A ‘Family’ Business

My latest book, A ‘Family” Business, is the story of Joey Silvestri, a tough kid from Queens, New York. At a young age Joey realized his fists packed a wallop, which was sometimes an asset, and at others a liability. His punching power helped him to land a job as a bouncer at the world-famous Copacabana in the 1950s. While there he interacted with the top entertainers and celebrities of the day. They included high-ranking mobsters. Joey eventually became a Mob associate and ran some of the biggest illegal card games in New York. He also became a “fixer,” who could help resolve disputes and other problems. Below is an excerpt from the book:

Joe Silvestri became the victim of false allegations that could have gotten him killed. He describes how he was informed that he was in very hot water:

Shortly after the cops turned me loose I got word that Davey wanted me to meet him at the health club. We walked down Lexington and turned east onto 47th Street, on which traffic was one way westbound. Davey liked that because the cars were always coming toward us and it was easy to spot suspicious vehicles. Davey took an additional precaution by always having a cigarette in his mouth when he talked, so lip readers would have a difficult time knowing what he was saying.

I told Davey all about my session with the cops—what they asked and what I answered. He didn’t say anything right away, and when he did speak he said, “I’m pretty sure the shit is going to hit the fan. I’m going to keep a low profile and you should do the same. I think it will be best if you get out of town for a while and don’t come back until I tell you it’s okay.”

Davey didn’t provide any more details and I didn’t ask. I knew he’d told me all he felt I needed to know. We agreed that messages between us would be handled through a liquor store whose owner was a friend of ours.

I’d been in Miami for a couple of weeks when I called the liquor store to see what was going on. To my surprise, Davey was there and got on the line. He said things were clear and for me to return to New York. When I got in we’d meet at Jack Pearl’s restaurant in the Bronx. Billy and I hopped on a plane. We were back in the city late that afternoon and at the restaurant around six o’clock. Davey wasn’t there nor was Mr. Pearl. I asked Sonny (the restaurant host) where I could find a secure phone. He directed me to a pay phone at a gas station down the street. I went there and called Davey. He told me to go back to the restaurant, have something to eat and he’d be there in an hour or so.

I was having a great day and figured it would continue. However, everything changed when Davey came in.





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