July 7, 2009 by David Gillaspie



The ‘Little Cigar’ ran the American end of heroin importing.  If a dapper Frenchman in Marseille ran that end, a mean eyed ‘Lilo’ ran this end.  Did Popeye Doyle know Carmine Galante? 

This was a man who frightened seasoned FBI men with his death stare.  His face was the last thing many saw on earth. 

For his world, Carmine Galante came to an expected end

We know about The Godfather.  We’ve heard of Vito Genovese.  We’ve even heard of Kitty Genovese, no relation to The Don.  But what about Carmine Galante?

I met the son of a Galante ‘Captain’ in Brooklyn.  He ran the neighborhood.  I lived there for the rent.  We were the only white guys on the sidewalk most of the time.

This guy, Joey, was dealing and stealing his way back into the Family’s good graces after making a few mistakes.  He beat up the wrong guys a few times.  Meeting him made me think he wasn’t done beating on people.

If I had known he was a gangster I would have been more respectful.  Instead I gave him the same response I’d give anyone asking boneheaded questions.

I’d been to the laundry and walking back to my place with a duffle bag of clean clothes.  This guy crosses the street and follows me into a candy store.  In that neighborhood I always had an eye out for followers.

“What’s in the bag?” he asked.

“Clothes.  I’m running away from home.”

“I didn’t ask for some smart answer.”

“I didn’t ask for some dumb question.  I’ve got my laundry.  I’m going to fold it.  How’s that?”

“Do you know who I am?”

“You’re the guy who crossed the street and followed me in here.  That’s who you are.  I’m the guy who lives across the street in case you wondered.”

“I’m going to tell you one time.  This is my neighborhood.  If you need drugs or hubcaps you see me.  Understand?  If I hear you deal with anyone else I’m coming looking for you.”

“I’m not hard to find.  Look, I’m right here.”

We hit it off.  The son of a gangster liked my act.  He worked the street looking to move up.  It happened for him after Carmine Galante stepped aside

I left town just before he got his promotion.


2 thoughts on “Lilo

  1. David Gillaspie says:

    Move over Dashiell Hammett. Meeting new people is always an adventure. When they have so much baggage it’s even more so. I ended up hanging out with the guy. He gave me the scoop on which hubcaps were the best rip. Guess? Mercedes. Shocker.

    Yours in history,


  2. Matto says:

    Kinda scary. Maybe he thought that it would be more work to fit you inside that laundry bag that was worth it. One example of when “buying big” wasn’t a good idea. Like the posting, good narrative and noir-ish style. DAVE…

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