more number availability.

See, prior to that, 0 and 1 in the center of a three digit number were reserved for the middle digit in area codes, forcing 10 digit dialing allowed for the 0 and 1 to be used elsewhere and allowed for 2-9 to be used in area codes.

Math people will get this as the changes expanded the number pool by about 25% for each area code.

So now, your phone number in Germantown is no longer just 1234, it morphed to 855-1234 and then to 513-855-1234 and eventually 937-855-1234.

All of this was unheard of and quite frankly, not even considered, back when we had that 20 pound black phone in the dining room.

And all of this made life simpler.  That’s right, adding digits made life easier for all of us.

Back in the day if you wanted to call Grandma and Grandma didn’t live in the same county, you picked UP the phone, dialed 0 for the Operator, asked to be connected to the operator in the city you wanted to call and hoped the call went through.

Now, you pick UP the phone and tell Siri to call whomever you want.

And it all started on this date, 66 years ago.

Pastor to Presidents.

Reverend Billy Graham turns 99 today! Often called the Pastor to Presidents, Graham, an American evangelist of international fame, was influential in politics, though rarely vocal.

He was ahead of his time…

Met President after President.

Offered advice and counsel…

Prayed for and supported men who had views that contradicted his…

…he won some,  and he lost some…

…was able to Ford his way UP any stream…

…treated everyone the same…

…dined with re-Publicans …

… and Sinners.

…he supported the office of the Presidency …

…and refused to get involved in politics…

… and he met with a King or two.

Happy Birthday Reverend Graham!