Bronx 1934

I binged four seasons of Boardwalk Empire recently. It has all the usual gangster stuff I enjoy, but there’s also a profound sadness to the show. Tragedy lurks around every corner, and as you get involved with the characters, you feel their pain.

I liked it a lot, but as the body count mounted from season to season, a nagging thought began to gnaw at me: these crime dramas  rarely show the devastating effect that death can have on a family, sometimes lasting for generations.

I know this because murder touched my own family many years ago.

I never met my grandfather, because in 1934 he was shot in a Bronx pool hall. The two men accused in his murder, described by the NY Times as a “minor politician” and a “former pugilist” were acquitted at trial.

In the movies, that would be the end of the end of the story, but in real life, he left behind my grandmother and six children. My father was seven-years-old.

Those were tough years and losing the head of the household couldn’t have helped. It changed the trajectory of the family in ways we’ll never know.

The next time you watch a scene of carnage in some gangster shoot-em-up think how each minor figure is connected to so many other lives. It moves the plot in one direction, but shifts the world in another.

2 thoughts on “Bronx 1934

  1. This is so good and true and I also think about the glorification of the mobster murders — there is a family left behind. My grandmother was Rita, one of Louis Madeo’s daughters. I am going to this “Great Gatsby Murder Mystery” party tonight, and it got me thinking about my great-grandfather. I Googled and found that same NY Times article, and found your blog! Love it and it’s so neat to be connected. I am glad you mention this – the importance of remembering the family left behind in the wake of violence. My grandmother would tell us that her dad had told the kids they’d go pick flowers when he got home later that day…and he never came back. Anyway thanks for writing about this and I hope all is well!

    1. The flowers — that’s so sad. Considering how hard it was after losing their father, the family thrived, something we can all be grateful for.

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