John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.
He is the author of No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care and Short Stories from a Small Town. He is also the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
Books on Organized Crime from LLR Press
Religious Books by LLR Press
Is there a good reason for not doing this all over the US?
What we spend on keeping the Post Office alive would pay for this as a national program (When was the last time you wrote or received a letter?)
With help, some low-income families in L.A. can now afford the Internet
For a year, Christian Sanchez, his parents and his younger siblings lived without Internet service in their apartment in Estrada Courts — a Boyle Heights public housing project they have called home for 15 years.
The family of five couldn’t afford it.
“For research projects, I would have to stay on campus,” said Sanchez, who is studying fashion merchandising at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.
But on Saturday morning the family got their Internet service back after AT&T teamed up with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the ConnectHome initiative.
Through ConnectHome, Internet service providers, nonprofits and the private sector offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs and devices for residents in assisted-housing units in 28 pilot communities nationwide.
Down the street from Sanchez and his family’s apartment in Estrada Courts, the president of AT&T California and elected officials announced Wednesday that the company is now a national stakeholder in the initiative to help connect families in HUD-assisted housing with low-cost Internet service.
“The Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity,” said Julian Castro, HUD secretary. “By delivering Internet access to low-income communities, we’re making sure that our young people can compete.”
Over the next year, AT&T will host 30 events across 15 ConnectHome pilot communities within the company's wireline service area. The events will help inform people living in HUD-assisted homes about Access from AT&T, the service launched in April.
The first informational event will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the computer lab of the Estrada Courts development.
“We need to make sure that we see the next Mark Zuckerberg coming out of Boyle Heights or South L.A.,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Since 2015, the Housing Authority of Los Angeles has provided Internet connectivity to more than 2,200 units (1,830 units through ConnectHome).
Access from AT&T is offered to homes where the company offers wireline home Internet service and at least one resident participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Internet speeds provided at 10 Mbps and 5 Mbps will cost $10 a month and Internet speeds at 3 Mbps will cost $5 a month. The company will also waive installation and equipment fees for the service.
On Wednesday morning, Castro, Garcetti and AT&T California President Ken McNeely crowded around the computer of Sanchez’s 11-year-old sister, Lisette Mares, as she pulled up her schoolwork.
(Castro and Garcetti signed an absence note from school for Lisette).
Over the last year, Lisette did most of her work on her phone or would visit a neighbor’s house to work on projects she couldn’t do at home.
“It was a little bit harder,” she said.
While Lisette is excited about being able to do homework on a computer — and not having to waste phone data — as soon as the Internet was hooked up she had a specific request for her older brother:
“Can you connect Netflix?”
THE BEAT POETS
Beat poetry evolved during the 1940s in both New York City and on the west coast, although San Francisco became the heart of the movement in the early 1950s. The end of World War II left poets like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso questioning mainstream politics and culture. A Brief Guide to the Beat Poets | Academy of American Poets https://www.poets.org/poetsorg
I'm a big big Fan of Bukowski
Anytime a government closes down the God-given right to free speech, all of us need to post it on the internet and let the world know what these hoodlums are doing
Police Raid a Maldivian Newspaper After Allegations Were Made About Government Graft
The Maldives Independent reports that it is facing allegations of a "conspiracy to overthrow the elected government"
Police raided the office of local newspaper the Maldives Independent on Wednesday, hours after the release of Stealing Paradise, an al-Jazeera documentary that details an $80 million scandal allegedly involving Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
The documentary, produced with the help of local journalists, featured an interview with the Maldives Independent editor Zaheena Rasheed alongside representatives of watchdog groups and opposition-party members.
The Maldives Independent reported that it was facing allegations of a “conspiracy to overthrow the elected government.” The offices of a local NGO were also raided and the passport of opposition leader Mohamed Nasheedcanceled, reports the Guardian.
The Maldives broadcasting commission released a statement on Wednesday warning that anybody disseminating the documentary’s allegations would be liable for defamation.
Last month, the government issued laws making defamation both a civil and criminal offense. David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, called the move “[a] direct attack on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the Maldives.”
What is love………….
Love is a chain of love as nature is a chain of life. Truman Capote
I’m posting this ironically…………….
North Korea bans sarcasm because Kim Jong-un fears people only agree with him ‘ironically’
Mocking expression 'a fool who cannot see the outside world' is said to be circulating in North Korea
North Korea has forbidden people from making sarcastic comments about Kim Jong-un or his totalitarian regime in their everyday conversations.
Even indirect criticism of the authoritarian government has been banned, Asian media reported.
Residents were warned against criticising the state in a series of mass meetings held by functionaries across the country.
“One state security official personally organised a meeting to alert local residents to potential ‘hostile actions’ by internal rebellious elements,” a source in Jagang Province told Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service.
“The main point of the lecture was ‘Keep your mouths shut.’”
The caution was also issued in neighbouring Yangang Province, sources revealed.
Officials told people that sarcastic expressions such as “This is all America’s fault” would constitute unacceptable criticism of the regime.
“This habit of the central authorities of blaming the wrong country when a problem’s cause obviously lies elsewhere has led citizens to mock the party,” an anonymous source said.
Another mocking expression, “A fool who cannot see the outside world,” was also said to be circulating in the totalitarian state, referring to the country’s notoriously isolationist leader.
The phrase was apparently conceived when officials voiced shock that Mr Kim did not attend celebrations held in Russia and China to mark the end of the Second World War.
Regional media have reported an increase in public acts of dissent in the country of late. Graffiti mocking the government and its leader have appeared twice in recent weeks.
Mish Mash: noun \ˈmish-ˌmash, -ˌmäsh\ A : hodgepodge, jumble “The painting was just a mishmash of colors and abstract shapes as far as we could tell”. Origin Middle English & Yiddish; Middle English mysse masche, perhaps reduplication of mash mash; Yiddish mish-mash, perhaps reduplication of mishn to mix. First Known Use: 15th century
This black soldier in the German Imperial Army is most likely Josef Mambo, born in German East Africa in 1885, moved to Germany in 1897 and twice wounded in East Prussia and Verdun, ca., 1915.
Is there a reason we don’t do this nationally? (And by that I mean a good, sound reason)
New York City Passed Paid Sick Leave, and Guess What? It Didn’t Kill Any Jobs.
Go home, dude.
Over the past decade, the movement for paid sick leave has been one of American progressives’ greatest policy triumphs. Since San Francisco first passed a law guaranteeing workers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, in 2007, the policy had been adopted in five states, 26 cities, one county, and Washington, D.C., according to A Better Balance, a New York-based labor advocacy group.
It’s also become a White House priority. In 2015, President Obama called for states and cities to enact paid sick leave laws, ordered federal contractors to provide workers with paid sick leave, and asked Congress, in his State of the Union speech, to put a bill on his desk.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, the issue has been fought over at the local level, with Democratic cities and states passing paid sick leave. Almost a dozen Republican statehouses, meanwhile, have passed laws to void municipal sick leave policies, arguing that the policy is bad for business and shouldn’t be instituted at the local level.
New York City ought to be a good test for both of those points. In 2013, the City Council overrode then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to pass the Earned Sick Time Act. In 2014, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the law was revised to cover all businesses with more than five workers, down from 15..
Did a labor force of hypochondriac slackers cause businesses to relocate to Nassau and Westchester Counties? It doesn’t look like it: New York City’s share of metropolitan employment has actually increased, slightly, in the two years since the revised law took effect.
In fact, according to a new paper from the Center for Policy and Economic Research by the economist Eileen Appelbaum and the sociologist Ruth Milkman, the business community in New York has largely perceived the law’s passage as a “nonevent,” even though more than three in four employees at the surveyed firms made use of paid sick leaves in 2015.
Their survey of 350 random New York businesses, stratified to appropriately represent different firm sizes, says: 85 percent of employers reported the law had no effect on business costs, 91 percent reported no reduction in hiring, 94 percent reported no effect on business productivity, and 96 percent reported no change in customer service.
That jibes with findings from other cities published by the U.S. Department of Labor in October. San Francisco has outperformed surrounding counties in job growth since the passage of its policy in 2007. Likewise, analyses of Seattle and Washington, D.C. found negligible impacts on hiring and business location. A ton of research has also shown that flexible leave policies have a positive effect on worker productivity, happiness, and health.
Still, New York is by far the biggest municipal test case—and one where businesses have easy exit opportunities not just to surrounding counties but to different states.
Interestingly, the sector where workers are least likely to take advantage of paid sick leave is the one where consumers would most appreciate it: the hospitality industry. All other sectors reported more than 70 percent of employees taking advantage of paid sick leave, but leisure and hospitality is at 53 percent. The authors suggest this is probably because restaurant workers make most of their income in tips, so having their wages recompensed doesn’t make up for a lost shift.
The businesses that have struggled most with the policy are the ones where work can’t be shifted between employees. That included hair salons and yoga studios, for example, where a sick stylist or teacher could lead to lost revenue in a way that a missing plumber or bartender would not. (On the other hand, do you really want a man with the flu running his fingers through your hair?)
All told, though, the paper is a notch in favor of cities advancing their own paid sick-leave laws.
Don’t expect it to convince GOP governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, who have signed pre-emption laws outlawing local employment benefit policies. They can cite a loosely reasoned report from a Washington state think tank called the Freedom Foundation, pushed on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Bergen County Record, which says that “mandatory paid sick leave laws consistently have moderate negative consequences for affected businesses.”
Personally, I find the nine “important conclusions and trends” from that widely cited report a little underwhelming. They include:
· “Workplace illness does not appear to be a widespread problem"
· “Most firms voluntarily offer paid sick leave benefits without being required to do so by law,”
· “Some paid sick leave laws are designed to promote union organizing.” (?)
· And: “Workers come to work sick just as often with a mandatory paid sick leave policy as they do without one.”
If that last one is true, then what harm do the policies cause? If it’s not true, it’s great news for this New Yorker, who doesn’t want his barber sneezing on his head.
AND NOW, A BEATLES BREAK
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE THE ENTIRE WORLD?
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
Reapers and sowers, gleaners and drovers:
All go to sleep.
Plowers and fleecers: twelve o’clock mowers:
Go to sleep, to sleep.
As far, as far as we know.
As far as we know.
Elephant trainers: wallpaper hangers: corncob pipe-smoking porters:
Will all at the wave of a hat go to sleep.
Maplesap boilers: climbing rope coilers:
To sleep, before long–or gradually, to sleep.
Congressional pages: pundits and sages: acolytes and choir girls:
To sleep now, to sleep.
As far as we know.
As far as we know, we’ll know.
Shopkeepers, goalkeepers, timekeepers, lighthouse-keepers:
At long last, to sleep.
Steeplejacks, lumberjacks, jack-hammerers, and apple-jacks:
To sleep, now–to sleep.
As far as we know, when we know;
as far as we know.
Deep as the chimney shaft
That passes your bed,
And wide as the rough black roof overhead:
Now to sleep, tiny child, now to sleep.
As far as we know.
As far as we know.
Schley was born and raised in Wisconsin, and moved to New England in the 1970s to attend Dartmouth College, where he earned his B.A. He earned his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. He now lives with his wife Becky and daughter Lillian in a house they built in an off-the-grid cooperative in central Vermont. Jim and the house were featured in an article in the New York Times, June 19, 1999.
Jim Schley is a poet, teacher, editor, and theater artist. He is author of two poetry collections, most recently, As When, In Season (Marick Press, 2008), and has had his poems published in many literary journals and magazines including Ironwood, Crazyhorse, Rivendell, and Orion Magazine, in anthologies including Best American Spiritual Writing, and on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.
In 2004, following the unexpected loss of a job, he wrote a "My Turn" feature for Newsweek magazine about the experience of working numerous part-time jobs at once. It appeared in the September 20th, 2004 issue.
He is currently Managing Editor of Tupelo Press and teaches writing at the Community College of Vermont. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and an associate of the journalists' collective Homelands Productions.
As When, In Season (Marick Press, 2008)
One Another (Chapiteau Press, 1999)
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
Paul Gauguin - By the Stream, Autumn
Visitors to Robert Irwin’s studio in the 1960s often recall that he would spend hours, sometimes days, sitting on top of a chair and staring intensely at a painting on the opposite wall. This was his way of learning how subtle compositional changes altered the way a work was perceived. He later said, “I could have never been an artist if I hadn’t spent that ten years buried in the studio.”
Photographs I’ve taken
Here's some other photos I've taken
Ocean City Maryland
AND HERE'S SOME ANIMALS FOR YOU...................
A better way to help vulnerable children and families
By Orrin G. Hatch, Ron Wyden, Kevin Brady and Sander M. Levin
Every year, thousands of American children are taken from their homes and placed in foster care.
And in the midst of an opioid epidemic, those numbers are rising.
For many children, foster care is absolutely necessary and even lifesaving. Many of those children find stability they never had thanks to the tireless work of dedicated social workers, foster parents, judges and treatment providers.
But in many cases, it’s possible to improve a child’s family situation at home and avoid the trauma of being separated from family, friends and school, as well as the long-term cost of foster care. Most children come into foster care not as a result of physical or sexual abuse but due to complex factors related to neglect.
According to national data, in more than one-third of foster care cases, parental substance abuse is cited as a reason for removing a child from home. Experts report that, in reality, the percentage of foster care cases involving parental substance abuse is likely twice that high. These families are often also dealing with issues such as poverty, mental or physical illness, or parental incarceration.
More than half of children who enter foster care eventually live with their parents again. But the unfortunate reality is that many foster children struggle to deal with their experiences, even when it becomes safe for them to return home. Historically, foster children have been more likely toencounter the juvenile and adult criminal-justice systems, more likely to become pregnant as teenagers and less likelyto hold down a job.
When we hear from children who have spent time in foster care, something they often say is: “You could have helped my mom” or “you could have helped my dad.”
Take, for example, the case of a young man from Florida placed in foster care at age 11 because his parents and other family members were addicted to drugs. He said that if his parents had gotten the substance abuse treatment they needed, it’s possible he could have grown up safely at home. Instead, he aged out of the system at 18, leaving him to navigate adulthood on his own and without the support of a family.
We agree there is a better way to help vulnerable children and families. That’s why we chose to work together, across party lines, to create long-term, structural changes to the child welfare system. In June, we introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Family First Prevention Services Act, to strengthen families by doing more to keep children from entering foster care, and to ensure that they are in the right setting if they can’t stay safely at home.
The legislation would begin a new era for the child welfare system by aligning the funding with what we all believe: Foster care should be limited, temporary and high-quality. Under this bill, instead of having a system that just pays for foster care, states would receive federal support to strengthen families through substance abuse treatment, mental-health services and in-home parenting programs — to allow parents or other relatives to get the help they need to safely care for their kids.
It would also — for the first time — set high national standards for foster care group homes to ensure that the most vulnerable children get clinical and professional help to address the traumas they have experienced.
Child advocates have been seeking these changes for more than two decades, and we worked together — House and Senate, in a bipartisan process — to draft the final bill. More than 300 child welfare groups, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Children’s Defense Fund, to Catholic Charities and Focus on the Family, have endorsed the bill.
The House of Representatives decisively passed the bill in June.
When the Senate resumes legislative work this week, it will have the opportunity to take an important step to help children and their families. Our most vulnerable have already been waiting too long.
Belief, Legend, and the Great Moon Hoax
By Stephanie Hall
During the week of August 25, 1835, the world was treated to a fantastic story of scientific discoveries by the famous British astronomer, Sir John Herschel. He had realized the speculations of his father, astronomer Sir William Herschel, as he discovered life on the moon. Or so the readers of The New York Sun were told, in a series of articles now known as the Great Moon Hoax.
When we think of stories about life on other worlds and visits to or from those worlds presented as truth rather than fiction, we usually think of legends, news reports, or hoaxes of the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Similarly, the problem of sorting out fact from fiction in news items, especially those passed along through internet news sites and social media, seems quite modern. But speculation about life on the moon or planets in the solar system is older than the written word. News hoaxes also have a long history. Publisher Benjamin Franklin was a famous source of both legitimate news and hoaxes.
Folklorists have an interest in news hoaxes, alongside interest in legends of extraordinary events and the supernatural. News hoaxes succeed when they are written in the news style of the day and draw from contemporary factual news, while legends are stories with origins in oral traditions. But the two often parallel each other and may even include versions of the same stories. Russell Frank discussed modern “newslore” in his book talk at the Library of Congress, “Newslore: Contemporary Folklore on the Internet.”
Leading up to the Great Moon Hoax was another story published in June, 1835. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a story in theSouthern Literary Messenger, told as if true: “Hans Phaall, a Tale.” It described the return of an explorer to his native Holland with stories of life and adventures on the moon. In his day, a satire was counted as successful if a good portion of its readers thought it to be true. But in this case Poe’s sense of humor betrayed him and his article was quickly recognized as fiction by many of his readers. The Southern Literary Messenger was a periodical of fact and fiction that was only ten months old when Poe wrote this story, so it did not have a wide circulation at that time.
But someone, likely a writer on the staff of The New York Sun, either read Poe’s story or was thinking along the same lines. There was excitement about the return of Comet Halley expected in the fall and a predicted transit of Mercury, as well as astronomer John Herschel’s expedition to catalog the stars of the southern hemisphere. In the world of philosophy, the Scottish minister, amateur astronomer, and popular author, Rev. Thomas Dick, was making imaginative claims about intelligent life on other worlds. For example, he calculated the population of the solar system at over twenty-one trillion. This was a time of exciting events, theories, and claims. Stories playing on curiosity about astronomy could sell newspapers.
The author of the Great Moon Hoax series, unlike Poe, composed the serialized article as if reported by an astronomer who had accompanied Herschel on his expedition, the fictitious Andrew Grant. He included many quotes from Herschel, reporting discoveries made through close observation the moon. The articles cited the Edinburgh Journal of Science as the source for the story and was written in a style similar to that of both William and John Herschel. They may even have been inspired by an 1824 article by the German astronomer Baron Franz von Paula Gruithuisen, with a title that translates into English as “Discovery of Many Distinct Traces of Lunar Inhabitants, Especially of One of Their Colossal Buildings” (in German).
While Poe had begun his story with the dramatic appearance of a balloon-like craft arriving from the moon, the author of the Moon Hoax articles reeled his readers in slowly, beginning with the reasons for the expedition to South Africa and an elaborate description of a new type of telescope invented by Herschel. This grounded the story in some facts. Herschel had gone to South Africa, taking with him a large reflecting telescope he had built, though Herschel’s telescope was not combined with the latest in microscope technology as described in the story. Towards the end of the second installment, the forests and plants of the moon were described with a few birds and mammals, including a unicorn-like creature. At this point other newspapers began reprinting the story from the beginning. In the third installment, the author described the geography, flora, and fauna of the moon in greater detail, with miniature bison and beavers that stood on two legs. A live volcano was described, which corresponded to William Herschel’s report of what seemed to be volcanoes in his observations in 1787. The segment concluded with a description of an island with cliffs studded with sapphires. This had Americans talking. In the fourth installment on August 28, 1835, the world learned that Herschel and his team had discovered humanoids: “We could then perceive that they possessed wings of great expansion, and were similar in structure to this of the bat, being a semi-transparent membrane expanded in curvilineal divisions by means of straight radii, united at the back by the dorsal integuments. But what astonished us very much was the circumstance of this membrane being continued, from the shoulders to the legs, united all the way down, though gradually decreasing in width.” Two more exciting installments followed, ending with an unfortunate accident in which the powerful lens of the telescope causes a fire, disrupting the research. (The full text may be found on the Museum of Hoaxes website.)
What happened next is a mix of history and legend, as the Moon Hoax itself has legends attached to it. One idea about this story from the time of its publication until the present day it was widely believed and represents an example of the gullibility of the public. But the hoax was carefully crafted to appear to be a genuine scientific report of its day. Hershel, who actually was doing research in South Africa, was not able to respond quickly to deny the claims. The August 28th edition describing winged people did tip the scales, and led many to stop believing the reports. On the 29th several papers cried hoax. The New York Evening Post, (page 3) a competing paper, ran an editorial that began “If Jonah swallowed a whale, according to one version of the story, he did not take down a larger mouthful than some of the sage conductors of the [illegible] quarter of the world show themselves capable of doing when they swallow, without a wry face, the ingenious hoax about certain lunar discoveries, a portion of which was published yesterday, and give another portion this forenoon.” On the same day the Massachusetts paper, The Gloucester Telegraph, not only informed its readers that the account was probably a hoax, but named papers that believed the articles to be authentic and those that “speak of it as mere moonshine” (page 2).
Many believed that the author of the hoax was the British-born journalist Richard Adams Locke, and he was accused in the press. On August 31, the date of the last installment of the article, Locke replied to his accusers with a letter to The New York Evening Post, which was widely reprinted, expressing shock that anyone would think he was the author of the story. He wrote, “I beg to state, as unequivocally as the words can express it, that I did not make those discoveries and it is my sincere conviction, founded on a careful examination of the internal evidence of the work in which they first appeared, that, if made at all, they were made by the great astronomer to whom all Europe, if not an incredulous America, will undoubtedly ascribe them. ” On September 5th, Philadelphia’s Atkinson’s Saturday Evening Post, reprinted Locke’s non-denial denial, followed by an advertisement for a real estate auction for “nine thousand building lots situated in the territory recently discovered by Sir John Herschel. The tract composed of three lots is that in which the vegetable gold is found. It has hitherto been sold as pasture land, giving nourishment to large flocks of sheep with one horn and a flap over their eyes, which will be sold with the lots, if desired….” 
The popularity of the story as it traveled across the globe was likely also fueled by the conflicting claims of truth or hoax. This is what everyone was talking about. Those who believed and those who disbelieved were equally eager to read the next installment. Some papers reprinted the story with editorials or disclaimers, and as seen from the above examples, some of these were entertaining as well. But it took several weeks for the cries of “hoax” to begin to catch up with the “news” of the discovery. Even long after the initial event, the story was reprinted in the US and abroad, because now it was news as one of the great journalistic hoaxes of all time.
The late Linda Dégh famously wrote that legends are crafted to excite debate on subjects of great importance. Legends, she argued, invite those who believe and those who disbelieve to test the boundaries of our knowledge. Disclaimers and attempts to disprove legends can often spread the story further. Hoaxes sometimes work in much the same way, perpetuated as much by the interest of those who disbelieve a story as those who believe it.
Poe suspected his own story idea had been stolen and reworked for The Sun, and he was sure that Richard Adams Locke was the culprit. Historians today generally agree that Locke was the most likely author. But The Sun did not retract the story or reveal the name of the author. This became a story in itself, a story about how newspapers should behave. An occasional hoax might be forgiven, but there were objections to the failure of the editors of The Sun to own up to the truth once the hoax was unveiled.
Edgar Allan Poe, whose own story had been eclipsed by the hoax, did get even in a number of ways. He wrote another story, “The Great Balloon Hoax,” based on the Great Moon Hoax, which was more successful at fooling some of his readers. Better still, it was published by Richard Adams Locke. Today Poe’s story about Hans Phaall is considered an early example of science fiction. Jules Verne, a fan of Poe, had read the story of Hans Phaall and “The Balloon Hoax”and is thought to have been inspired to write his novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the World in Eighty Days by these early works by Poe.
What happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island?
It is one of history’s greatest unsolved mysteries: what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island? Founded in August 1585 by Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite, Sir Walter Ralegh, the first English settlement in the New World was found abandoned without a trace of the colonists in 1590. Here, Dr Eric Klingelhofer investigates…
The morning of 18 August 1590, a group of sailors from two English privateering ships, the Moonlight and the Hopewell, scrambled up from a sandy beach to enter open woodland. They followed the lead of an elderly man who would have grown increasingly desperate in his shouts: “Eleanor! Ananias! Anybody! Is anyone there?” The sailors had landed on Roanoke Island in modern North Carolina, and their leader was John White, governor of Queen Elizabeth’s North American dominion, Virginia.
White was trying to find his daughter Eleanor and her husband, Ananias Dare, and indeed any other English settler on the island. Eleanor and Ananias, with his young granddaughter Virginia, were members of the colony he had left there three years earlier.
In 1587 White had returned to England to get badly needed supplies from Ralegh for the colonists who had wintered on Roanoke. His voyage back to America was soon beset by problems. On his first attempt, his vessel was captured by French pirates and he was seriously wounded in the fight. His efforts were also frustrated by a royal order to stop all shipping because of the Armada threat.
Even when White did manage to return, in 1590, another disaster took place the day before his search on Roanoke. A captain and several crewmen drowned in rough seas trying to reach Roanoke Island through the dangerous sand bars of the Outer Banks. Nevertheless, the sailors pressed on, rowing around Roanoke to anchor off its north end where the settlers had lived. But no one answered White’s calls. No one was there. White found that a new strong fort had been erected but was now abandoned, containing only discarded, heavy items. All the houses of the settlement had been dismantled and removed. None of the 117 members of this Lost Colony were ever located. It remains the greatest unsolved mystery in the shared histories of England and America.
A new Eden
White’s group of civilians had not been the first colony that Ralegh sent to Roanoke Island. After his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert drowned on a voyage to Newfoundland, Queen Elizabeth transferred the charter for colonising North America to Ralegh, although as the new royal favorite at court, Elizabeth would not permit Ralegh to lead expeditions himself.
Ralegh turned his attention to the North Carolina coast that juts out into the Gulf Stream route that Spanish galleons took to bring gold and silver from Mexico and Peru. In 1584, a single English vessel arrived on the Carolina shores and was soon guided by native peoples to Roanoke Island. Based on its brief visit, Roanoke was described as a land filled with crops, game and welcoming Indians – a new Eden.
Ralegh promptly sent a military expedition on a one-year colonial venture, exploring the new province he named Virginia in honor of the queen. Commanded by Ralph Lane, a cousin of Elizabeth’s stepmother, Queen Katherine Parr, the soldiers were to determine its potential for profitable commodities and as a base to attack Spanish shipping.
Lane found that the land did have some promise, but it was not a new Eden, and its shallow coastal waters were unsuitable for warships. Ralegh had taken care to provide expert reporting of the venture, which he used to attract investment – and hopefully royal support – for later settlement. He sent John White, an artist known at court, to accompany the fleet that did the initial exploration. White made for him watercolour drawings of the flora, fauna and native peoples of North America that remain our best images from the Age of Exploration.
Ralegh also sent the mathematician-scientist Thomas Harriot to spend the year with Lane on Roanoke, making navigational charts, learning the Algonquian language from Manteo, a noble from the friendly coastal Croatoan tribe, and collecting samples to test their mineral and pharmaceutical value.
Thomas Harriot map of Virginia, c1588. (North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy Stock Photo)
By the spring of 1586, however, Lane’s force, faced with shrinking supplies and increasingly hostile local tribes, were waiting desperately for promised supplies. After sacking Spanish cities in the Caribbean, the famed English sailor Sir Francis Drake’s fleet gathered outside the banks by Roanoke. Before he could assist the colony though, a hurricane damaged the fleet. Lane reluctantly accepted his offer to return to England.
The second colony
This, then, was the state of affairs in the winter of 1586–7 when John White, the artist in the employ of Ralegh, offered to lead a civilian colonial expedition to Virginia. In 1585, White had been in Virginia for only the initial weeks, so he had not experienced the privation and danger that Lane’s men later faced. Most of the group that sailed with him seems to have come from London, of artisan and middle-class backgrounds. Entire families joined the second colony, while others sailed expecting their families to follow. Economic opportunity was probably the main reason for their emigration, though religious freedom may also have been important.
The second colony’s ships arrived on the coast near Roanoke in the summer of 1587. There, a dispute arose between the captain, who commanded at sea, and the governor who took charge on land. White later reported that Ralegh had instructed him to take the settlers north to the deep-water Chesapeake Bay, which Lane had thought a better base for privateers and closer to the mountain sources of copper and perhaps gold and silver. The captain, however, seems not to have felt bound by these orders because he refused to take the passengers any further.
When the group arrived, they found the Roanoke settlement empty, the fort in ruins and the mainland Indians hostile. To compound matters, an accident in landing led to the spoilage of much of the food supplies. After taking steps to repair existing cottages and build additional ones, the colony’s leaders decided that a direct appeal to Ralegh was needed and that only Governor White could make it. Before he left, White witnessed two important events: the birth of his granddaughter Virginia, the first English child born in the New World, and the baptism and induction as Lord of Roanoke of the native leader Manteo. These two events must have been seen by White and all those present as the beginning of a colonial-born population and the integration of Indians into Elizabethan religious and political structures.
John White’s return in 1590 revealed that this overseas England had been a dream. There was no colony, no population, no Christian Indian lordship. White and the sailors saw fresh footprints on the Roanoke beach – evidence that local Indians were hostile or fearful of the English search party. Interpreting the letters ‘CRO’ carved into a tree as the name of Manteo’s friendly Croatoan tribe (White later remembered it also as a full spelling on a gate post), the searchers intended to sail south to the tribe’s centre near Cape Hatteras. Once aboard ship, though, stormy weather forced them farther and farther north until there was no option but to return home. No English ship ever did reach Hatteras, but Spaniards sailing past the Outer Banks saw Natives waving and making music on European-style musical instruments.
Explaining the mystery
What did happen to the Lost Colony, then? Why did it disappear? When considering causes for social and demographic calamities, traditionally there are four general possibilities: war, famine, pestilence, and death. It is probable that all four brought Elizabethan Virginia to an end. We do know that the Spanish never found the colony, but fear of that threat may have caused it to move further west. White thought that a move “50 miles further up into the maine” had been intended. Also, the nearby mainland Indians were clearly hostile in 1587.
Soon after the civilians arrived, the body of an Englishman who went crabbing was found full of arrows and mutilated. This local threat was another reason to leave Roanoke.
We also know that Lane’s soldiers in 1586 faced a serious food shortage and that White in 1587 returned to England because the supplies had been ruined. The civilian colony had no real leverage to convince native tribes to share their winter reserves. Later, famine would cause the ‘starving time’ at Jamestown, when Indians there refused to sell food. North Carolina lacked a single, powerful native polity that might have supported the colony, so it is probable that it broke up into smaller groups, independently intent on survival. At Jamestown, disease – even the Plague itself – would again and again sap the strength of the young colony. Infectious diseases may have had a similar impact at Roanoke.
All three causes, if unchecked, led to the fourth – death. White’s sailors came across no burials or human remains during the hours they spent on Roanoke, so it is quite possible that the colonists evacuated the island before incurring such a fate. It then seems likely that the survivors split into two or more groups. One would have waited for supply ships among the Croatoan tribe on the Outer Banks. The other would have sailed 50 miles westward to a safer and more productive region. Jamestown colonists did hear second-hand stories about a few survivors from Roanoke living among the tribes in this interior here, but these stories were never confirmed.
Then, in 2012, First Colony Foundation (FCF), a group of historians and archaeologists researching Ralegh’s American colonies, asked the British Museum to examine paper patches on its manuscript map La Virginea Pars, drawn by John White for Sir Walter Ralegh. The museum staff soon discovered beneath one patch the symbol of a Renaissance fort, and upon the patch’s surface they noted the faint image of a fortified town, perhaps drawn in invisible ink. The patch was located at the west end of the Albemarle Sound, about 50 miles from Roanoke Island.
Remote sensing and fieldwork by FCF revealed no such fort in a five-mile-wide area, but its teams did unearth metal objects and Tudor-period domestic pottery in one spot adjacent to a contemporary Algonquian village. Because the pottery would not have been carried by Lane’s soldiers in 1585–6, FCF researchers announced in 2015 that Site X (for unknown) was the probable location of a few members of the Lost Colony for a limited period of time. Excavations will resume in late 2016 to determine more fully the nature of Site X and to find more clues to the four-century-old mystery of the Lost Colony.
Dr Eric Klingelhofer is Emeritus Professor of history and research fellow at Mercer University, Georgia, and vice-president of research at First Colony Foundation.
Joyce Tyldesley examines Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun – and gets to the bottom of those curse stories.
On 26 November 1922 Howard Carter stood before a sealed door blocking a dark corridor. Behind him stood his patron Lord Carnarvon. Both men knew that they were standing in the tomb of the 18th-Dynasty boy king Tutankhamun – the sealing on the now dismantled outer door had made that clear. But the outer door had also shown the unmistakable signs of more than one forced entry. Was Tutankhamun still lying undisturbed in his tomb? Or had the ancient robbers once again thwarted the modern archaeologists? Nervously, his hands trembling, Carter forced a small hole in the left hand corner of the doorway, lit a candle, and peered inside.
“Presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, ‘Can you see anything?’ it was all I could do to get out the words ‘Yes, wonderful things’.”
The next day the doorway was unblocked and an electric light installed. Carter and Carnarvon found themselves standing in the antechamber, an untidy room packed with everything that an Egyptian king could possibly need for an enjoyable afterlife. But Carter’s attention was fixed on the northern wall. Here, blocked, plastered, sealed and guarded by two large statues of Tutankhamun, was the doorway to the burial chamber. Once again, the sealed doorway had been breached by a robber’s hole.
Carter and Carnarvon knew that the anteroom must be emptied before the wall could be dismantled, but that would take many weeks of hard work. Desperate to know if the tomb was intact they returned that night and crawled through the robber’s hole. To their delight they found that the burial chamber was almost completely filled by a golden shrine, its seals still intact. Swearing each other to secrecy they crawled back and sealed the hole.
The burial chamber would be officially opened on 17 February 1923 in the presence of an invited audience of Egyptologists and government officials.
The public was fascinated by the activities in the Valley of the Kings. Those who could travel to Egypt did, though there was little for them to see. Those who could not visit in person relied upon the newspapers that carried almost daily reports from the Valley. Soon the small, sleepy town of Luxor was swamped with visitors and the expedition found itself living in near siege conditions. As a means of recovering some of the money that he had spent looking for Tutankhamun, Carnarvon decided to sign an exclusive deal with The Times. This incensed the reporters from the other newspapers, and did nothing to stop their demands for information. Denied official access to the tomb, they now printed sensational gossip in place of facts.
In late February 1923 the excavation was closed to allow the exhausted excavators a brief holiday. While Carter stayed in Luxor, Carnarvon and his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, sailed south to spend a few days at Aswan. During this trip Carnarvon was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito. Then, soon after his return to Luxor, he accidentally sliced the scab off the bite while shaving. He soon started to feel unwell. With his condition worsening he travelled to Cairo for expert medical attention. But it was too late. Blood poisoning set in and pneumonia followed. A younger, fitter man may have been able to throw off the infection, but the 57-year-old Carnarvon was still suffering the effects of a severe motor accident in 1901 that had left him weak and vulnerable to chest infections. He died on 5 April 1923.
Here was a dramatic Tutankhamun story that everyone could report. News of the death travelled fast, stimulating intense debate. For the first time the general public, made sensitive to the plight of the defenceless dead by the First World War and the major flu epidemic that followed it, started to question the archaeologists’ easy assumption that the dead were a legitimate target. Would Carter be happy if someone attempted to dig up the recently deceased Queen Victoria, asked one indignant Times correspondent?
For some observers this was far more than a question of ethics. They believed that the excavation had put the lives of the archaeologists at risk. Anyone with a taste for popular fiction understood just how dangerous the ancient Egyptians could be. Victorian literature was filled with accounts of vengeful mummies who strangled, poisoned and possessed their victims, with one of the most sensational works, Lost in a Pyramid, or,The Mummy’s Curse, being penned by Louisa May Alcott, more famous today as the author of Little Women. Already, before Carnarvon’s death, novelist Marie Corelli had warned against tampering with the unknown: “I cannot but think that some risks are run by breaking into the last rest of a king of Egypt whose tomb is specifically and solemnly guarded, and robbing him of his possessions”.
Britain, in 1923, was a land looking for comfort. The old religious certainties, already weakened by the scientific advances of the Victorian age, had been further eroded by the horrors of the First World War. Now the country was experiencing a wave of interest in all aspects of the occult as seances and ouija boards offered a glimmer of hope that the bereaved could contact those who had “passed over”. Theosophy, an occult attempt to reach spiritual enlightenment partially inspired by the spiritual forces or “elementals” of the ancient Egyptians, was all the rage.
False reports started to emerge from the tomb. Many people believed that an engraved plaque – “Death comes on swift wings to he who disturbs the tomb of the pharaoh” – had been discovered and suppressed by Carter. It hadn’t; the plaque quite simply did not exist. Carter himself had little patience with the curse theorists. He made his feelings plain in an interview with the New York Times: “It is rather too much to ask me to believe that some spook is keeping watch and ward over the dead Pharaoh, ready to wreak vengeance on anyone who goes too near”. Inevitably, his vehement denial sparked rumours that Carter was collaborating with “the authorities” to hide the evidence of a dangerous curse.
Testing the curse theory
How could the long-dead Tutankhamun have killed anyone? The idea that his burial might have been booby trapped with poison was a popular one. It is theoretically possible that the sealed chamber could have housed a cocktail of microscopic spores and, indeed, a black fungus was found growing inside the tomb. However the Egyptian scientists simply did not have the knowledge necessary to set such a sophisticated trap. Could Carnarvon have been killed accidentally? Maybe he had been infected by poisonous bat-droppings? Or had been poisoned by a mosquito which had drunk embalming fluids?
It was left to the more practically minded to point out that the sealed tomb could not have housed a bat colony, while the lack of water in the Valley of the Kings meant that there were no mosquitoes. This injection of common sense did little to halt speculation. Many “experts”, most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of two popular tales of ancient Egypt, preferred the idea of an intangible curse implemented by “elementals”.
In 1934 Egyptologist Herbert Winlock attempted to disprove the curse theory by studying the statistics. He found that only six of the 26 people present at the opening of the tomb had died within a decade. Time was to prove that, of those who had first visited the burial chamber, only Carnarvon had died suddenly at the relatively young age of 57. Howard Carter died aged 64, some 16 years after Carnarvon, while Lady Evelyn, who had been present on the first, clandestine, visit to the burial chamber, did not die until 1980.
Professor Douglas Derry who, it might be argued, committed the gravest desecration by autopsying and dismembering the king’s body, reached the grand age of 87. In 2002 Mark Nelson of Monash University, Melbourne, confirmed Winlock’s results, finding that the 25 people most likely to have been exposed to the curse died at an average age of 70. To set these figures into context, life expectancy at birth for men born in 1900 was 47 years, while those who lived to the age of 65 might be expected to reach the age of 76.
Howard Carter: the accidental egyptologist
Howard Carter was a gifted artist who became an Egyptologist by accident. Born on 9 May 1874, the youngest of the seven surviving children of the animal painter Samuel Carter and his wife Martha, he was raised in the Norfolk village of Swaffham, where he came under the patronage of the Amhersts of Didlington Hall. William Amherst Tyssen-Amherst was a keen amateur Egyptologist with a private museum. It was on his recommendation that the Egypt Exploration Fund employed the 17 year-old Carter as a draughtsman.
Carter gained valuable experience working on the rock tombs of Beni Hassan, at the desert city of Amarna, and at Hatshepsut’s Deir el-Bahari mortuary temple. Then, in 1899, he was offered a permanent position with the Egyptian Antiquities Service. He spent five productive years in Luxor as antiquities inspector for Southern Egypt before moving to Cairo to become inspector for Northern Egypt. Here his career received an unexpected check. An argument with a group of drunken Frenchmen led to his resignation from the antiquities service, and in October 1905 he started a new life as an artist and antiquities dealer.
Carter lived a hand to mouth existence until he was introduced to Lord Carnarvon, a wealthy amateur Egyptologist in need of a professional partner. Together in 1917 they determined to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter was prepared to strip the Valley of the Kings down to the bedrock if necessary. Carnarvon, who was funding the mission, was at first equally enthusiastic, but by 1922 was having second thoughts. The partners agreed that the 1922–3 season of excavation would be the last. Digging started on 1 November 1922. Just three days later the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb was revealed.
His great discovery saw the end of Carter’s career as an excavator. He was to spend the next decade recording and preserving the tomb and its contents. When the tomb was finally empty, the publication of the results became his top priority. But his health was starting to fail and the publication was never completed. Howard Carter died in London on 2 March 1939.
The curse: suspicious deaths or just coincidence?
On 6 April 1923 the Daily Express printed a story telling how, at the exact moment
of Carnarvon’s death the previous day, Cairo was plunged into darkness. No explanation could be found for this unexpected power failure although anyone who has visited the Egyptian capital will confirm that power cuts are by no means rare events. Far more intriguing is the story of Carnarvon’s three-legged fox terrier, Susie. Susie had been left behind in England. At exactly the moment of her master’s death, the dog sat up and howled. In later versions of the anecdote Susie actually died. However, it has proved impossible to trace this story to its source.
One violent death attributed to Tutankhamun was that of Professor HG Evelyn-White, classicist and archaeologist at Leeds University, who committed suicide in a taxi in 1924. The newspapers were thrilled to report that the Professor had left a suicide note stating: “I know there is a curse on me”. Another “curse victim” was Richard Bethell, an assistant to Howard Carter, who died of apparently natural causes at the Bath Club in 1929.
After hearing the sad news his father, Lord Westbury, an amateur Egyptologist, threw himself out of a seventh-story window. On the way to the cemetery Lord Westbury’s hearse knocked down and killed an eight-year-old boy. Many people believe that the British Museum owns a cursed coffin lid that has been blamed for a variety of disasters including the sinking of the Titanic. The lid, known to believers as the coffin of the magical priestess of Amen-Re, is an ordinary 21st-Dynasty coffin lid belonging to an unnamed lady.
The significance of the discovery: why tutankhamun’s tomb was so special
Tutankhamun is the only New Kingdom (c 1550–1070 BC) monarch to have been discovered undisturbed in his own sarcophagus. Dying at just 20 years of age, before his tomb was complete, he was interred in a small-scale courtier’s tomb with a restricted number of grave goods. His tomb was robbed at least twice in antiquity and Carter estimated that thieves stole more than half of his jewellery.
Nevertheless, his burial has provided Egyptologists with the most substantial and diverse collection of royal artefacts ever recovered. They offer a rare opportunity to understand aspects of New Kingdom life, including crafts and technologies, art styles, clothing and foods, religion and funerary beliefs. Meanwhile the king’s body is the subject of a research project conducted by the Egyptian Antiquities Service under the supervision of Dr Zahi Hawass. If there is one disappointment, it is the almost complete lack of non-ritual written material in the tomb.
His personal history remains a mystery and we cannot name his parents with any degree of certainty.
Writer and broadcaster Dr Joyce Tyldesley is honorary research fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at Liverpool University, and teaches Egyptology at Manchester University.
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS..........
Typescript second draft of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This is the opening of the second draft of Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, with the author’s handwritten corrections, and calculations in the margin. It gives a fascinating insight into Plath’s editing process and the evolving relationship between the author and her central characters. The text was later redrafted several more times before it was first published, under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas, in England in 1963.
The novel is an exploration of mental illness and the pressure of social expectations on women in 1950s America. In this draft, Plath changes the title from the stark ‘Diary of a Suicide’ to ‘The Bell Jar’ – a bell-shaped glass enclosing samples in a scientific lab, and a striking metaphor for the protagonist’s sense of oppressiveness and isolation. Plath also alters the pseudonym from Frieda to Victoria, the pen-name preserved in the first published edition. Interestingly, in this draft, the protagonist is also named Victoria, implying a direct connection between the writer and her character. But, in later drafts, Plath creates greater distance between the two, when she changes the character’s name from Victoria to Esther.
This typescript of this first chapter opens with a reference to the electrocution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for passing atomic secrets to the USSR – an episode subtly foreshadowing the protagonist’s own treatment with electroconvulsive therapy. In the first five pages of the 89-page draft, she describes her experience in sweltering New York, where she is working as an intern at Ladies’ Day magazine. Many of these experiences mirror those of Sylvia Plath, who won a contest to be guest editor of Mademoiselle magazine in the summer of 1953, and suffered a mental breakdown.
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
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Things said for conversation are chalk eggs. Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
300 quotes from Emerson
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Amazon review: I purchased this book for my daughter who loves Emerson. The quotes are organized in categories and are easy to find and read. The book includes the most memorable quotes of Emerson and my daughter loves it.
Amazon review: This is really enjoyable to read and I like how it is done and you can look up all sorts of things. I have shared some of Emerson's quotes from this book on my website right from this book, giving him credit.
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TRUE CRIME BOOKS BY JOHN WILLIAM TUOHY
ROGER TOUHY, CHICAGO GANGSTER, NOW IN PAPERBACK
ROGER TOUHY, THE LAST GANGSTER
From Publishers Weekly
JFK's pardons and the mob; Prohibition, Chicago's crime cadres and the staged kidnapping of "`Jake the Barber'" Factor, "the black sheep brother of the cosmetics king, Max Factor"; lifetime sentences, attempted jail busts and the perseverance of "a rumpled private detective and an eccentric lawyer" John W. Tuohy showcases all these and more sensational and shady happenings in When Capone's Mob Murdered Roger Touhy: The Strange Case of Touhy, Jake the Barber and the Kidnapping that Never Happened. The author started investigating Touhy's 1959 murder by Capone's gang in 1975 for an undergrad assignment. He traces the frame-job whereby Touhy was accused of the kidnapping, his decades in jail, his memoirs, his retrial and release and, finally, his murder, 28 days after regaining his freedom. Sixteen pages of photos.
From Library Journal
Roger Touhy, one of the "terrible Touhys" and leader of a bootlegging racket that challenged Capone's mob in Prohibition Chicago, had a lot to answer for, but the crime that put him behind bars was, ironically, one he didn't commit: the alleged kidnapping of Jake Factor, half-brother of Max Factor and international swindler. Author Tuohy (apparently no relation), a former staff investigator for the National Center for the Study of Organized Crime, briefly traces the history of the Touhys and the Capone mob, then describes Factor's plan to have himself kidnapped, putting Touhy behind bars and keeping himself from being deported. This miscarriage of justice lasted 17 years and ended in Touhy's parole and murder by the Capone mob 28 days later. Factor was never deported. The author spent 26 years researching this story, and he can't bear to waste a word of it. Though slim, the book still seems padded, with irrelevant detail muddying the main story. Touhy is a hard man to feel sorry for, but the author does his best. Sure to be popular in the Chicago area and with the many fans of mob history, this is suitable for larger public libraries and regional collections. Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH
John William Tuohy, one of the most prolific crime writers in America, has penned a tragic, but fascinating story of Roger Touhy and John Factor. It's a tale born out of poverty and violence, a story of ambition gone wrong and deception on an enormous, almost unfathomable, scale. However, this is also a story of triumph of determination to survive, of a lifelong struggle for dignity and redemption of the spirit.
The story starts with John "Jake the Barber" Factor. The product of the turn of the century European ethnic slums of Chicago's west side, Jake's brother, Max Factor, would go on to create an international cosmetic empire.
In 1926, Factor, grubstaked in a partnership with the great New York criminal genius, Arnold Rothstien, and Chicago's Al Capone, John Factor set up a stock scam in England that fleeced thousands of investors, including members of the royal family, out of $8 million dollars, an incredible sum of money in 1926.
After the scam fell apart, Factor fled to France, where he formed another syndicate of con artists, who broke the bank at Monte Carlo by rigging the tables.
Eventually, Factor fled to the safety of Capone's Chicago but the highest powers in the Empire demanded his arrest. However, Factor fought extradition all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but he had a weak case and deportation was inevitable. Just 24 hours before the court was to decide his fate, Factor paid to have himself kidnapped and his case was postponed. He reappeared in Chicago several days later, and, at the syndicates' urging, accused gangster Roger Touhy of the kidnapping.
Roger "The Terrible" Touhy was the youngest son of an honest Chicago cop. Although born in the Valley, a teeming Irish slum, the family moved to rural Des Plains, Illinois while Roger was still a boy. Touhy's five older brothers stayed behind in the valley and soon flew under the leadership of "Terrible Tommy" O'Connor. By 1933, three of them would be shot dead in various disputes with the mob and one, Tommy, would lose the use of his legs by syndicate machine guns. Secure in the still rural suburbs of Cook County, Roger Touhy graduated as class valedictorian of his Catholic school. Afterwards, he briefly worked as an organizer for the Telegraph and Telecommunications Workers Union after being blacklisted by Western Union for his minor pro-labor activities.
Touhy entered the Navy in the first world war and served two years, teaching Morse code to Officers at Harvard University.
After the war, he rode the rails out west where he earned a living as a railroad telegraph operator and eventually made a small but respectable fortune as an oil well speculator.
Returning to Chicago in 1924, Touhy married his childhood sweetheart, regrouped with his brothers and formed a partnership with a corrupt ward heeler named Matt Kolb, and, in 1925, he started a suburban bootlegging and slot machine operation in northwestern Cook County. Left out of the endless beer wars that plagued the gangs inside Chicago, Touhy's operation flourished. By 1926, his slot machine operations alone grossed over $1,000,000.00 a year, at a time when a gallon of gas cost eight cents.
They were unusual gangsters. When the Klu Klux Klan, then at the height of its power, threatened the life of a priest who had befriended the gang, Tommy Touhy, Roger's older brother, the real "Terrible Touhy," broke into the Klan's national headquarters, stole its membership roles, and, despite an offer of $25,000 to return them, delivered the list to the priest who published the names in several Catholic newspapers the following day.
Once, Touhy unthinkingly released several thousand gallons of putrid sour mash in to the Des Plains River one day before the city was to reenact its discovery by canoe-riding Jesuits a hundred years before. After a dressing down by the towns people Touhy spent $10,000.00 on perfume and doused the river with it, saving the day.
They were inventive too. When the Chicago police levied a 50% protection tax on Touhy's beer, Touhy bought a fleet of Esso gasoline delivery trucks, kept the Esso logo on the vehicles, and delivered his booze to his speakeasies that way.
In 1930, when Capone invaded the labor rackets, the union bosses, mostly Irish and completely corrupt, turned to the Touhy organization for protection. The intermittent gun battles between the Tuohy’s and the Capone mob over control of beer routes which had been fought on the empty, back roads of rural Cook County, was now brought into the city where street battles extracted an awesome toll on both sides. The Chicago Tribune estimated the casualties to be one hundred dead in less than 12 months.
By the winter of 1933, remarkably, Touhy was winning the war in large part because joining him in the struggle against the mob was Chicago's very corrupt, newly elected mayor Anthony "Ten percent Tony" Cermak, who was as much a gangster as he was an elected official.
Cermak threw the entire weight of his office and the whole Chicago police force behind Touhy's forces. Eventually, two of Cermak's police bodyguards arrested Frank Nitti, the syndicate's boss, and, for a price, shot him six times. Nitti lived. As a result, two months later Nitti's gunmen caught up with Cermak at a political rally in Florida.
Using previously overlooked Secret Service reports, this book proves, for the first time, that the mob stalked Cermak and used a hardened felon to kill him. The true story behind the mob's 1933 murder of Anton Cermak, will changes histories understanding of organized crimes forever. The fascinating thing about this killing is its eerie similarity to the Kennedy assassination in Dallas thirty years later, made even more macabre by the fact that several of the names associated with the Cermak killing were later aligned with the Kennedy killing.
For many decades, it was whispered that the mob had executed Cermak for his role in the Touhy-syndicate war of 1931-33, but there was never proof. The official story is that a loner named Giuseppe Zangara, an out-of-work, Sicilian born drifter with communist leanings, traveled to Florida in the winter of 1933 and fired several shots at President Franklin Roosevelt. He missed the President, but killed Chicago's Mayor Anton Cermak instead. However, using long lost documents, Tuohy is able to prove that Zangara was a convicted felon with long ties to mob Mafia and that he very much intended to murder Anton Cermak.
With Cermak dead, Touhy was on his own against the mob. At the same time, the United States Postal Service was closing in on his gang for pulling off the largest mail heists in US history at that time. The cash was used to fund Touhy's war with the Capone’s. Then in June of 1933, John Factor en he reappeared, Factor accused Roger Touhy of kidnapping him. After two sensational trials, Touhy was convicted of kidnapping John Factor and sentenced to 99 years in prison and Factor, after a series of complicated legal maneuvers, and using the mob's influence, was allowed to remain in the United States as a witness for the prosecution, however, he was still a wanted felon in England.
By 1942 Roger Touhy had been in prison for nine years, his once vast fortune was gone. Roger's family was gone as well. At his request, his wife Clara had moved to Florida with their two sons in 1934. However, with the help of Touhy's remaining sister, the family retained a rumpled private detective, actually a down-and-out, a very shady and disbarred mob lawyer named Morrie Green.
Disheveled of not, Green was a highly competent investigator and was able to piece together and prove the conspiracy that landed Touhy in jail. However, no court would hear the case, and by the fall of 1942, Touhy had exhausted every legal avenue open to him. Desperate, Touhy hatched a daring daylight breakout over the thirty foot walls of Stateville Prison. The sensational escape ended three months later in a dramatic and bloody shootout between the convicts and the FBI, led by J. Edgar Hoover.
Less than three months after Touhy was captured, Fox Studios hired producer Brian Foy to churn out a mob financed docudrama film on the escape entitled, "Roger Touhy, The Last Gangster." The executive producer on the film was Johnny Roselli, the hood who later introduced Judy Campbell to Frank Sinatra. Touhy sued Fox and eventually won his case and the film was withdrawn from circulation. In 1962, Columbia pictures and John Houston tried to produce a remake of the film, but were scared off the project.
While Touhy was on the run from prison, John Factor was convicted for m ail fraud and was sentenced and served ten years at hard labor. Factor's take from the scam was $10,000,000.00 in cash.
Released in 1949, Factor took control of the Stardust Hotel Casino in 1955, then the largest operation on the Vegas strip. The casino's true owners, of course, were Chicago mob bosses Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo, Murray Humpreys and Sam Giancana. From 1955 to 1963, the length of Factor's tenure at the casino, the US Justice Department estimated that the Chicago outfit skimmed between forty-eight to 200 million dollars from the Stardust alone.
In 1956, while Factor and the outfit were growing rich off the Stardust, Roger Touhy hired a quirky, high strung, but highly effective lawyer named Robert B. Johnstone to take his case. A brilliant legal tactician, who worked incessantly on Touhy's freedom, Robert Johnstone managed to get Touhy's case heard before federal judge John P. Barnes, a refined magistrate filled with his own eccentricities. After two years of hearings, Barnes released a 1,500-page decision on Touhy's case, finding that Touhy was railroaded to prison in a conspiracy between the mob and the state attorney's office and that John Factor had kidnapped himself as a means to avoid extradition to England.
Released from prison in 1959, Touhy wrote his life story "The Stolen Years" with legendary Chicago crime reporter, Ray Brennan. It was Brennan, as a young cub reporter, who broke the story of John Dillenger's sensational escape from Crown Point prison, supposedly with a bar of soap whittled to look like a pistol. It was also Brennan who brought about the end of Roger Touhy's mortal enemy, "Tubbo" Gilbert, the mob owned chief investigator for the Cook County state attorney's office, and who designed the frame-up that placed Touhy behind bars.
Factor entered a suit against Roger Touhy, his book publishers and Ray Brennan, claiming it damaged his reputation as a "leading citizen of Nevada and a philanthropist."
The teamsters, Factor's partners in the Stardust Casino, refused to ship the book and Chicago's bookstore owners were warned by Tony Accardo, in person, not to carry the book.
Touhy and Johnstone fought back by drawing up the papers to enter a $300,000,000 lawsuit against John Factor, mob leaders Paul Ricca, Tony Accardo and Murray Humpreys as well as former Cook County state attorney Thomas Courtney and Tubbo Gilbert, his chief investigator, for wrongful imprisonment.
The mob couldn't allow the suit to reach court, and considering Touhy's determination, Ray Brennan's nose for a good story and Bob Johnstone's legal talents, there was no doubt the case would make it to court. If the case went to court, John Factor, the outfit's figurehead at the lucrative Stardust Casino, could easily be tied in to illegal teamster loans. At the same time, the McClellan committee was looking into the ties between the teamsters, Las Vegas and organized crime and the raid at the mob conclave in New York State had awakened the FBI and brought them into the fight. So, Touhy's lawsuit was, in effect, his death sentence.
Twenty-five days after his release from twenty-five years in prison, Roger Touhy was gunned down on a frigid December night on his sister's front door.
Two years after Touhy's murder, in 1962, Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered his Justice Department to look into the highly suspect dealings of the Stardust Casino. Factor was still the owner on record, but had sold his interest in the casino portion of the hotel for a mere 7 million dollars. Then, in December of that year, the INS, working with the FBI on Bobby Kennedy's orders, informed Jake Factor that he was to be deported from the United States before the end of the month. Factor would be returned to England where he was still a wanted felon as a result of his 1928 stock scam. Just 48 hours before the deportation, Factor, John Kennedy's largest single personal political contributor, was granted a full and complete Presidential pardon which allowed him to stay in the United States.
The story hints that Factor was more than probably an informant for the Internal Revenue Service, it also investigates the murky world of Presidential pardons, the last imperial power of the Executive branch. It's a sordid tale of abuse of privilege, the mob's best friend and perhaps it is time the American people reconsider the entire notion.
The mob wasn't finished with Factor. Right after his pardon, Factor was involved in a vague, questionable financial plot to try and bail teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa out of his seemingly endless financial problems in Florida real estate. He was also involved with a questionable stock transaction with mobster Murray Humpreys. Factor spent the remaining twenty years of his life as a benefactor to California's Black ghettos. He tried, truly, to make amends for all of the suffering he had caused in his life. He spent millions of dollars building churches, gyms, parks and low cost housing in the poverty stricken ghettos. When he died, three United States Senators, the Mayor of Los Angles and several hundred poor Black waited in the rain to pay their last respects at Jake the Barber's funeral.
Interesting Information on A Little Known Case
By Bill Emblom
Author John Tuohy, who has a similar spelling of the last name to his subject Roger, but apparently no relation, has provided us with an interesting story of northwest Chicago beer baron Roger Touhy who was in competition with Al Capone during Capone's heyday. Touhy appeared to be winning the battle since Mayor Anton Cermak was deporting a number of Capone's cronies. However, the mob hit, according to the author, on Mayor Cermak in Miami, Florida, by Giuseppe Zangara following a speech by President-elect Roosevelt, put an end to the harrassment of Capone's cronies. The author details the staged "kidnapping" of Jake "the Barber" Factor who did this to avoid being deported to England and facing a prison sentence there for stock swindling, with Touhy having his rights violated and sent to prison for 25 years for the kidnapping that never happened. Factor and other Chicago mobsters were making a lot of money with the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas when they got word that Touhy was to be parolled and planned to write his life story. The mob, not wanting this, decided Touhy had to be eliminated. Touhy was murdered by hit men in 1959, 28 days after gaining his freedom. Jake Factor had also spent time in prison in the United States for a whiskey swindle involving 300 victims in 12 states. Two days before Factor was to be deported to England to face prison for the stock swindle President Kennedy granted Factor a full Presidential Pardon after Factor's contribution to the Bay of Pigs fund. President Kennedy, the author notes, issued 472 pardons (about half questionable) more than any president before or since.
There are a number of books on Capone and the Chicago mob. This book takes a look at an overlooked beer baron from that time period, Roger Touhy. It is a very worthwhile read and one that will hold your interest.
GREAT BOOK FROM CHICAGO AND ERA WAS MY DAD'S,TRUE TO STORY
Very good book. Hard to put down
Eight long years locked up for a kidnapping that was in fact a hoax, in autumn 1942, Roger Touhy & his gang of cons busted out of Stateville, the infamous "roundhouse" prison, southwest of Chicago Illinois. On the lam 2 months he was, when J Edgar & his agents sniffed him out in a run down 6-flat tenement on the city's far north lakefront. "Terrible Roger" had celebrated Christmas morning on the outside - just like all square Johns & Janes - but by New Year's Eve, was back in the bighouse.
Touhy's arrest hideout holds special interest to me because I grew up less than a mile away from it. Though I never knew so til 1975 when his bio was included in hard-boiled crime chronicler Jay Robert Nash's, Badmen & Bloodletters, a phone book sized encyclopedia of crooks & killers. Touhy's hard scrabble charisma stood out among 200 years' worth of sociopathic Americana Nash had alphabetized, and gotten a pulphouse publisher to print up for him.
I read Nash's outlaw dictionary as a teen, and found Touhy's Prohibition era David vs Goliath battles with ultimate gangster kingpin, Al Capone quite alluring, in an anti-hero sorta way. Years later I learned Touhy had written a memoir, and reading his The Stolen Years only reinforced my image of an underdog speakeasy beer baron - slash suburban family man - outwitting the stone cold killer who masterminded the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
Like most autobiographies tho, Touhy's book painted him the good guy. Just an everyday gent caught up in events, and he sold his story well. Had I been a saloonkeeper back then I could picture myself buying his sales pitch - and liking the guy too. I sure bought into his tale, which in hindsight criminal scribe Nash had too, because both writers portray Touhy - though admittedly a crook - as never "really" hurting anybody. Only doing what any down-to-earth bootlegger running a million dollar/year criminal enterprise would have.
What Capone's Mob Murdered Roger Touhy author John Tuohy does tho is, provide a more objective version of events, balancing out Touhy's white wash ... 'er ... make that subjectively ... remembered telling of his life & times. Author Tuohy's account of gangster Touhy's account forced me - grown up now - to re-account for my own original take on the story.
As a kid back then, Touhy seemed almost a Robin Hood- ish hood - if you'll pardon a very lame pun. Forty years on tho re-considering the evidence, I think a persuasive - if not iron-clad convincing - case can be made for his conviction in the kidnapping of swindler scumbag Jake the Barber Factor. At least as far as conspiracy to do so goes, anyways. (Please excuse the crude redundancy there but Factor's stench truly was that of the dog s*** one steps in on those unfortunate occasions one does.)
Touhy's memoir painted himself as almost an innocent bystander at his own life's events. But he was a very smart & savvy guy - no dummy by a long shot. And I kinda do believe now, to not have known his own henchmen were in on Factor's ploy to stave off deportation and imprisonment, Touhy would have had to be as naive a Prohibition crime boss - and make no mistake he was one - as I was as a teenage kid reading Nash's thug-opedia,
On the other hand, the guy was the father of two sons and it's repulsive to consider he would have taken part in loathsomeness the crime of kidnapping was - even if the abducted victim was an adult and as repulsively loathsome as widows & orphans conman, Jake Factor.
This book's target audience is crime buffs no doubt, but it's an interesting read just the same; and includes anecdotes and insights I had not known of before. Unfortunately too, one that knocks a hero of mine down a peg or two - or more like ten.
Circa 1960, President Kennedy pardoned Jake the Barber, a fact that reading of almost made me puke. Then again JFK and the Chicago Mob did make for some strange bedfellowery every now & again. I'll always admire WWII US Navy commander Kennedy's astonishing (word chosen carefully) bravery following his PT boat's sinking, but him signing that document - effectively wiping Factor's s*** stain clean - as payback for campaign contributions Factor made to him, was REALLY nauseating to read.
Come to think of it tho, the terms "criminal douchedog" & "any political candidate" are pretty much interchangeable.
Anyways tho ... rest in peace Rog, & I raise a toast - of virtual bootleg ale - in your honor: "Turns out you weren't the hard-luck mug I'd thought you were, but what the hell, at least you had style." And guts to meet your inevitable end with more grace than a gangster should.
Post Note: Author Tuohy's re-examination of the evidence in the Roger Touhy case does include some heroes - guys & women - who attempted to find the truth of what did happen. Reading about people like that IS rewarding. They showed true courage - and decency - in a world reeking of corruption & deceit. So, here's to the lawyer who took on a lost cause; the private detective who dug up buried facts; and most of all, Touhy's wife & sister who stood by his side all those years.
Crime don't pay, kids
Very good organized crime book. A rather obscure gangster story which makes it fresh to read. I do not like these minimum word requirements for a review. (There, I have met my minimum)
Chicago Gangster History At It's Best
As a 4th generation Chicagoan, I just loved this book. Growing up in the 1950's and 60's I heard the name "Terrible Touhy's" mentioned many times. Roger was thought of as a great man, and seems to have been held in high esteem among the old timer Chicagoans.
That said, I thought this book to be nothing but interesting and well written. (It inspired me to find a copy of Roger's "Stolen Years" bio.) I do recommend this book to other folks interested in prohibition/depression era Chicago crime research. It is a must have for your library of Gangsters literature from that era. Chock full of information and the reader is transported back in time.
I'd like to know just what is "The Valley" area today in Chicago. I still live in the Windy City and would like to see if anything remains from the early days of the 20th century.
A good writer and a good book! I will buy some more of Mr. Tuohy's work.
Great story, great read
A complex tale of gangsters, political kickback, mob wars and corrupt politicians told with wit and humor at a good pace. Highly recommend this book.
One of the best books I've read in a long time....
If you're into mafioso, read this! I loved it. Bought a copy for my brother to read for his birthday--good stuff.
GUNS AND GLAMOUR
Capone. Torrio. Ricca. Giancana and Accardo. The giant legends of organized crime that led the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, and near completely documented organized crime syndicate in the world. At the height of its power, the Chicago mobs influence extended from Lake Shore Drive to the beaches of Havana, the neon lights of Vegas and the heroin drenched back alleys of Hanoi. The years 1900 through 1959 are largely considered the Golden Age for the Chicago mob. The end came with the accession of Sam “Momo” Giancana to the criminal throne that Big Jim Colosimo had founded. Flashy, arrogant and dangerous, Giancana’s rise to the leadership of the Chicago Mob was paralleled by the federal government’s assault on organized crime. By 1980, the Chicago mob has lost control of the organized labor on a national basis and given up Las Vegas Las Vegas. Virtually every significant Mafia Boss in the country was in jail or under indictment and Sam Giancana was shot dead by his own men. The so-called Golden Age of Chicago Mob had ended. Between 1900 and 1959, fifty-nine years, only seven Bosses led the Chicago Mob. Between 1963 and 2000, thirty-seven years, there were more than nine Bosses in rapid succession. All except one of them…the indomitable Tony Accardo…died in jail or under federal and state indictment. While the Chicago Mob still wields considerable criminal, financial, and political influence, it is a mere shadow of what it once was. With increased pressure from far reaching RICO laws, the constant surveillance of a well-informed and effective federal organized crime task force and increased competition from equally ruthless and ambitious new ethnic mobs, there is little chance it will ever reemerge as the awesome power it once was.
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Amazon review: I heard a lot about Chicago mafia and I think it very interesting theme and I read few books but those books were so hard to read (!): small font, a lot of slangs, hard spelling words! But John Tuohy's book not like that!!! It's easy to read(and I'm not saying it written poor or anything), what I mean is for the person who doesn't know much about the mafia world this book is really helps to understand all the details, I would say to see the whole picture!!! This book is really interesting and helpful!
It also has a lot of photographs which makes the book even better!
I wish there would be more writers like John Tuohy who makes the books more interesting and cognitive!
Amazon review: Mr. Tuohy, has out done himself with this prized piece of literary work! Since I'm a Chicagoan, born and raised for 40 years, some of them on the very same streets where some of the Outfit's associates and higher-ups lived, and after the first few pages I'm hooked. His writing style to me is very easy to digest, and his photos are spectacular, either due to it's rarity or the person being photo, alot of these Outfit bosses/hitman didn't like to be photographed, and believe me, they made sure that you knew it. To take the Chicago Outfit and write about the ups and downs the Organization went through during this 100 year time frame is an amazing feat. You get some real good stories, written without an agenda, just to get the information out to the public. A brilliant topic which was handled with care and dignity by Mr.Tuohy, as I'm finding out is the case in ALL OF HIS BOOKS, be they organized crime or based on something else. Get if a try, you'll end up buying more than the one book, betcha you can't read just one!!!
An interesting book about the history of the Chicago mob. It highlights the legends of the Chicago mob in the 1900s. Any fan of the Chicago mob should add this to their collection.
The Mob and the Kennedy Assassination: Jack Ruby. Testimony by Mobsters Lewis McWillie, Joseph Campisi and Irwin Weiner (The Mob Files) Kindle Edition
From the Inside Flap
The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was established in 1976 to investigate the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the shooting of Alabama Governor George Wallace. The Committee investigated until 1978 and issued its final report, and ruled that Kennedy was very likely assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. However, the Committee noted that it believed that the conspiracy did not include the governments of the Soviet Union or Cuba.
The Committee also stated it did not believe the conspiracy was organized by any organized crime group, nor any anti-Castro group, but that it could not rule out individual members of any of those groups acting together.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations suffered from being conducted mostly in secret, and then issued a public report with much of its evidence sealed for 50 years under Congressional rules.
In 1992, Congress passed legislation to collect and open up all the evidence relating to Kennedy's death, and created the Assassination Records Review Board to further that goal.
In particular, the various investigations performed by the U.S. government were faulted for insufficient consideration of the possibility of a conspiracy in each case. The Committee in its report also made recommendations for legislative and administrative improvements, including making some assassinations Federal crimes.
The Chief Counsel of the Committee later changed his views that the CIA was being cooperative and forthcoming with the investigation when he learned that the CIA's special liaison to the Committee researchers, George Joannides, was actually involved with some of the organizations that Lee Harvey Oswald was involved with in the months leading up to the assassination, including an anti-Castro group, the DRE, which was linked to the CIA, where the liaison, Joannides, worked in 1963.
Chief Counsel Blakey later stated that Joannides, instead, should have been interviewed by the Committee, rather than serving as a gatekeeper to the CIA's evidence and files regarding the assassination. He further disregarded and suspected all the CIA's statements and representations to the Committee, accusing it of obstruction of justice.
Conclusions regarding the Kennedy assassination
The HSCA concluded in its 1979 report that:
1.Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot Oswald fired successfully killed the President.
2.Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that at least two gunmen fired at the President. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations.
3.The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of the conspiracy. The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Cuban Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that anti-Castro Cuban groups, as groups, were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the national syndicate of organized crime, as a group, was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Central Intelligence Agency were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
4. Agencies and departments of the U.S. Government performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfilment of their duties. President John F. Kennedy did not receive adequate protection. A thorough and reliable investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination was conducted. The investigation into the possibility of conspiracy in the assassination was inadequate. The conclusions of the investigations were arrived at in good faith, but presented in a fashion that was too definitive.
The Committee further concluded that it was probable that:
Four shots were fired. The third shot came from a second assassin located on the grassy knoll, but missed. They concluded that it missed due to the lack of physical evidence of an actual bullet, of course this investigation took place almost sixteen years after the crime.
The HSCA agreed with the single bullet theory, but concluded that it occurred at a time point during the assassination that differed from any of the several time points the Warren Commission theorized it occurred.
The Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, and the Warren Commission were all criticized for not revealing to the Warren Commission information available in 1964, and the Secret Service was deemed deficient in their protection of the President.
The HSCA made several accusations of deficiency against the FBI and CIA.
The accusations encompassed organizational failures, miscommunication, and a desire to keep certain parts of their operations secret. Furthermore, the Warren Commission expected these agencies to be forthcoming with any information that would aid their investigation. But the FBI and CIA only saw it as their duty to respond to specific requests for information from the commission. However, the HSCA found the FBI and CIA were deficient in performing even that limited role.
In 2003, Robert Blakey, staff director and chief counsel for the Committee, issued a statement on the Central Intelligence Agency:
...I no longer believe that we were able to conduct an appropriate investigation of the [Central Intelligence] Agency and its relationship to Oswald.... We now know that the Agency withheld from the Warren Commission the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro. Had the commission known of the plots, it would have followed a different path in its investigation. The Agency unilaterally deprived the commission of a chance to obtain the full truth, which will now never be known. Significantly, the Warren Commission's conclusion that the agencies of the government co-operated with it is, in retrospect, not the truth. We also now know that the Agency set up a process that could only have been designed to frustrate the ability of the committee in 1976-79 to obtain any information that might adversely affect the Agency. Many have told me that the culture of the Agency is one of prevarication and dissimulation and that you cannot trust it or its people. Period. End of story. I am now in that camp.
The Kefauver Organized Crime Hearings. Abridged.
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Amazon review: Senator Kefauver is a great person! The committee did a amazingly great job investigating organized crime in different cities, the same as the author did putting it all together in one book!!It was really interesting to read this record! I felt like I was there in a court room! Seriously, very impressive!
Amazon review: It's great that we have such a great historical document in print! Senator Kefauver and the committee investigate Organized Crime all over the country: Miami, NY, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Kansas city, etc. This record has many interviews with mafia leaders. Rare and great photographs! It's one of the best criminal books I ever read! I would highly recommend it to anyone!
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Amazon review: "Shooting the Mob: Organized Crime in photos, Crime Boss Tony Accardo" was a welcomed addition to my book collection. For one thing, not much is written about ,"the Big Tuna", Tony Accardo; the Chicago Outfit's "man of many talents", let alone any photos. This book gives the reader a chance to gain some knowledge on the amazing Outfit boss/consigliere, that might not otherwise be available.
For me, it was a must for my collection; not to give too much away, but there are photos and personal information about the life and times of Anthony "JB" Accardo; from his days hanging around the "Circus Cafe" with "Tough" Tony Capezio, John "Screwey" Moore and "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, to catching "the Big Guy's",attention, "Snorky" who then had him sitting in the lobby of his hotels with a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun on guard duty!
Things just kept getting better for the capable "Joe Batters"!!
Mob Testimony: Joe Pistone, Michael Scars DiLeonardo, Angelo Lonardo and others: The court testimony of FBI New York Undercover Agent Joe Pistone
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Amazon review: What I loved about this book is that even though its mostly testimony before government investigative inquires, you can sense the hood attitudes and their arrogance. This is the real mob talking about everyday life as a gangster. Good stuff
Amazon review: This is the story of gangland told in the federal testimony of the hoodlum who decided to talk about life in the underworld. Although some Chicago gangsters are included in the text and photos (Lots of photos here) the concentration is on the New York mob.
An Illustrated Chronological History of the Chicago Mob. Time Line. 1837-2000 K
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Amazon review: Love the pictures in the book, some of them I've not seen before. This is a good outline for what one needs to know about the rise and fall of what was once a mighty underworld mob.
Amazon review: Pretty good outline in photos and text of the Chicago Outfit from start to what is basically its finish, the last year of the 20th century.
The New England Mafia.
Amazon review: Good book about the New England mafia with some nice rare pictures
Amazon review: Coming from RI - The book was great
Amazon review: This held my interest, read it in two sittings, quite late at night. Most of the main characters were familiar to me, being a born and bred New Englander, got a kick out of some of the descriptions. A good easy read with lots of history and Mafia insight.
Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobsters in Photos Paperback – December 20, 2011
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Amazon review: This is a funny book, okay a little bloody in places but believe it or not, the recipes are actually pretty good and there are several good stories about mobsters and meals. The mob stories are mixed with authentic Italian recipes and other Outfit anecdotes and all of it makes for fun reading and actually some pretty good cooking.(Including the meat sauce recipe from the prison scene in "Gooodfellas") Most of the recipes are very simple fare, quick to make and include classic dishes like Shrimp Scampi, a simple Tomato Sauce, Veal Piccata, Asparagus with Prosciutto, Baked Stuffed Clams, Veal Chops Milanese, Caponata and Lobster. The book has about 50 something photos of dead mobsters followed by a recipe. The bloody scenes aside, this book would make compliment most cooking libraries and will works especially well for the novice cook.
Shooting the Mob: Organized Crime in Photos: The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. Paperback – December 7, 2011
by Shadrach Bond
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Amazon review: A detailed photographic account of the murders that shocked the underworld, the St. Valentine's Day massacre. The author tells the story of what happened and how it happened on that fateful day for the Northside gang and demonstrates with photos. Good book.
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Amazon review: Dutch Schultz continues to capture and fascinate and his story, including his last words, are detailed here with dozens of photographs from Schultz early days in crime until the bitter end.
Amazon review: Dutch Schultz (Arthur Flegenheimer) was the problem child of organized crime in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket. The book gives a quick but accurate account of the Dutchman's rise and his battle in two tax evasions trials led by prosecutor Thomas Dewey. It covers his murder, probably on the orders of fellow mobster Lucky Luciano. In an effort to avert his conviction, Schultz asked the Commission for permission to kill Dewey, which they declined. After Schultz disobeyed the Commission and attempted to carry out the hit, they ordered his assassination in 1935. The book has a very fine series of photographs. Good reading at a fair price.
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Amazon review: This book covers the full gamut of gangsters with many excellent photos. The story accompanying each slain hoodlum varies from a few pages to one or two lines. The book suffers from atrocious editing of the text. Words are frequently mispelled or missing, sentences often end half way through only to resume as a new sentence and paragraphs sometimes end midsentence. There are also no sources for anything. If not for this, the book would have received five stars.
Amazon review: There is no shortage of corpses in this book. Its page after page of dead hoodlums from the underworld with a passage on how they got that way and by whom. Gory but I must say, fascinating as the violence of the underworld so often is. The book is a guilty pleasure.
The Salerno Report. The Mafia and the Murder of President John F. Kennedy: The report by Mafia expert Ralph Salerno Consultant to the Select Committee on Assassinations
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Amazon review: A must read for anyone studying the Kennedy assassination. Among the many conspiracy theories is the possible involvement of Mafia. As we all know there are no definite conclusions, and history may never resolve the issue, but this report is engaging and captive reading.
Amazon review: The Salerno Report is far more accurate than the Warren Report
Amazon review: Evidence mounted in a certain direction. The truth is still discoverable, and this ghastly event in our history deserves still more examination. This book contributes to the eventual revelation of what really happened.
Rosenthal murder case
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"The old Metropole. The old Metropole," brooded Mr. Wolfshiem gloomily. "Filled with faces dead and gone. Filled with friends gone now forever. I can't forget so long as I live the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal there. It was six of us at the table, and Rosy had eat and drunk a lot all evening. When it was almost morning the waiter came up to him with a funny look and says somebody wants to speak to him
outside. 'all right,' says Rosy, and begins to get up, and I pulled him down in his chair. "'Let the bastards in here if they want you, Rosy, but don't you, so help me, move outside this room.' "It was four o'clock in the morning then, and if we'd of raised the blinds we'd of seen daylight."
"Did he go?" I asked innocently.
'Sure he went." Mr. Wolfshiem's nose flashed at me indignantly. "He turned around in the door and says: 'Don't let that waiter take away my coffee!' Then he went out on the sidewalk, and they shot him three times in his full belly and drove away."
"Four of them were electrocuted,"
I said, remembering. "Five, with Becker"
The Great Gatsby
Amazon review: The Becker-Rosenthal trial was a 1912 trial for the murder of Herman Rosenthal by Charles Becker and members of the Lenox Avenue Gang. The trial ran from October 7, 1912 to October 30, 1912 and restarted on May 2, 1914 to May 22, 1914. Other procedural events took place in 1915.
In July 1912, Lieutenant Charles Becker was named in the New York World as one of three senior police officials involved in the case of Herman Rosenthal, a small time bookmaker who had complained to the press that his illegal casinos had been badly damaged by the greed of Becker and his associates. On July 16, two days after the story appeared, Rosenthal walked out of the Hotel Metropole at 147 West 43rd Street, just off Times Square. He was gunned down by a crew of Jewish gangsters from the Lower East Side, Manhattan. In the aftermath, Manhattan District Attorney Charles S. Whitman, who had made an appointment with Rosenthal before his death, made no secret of his belief that the gangsters had committed the murder at Charles Becker's behest.
At first, John J. Reisler, also known as "John the barber," told the police that he'd seen "Bridgey" Webber running away from the crime scene directly following the killing. He recanted under duress from gangsters the next week, and was charged with perjury.
The investigation was covered on the front page of the New York Times for months. It was so complex that the NYPD recalled thirty retired detectives to help investigate; they were said "to know most of the gangsters."
One of these old-timers, Detective Upton, formerly of the NYPD "Italian Squad," was instrumental in the July 25, 1912, arrest of "Dago" Frank Cirofici, one of the suspected killers. He and his companion, Regina Gorden (formerly known as "Rose Harris"), were "so stupefied by opium that they offered no objection to their arrests," according to the New York Times.
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Review: Any book about Joe Petrosino can't be all bad. Far too little attention is paid to Petrosino these days. The foolish Public remembers names of scumbags like Capone, Gotti, Valachi, Tony Soprano, etc. Far too few people remember New York Cop Joe Petrosino. In a time when Italians were segregated, harassed by Cops and treated as second class citizens, Petrosino arose as the first Italian anti-gangster Cop. Then, as now, gangsters claimed they were the victims of prejudice, discrimination and profiling. Petrosino rose above his times to become a Pioneer in anti-Mafia police work. Tough as nails, un-corruptible, and utterly fearless, Petrosino was assassinated by the Mafia in their usual cowardly style.
Review: This book is a welcome bit of scholarship on the great Petrosino. Tuohy's book does contain an, apparent, misprint. There is a lone word, without authority, regarding Petrosino being "corrupt," perhaps a reference to his tough police tactics. Corruption, however, implies a personal power or profit motive. Tuohy provides no evidence or argument of any such motive or activity on Petrosino's part. On the contrary, the only evidence is that Petrosino was a good, honest Cop. Petrosino is a role model for young and old alike, oppressed immigrants, and even whining minority gangsters and their sympathizers, such as Sharpton, Obama, Jackson, and Holder.
Review: I have several books from The Mob Files Series and I have really enjoyed reading them. The Joe Petrosino story is definitely one worth reading. He had an interesting life working against the mafia. I enjoyed seeing the pictures in the book and they helped bring the story to life.
HERE'S MY LATEST BOOKS.....
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
The Valley Lives
By Marion Marchetto, author of The Bridgewater Chronicles on October 15, 2015
Short Stores from a Small Town is set in The Valley (known to outsiders as The Lower Naugatuck Valley) in Connecticut. While the short stories are contemporary they provide insight into the timeless qualities of an Industrial Era community and the values and morals of the people who live there. Some are first or second generation Americans, some are transplants, yet each takes on the mantle of Valleyite and wears it proudly. It isn't easy for an author to take the reader on a journey down memory lane and involve the reader in the life stories of a group of seemingly unrelated characters. I say seemingly because by book's end the reader will realize that he/she has done more than meet a group of loosely related characters.
We meet all of the characters during a one-day time period as each of them finds their way to the Valley Diner on a rainy autumn day. From our first meeting with Angel, the educationally challenged man who opens and closes the diner, to our farewell for the day to the young waitress whose smile hides her despair we meet a cross section of the Valley population. Rich, poor, ambitious, and not so ambitious, each life proves that there is more to it beneath the surface. And the one thing that binds these lives together is The Valley itself. Not so much a place (or a memory) but an almost palpable living thing that becomes a part of its inhabitants.
Let me be the first the congratulate author John William Tuohy on a job well done. He has evoked the heart of The Valley and in doing so brought to life the fabric that Valleyites wear as a mantle of pride. While set in a specific region of the country, the stories that unfold within the pages of this slim volume are similar to those that live in many a small town from coast to coast.
By Sandra Mendyk
Just read "Short Stories from a Small Town," and couldn't put it down! Like Mr. Tuohy's other books I read, they keep your interest, especially if you're from a small town and can relate to the lives of the people he writes about. I recommend this book for anyone interested in human interest stories. His characters all have a central place where the stories take place--a diner--and come from different walks of life and wrestle with different problems of everyday life. Enjoyable and thoughtful.
I loved how the author wrote about "his people"
A touching thoughtful book. I loved how the author wrote about "his people", the people he knew as a child from his town. It is based on sets of time in the local diner, breakfast , lunch and dinner, but time stands still ... Highly recommend !
WONDERFUL book, I loved it!
By John M. Cribbins
What wonderful stories...I just loved this book.... It is great how it is written following, breakfast, lunch, dinner, at a diner. Great characters.... I just loved it....
Amazon review: I purchased this book for my daughter who loves Emerson. The quotes are organized in categories and are easy to find and read. The book includes the most memorable quotes of Emerson and my daughter loves it.
Amazon review: This is really enjoyable to read and I like how it is done and you can look up all sorts of things. I have shared some of Emerson's quotes from this book on my website right from this book, giving him credit.
Amazon review: Made me hungry for more!!
Amazon review: It's a keeper!
An award winning full length play.
"Cyberdate.Com is the story of six ordinary people in search of romance, friendship and love and find it in very extraordinary ways. Based on the real life experiences of the authors misadventures with on line dating, Cyber date is a bittersweet story that will make you laugh, cry and want to fall in love again." Ellis McKay
Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play. The play was also given a full reading at The Frederick Playhouse in Maryland in March of 2007.
OTHER PLAYS BY JOHN WILLIAM TUOHY............................
BOOKS ABOUT FILM BY JOHN WILLIAM TUOHY
To read the first 12 chapters of this book, visit it's BlogSpot @ amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/
Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
I am here because I worked too hard and too long not to be here. But although I told the university that I would walk across the stage to take my diploma, I won't. At age fifty-seven, I'm too damned old, and I'd look ridiculous in this crowd. From where I'm standing in the back of the hall, I can see that I am at least two decades older than most of the parents of these kids in their black caps and gowns.
So I'll graduate with this class, but I won't walk across the stage and collect my diploma with them; I'll have the school send it to my house. I only want to hear my name called. I'll imagine what the rest would have been like. When you've had a life like mine, you learn to do that, to imagine the good things.
The ceremony is about to begin. It's a warm June day and a hallway of glass doors leading to the parking lot are open, the dignitaries march onto the stage, a janitor slams the doors shut, one after the other.
That banging sound.
It's Christmas Day 1961 and three Waterbury cops are throwing their bulk against our sorely overmatched front door. They are wearing their long woolen blue coats and white gloves and they swear at the cold.
They've finally come for us, in the dead of night, to take us away, just as our mother said they would.
"They'll come and get you kids," she screamed at us, "and put youse all in an orphanage where you'll get the beatin's youse deserve, and there won't be no food either."
That's why we're terrified, that's why we don't open the door and that's how I remember that night. I was six years old then, one month away from my seventh birthday. My older brother, the perpetually-worried, white-haired Paulie, was ten. He is my half-brother, actually, although I have never thought of him that way. He was simply my brother. My youngest brother, Denny, was six; Maura, the baby, was four; and Bridget, our auburn-haired leader, my half -sister, was twelve.
We didn't know where our mother was. The welfare check, and thank God for it, had arrived, so maybe she was at a gin mill downtown spending it all, as she had done a few times before.
Maybe she'd met yet another guy, another barfly, who wouldn't be able to remember our names because his beer-soaked brain can't remember anything. We are thankful that he'll disappear after the money runs out or the social worker lady comes around and tells him he has to leave because the welfare won't pay for him as well as for us. It snowed that day and after the snow had finished falling, the temperature dropped and the winds started.
"Maybe she went to Brooklyn," Paulie said, as we walked through the snow to the Salvation Army offices one that afternoon before the cops came for us.
"She didn't go back to New York," Bridget snapped. "She probably just--"
"She always says she gonna leave and go back home to Brooklyn," I interrupted.
"Yeah," Denny chirped, mostly because he was determined to be taken as our equal in all things, including this conversation.
We walked along in silence for a second, kicking the freshly fallen snow from our paths, and then Paulie added what we were all thinking: "Maybe they put her back in Saint Mary's."
No one answered him. Instead, we fell into our own thoughts, recalling how, several times in the past, when too much of life came at our mother at once, she broke down and lay in bed for weeks in a dark room, not speaking and barely eating. It was a frightening and disturbing thing to watch.
"It don't matter," Bridget snapped again, more out of exhaustion than anything else. She was always cranky. The weight of taking care of us, and of being old well before her time, strained her. "It don't matter," she mumbled.
It didn't matter that night either, that awful night, when the cops were at the door and she wasn't there. We hadn't seen our mother for two days, and after that night, we wouldn't see her for another two years.
When we returned home that day, the sun had gone down and it was dark inside the house because we hadn't paid the light bill. We never paid the bills, so the lights were almost always off and there was no heat because we didn't pay that bill either. And now we needed the heat. We needed the heat more than we needed the lights.
The cold winter winds pushed up at us from the Atlantic Ocean and down on us from frigid Canada and battered our part of northwestern Connecticut, shoving freezing drifts of snow against the paper-thin walls of our ramshackle house and covering our windows in a thick veneer of silver-colored ice.
The house was built around 1910 by the factories to house immigrant workers mostly brought in from southern Italy. These mill houses weren't built to last. They had no basements; only four windows, all in the front; and paper-thin walls. Most of the construction was done with plywood and tarpaper. The interiors were long and narrow and dark.
Bridget turned the gas oven on to keep us warm. "Youse go get the big mattress and bring it in here by the stove," she commanded us. Denny, Paulie, and I went to the bed that was in the cramped living room and wrestled the stained and dark mattress, with some effort, into the kitchen. Bridget covered Maura in as many shirts as she could find, in a vain effort to stop the chills that racked her tiny and frail body and caused her to shake.
We took great pains to position the hulking mattress in exactly the right spot by the stove and then slid, fully dressed, under a pile of dirty sheets, coats, and drapes that was our blanket. We squeezed close to fend off the cold, the baby in the middle and the older kids at the ends.
"Move over, ya yutz, ya," Paulie would say to Denny and me because half of his butt was hanging out onto the cold linoleum floor. We could toss insults in Yiddish. We learned them from our mother, whose father was a Jew and who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in New York.
I assumed that those words we learned were standard American English, in wide and constant use across our great land. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties and moved from the Naugatuck Valley and Connecticut that I came to understand that most Americans would never utter a sentence like, "You and your fakakta plans".
We also spoke with the Waterbury aversion to the sound of the letter "T," replacing it with the letter "D," meaning that "them, there, those, and these" were pronounced "dem, dere, dose, and dese." We were also practitioners of "youse," the northern working-class equivalent to "you-all," as in "Are youse leaving or are youse staying?"
"Move in, ya yutz, ya," Paulie said again with a laugh, but we didn't move because the only place to move was to push Bridget off the mattress, which we were not about to do because Bridget packed a wallop that could probably put a grown man down. Then Paulie pushed us, and at the other end of the mattress, Bridget pushed back with a laugh, and an exaggerated, rear-ends pushing war for control of the mattress broke out.
From the Inside Flap
By Dr. Wm. Anthony Connolly
This incredible memoir, No Time to Say Goodbye, tells of entertaining angels, dancing with devils, and of the abandoned children many viewed simply as raining manna from some lesser god.
The young and unfortunate lives of the Tuohy bruins—sometimes Irish, sometimes Jewish, often Catholic, rambunctious, but all imbued with Lion’s hearts—told here with brutal honesty leavened with humor and laudable introspective forgiveness. The memoir will have you falling to your knees thanking that benevolent Irish cop in the sky, your lucky stars, or hugging the oxygen out of your own kids the fate foisted upon Johnny and his siblings does not and did not befall your own brood. John William Tuohy, a nationally-recognized authority on organized crime and Irish levity, is your trusted guide through the weeds the decades of neglect ensnared he and his brothers and sisters, all suffering for the impersonal and often mercenary taint of the foster care system. Theirs, and Tuohy’s, story is not at all figures of speech as this review might suggest, but all too real and all too sad, and maddening. I wanted to scream. I wanted to get into a time machine, go back and adopt every last one of them. I was angry. I was captivated. The requisite damning verities of foster care are all here, regretfully, but what sets this story above others is its beating heart, even a bruised and broken one, still willing to forgive and understand, and continue to aid its walking wounded. I cannot recommend this book enough.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
“I am here because I worked too hard and too long not to be here. But although I told the university that I would walk across the stage to take my diploma, I won’t. At age fifty-seven, I’m too damned old, and I’d look ridiculous in this crowd. From where I’m standing in the back of the hall, I can see that I am at least two decades older than most of the parents of these kids in their black caps and gowns.
So I’ll graduate with this class, but I won’t walk across the stage and collect my diploma with them; I’ll have the school send it to my house. I only want to hear my name called. I’ll imagine what the rest would have been like. When you’ve had a life like mine, you learn to do that, to imagine the good things.
The ceremony is about to begin. It’s a warm June day and a hallway of glass doors leading to the parking lot are open, the dignitaries march onto the stage, a janitor slams the doors shut, one after the other.
That banging sound.
It’s Christmas Day 1961 and three Waterbury cops are throwing their bulk against our sorely overmatched front door. They are wearing their long woolen blue coats and white gloves and they swear at the cold.
They’ve finally come for us, in the dead of night, to take us away, just as our mother said they would.”
“Otherwise, there were no long goodbyes or emotional scenes. That isn’t part of foster care. You just leave and you just die a little bit. Just a little bit because a little bit more of you understands that this is the way it’s going to be. And you grow hard around the edges, just a little bit. Not in some big way, but just a little bit because you have to, because if you don’t it only hurts worse the next time and a little bit more of you will die. And you don’t want that because you know that if enough little bits of you die enough times, a part of you leaves. Do you know what I mean? You’re still there, but a part of you leaves until you stand on the sidelines of life, simply watching, like a ghost that everyone can see and no one is bothered by. You become the saddest thing there is: a child of God who has given .”
“As I said, you die a little bit in foster care, but I spose we all die a little bit in our daily lives, no matter what path God has chosen for us. But there is always a balance to that sadness; there’s always a balance. You only have to look for it. And if you look for it, you’ll see it. I saw it in a well-meaning nun who wanted to share the joy of her life’s work with us. I saw it in an old man in a garden who shared the beauty of the soil and the joy he took in art, and I saw it in the simple decency and kindness of an underpaid nurse’s aide. Yeah. Great things rain on us. The magnificence of life’s affirmations are all around us, every day, everywhere. They usually go unnoticed because they seldom arrive with the drama and heartbreak of those hundreds of negative things that drain our souls. But yeah, it’s there, the good stuff, the stuff worth living for. You only have to look for it and when you see it, carry it around right there at your heart so it’s always there when you need it. And you’ll need it a lot, because life is hard.”
“As sad as I so often was, and I was often overwhelmed with sadness, I never admitted it, and I don’t recall ever having said aloud that I was sad. I tried not to think about it, about all the sad things, because I had this feeling that if I started to think about it, that was all I would ever think of again. I often had a nightmare of falling into a deep dark well that I could never climb out of. But then there was the other part of me that honestly believed I wasn’t sad at all, and I had little compassion for those who dwelled in sadness. Strange how that works. You would think that it would be the other way around.”
“In late October of 1962, it was our turn to go. Miss Hanrahan appeared in her state Ford Rambler, which, by that point, seemed more like a hearse than a nice lady’s car. Our belongings were packed in a brown bags. The ladies in the kitchen, familiar with our love of food, made us twelve fried-fish sandwiches each large enough to feed eight grown men and wrapped them in tinfoil for the ride ahead of us. Miss Louisa, drenched with tears, walked us to the car and before she let go of my hand she said, “When you a big, grown man, you come back and see Miss Louisa, you hear?”
“But,” I said, “you won’t know who I am. I’ll be big.”
“No, child,” she said as she gave me her last hug, “you always know forever the peoples you love. They with you forever. They don’t never leave you.”
She was right, of course. Those we love never leave us because we carry them with us in our hearts and a piece of us is within them. They change with us and they grow old with us and with time, they are a part of us, and thank God for that.”
“One day at the library I found a stack of record albums. I was hoping I’d find ta Beatles album, but it was all classical music so I reached for the first name I knew, Beethoven. I checked it out his Sixth Symphony and walked home. I didn’t own a record player and I don’t know why I took it out. I had Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony but nothing to play it on.”
“The next day, when I came home from the library, there was a small, used red record player in my room. I found my mother in the kitchen and spotted a bandage taped to her arm.
“Ma,” I asked. “Where did you get the money for the record player?”
“I had it saved,” she lied.
My father lived well, had a large house and an expensive imported car, wanted for little, and gave nothing. My mother lived on welfare in a slum and sold her blood to the Red Cross to get me a record player.
“Education is everything, Johnny,” she said, as she headed for the refrigerator to get me food. “You get smart like regular people and you don’t have to live like this no more.”
She and I were not hugging types, but I put my hand on her shoulder as she washed the dishes with her back to me and she said, in best Brooklynese, “So go and enjoy, already.” My father always said I was my mother’s son and I was proud of that. On her good days, she was a good and noble thing to be a part of.
That evening, I plugged in the red record player and placed it by the window. My mother and I took the kitchen chairs out to the porch and listened to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony from beginning to end, as we watched the oil-stained waters of the Mad River roll by. It was a good night, another good night, one of many that have blessed my life.”
“The next day I was driven to New York City to take the physical. It was one of the strangest things I’d ever seen. Several hundred young men, maybe even a thousand, in their skivvies, walking around an enormous room, all of us lost, dazed, and confused.
Some of these guys had dodged the draft and were there under the watchful eyes of dozens of federal marshals lined against one of the walls. After eight hours of being poked, prodded, stuck, and poked again, I was given a large red envelope. I had been rejected. I had the respiratory problems of an old man, high blood pressure, partial loss of hearing, very bad teeth, very flat, very wide feet and I tested positive for tuberculosis.
“Frankly,” the doctor said, “I don’t know how the hell you’re even standing ,” and that was when the sergeant told me that if they bottled everything that was wrong with me “we could take over the world without a shot.”
“I had decided that I wanted to earn my living as a writer and the only place in Waterbury where they paid you for writing was at the local newspaper. My opportunity came when the paper had an opening for a night janitor. Opportunities are easy to miss, because they don’t always show in their best clothes. Sometimes opportunities look like beggars in rags. After an eight-hour shift in the shop tossing thirty-pound crates I hustled to the newspaper building and cleaned toilets, with a vague plan that it would somehow lead to a reporter’s .”
“One Friday afternoon at the close of the working day the idiot bosses in their fucking ties and suit coats came and handed out pink slips to every other person on the floor. I got one. They were firing us. Then they turned and, without a word, went back to their offices. Corporate pricks.”
“There is a sense of danger in leaving what you know, even if what you know isn’t much. These mill towns with their narrow lanes and often narrow minds were all I really knew and I feared that if I left it behind, I would lose it and not find anything to replace it. The other reason I didn’t want to go was because I wanted to be the kind of person who stays, who builds a stable and predictable life. But I wasn’t one of the people, nor would I ever be.
I had a vision for my life. It wasn’t clear, but it was beautiful and involved leaving my history and my poverty behind me. I wasn’t happy about who I was or where I was, but I didn’t worry about it. It didn’t define me. We’re always in the making. God always has us on his anvil, melting, bending and shaping us for another purpose.
It was time to change, to find a new purpose.”
“I was tired of fighting the windstorm I was tossed into, and instead I would let go and ride with the winds of change. How bad could it be, compared to the life I knew? I was living life as if it were a rehearsal for the real thing. Another beginning might be rough at first, but any place worth getting to is going to have some problems. I wanted the good life, the life well lived, and you can’t buy that or marry into it. It’s there to be found, and it can be taken by those who want it and have the resolve to make it happen for themselves.”
“Imagine being beaten every day for something you didn’t do and yet, when it’s over, you keep on smiling. That’s what every day of Donald’s life was like. His death was a small death. No one mourned his passing; they merely agreed it was for the best that he be forgotten as quickly as possible, since his was a life misspent.”
“Then there are all of those children, the ones who aren’t resilient. The ones who slowly, quietly die. I think the difference is that the kids who bounce back learn to bear a little bit more than they thought they could, and they soon understand that the secret to surviving foster care is to accept finite disappointments while never losing infinite hope. I think that was how Donald survived as long as he did, by never losing his faith in the wish that tomorrow would be better. But as time went by, day after day, the tomorrows never got better; they got worse, and he simply gave. In the way he saw the world, pain was inevitable, but no one ever explained to him that suffering was optional.”
“In foster care it’s easier to measure what you’ve lost over what you have gained, because it there aren’t many gains in that life and you are a prisoner to someone else’s plans for your life.”
“I developed an interest in major league baseball and the 1960s were, as far as I’m concerned (with a nod to the Babe Ruth era of the 1920s), the Golden Age of Baseball. Like most people in the valley, I was a diehard Yankees fan and, in a pinch, a Mets fan. They were New York teams, and most New Englanders rooted for the Boston Red Sox, but our end of Connecticut was geographically and culturally closer to New York than Boston, and that’s where our loyalties went.
And what was not to love? The Yankees ruled the earth in those days. The great Roger Maris set one Major League record after another and even he was almost always one hit shy of Mickey Mantle, God on High of the Green Diamond.”
“For the first time in my life, I was eating well and from plates—glass plates, no less, not out of the frying pan because somebody lost all the plates in the last move. Now when we ate, we sat at a fine round oak table in sturdy chairs that matched. No one rushed through the meal or argued over who got the biggest portion, and we ate three times a day.”
“The single greatest influence in our lives was the church. The Catholic Church in the 1960s differs from what it is today, especially in the Naugatuck Valley, in those days an overwhelmingly conservative Catholic place.
I was part of what might have been the last generation of American Catholic children who completely and unquestioningly accepted the sernatural as real. Miracles happened. Virgin birth and transubstantiation made perfect sense. Mere humans did in fact, become saints. There was a Holy Ghost. Guardian angels walked beside us and our patron saints really did put in a good word for us every now and then.”
“Henry read it and said, “A story has to have three things. They are a beginning, a middle and an end. They don’t have to be in that order. You can start a story at the end or end it in the middle. There are no rules on that except where you, the author, decide to put all three parts. Your story has a beginning and an end. But it’s good. Go put in a middle and bring it back to me.”
I went away encouraged, rewrote the story and returned it to him two days later. Again he looked it over and said, “It’s a good story but it lacks a bullet-between-the-eyes opening. Your stories should always have a knock-’em-dead opening.” Then, looking with exaggerated suspicion around the crime-prone denizens of the room with an exaggerated suspicion, he said loudly, “I don’t mean that literally.”
“A few days after I began my short story, I returned to his desk and handed him my dates. He pushed his wire-rimmed reading glasses way on his nose and focused on the two pages. “Okay, you got a beginning; you got yourself a middle and an end. You got a wing-dinger opening line. But you don’t have an establishing paragraph. Do you know what that is?”
He didn’t wait for me to answer.
“It’s kinda like an outdated road map for the reader,” he said. “It gives the reader a general idea of where you’re taking him, but doesn’t tell him exactly how you intend to get there, which is all he needs to know.”
“I don’t know’,” he said. “Those three words from a willing soul are the start of a grand and magnificent voyage.” And with that he began a discourse that lasted for several weeks, covering scene-setting, establishing conflict, plot twists, and first- and third-person narration. [ I learned in these rapid-fire mini-dissertations that like most literature lovers I would come to know, Henry was a book snob. He assumed that if a current author was popular and widely enjoyed, then he or she had no merit. He made a few exceptions, such as Kurt Vonnegut, although that was mostly because Vonnegut lived on Cape Cod and so he probably had some merits as a human being, if not as a writer.
I think that the way Henry saw it was that he was not being a snob. In fact I would venture that in his view of things, snobbery had nothing to do with it. Rather, it was a matter of standards. It was bout quality in the author’s craftsmanship.”
“The foundries were vast, dark castles built for efficiency, not comfort. Even in the mild New England summers, when the warm air combined with the stagnant heat from the machines or open flames in the huge melting rooms where the iron was cast, the effects were overwhelming. The heat came in unrelenting waves and sucked the soul from your body. In the winter, the enormous factories were impossible to heat and frigid New England air reigned sreme in the long halls.
The work was difficult, noisy, mind-numbing, sometimes dangerous and highly regulated. Bathroom and lunch breaks were scheduled to the second. There was no place to make a private phone call. Company guards, dressed in drab uniforms straight out of a James Cagney prison film [those films were in black and white, notoriously tough, weren’t there to guard company property. They were there to keep an eye on us.
No one entered or the left the building without punching in or out on a clock, because the doors were locked and opened electronically from the main office.”
“So he sings,” he continued as if Denny had said nothing. “His solo mio, that with her in his life he is rich because she is so beautiful that she makes the sun more beautiful, you understand?” And at that he dropped the hoe, closed his eyes and spread out his arms wide and with the fading sun shining on his handsome face he sang:
Che bella cosa è na jurnata 'e sole
n'aria serena doppo na tempesta!
Pe' ll'aria fresca pare già na festa
Che bella cosa e' na jurnata 'e sole
Ma n'atu sole,
cchiù bello, oi ne'
'O sole mio
sta 'nfronte a te!
'O sole, 'o sole mio
sta 'nfronte a te!
sta 'nfronte a te!
It looked like fun. We dropped our tools and joined him, belting out something that sounded remarkably like Napolitano. We sang as loud as we could, holding on to each note as long as we could before we ran out of breath, and then we sang again, occasionally dropping to one knee, holding our hands over our hearts with exaggerated looks of deep pain. Although we made the words , we sang with the deepest passion, with the best that we had, with all of our hearts, and that made us artists, great artists, for in that song, we had made all that art is: the creation of something from nothing, fashioned with all of the soul, born from joy.
And as that beautiful summer sun set over Waterbury, the Brass City, the City of Churches, our voices floated above the wonderful aromas of the garden, across the red sky and joined the spirits in eternity.”
“It didn’t last long. Not many good things in a foster kid’s life last long. One day, Maura was gone. Her few things were packed in paper bags and a tearful Miss Louisa carried her out to Miss Hanrahan’s black state-owned Ford sedan with the state emblem on the door, and she was gone. The state had found a foster home that would take a little girl but couldn’t take the rest of us. There were no long goodbyes. She was just gone. I remember having an enormous sense of helplessness when they took her. Maura didn’t know where she were going or long she would be there. She was just gone”
“After another second had passed I added, “But you’re pretty, pretty,” and as soon as I said it I thought, “Pretty, pretty? John, you’re an idiot.” But she squeezed my hand and when I looked at her I saw her entire lovely face was aglow with a wonderful smile, the kind of smile you get when you have won something.
“Why do you rub your fingers together all the time?” she asked me, and I felt the breath leave my body and gasped for air. She had seen me do my crazy finger thing, my affliction. I clenched my teeth while I searched for a long, exaggerated lie to tell her about why I did what I did. I didn’t want to be the crazy kid with tics, I wanted to be James Bond 007, so slick ice avoided me.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I bite my nails, see?” and she showed me the backs of her hands. Her finger nails were painted a color I later learned was puce.
“My Dad, he blinks all the time, he doesn’t know why either,” she continued. She looked her feet and said, “I shouldn’t have asked you that. I’m really nervous and I say stid things when I’m nervous. I’m a girl and this is my first date, and for girls this really is a very big deal.”
I understood completely. I was so nervous I couldn’t feel my toes, so I started moving them and to make sure they were still there.
“It’s all right,” I said. “I don’t know why I do that with my fingers; it’s a thing I do.”
“Well, you’re really cute when you do it,” she said.
“I know,” I said, and I don’t know why I said it, but I did.”
“So began my love affair with books. Years later, as a college student, I remember having a choice between a few slices of pizza that would have held me over for a day or a copy of On the Road. I bought the book. I would have forgotten what the pizza tasted like, but I still remember Kerouac.
The world was mine for the reading. I traveled with my books. I was there on a tramp steamer in the North Atlantic with the Hardy Boys, piecing together an unsolvable crime. I rode into the Valley of Death with the six hundred and I stood at the graves of Uncas and Cora and listened to the mournful song of the Lenni Linape. Although I braved a frozen death at Valley Forge and felt the spin of a hundred bullets at Shiloh, I was never afraid. I was there as much as you are where you are, right this second. I smelled the gunsmoke and tasted the frost. And it was good to be there. No one could harm me there. No one could punch me, slap me, call me stid, or pretend I wasn’t in the room. The other kids raced through books so they could get the completion stamp on their library card. I didn’t care about that stid completion stamp. I didn’t want to race through books. I wanted books to walk slowly through me, stop, and touch my brain and my memory. If a book couldn’t do that, it probably wasn’t a very good book. Besides, it isn’t how much you read, it’s what you read.
What I learned from books, from young Ben Franklin’s anger at his brother to Anne Frank’s longing for the way her life used to be, was that I wasn’t alone in my pain. All that caused me such anguish affected others, too, and that connected me to them and that connected me to my books. I loved everything about books. I loved that odd sensation of turning the final page, realizing the story had ended, and feeling that I was saying a last goodbye to a new friend.”
“I had developed a very complicated and little-understood disorder called misophonia, which means “hatred of sound.” Certain sounds act as triggers that turn me from a Teddy bear into an agitated grizzly bear. People with misophonia are annoyed, sometimes to the point of rage, by ordinary sounds such as people eating, breathing, sniffing, or coughing, certain consonants, or repetitive sounds. Those triggers, and there are dozens of them, set off anxiety and avoidant behaviors.
What is a mild irritation for most people -- the person who keeps sniffling, a buzzing fly in a closed room—those are major irritants to people with misophonia because we have virtually no ability to ignore those sounds, and life can be a near constant bombardment of noises that bother us. I figured out that the best way to cope was to avoid the triggers. So I turned off the television at certain sounds and avoided loud people. All of these things gave me a reputation as a high-strung, moody and difficult child. I knew my overreactions weren’t normal. My playmates knew it”
“Sometimes in the midst of our darkest moments it’s easy to forget that it’s to us to turn on the light, but that’s what I did. I switched on the light, the light of cognizance.”
“I don’t know what I would have done if they had hugged me. I probably would have frozen in place, become stiff. It took most of my life to overcome my distaste for physical contact and not to stiffen when I was touched, or flinch, twitch, fidget, and eventually figure out how to move away. I learned to accept being hugged by my children when they were infants. Their joy at seeing me enter a room was real and filled with true love and affection and it showed in their embraces. Like a convert, when I learned the joy and comfort of being hugged by and hugging those I loved, I became a regular practitioner.”
“Most people don’t understand how mighty the power of touch is, how mighty a kind word can be, how important a listening ear is, or how giving an honest compliment can move the child who has not known those things, only watched them from afar. As insignificant as they can be, they have the power to change a life.”
“They were no better than common thieves. They stole our childhood. But even with that, I was heartbroken that I would not know the Wozniaks anymore, the only people who came close to being parents to me. I would be conscious of their absence for the rest of my life. I needed them. You know, if you think about it, we all need each other. But even with all of the evidence against the Wozniaks, I had conflicted emotions about them, then and now. They were the closest I had to a real family and real parents.
But now I was bankrt of any feelings at all towards them at all.
I felt then, and feel now, a great sense of loss. I felt as if I were burying them. when I never really had them to lose in the first place. Disillusioned is probably a better word. In fact the very definition of disillusionment is a sense of loss for something you never had. When you are disillusioned and disappointed enough times, you shoping. That’s what happens to many foster kids. We become loners, not because we enjoy the solitude, but because we let people into our lives and they disappoint us. So we close and travel alone. Even in a crowd, we’re alone.
Because I survived, I was one of the lucky ones. Why is it so hard to articulate love, yet so easy to express disappointment?”
“My first and lasting impression of the Connecticut River Valley is its serene beauty, especially in the autumn months. Deep River was a near picture-perfect New England village. When I arrived there, the town was a typical working-class place, nothing like the trendy per-income enclave it became. The town center had a cluster of shops, a movie theater open only on weekends, several white-steepled churches (none of them Catholic), the town hall, and a Victorian library. It was small, even by Ansonia standards.”
“While I may not have been a bastion of good mental health, many of these boys were on their way to becoming crazier than they already were. Most couldn’t relate to other people socially at all, because they only dealt inappropriately with other people or didn’t respond to overtures of friendship or even engage in basic conversations.
Some became too familiar with you too fast, following their new, latest friend everywhere, including the showers, insisting on giving you items that were dear to them and sharing everything else. They also had the awful habit of touching other people, putting their hands on you as a sign of affection or friendship, and for people like myself, with my affliction and disdain for being touched unless I wanted to be touched, these guys were a nightmare. It was often difficult to get word in edgewise with these kids, and when I did, they interrted me—not in some obnoxious way, but because they wanted to be included in every single aspect of everything you did.
The other ones, the stone-cold silent ones, reacted with deep suspicion toward even the slightest attempt to befriend them or the smallest show of kindness. If you touched some of these children, even accidentally, they would warn you to back away. They didn’t care what others thought of them or anything else, and almost all their talk concerned punching and hurting and maiming.
I noticed that most of these kids, the ones who were truly damaged, were eventually filtered out of St. John’s to who knows where. Institutions have a way of protecting themselves from future problems.”
“Jesus,” I prayed silently, “please fix it so that my turn to read won’t come around.”
And then the nun called my name, but before I stood I thought, “I’ll bet you think this is funny, huh, Jesus?”
I stood and stared at the sentence assigned to me and believed that, through some miracle, I would suddenly be able to read it and not be humiliated. I stood there and stared at it until the children started giggling and snickering and Sister told me to sit.”
“My affliction decided to join us, forcing me to push my toes on the floor as though I were trying to eject myself from the chair. I prayed she didn’t notice what the affliction was making me do. I half expected to be eaten alive or murdered and buried out back in the school yard.
“I’m not afraid of you, ya know,” I said, although I was terrified of her. The words hurt her, but that wasn’t my intent. She turned her face and looked out the window into North Cliff Street. She knew what her face and twisted body looked like, and she probably knew what the kids said about her. It was probably an open wound for her and I had just tossed salt into it.
I was instantly ashamed of what I done and tried to correct myself. I didn’t mean to be hurtful, because I knew what it was like to be ridiculed for something that was beyond one’s control, such as my affliction, and how it made me afraid to touch the chalk because the feel of chalk to people like me is overwhelming. If I had to write on the blackboard, I held the chalk with the cuff of my shirt and the class laughed.
“You look good in a nun’s suit,” I said. It was a stid thing to say, but I meant well by it. She looked at the black robe as if she were seeing it for the first time.”
“Jews were a frequent topic of conversation with all of the Wozniaks, which was surprising, since none of them had any contact at all with anything even remotely Jewish.
While watching television, Walter would point out who was and who was not Jewish and Helen’s frequent comment when watching the television news was, “And won’t the Jews be happy about that!” To bargain with a merchant for a lower price was to “Jew him ,” and that sort of thing.
Walter’s mother and father were far worse. They despised the Jews and blamed them for everything from the start of World War I to the Kennedy assassination to the rising price of beef.
I didn’t pay much heed to any of this. It wasn’t my problem, and if I were to think through all the ethnic, racial and religious barbs the Wozniaks threw out in the course of a week, I’d think about nothing else.
After being told about a part of my mother’s heritage, the Wozniaks began their verbal and cultural assault against us. As odd as it sounds, they might not always have intended to be mean.”
“Explaining the Jews in a Catholic school when you’re Irish is like having to explain your country’s foreign policy while on a vacation in France. You don’t know what you’re talking about and no matter what you say, they’re not going to like it anyway.”
“You could read the story of his entire life on his face in one glance.”
“As interesting as that was, it didn’t inspire me. What did was that here was a Jew who was tough with his fists, a Jew who fought back. The only Jews I had ever heard of surrendered or were beaten by the Romans, the Egyptians, or the Nazis. You name it, it seemed like everyone on earth at some point had taken their turn slapping the Jews around. But not Benny Leonard. I figured you’d have to kill Benny Leonard before he surrendered.”
“One afternoon Walter brought Izzy to the house for lunch and, pointing to me, he said to Izzy, “He’s one of your tribe.”
Dobkins lifted his head to look at me and after a few seconds said, “I don’t see it.”
“The mother’s a Jew,” Walter answered, as if he were describing the breeding of a mongrel dog.
“Then you are a Jew,” Izzy said, and sort of blessed me with his salami sandwich.”
“Sometimes a man must stand for what is right and sometimes you must simply walk away and suffer the babblings of weak-minded fools or try to change their minds. It’s like teachin’ a pig to sing. It is a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.”
“Father, I can’t take this,” I said.
“Because you’re a priest, Father.”
“And my money’s no good because of it? What are you? A member of the Masonic Lodge?”
“Naw, Father,” I said. “I just feel guilty taking money from you.”
“Well, you’re Irish and Jewish. You have to feel guilty over somethin’, don’t ya? Take the money and be happy ye have it.”
― John William Tuohy, No time to say goodbye: memoirs of a life n foster care
“I caddied—more accurately, I drove the golf cart—for Father O’Leary and his friends throughout most of the summer of that year. I was a good caddie because I saw nothing when they passed the bottle of whiskey and turned a deaf ear to yet another colorful reinvention of the words “motherless son of a bitch from hell” when the golf ball betrayed them.”
“Weeks turned into months and a year passed, but I didn’t miss my parents. I missed the memory of them. I assumed that part of my life was over. I didn’t understand that I was required to have an attachment to them, to these people I barely knew. Rather, it was my understanding that I was sposed to switch my attachment to my foster parents. So I acted on that notion and no one corrected me, so I assumed that what I was doing was good and healthy.”
“I felt empty a lot and I sometimes had a sense—and I know this sounds strange—that I really had no existence as my own person, that I could disappear and no one would notice or remember that I had ever existed. It is a terrifying thing to live with. I kept myself busy to avoid that feeling, because somehow being busy made me feel less empty.”
“Denny thought our parents needed a combination of material goods and temperamental changes before he could return home.
“If Dad buys Ma a car, then she’ll love him, and they’ll get back together and she won’t be all crazy anymore,” he said. For years he held out the possibility that those things would happen and all would change. “If we had more things, like stoves and cars,” he told me at night in our bedroom, “and Ma wasn’t like she is, we could go home.”
“Because we were raised in a bigoted and hate-filled home, we simply assumed that calling someone a “cheap Jew” or saying someone “Jewed him ” were perfectly acceptable ways to communicate. Or at least we did until the day came when I called one of the cousins, a Neanderthal DeRosa boy, “a little Jew,” and he told me he wasn’t the Jew, that I was the Jew, and he even got Helen and Nana to confirm it for him.
It came as a shock to me to find out we were a part of this obviously terrible tribe of skinflint, trouble-making, double-dealing, shrewdly smart desert people. When Denny found out, he was crestfallen because he had assumed that being Jewish meant, according to what his former foster family the Skodiens had taught him, a life behind a desk crunching numbers. “And I hate math,” he said, shaking his head.
So here we were, accused Jews living in a hotbed of anti-Semitism. Not a good situation. Walter’s father was the worst. Learning about our few drops of Jewish blood seemed to ignite a special, long-held hatred in him. He became vile over nothing, finding any excuse to deride the Jews in front of us until Helen made him stop. We didn’t know what to make of it, except to write it off as another case of Wozniak-inspired insanity, but as young as we were, we could tell that at some point in his life he had crossed swords with a Jew someplace and came out on the losing end and we were going to pay for it. But because we really didn’t feel ourselves to be Jews, it didn’t sink in that he intended to hurt us with his crazy tirades. As I said, it’s hard to insult somebody when they don’t understand the insult, and it’s equally hard to insult them when they out and out refuse to be insulted.
Word got around quickly.”
“I hit him for every single thing that was wrong in my life and kicked him in a fierce fury of madness as he sobbed and covered his face and screamed. I hit him because Walter hit me and I hit him because I hated my life and I hit him because I just wanted to go home and I hit him because I didn’t know where home was.”
“I also told him about the dramatic, vivid verbal picture of God that the nuns drew for us—an enormous, slightly dangerous and very touchy guy with white hair and a long white beard.
“It’s all the talk of feeble minds,” he whispered to me in confidence. “Those nuns know as much about prayer as they do about sex. Listen to me, now. God is everywhere and alive in everything, while them nuns figured God is as good as dead, a recluse in a permanently bad mood. Well, I refuse to believe that to my God, my maker and creator, my life is little more than a dice game.” He stopped and turned and looked at me and said, “Never believe that a life full of sin puts you on a direct route to hell. Even if you only know a little bit about God, you learn pretty quick that he’s big on U-turns, dead stops and starting over again.”
As each day passes and my memories of Father O’Leary and Sister Emmarentia fade, and I can no longer recall their faces or the sounds of their voices as clearly as I could a decade ago, what remains, clear and uncluttered, are the lessons I took from them.”
“Eventually, many years later, I came to see him the way everyone else saw him—a nice guy who, despite all the damage he did to us, wasn’t a bad man, not inherently bad, anyway. He just wasn’t very bright, and was in over his head on almost every level of life. He was capable of only so much and not a drop more, and because he seemed so harmless and lost, people not only liked him, they protected him.
My mother, despite her poverty, left the opposite impression. She left no doubt that she was psychologically tough and mentally sharp, and because of that the Wozniaks disliked her.
And that was another difference between my mother and father. My father was a whiner, a complainer, a perpetually unhappy man unable to comprehend the simple fact that sometimes life is unfair. My mother never complained, and yet her poverty-stricken life was miserable. She never carried on about the early death of her raging alcoholic mother, or the father who raped her, or of a diet dictated by the restrictions of food stamps.”
By jackieh on October 13, 2015
After reading about John's deeply personal and painful past, I just wanted to hug the child within him......and hug all the children who were thrown into the state's foster system....it is an amazing read.......
By Jane Pogoda on October 9, 2015
I truly enjoyed reading his memoir. I also grew up in Ansonia and had no idea conditions such as these existed. The saving grace is knowing the author made it out and survived the system. Just knowing he was able to have a family of his own made me happy. I attended the same grammar school and was happy that his experience there was not negative. I had a wonderful experience in that school. I wish that I could have been there for him when he was at the school since we were there at probably at the same time.
By Sue on September 27, 2015
Hi - just finished your novel "No time to say goodbye" - what a powerful read!!! - I bought it for my 90 year old mom who is an avid reader and lived in the valley all her life-she loved it also along with my sister- we are all born and raised in the valley- i.e. Derby and Ansonia
By David A. Wright on September 7, 2015
I enjoyed this book. I grew up in Ansonia CT and went to the Assumption School. Also reconized all the places he was talking about and some of the families.
By Robert G Manley on September 7, 2015
This is a wonderfully written book. It is heart wrenchingly sad at times and the next minute hilariously funny. I attribute that to the intelligence and wit of the author who combines the humor and pathos of his Irish catholic background and horrendous "foster kid" experience. He captures each character perfectly and the reader can easily visualize the individuals the author has to deal with on daily basis. Having lived part of my life in the parochial school system and having lived as a child in the same neighborhood as the author, I was vividly brought back to my childhood .Most importantly, it shows the strength of the soul and how just a little compassion can be so important to a lost child.
By LNA on July 9, 2015
John Tuohy writes with compelling honesty, and warmth. I grew up in Ansonia, CT myself, so it makes it even more real. He brings me immediately back there with his narrative, while he wounds my soul, as I realize I had no idea of the suffering of some of the children around me. His story is a must read, of courage and great spirit in the face of impoverishment, sorrow, and adult neglect. I could go on and on, but just get the book. If you're like me, you'll soon be reading it out loud to any person in the room who will listen. Many can suffer and overcome as they go through it, but few can find the words that take us through the story. John is a gifted writer to be able to do that.
By Barbara Pietruszka on June 29, 2015
I am from Connecticut so I was very familiar with many locations described in the book especially Ansonia where I lived. I totally enjoyed the book and would like to know more about the author. I recommend the book to everyone
By Joanne B. on June 28, 2015
What an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed. I cried. Once you start reading it's hard to stop. I was torn between wanting to gulp it up and read over and over each quote that started the chapter. I couldn't help but feel part of the Tuohy clan. I wanted to scream in their defense. It's truly hard to believe the challenges that foster children face. I can only pray that this story may touch even one person facing this life. It's an inspiring read. That will linger long after you finish it. This is a wonderfully written memoir that immediately pulls you in to the lives of the Tuohy family.
By Paul Day on June 15, 2015
Great reading. Life in foster care told from a very rare point of view.
By Jackie Malkes on June 5, 2015
This book is definitely a must for social workers working with children specifically. This is an excellent memoir which identifies the trails of foster children in the 1960s in the United States. The memoir captures stories of joy as well as nail biting terror, as the family is at times torn apart but finds each other later and finds solace in the experiences of one another. The stories capture the love siblings have for one another as well as the protection they have for one another in even the worst of circumstances. On the flip side, one of the most touching stories to me was when a Nun at the school helped him to read-- truly an example of how a positive person really helped to shape the author in times when circumstances at home were challenging and treacherous. I found the book to be a page turner and at times show how even in the hardest of circumstances there was a need to live and survive and make the best of any moment. The memoir is eye-opening and helped to shed light and make me feel proud of the volunteer work I take part in with disadvantaged children. Riveting....Must read....memory lane on steroids....Catholic school banter, blue color towns...Lawrence Welk on Sundays night's.
By Eileen on June 4, 2015
From ' No time to say Goodbye 'and authors John W. Touhys Gangster novels, his style never waivers...humorous to sadness to candidly realistic situations all his writings leaves the reader in awe......longing for more.
By karen pojakene on June 1, 2015
This book is a must-read for anyone who administers to the foster care program in any state. This is not a "fell through the cracks" life story, but rather a memoir of a life guided by strength and faith and a hard determination to survive. it is heartening to know that the "sewer" that life can become to steal our personal peace can be fought and our peace can be restored, scarred, but restored.
By Michelle Black on
A captivating, shocking, and deeply moving memoir, No Time to Say Goodbye is a true page turner. John shares the story of his childhood, from the struggles of living in poverty to being in the foster care system and simply trying to survive. You will be cheering for him all the way, as he never loses his will to thrive even in the darkest and bleakest of circumstances. This memoir is a very truthful and unapologetic glimpse into the way in which some of our most vulnerable citizens have been treated in the past and are still being treated today. It is truly eye-opening, and hopefully will inspire many people to take action in protection of vulnerable children.
By Kimberly on May 24, 2015
I found myself in tears while reading this book. John William Tuohy writes quite movingly about the world he grew up in; a world in which I had hoped did not exist within the foster care system. This book is at times funny, raw, compelling, heartbreaking and disturbing. I found myself rooting for John as he tries to escape from an incredibly difficult life. You will too!
By Geoffrey A. Childs on May 20, 2015
I found this book to be a compelling story of life in the Ct foster care system. at times disturbing and at others inspirational ,The author goes into great detail in this gritty memoir of His early life being abandoned into the states system and his subsequent escape from it. Every once in a while a book or even an article in a newspaper comes along that bears witness to an injustice or even something that's just plain wrong. This chronicle of the foster care system is such a book and should be required reading for any aspiring social workers.
Baby Boomers Guide to the Beatles Songs of the Sixties
READERS REVIEWS FROM AMAZON BOOKS
Amazon review: There are more intense books that go into supposed motivation and recording techniques and equipment, but this is a lovely work that illuminates the songs and the stories behind them without being overbearing in doing so. I really enjoyed it - bought several copies to give as gifts. Well done!
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The Day Nixon Met Elvis
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The Porchless Pumpkin: A Halloween Story for Children
A Halloween play for young children. By consent of the author, this play may be performed, at no charge, by educational institutions, neighborhood organizations and other not-for-profit-organizations.
A fun story with a moral
“I believe that Denny O'Day is an American treasure and this little book proves it. Jack is a pumpkin who happens to be very small, by pumpkins standards and as a result he goes unbought in the pumpkin patch on Halloween eve, but at the last moment he is given his chance to prove that just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be brave. Here is the point that I found so wonderful, the book stresses that while size doesn't matter when it comes to courage...ITS OKAY TO BE SCARED....as well. I think children need to hear that, that's its okay to be unsure because life is a ongoing lesson isn't it?”
Paperback: 42 pages
It's Not All Right to be a Foster Kid....no matter what they tell you: Tweet the books contents
Paperback 94 pages
From the Author
I spent my childhood, from age seven through seventeen, in foster care. Over the course of those ten years, many decent, well-meaning, and concerned people told me, "It's okay to be foster kid."
In saying that, those very good people meant to encourage me, and I appreciated their kindness then, and all these many decades later, I still appreciate their good intentions. But as I was tossed around the foster care system, it began to dawn on me that they were wrong. It was not all right to be a foster kid.
During my time in the system, I was bounced every eighteen months from three foster homes to an orphanage to a boy's school and to a group home before I left on my own accord at age seventeen.
In the course of my stay in foster care, I was severely beaten in two homes by my "care givers" and separated from my four siblings who were also in care, sometimes only blocks away from where I was living.
I left the system rather than to wait to age out, although the effects of leaving the system without any family, means, or safety net of any kind, were the same as if I had aged out. I lived in poverty for the first part of my life, dropped out of high school, and had continuous problems with the law.
Today, almost nothing about foster care has changed. Exactly what happened to me is happening to some other child, somewhere in America, right now. The system, corrupt, bloated, and inefficient, goes on, unchanging and secretive.
Something has gone wrong in a system that was originally a compassionate social policy built to improve lives but is now a definitive cause in ruining lives. Due to gross negligence, mismanagement, apathy, and greed, mostly what the foster care system builds are dangerous consequences. Truly, foster care has become our epic national disgrace and a nightmare for those of us who have lived through it.
Yet there is a suspicion among some Americans that foster care costs too much, undermines the work ethic, and is at odds with a satisfying life. Others see foster care as a part of the welfare system, as legal plunder of the public treasuries.
None of that is true; in fact, all that sort of thinking does is to blame the victims. There is not a single child in the system who wants to be there or asked to be there. Foster kids are in foster care because they had nowhere else to go. It's that simple. And believe me, if those kids could get out of the system and be reunited with their parents and lead normal, healthy lives, they would. And if foster care is a sort of legal plunder of the public treasuries, it's not the kids in the system who are doing the plundering.
We need to end this needless suffering. We need to end it because it is morally and ethically wrong and because the generations to come will not judge us on the might of our armed forces or our technological advancements or on our fabulous wealth.
Rather, they will judge us, I am certain, on our compassion for those who are friendless, on our decency to those who have nothing and on our efforts, successful or not, to make our nation and our world a better place. And if we cannot accomplish those things in the short time allotted to us, then let them say of us "at least they tried."
You can change the tragedy of foster care and here's how to do it. We have created this book so that almost all of it can be tweeted out by you to the world. You have the power to improve the lives of those in our society who are least able to defend themselves. All you need is the will to do it.
If the American people, as good, decent and generous as they are, knew what was going on in foster care, in their name and with their money, they would stop it. But, generally speaking, although the public has a vague notion that foster care is a mess, they don't have the complete picture. They are not aware of the human, economic and social cost that the mismanagement of the foster care system puts on our nation.
By tweeting the facts laid out in this work, you can help to change all of that. You can make a difference. You can change things for the better.
We can always change the future for a foster kid; to make it better ...you have the power to do that. Speak up (or tweet out) because it's your country. Don't depend on the "The other guy" to speak up for these kids, because you are the other guy.
We cannot build a future for foster children, but we can build foster children for the future and the time to start that change is today.
No time to say Goodbye: Memoirs of a life in foster
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