The Recovered Watch

Tony Siciliano in Action



Edythe and DV32 Stutz


                        Tony often invited us to his home.  He loved to cook and we would be introduced to various Sicilian foods and delicacies. Edythe would look squeamish and hid her feelings at some of the strange and unfamiliar dishes..  He cooked, and his wife, Rosa, served various pastas, octopus, squid, sea urchin, snails, scungilli, turtle, and other Sicilian foods. He had gotten a reward from his family, and he was working as an inspector in the garment industry.  He exhibited a taciturn silence on my questions about his work. I stopped asking and buried my curiosity. Apparently it was a well paying work, but he remained living in his father’s house.  He could not show that he was living in luxury. 


            Tony looked like George Raft, and he tried to emphasize the slicked hair and the Raft mannerisms.  He was polite and a gentleman with women. .He opened the car doors for women, and held an umbrella over them when it rained. Edythe’s  mother had seen Tony in action, and she chastised me for not being a gentleman like him. Tony knew how to make a good impression at social functions. I had a problem refusing his many attempts to offer me some sort of retribution for my helping him when he needed it.


            We were still living at Edythe’s parents home when I had a car problem. One Sunday morning we had been invited to a brunch in Brooklyn.  I could not get the Stutz started.  There was something amiss with the sensitive Winfield carburetors.  I phoned Tony for advice on what I should look for.  I merely wanted advice but he said he would be over to help.  Within an hour he arrived.  He was impeccably dressed.   He had been on

The Recovered Watch

Tony Siciliano in Action



his way to go to a Family meeting when I phoned him.  He removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, then he put on my old work gloves, before he looked at the engine.  He leaned

over and adjusted carburetor settings. I sat in the car as he signaled me each time I was to try to start the car.  In a few minutes, he closed the hood, took off the gloves, put on his jacket and was walking to his car as I got out of the Stutz. “Tony, can’t the Stutz be fixed to run? What’ll I do?’


            “Just start the car..  I got to go to a meeting,” he waved as he drove away.. 


            I found the Stutz started immediately.  Tony really was an expert mechanic. 


            While enjoying a Saturday night dinner at Tony’s home, his father came stamping up the stairs from his apartment below, mumbling curses in Italian.  He stormed in and he had an animated conversation with Tony.  Enrico, Tony’s retired father, was a short, stocky brick-layer.  The years of hard labor showed in his face, his bent posture, and callused hands.. When he stopped for a red light while driving under the Roosevelt Ave. elevator, two thieves stuck a gun in his face and robbed him of his wallet and the pocket watch his wife had given him.. Tony gave him a glass of Chianti, and he told me to finish my entree, then go with him.  It was an insight into Tony’s Family connections.


            Tony explained some details as he drove up to a corner saloon in Astoria.  Drivers stopping for lights in quiet or secluded areas could become victims for a robbery.  The robbers would evaluate the possibility of a good haul by the type of car the victim was driving.  Because of the hot night, Enrico, was driving an immaculate, old Packard sedan with the windows open.  Enrico was proud of his car, which he constantly polished and waxed. The Packard had been a gift from Tony.  When we entered the bar, I noticed Tony quietly nodding greetings to some men conversing at a corner table. 


            “They are important men in Astoria, ”Tony softly told me, as we came to the bar. To the bartender he said, “Angelo, give us some wine.  I have to talk about a problem.” 


            When he placed the wine glasses in front of us, he cocked his head and leaned toward Tony.  “How can I help?  What’s the problem?”


            “My father was robbed while he was stopping for a light at Roosevelt Avenue. He was not hurt, but they took his wallet.  He did not have much. Only twenty-two dollars.. But they took his watch.  An old gold plated Ingress pocket watch which his wife gave him as a present years ago.  It was on a gold chain I gave him as a Christmas present.  The money is not important, but the watch means a lot to him.”


The Recovered Watch

Tony Siciliano in Action



            Angelo shrugged his shoulders and walked into a room behind the bar. When he returned, he placed a pocket watch with a gold chain on the bar.  “Is that it?” 


            Tony smiled and put the watch in his pocket. “Thank you, Angelo. Forget about the money. He only had twenty-two dollars in his wallet.”


            Angelo turned and opened the cash register to take out some money.  He turned and handed Tony a twenty and two one dollar bills. “Give it to your father. Tell him I am sorry it happened to him. They did not know your father or his connections. I can’t give you his wallet.  They only take the money and then throw the wallet down a sewer,”


            “I’ll buy him another wallet.  Thanks for solving my problem”


            “I have my own problem with them.  They turned in the watch and twelve dollars. I fix those bastards.  They were given an exclusive territory, and a good percentage of all takes.  Those punks will have a very big problem for trying to cheat on me.”


            On the return trip, Tony told me that he knew each Family allocated areas of operation, and the type of activities that were permissible,  and who was in charge of each activity., and a clear understanding of how the take, the spoils, were to be distributed.    Tony had been well aware of who to contact and where to go to if he had a problem..