Rhode Island history: Shoveling snow for the mob

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On my second day of jury duty this past summer, I reported in and sat in a room with 130 other people, waiting for something to happen.  I did my crossword puzzle and eavesdropped on the conversations around me. The usual daily back-and-forth, with a Rhode Island accent: hotel cleanings, people dead in swimming pools, gold under the floorboards of an old house . . .

 

 

Then, after about an hour, the guy next to me muttered to me: “Think they’ll call us?”

 

 

So we talked.

 

 

Oh, children, I thought I was the mayor. This guy was the mayor of all mayors.

 

 

You’ve been three places? He’s been eight places. He was in the military, and a firefighter, and his wife’s from Denmark, and he’s a millionare –

 

 

And his stories, while not entirely dull, were very slow.

 

 

He was a regular Rhode Island type. Retired – “I could be at home next to my pool now!” – and with a son, and grandson, who’s on the honor roll for I don’t know how many years now. Older than me. Not bad-looking – probably quite handsome in his day – and mentioned at least seventeen times that he was Irish, in case I didn’t know or couldn’t tell. He mentioned two side businesses, and a couple of mob connections back in the day.

 

 

I’ll spare you the really dull stories. This is the good one:

 

 

“When I was a kid, there was a family on the block, and we all knew they were connected. [Note: he told me their name, and I’ve forgotten it.  I wish I remembered it, I could check his story.  Marinelli? Mazzuchelli?] They ran everything, numbers, collections, the whole thing. They were deep into it. So, in the wintertime, all the kids shoveled snow. Twenty-five cents a house. Except at their house, it was five dollars. And he made you hot chocolate, and his wife made you a sandwich. But he came out and inspected afterward, and there had better not be any snow out there, because he’d check! And he’d let you know what you had to do, because he wanted his sidewalk cleared!”

 

 

That’s the best Rhode Island story I’ve heard in quite a while.

 


 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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