A Cousin, Cash, and Cruising with Kids: The Money-Laundering Life we Led


Daddy only ever dealt in cash.  I never saw him write a check or use a credit card.  He was always peeling off big bills—tipping extravagantly.  Organized crime kept him far from cash-strapped, to say the least.

So, to hear the story about Daddy my country-clubbing cousin shared in Nashville last weekend shouldn’t have surprised me—except that it did.  It, quite frankly, floored me.

Lounging on his screened-in back porch in front of the largest flat screen this side of Cincinnati, Bill described a series of events that unfolded in the spring of 1979.  Finishing his MBA at Vanderbilt, my cousin was studying for exams when he received an unexpected call from my father—the kind of call Daddy never made to his nephew before or after.

Daddy said he had a “girl” he wanted Bill to meet, inviting him to Pittsburgh for the weekend and indicating there would be a ticket waiting for him at the airport.  Billy, as we called him then, agreed to come.

However, in addition to setting up my cousin with a woman and guaranteeing a romp in the hay that likely meant the woman was paid—Daddy asked Bill, after he’d arrived, to do him a “favor.”  He took Bill to an apartment he ostensibly rented for “business purposes” and pulled two good-sized suitcases from beneath the bed, opening them to show Bill what he was “dealing with”—namely two pieces of luggage packed with cash.  I imagine them being like the red Sampsonites my parents owned at the time—can only assume the money was rubber-banded into dime-sized ($1,000) stacks—the same way my father ordinarily organized bills, counting, stacking, and rubber-banding them in front of the TV in our family room—football blaring in the background—soundtracking  the money-laundering life we led on Dewey Avenue.

According to Bill, Daddy asked my cousin to help him carry the suitcases to his Cadillac.  My father offered no further explanation.

However, this story raises a number of obvious questions, including how much money was in those suitcases, what Daddy was doing with it, what the seeming connection was between bringing Bill from Nashville, buying him an airline ticket, setting him up with what was probably a “call girl,” and asking him to carry the cash.  It seems obvious that my father expended considerable effort and funds to set up this unprecedented weekend for his nephew, and that the weekend was meant not so much to compensate Bill for the “favor” of carrying the cash, but to entice him to come, so my dad could ask Bill to return the favor and unwittingly engage in this transfer of funds.

But the question remains why.

And just how much suitcased-cash might there have been?  In fact, similarly stashed cash was left in a Sydney restaurant in November of 2011.  That one piece of luggage turned out, according to Australian authorities, to contain 1.28 million US dollars in $50 bills.

So, this is only an estimate.  Bill doesn’t seem to recall the exact denominations of bills in Daddy’s luggage, and maybe that doesn’t matter.  What is significant here is that my father had two of these suitcases, and regardless of the exact amount of money they contained, we can be guaranteed is was a whole hell of a lot—a shit-load, if you will.  We can also be sure that Bill only did what Uncle Tyce had asked, thinking it was the least he could do, considering the weekend he’d just enjoyed.

My cousin also seemed to think Daddy was bookie-ing from this Pittsburgh apartment—using it to receive calls—working there instead of at home.  However, I remember an apartment Daddy rented around that time.  Yes, it was used to take calls—but in a high-tech-for-the-time kind of way.

This was in the very early days of call-forwarding technology.  My father rented an apartment where he had a phone installed.  With this new device attached to the telephone, his clients’ calls could be forwarded to any other location—generally to either our house in Pittsburgh or to my parents’ condominium on Miami Beach.  I remember Daddy being excited about this innovation and freedom it gave him to both work and receive calls at our cabana on the beach.  I remember Daddy nearly glorying in this—reveling in the options it opened up to combine work and play—both at home and away.

My father "working" by the pool on Miami Beach--

There may also have been the added benefit of misleading federal authorities as to my father’s exact location in the event of a “visit.”  I remember one time FBI agents raided our house in Pittsburgh, while my parents were, in fact, vacationing on the beach in Miami.

I have no idea why Daddy needed his nephew’s help, and neither does Bill.  Was the apartment being cased?  Did he need someone else to be seen carrying those suitcases out of the apartment?  Where did my Dad get all of that cash?

Clearly, I know the answers to none of these questions, but realizing my need to ask them makes me more committed than ever to filing a Freedom of Information Act, so I can acquire a copy of my father’s FBI file.  If this story my cousin shared is even remotely accurate, Daddy was dealing with way more money than I had ever imagined.

Something big must have been going down that weekend in 1979 that my father was willing to risk his nephew’s involvement, willing to spend the money to fly him from Nashville and lure him with promises of sex.  But then I remind myself that to Daddy, money was no big deal.  He was cash-happy—easy come, easy go.

I also remember my father spending extravagantly that spring—shopping trips to New York, a Caribbean cruise for six, a two room suite aboard the Oceanic, a private balcony over-looking the Atlantic.

My sister, brother, and I on my parents' balcony aboard the Oceanic--

We were, I suppose, floating in more money than I had ever imagined—smooth sailing on the high seas of organized crime—literal suitcases of cash.

Is there any way Daddy could have carried that cash to the Bahamas— mafia money laundering camouflaged by cruising with kids?

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that  I am writing a memoir about growing up in an organized crime family.  I’m hope that publishing posts about my past will help me accomplish that.   For a list of my other memoir posts, click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

I want to thank the editors at WordPress and everyone who read my Freshly Pressed post last week, especially those of you who “liked,” left comments, and/or subscribed.   I don’t know how to strongly enough express my appreciation!   I had planned to visit the blogs of everyone who left a  comment, but the response was so overwhelming, I don’t see how I can actually do as I had hoped.  Please, please know how grateful I am.  I will visit as many of you as I can in the coming weeks.  You all are amazing!

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77 thoughts on “A Cousin, Cash, and Cruising with Kids: The Money-Laundering Life we Led

  1. wow Kathy – the mind boggles when hearing stuff like this, then I start to wonder how many other people in the world have suitcases of cash like these and where they all go and what happens to the money.

    • That was my brother’s first response when I told him the story. He said, “Hell, wonder what ever happened to all that money?” However, I doubt there are mobs of folks carrying suitcases of cash. At least, let’s hope so. Thanks for reading, Jackie.

    • I don’t know why it’s hard for me to hear this characterized as “bizarre.” I know it’s unusual and Sara agrees that’s it’s “bizarre”–but I’m having a hard time adjusting the way I think about my father. I just can’t quite wrap my brain around this even as an adult.

  2. Wow! I read this and even though I “know” of your life growing up this still really struck me that you still don’t really know everything about your father since this happened years ago and you are just now finding out. I hope that you are able to get those files so you can figure out some stuff on your own. Your life is definitely not mundane!!! :-)

    • No, certainly not mundane. And, actually, I was surprised, even shocked, to hear this story. Sara seems to think I still have an overly idealistic image of my father. But then I was still a kid when he died. Great to hear from you, Beth Ann!

  3. Kathy,

    It seems you have more questions than answers? Is it only the light at the end of the tunnel, and more will be revealed as you journey down this memory lane.

    I recalled a young man we hired to work in the restaurant I was at time working, and he lived near by here in NJ, his father was in construction, but the family was connected to the Mob, somehow or other. Later we became interested in each other, like dating, you know, and he would tell these wild stories about, going to the island, that his father would send him there with loads of cash to drop off… I thought a lot of this was fanciful talking but heck I stayed away…

    • Interesting to hear your story. No, I suppose he really did carry cash. So strange to think about though now. Probably wise to stay away, my friend.

      I don’t know if understanding is the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel kind of ambivalent. I want to know–and I don’t. Both feelings are intensely strong. But, I’m committed to knowing–to telling this story–no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jeff. Hope you have a great day!

  4. My goodness…what a great post! I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to have all these unanswered questions. Overwhelming and daunting, and yet, an adventurous opportunity to learn more about your dad and his business dealings. Do you find yourself going back and forth on seeking out this information? Do you dread the prospect of unearthing more damaging details or are you hungry for getting every single bit of information you can? Do you ever feel frustrated or angry at your dad for not being around to answer your questions?

    • Great question, Tara–one I sort of address in the comment above. I, actually, feel quite ambivalent. I want to know. I don’t want to know. Both feelings are intense. At the same time I’m committed to telling this story–so I suppose I’m more commmitted to knowing than not. Don’t know if I feel angry at my dad or not. Mostly I just wish he were still alive–period–for many reasons. Thanks for reading, my friend. By the way, can’t wait for your “rebuttal” post to Mark.

  5. Kathy – I think you captured it beautifully when you said, “a shit-load.” Things could have gone south in any number of ways, on any number of occasions. I’m so glad you’re still alive to tell about it.

    • And, I suppose, it did go south on a lot of occasions–like everytime the FBI knocked down our front door. But, I’m glad to hear you think this post works. Yes, a “shit-load,” indeed! Great to hear from you today, my friend.

  6. Excellent post, Kathy. Your memoir is going to be fantastic. I used official records ( medical primarily) in writing my memoir. I think the information you can gain adds a lot to a story. I hope you are successful at obtaining the records in a timely manner, and that they are not pages of words crossed out with black permanent marker strung together by a preposition or two. I also hope the reality it will bring will not be too difficult ti bear.

    Just reading the newspaper article of my grandfather’s arrest brings it into focus sharply. Details can be killers.

    • Glad to hear you could appreciate this post, Christine. I hope the memoir will be good. It just feels so overwhelming at times. Right now I’m stuck, as I need to get a copy of my father’s death certificate and can’t do that without his SSN#. And I’m going to have to ask my mom for it. That makes me anxious. Oh, well.

      Also, I didn’t know your grandfather had been arrested. Somehow I missed that detail. Was it in your memoir? How did I miss that? I’m so sorry.

      • No. The story of my grandfather is in the WIP I am writing about my father.

        I hope you find the courage to get the SSN. Believe me, I know how stressful dealing with family about what we’re writing can be.

    • I know. It does boggle the mind. Clearly, I feel some anxiety about knowing, but if I don’t pursue these details, then I can’t write an honest memoir, which I’m committed to doing. Does that make sense?

    • It is crazy. When I heard this story, I was almost incredulous. Strange feeling, indeed. So glad you liked the photos. I have lots more but couldn’t really fit them into this post. Thanks for reading!

  7. Uh…..geez louise!!!! I’m not sure how to respond….but wanted to if for no other reason than to say GEEZ LOUISE! I suppose there are some things we all don’t know about our parents. But I think you win the top prize in this one. “Prize” meaning GEEZ LOUISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Your comment made me laugh–as it is such an appropriate response–and sometimes close to how even I feel. I could use much more colorful language to describe how it feels, but I’ll restrain myself. Ha, ha! Thanks for your comment. It made my day in a weird kind of way–as sometimes I feel like I could say the same thing.

  8. Once again, I am floored by the pieces you share of your memoir. Not only the subject matter fascinating, but your voice is clear, very readable, and pulls the reader along for the ride.

    No idea how the hell or what the hell your Dad was doing with the cash, I don’t have a criminal or investigative mind. But can we talk about your brother’s suit for a minute? Holy plaid!! ;)

    • OMG–yes, the suit! And, I swear, I have so many more–some of which are even better. I chose that one since it was on the balcony. My dad loved to dress him up. Holy plaid, indeed!

      Also, happy to hear you think the writing works. I’m not as happy with this piece as I am some of the others, but it’s okay. I almost feel hear like the story almost overwhelms my voice–like my voice isn’t bid enough or somehow adequate to contain it. But it’s great to think it might pull the reader along. Actually, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your feedback on the writing itself. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have for making it stronger.

  9. Isn’t it amazing what we children can accept as “normal”? Seeing your father in front of the television set, football game blasting, and counting money and banding it together. For a moment, I was there….I could hear the game and almost smell the old used currency. Remarkable writing! Thank you for sharing it with us! xoxo

    • WOw, I’m relieved to think that part pulled you in. That’s excellent news. Thanks for sharing that detail! It so helps to hear where the writing works–and where it doesn’t. And, yes, crazy what kids can accept as normal. Children are so adaptable. Thanks so much for reading, my friend.

      And, by the way, I got the email about your post this morning. Haven’t gotten there yet, but I will a little late today. Clearly then, I must be subscribed.

  10. Kathy, this doesn’t sound bizarre. It sounds different from most experience, but you describe structure and behavior that is perfectly logical for the circumstances. Kind of like another language: it may be foreign to me, but it has its own reproducible syntax and vocabulary. Is that at all clear? >:-D

    Your narration is compelling, Kathy. Judgement doesn’t have to be a part of the story because you’re telling the story from the point of view of an adult recalling the child you were. So, maybe bizarre-ness doesn’t even enter into this–it’s a story of lives….

    One of my cousins told me about 20 years ago that he always suspected my father was in the CIA because Dad was in certain foreign countries when high-profile assassinations happened.

    I have never discounted that theory because isn’t it just possible that a clandestine life finally caused a dissociative reaction in him? And that dissociation was actually the “logical” reason for him dumping our family and “forgetting” he had children?!

    Truly, I am not searching for the logical reasons he left us all those years ago–whatever the reasons, he cratered a lot of lives, including mine (now recovered thank-you-very-much!). But what if… ?

    So, hell yes, I’d be curious too and would be going for the FIA if I had a reason. If you discover horror, you have the capacity to weather that experience, too, Kathy. It doesn’t have to destroy you, it won’t change who you are. I love your courage and curiosity!

    • Can’t tell you how much I love you for this comment. You so, so get it, don’t you? God, I missed you when you were so sick. You have such clear vision and the ability to make sense out of the muddle I sometimes feel.

      About your father–goodness–I have some knowledge of mind control experiments done to induce dissociation for the purposes of assassination–particularly within the CIA. M K Ulta–is that what it was called? Someday we will have to talk about all of that because I have had some crazy experiences while “ill” that were along those lines. Where’s the line between dissociation and psychosis? I had a DID diagnosis for a good while. I think now that I was only psychotic, but where to put all of that? I have no idea. I don’t worry about it now. I am healthy–thank God!

      All of that to say–I HEAR YOU! I really, really hear you, my friend!

      • I’m glad that you think I get it. You always give me something to think about, Kathy. And it’s very nice to be back here, actually ABLE to think. >:-D

        Yes, I often wonder about altered realities that are called disease or emotional problems. Maybe we are allowed to go places/planes in the Universe when we are “psychotic” or dissociated or… ? It’s prolly time-travel, but we’re not able to express the experiences verbally.

        You really must go spend the time to watch the video that sloth-me reblogged. I bet anything it would speak to you.

        It cracks me up that you have knowledge about mind-control experiments! Wowsers! (Arise, Manchurian Candidate!)

        You’re gonna hafta work harder at showing your muddle, because you seem so clear to me! >:-D –Laurel

      • Perhaps you are doing what my fairygodmother (splain nuther time) describes as oozing along!??

        Hope the muddle isn’t preventing you from doin’ stuff. I don’t take muddles lightly. I just realized that “muddles” comes from mud+puddles (I’m making that up, but… >:-D)

  11. Wow, Kathy. I have no idea what to say. I’ve only seen stories like this on the Sopranos (which is what I was using as a visual as I read through). I do hope you get that freedom of information so that you can understand a bigger chunk of your history.

    As always, you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing yourself.

    Have a lovely day,
    Currie

    • Strangely enough, I have never seen the Sopranos or any of the Godfather films. Sara made me finally sit down last week and watch the GoodFellas. So, I don’t know how accurate that image is. It’s probably pretty close, I’d guess. Thanks for reading my friend. Loved hearing from you today!

  12. What to say, but “Wow?” I’ve always hated that taste of metal that overcame my mouth when I found out the truth behind a screen of lies I was told by my parents. I imagine the same overwhelming feeling for you when your cousin shared this scenario. I admire your strength, Kathy, both in your willingness to share and the bravery it takes to be so forthcoming. All children, regardless of age, idealize their parents in one way or another. Sometimes just in accepting that they were fallible people is an obstacle in and of itself. I feel for you, too, because I know that it is painful. There was a time when stories about my mother were shared with me in my youth. Those stories completely changed the way I saw her from that day forward, as if the earth below me shifted permanently, shattering even the lies I told myself about her. Rest assured, your beloved Sara is there to help you weather whatever may come. Hopefully, that will help soothe some of the ambivalence you feel, as well as help you face what I can only assume is a much tougher, longer row to hoe.

    • Yes, I know the taste you are talking about–the taste of blood. I also know the feeling of the earth shifting beneath your feet–that’s a bit how this felt–so strange. So surreal.

      Sorry to hear you had to deal with similar feelings when learning things about your mom. I hate that for you, my friend.

      However, I do appreciate your friendship and support as I write this memoir. Thanks, Sista!

  13. As a kid… I could only picture that kind of money in my wildest dreams. And those kind of dreams gave me visions of a perfect life. Clearly, such a life is only fantasy, as evidenced by your story.

  14. This is a great piece.
    Huzzah for considering getting your dad’s FBI file. I know that’s a huge step for you, but it will definitely add to the memoir.

    • I think it’s going to be essential. Just hope most of it isn’t blacked out for some stupid reason. Glad you can appreciate this post, my friend. Great to hear from you! Hugs to you—————–

  15. So happy to read another one of your memoir posts, Kathy! I could be wrong, but it feels like it’s been a while since the last riveting installment. ;)

    I can only imagine how much money was in those 2 suitcases. Even if (highly doubtful) there were only $1 and $5 bills in there, it would have still been thousands of dollars! It boggles the mind!

    Way to be courageous and curious in your resolve to dig deeper, no matter what you find, Kathy. I wish you luck obtaining your father’s SSN from your mother if/when you choose to go down that route.

    • Yes, it has been a while. I was feeling stuck for a while–that is until staying with my cousin in Nashville. It helped.

      About the denomination of bills. Before I came across the article about the Sydney suitcase, I had speculated that they were $100 bills–given that I remember my dad dealing generally in big bills. My brother and I feel certain they could not have been smaller than 20s. In fact, neither of us really remember my dad having many bills that were that small. They were generally large–almost uniformly so. That seemed like too much to go into in this post itself, but, perhaps, that would interest people. Sometimes it’s hard to know, as my perspective is often a little off. I find it hard at times to imagine what would interest “regular” folks.

      I’m nervous as hell about asking my mom. I know I just need to bite the bullet and do it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what her response will be. She can be unpredictable.

      Thanks for your thoughtful resoonse, Dana. It’s helpful to me!

  16. If there was a way to carry a few cool million in cash to the Bahamas with the wife and kids in tow it seems that your dad would be the guy that knew how to do that. These tales about your dad’s mob ties reinforces my thinking that my father was the Italian-American version of Ward Cleaver since he primarily excelled at mowing the lawn, reading the newspaper and doling out fatherly advice.

    • God, I love your comments, V! This one totally cracked me up–especially the part about your dad excelling at mowing the lawn. What a hoot!

      What would have been easy about it, is that my mom would have gone along and asked no further questions. I can imagine her knowing and looking the other way–the same way she took me out to “collect” after my dad died. She’s not like most moms, for sure.

  17. Interesting – and fitting – that your cousin’s name was Bill.

    These stories about your dad and his mob connections never fail to amaze me – or intrigue me. Keep ‘em coming!

    • I know. It kind of cracked me up as I was writing this. Glad you enjoyed this one, as well. It’s great having you as part of my audience, Mark. Thank God it interests folks like you. Sometimes I enjoy hearing a male perspective, since so many of my readers have been women. Thanks, my friend.

  18. Kathryn, this seems to lead to more questions than answers. Have you already filed or applied or whatever it is you need to do to read your father’s FBI records? I’d be dying of curiosity. Fascinating stuff. A couple of years ago I went to my high school reunion on Long Island and was told by the guy organizing the reunion that a few of our friends were children of mobsters, though I didn’t know it at the time. He even told me how many of them lived along one block in our town, ironically called Marginal Road. I do remember one Sunday morning seeing a house on that street burn completely to the ground in about an hour and no one tried to stop it. Neighbors watched in horror. Now I wonder if there was anything more to it. I never did hear what caused the fire. It was kind of strange.

    By the way, which one are you in the photo, and how old were you in it?

    • I should have clarified who was who in the photo, but I’m the oldest of 4–on the far right in the photo.

      No, I have not yet applied. I’m anxious about asking my mom for my dad’s SSN, as it’s so hard to predict her response. She may refuse, and then I don’t know what I will do. So, I’ve procrastinated. I need the SSN to get a copy of my dad’s death certificate–which you have to have to get FBI files.

      The story about your classmates is fascinating. Gotta love “Marginal Road!” Great story about the house burning. Doubt it was just a regular house fire. I’m gong to get into something my cousin thinks me dad did for security reasons in my next post. I had never connected it with security–but Bill says he had always assumed that’s what it was about. And Sara agrees. I don’t know. Sometimes it hard to get out of my still-naive perspective.

      Thanks for your feedback, Monica. It helps me so much, actually!

  19. I love this story- I found myself stopping every few minutes saying “wait- wwwhhhhaaattt?” Painful for you but damn good entertainment for the rest of us- for that I thank you.

    There are a couple of things about your dad that stick out- he seems to have really loved his family and taken very good care of ya`ll? In an unorthodox way….

    • So, true, Emily. He was a great dad–a way better dad than my mom was a mother. But then most of the guys he associated with seemed to be good dads and generally good guys–at least what I saw of them. I remember there being an article in one of the Pittsburgh papers about this called “Bobby ——- is a Great Guy.” It addressed all of the good things Bobby did for the community, the church, etc. I had a copy of it for a long time–then I lost all of that stuff. I need to get back to it digitally.

      Glad to know the story is interesting. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is and isn’t intriguing. I’m happy to know what keeps your attention–as sometimes it’s hard for me to tell. Thanks Emily. You’re dear, my friend.

  20. Wow. This sounds like something out of a movie .. I can imagine it must of been a bit different in real life ! I hope you are able to access your Dad’s files – there must be so many unanswered questions…
    On another note , why the hell wasnt I in Sydney last year ! Could own my own Island by now ;)
    Love the posts about your Dad , cant wait for the next one
    Xx Kel

    • I know, Kel, where were you? Think how well off you would have been!

      But, more seriously, it’s strange for me, as I can’t always tell what sounds movie-like. I have never watched the Sopranos or seen any of the God Father films. Sara finally made me sit down and watch Good Fellas last week, as the main character in that is Irish–which is what my dad was. He could never have been fully “connected.” What intrigued me about the movie was how close the main character came to the very heart of it all–even though he was only part Italian. Weird to watch. So, so weird.

      Thanks for reading, Kel!

      • Good fella s and Casino came to mind when I read this – I really loved both movies . Casino is well worth watching if you haven’t .. But as I said I have no idea what it would be like in real life and the politics of it all baffles me ;) Xx

  21. Fascinating!

    You may not know this, but I grew up at the track. In the backstretch with lots of shady characters lurking – more than a few with more $$ than brains, as my mother would often say. It was “normal” for me, but it was not until I’ve retold my stories and caught the surprised look in other’s faces that I realized it was abnormal by normal standards.

    I suppose you go through that as well. :)

    Ask for the SSN# — she might say no, she might say yes. But without it you can’t move forward … Hugs
    MJ

    • NO, I didn’t know that about you. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m referring to. I grew of with a distorted perspective on “normal.” I’d love to know more about your experience–especially since I live in Lexington, KY–pretty much the horse racing capital of the world.

      You are right. I just need to ask. Thanks for the enouragement, my friend.

      • My Mom rode her pony bareback through her town; her sisters were petite and demure and complained that she was too brave and bold, organizing the School Newspaper and the local pony club.

        Later, she married my Dad, had all of us kids and never lost her love for horses – and horse racing (in high school she submitted horse racing articles to the local sports paper under a pen name … unheard of for a teenaged girl in the 40s.) They started with one thoroughbred and that grew to a stable of about 45. I’m the youngest, so I went with them to the track .. all the time, sometimes too much. I balanced my idyllic farm childhood and a mother who cooked and sewed and such with this “escape” they created – their adult world at the track with a host of characters, some good, some not so much.

        I like to think I get my moxie from her – all 4 foot 11 inches of her. She’s 81, she still goes to the track (my sister drives her now). She still studies the form like a hawk and all those “backstretchers” still show her great reverence.

        This is a post I wrote last year about a Jockey friend who passed away unexpectedly .. you’ll get it.

        http://emjayandthem.com/2011/06/01/we-take-our-own-chances-and-pay-our-own-dues/

        Your Dad rolled in a lot bigger league, $$ wise. :)

        hugs back,
        your racing pal
        MJ

      • Oh, MJ, I’m sorry you lost this friend who loved life so fiercely. I think he’d make for a great character in a short-story. Ever considered writing more about him? YOu childhood at the track completly intrigues me!

  22. Wow… I seriously can’t wait for your book to come out! It’s just wild that your childhood was so tied up in organized crime, and yet, as another commenter put it — because you saw it through the eyes of a child, it all seemed perfectly normal. And your cousin obviously felt the same way: like it would be RUDE not to take the suitcases loaded with illegal cash because your dad had just treated him to a sex holiday. Applying a social norm to a completely anti-social situation — it’s funny and poignant at the same time. It seems like your dad was a caring father, and uncle, too — but that sure didn’t stop him from putting your cousin and family at total risk, and that’s what I find so intriguing — that he could have both things present (caretaking and endangering) at once. It’s kind of the underpinnings of a Shakespearean drama or a tragedy … which is why I can’t wait to read your book!

    • Wow, Betty, I love what you say about applying a social norm to a totally anti-social situation. For some reason that statement is icredibly clarifying for me. It untangles much of what sometimes feels muddled and confused inside of me. Sometimes being able to appropriately name something is incredibly liberating–and those labels are brilliantly accurate. I can’t thank you enough, Betty. So glad you want to read my memoir!

  23. Kathy, your story is dripping with intrigue. And, it isn’t just a memoir, though that’s part of it. What AMAZING characters this could make for a serial of some sort, not in the Sopranos sense, but the ‘this was normal for me’ way. You tell these things like they’re the most natural things on earth, because they were your life. It is an interesting perspective, fraught with characters and stories and lots and lots and lots of writerly stuff.

    • This comment means so much to me, as it helped me realize something about how I was telling my dad”s story–like it was completely ordinary, which for me it was. I knew nothing else. And when my dad died and I was snatched from that life so quickly it remained nearly timeless for me–or frozen in time, I should say. Thanks for reading!

  24. I cant imagine growing up in the lifestyle you did. To answer the question at the end though I cant imagine that cruising with his family and money laundering could go together. But then again this lifestyle is so far from what I know that I could be 100 percent wrong.

    • It was the only life knew at the time. However, I think you might be surprised at not only what’s possible, but what’s perhaps even likely. Weird, weird world. Great to hear from you today. Thanks so much for reading.

  25. The unanswered questions. The unanswered whys. I am thinking about a spiritual book I read recently that said we will never know why. We are left with what happened and the enough-ness of that. As humans, that’s difficult, because we think we’ll finally be settled if we truly know. That we’ll finally find peace. I loved the way you wrote this, Kathy.

    • Thanks, Kathy–so glad you enjoyed this post. I’m okay with not knowing why. I suppose that’s inevitable–that I won’t know. Just need to know enough to make writing a memoir possible. And in some ways, the unanswered questions, perhaps, leave for more intrigue. Thanks for reading!

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