- Watchlord WIS
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- Joined: August 7th 2014, 5:53pm
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Meet, Santo. He is the reason I am here through various forks of decision-making crossroads. Here he is as young ambitious man who would go on to be a successful business man, farmer, and land owner.
This is Santo at home in Brescia, Italy with his young son Dominic, my grandfather. Also known as “Pop”, he went on to become a tremendous problem solver and well-respected business man who would go on to become a naturalized citizen.
When my dad was a baby, seen here with “Pop” the United States was in the heights of the depression - and Catholic, Italian immigrants were about as welcome as venerial warts. It was around that time that Santo looked the other way so Pop could build out wholesale manufacturing of booze on Santo’s farm on the outskirts of Chicago.
As my dad used to tell it, it was a pretty large operation - and along the way, Pop developed a deep-seated hatred for the Capone organization. He was a customer - a distributor of sorts - of their product. A necessary evil since he did more volume than any other single “client”.
An order - which was prepaid by Capone’s buyer - was picked up by a driver who Pop had got to know and like. With time, you would develop a rapport similar to what you may have with your UPS driver or mailman today. While the truck was being loaded, the gentleman would usually have a slug of hooch.
The driver goes off to make his delivery…. But, instead, the truck is high-jacked, the driver was killed, and the liquor was then re-sold to a different customer. And, cleverly, Capone immediately went on the defensive and accused the Buyer of steeling his booze. Pop knew that was bullshit - why would a guy “steal” something that was already his?
It was time to move, but how do you get out?
A month or two after that, a sheriff rolls up on the farm and starts asking Pop questions.
Pop asks the cop, “You’ve gotta ‘site’ ona that pistol, dunchu, Sherrif?”
“…because it gonna hurt like hell when ‘my boys’ shove it up you ass if you EVER step one foot on my property again without a WARRANT”.
It’s seemed like a crazy stupid thing to do - but it was genius.
Other farms nearby had been raided, and Pop correctly believed it was only a matter of time. Hell, he essentially put their farm on the ‘fast track’ after poking the bear.
There was a meeting with higher powers. Pop explained, “…they were asking questions, it’s only a matter of time before we get raided, too.” Later Pop would recount that he wasn’t 100% certain he would be leaving that meeting.
Instead, he was met with gratitude. “Grazie, Dominic. If you ever need a ‘favor’, you know where to go.”
That had to be exhilarating - talk about a big “win”.
My dad, as a kid, then sees an entire crew descend upon the farm and worked non-stop over 24 hours disassembling a commercial distillery. There was nothing left…. That is, except for the three large piles of natural waste products from the former-facility like burnt hops, juniper berries, and similar organic goodies used for your favorite swill.
It was another day or two before the farm was indeed “raided”…. And, unsurprisingly, the authorities found nothing.
The same sheriff approaches Pop and asks, “What are those three big ‘piles’ from?”
Pop nodded and let his words dangle in the air, “You know… those have been there a looong time…” and walked off.
They sold the farm, moved to the mid-west away from former contacts, and then moved again to settle in with a life that would have Pop own a restaurant, an alignment shop, a beauty parlor, and some other legitimate businesses.
Pop’s son, Don Dominic - my dad - is seen here as a kid on his first car a ‘38 Chevy. That is the watch Pop had bought him for his high school graduation.
That young man would grow into a badass of his own accord but was always a highly protective and outstanding father who would pass on his enthusiasm for watches to me in a ridiculous big way.
They all live a God’s house now…. But those pictures certainly made me fall into my own thoughts of what the world must have looked like through my Dad’s eyes.
Well, damn. Thanks for taking a chance, Santo!